Friday, August 29, 2008

Wrestling with the Lord

Genesis 32: 24-28

24And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." 27And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." 28Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed

When we look at this match between Jacob and the Lord, we can see just how much the Lord loves us. If you find yourself asking why would God spend so much time on Jacob, you have to look no further than the mirror. The Lord will take that much time with any of us.

Jacob has spent his whole life fighting one battle or another. (sound familiar?) God has gone through Jacob’s whole life trying to get him to see that all he has to do is trust in the Lord. SO here God finds Jacob in between battles. Just leaving the 20-year scrape with Laban, and heading in to try and make peace with his brother. God sees his chance, and shows up for a wrestling match. There are a few things to note about this event. First this time there is no vision, there is no revelation, it is one on one in your face full contact wrestling. Anyone that has ever wrestled before knows just how well you come to know the person you are wrestling with. It is a level of contact that does not happen often. It might sound weird at first, but during that match Jacob is closer to God than he has ever been before. Also note that “a man wrestled with him” God started it….he was the instigator. God will get personal. When he has a point to make he is going to get your attention.

So they go at it for the whole night. You might wonder why so long? Was Jacob so strong that he could hold off the Lord all night? Of course not! One touch to the hip and Jacob’s hip is wrenched; the fight could have been shut down at any moment. It lasted all night because Jacob was going to learn this lesson, and as we have seen Jacob is stubborn! Even in the end as daylight is breaking, and the hip is hurting, Jacob is not going to quit without a blessing…..and he gets it, and true to God’s ways not only does he get a blessing, but far more than he imagined. I dare say that this is exactly they type of man that god is looking for. God does not need cheerleaders, as much as he needs people who will fight. People who understand that no victories, moral or spiritual are won without a battle.

Finally why would God give him a limp? I don’t know for sure, but for me, and using my personal experience….I can tell you a story about every scar on my body. I remember where I was, what was going on in my life, and exactly how it happened. I would bet that the limp would forever remind Jacob of the night he spent intertwined with God.

I know most of us can relate to the story. We all have wrestled with the Lord. Maybe not on a physical level, but on a spiritual one for sure. We can fight all we want, and the Lord will go toe to toe with us. Honestly, I think he likes that. You have to be pretty close to the Lord to wrestle him. I can’t think of a better place to be!

Rev. T

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Experience not punishment

Genesis 32: 3-4

3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: "This is what you are to say to my master Esau: 'Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. 5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, menservants and maidservants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.' "

Experience is a wonderful teacher. Most everyone is familiar with the story of Jacob. I have spoke of his rival with his brother last week, and as you know Jacob has a pretty rough go of it from the time he leaves his home until we find him now in this passage coming back home 20 years later. Coming home he now addresses the very brother he cheated as lord, and calls himself Esau’s servant.

Jacob has spent the last 20 years getting treated the exact same way he had treated his brother before he left. Some people will call that Karma, I call it the love of God. Many will say that Jacob went through the last 20 years as punishment for his dishonesty. I beg to differ. It was not punishment. It was the Lord’s way of teaching a lesson. It lasted 20 years because Jacob was hard headed, and would not lean the lesson. Jacob was a con man of sorts. HE was always looking for the angle to work. He always was trying to get the upper-hand. Time and time again the Lord put situations in Jacob’s path. All Jacob had to do was submit to the Lord, and trust in him. Yet each time Jacob took matters into his own hands and tried to force the outcome.

Finally Jacob is heading home, he finally can see through the eyes of his brother all the wrong he has done. The Lord had already predestined Jacob to receive the birth right , ye the felt like he has to make it happen. He spent 20 years under Laban who tried to trick him and short change him at every turn. Yet no matter what the ploy, Jacob was always delivered by the Lord. Now Jacob can see, it does not matter God’s plan will work itself out, he no longer has to force it. The first thing he does is try to make it right with his brother. 20 years to understand one simple point, God not man is in control.

I would like to point our here that God had a plan for Jacob, just like He has one for each of us. Yet just like Jacob so many feel the need to force it. We convince ourselves that we know what we need, and how to get it. All the while God is paitently waiting for us to learn the lesson. Often people seem to struggle with the same problems over and over again. I am reminded of a verse a friend brought to mind the other day from Hebrews chapter 12. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

The Lord will continually set things in our path, not as punishment, but as a way for us to learn. DO you find that you are always put in situations that try your patience? Do you always seem to find that one person that just grates on your nerves. Maybe you are put into situations that create huge feelings of temptation. God allows that to happen, not as punishment, but as a show of his faith in you. God allowed Job to be tormented by the devil, he knew that Job would not fail. The Lord will never give you more than you can handle. HE will not allow you to be tempted with more than you can handle. So you can walk in faith knowing that while the road might get tough it will always be bearable. Experience is a wonderful teacher, and the Lord will give us plenty of experiences!

Rev. T

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

walking the walk

Romans 15: 1-3
1We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.

There is little doubt that our goal as Christians should be to live our lives as Christ lived his. Grant it that is a daunting task, and one that none of us will ever fully reach. Yet we must strive to model our lives after him. If we read the passage above we can see a good place to start. We should bear with the failings of the weak.

As I have said before, we are all on different points on our spiritual journey, those of us that find ourselves further along, have to look out for the ones coming up behind. However, what if we are the ones behind? I run in to far more people who will tell you how far they have come, as if they are near the end, than people who will recognize that we all still have a long way to go. So often we get so busy trying to help others, that we forget to keep moving down our path. For us to really continue our journey we have to be an example just as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. The best way we can help others on their journey is by being an example, not just giving instruction.

I believe that for us to be imitators of Christ we have to be that example all of the time not just when it is easy, when Paul spoke to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 1: 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. It is easy for us to be an example when times are easy, it is when we continue to be an example when times are tough that count. It is then that people will less faith can have a chance to see what living in faith is truly like.

Christ never took a break, and that is one thing that we can achieve, we might not achieve perfection, but we can be relentless. John 15: 9-11 reads: 9"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
As the father loved Him, he now loves us. We know that we serve a ever loving God. His love does not falter, it is not sporadic. It is constant, as a result Christ loves us the same not sometime, not every now and then, but always, and with complete joy. This is how we should treat all of those on the journey with us; relentlessly love, always help, and be ready with one hand reaching out to help, and the other outstretched to receive that hel from those that are further ahead. It is this chain of Christians helping each other that give us the best picture of living life as Christ lived his.

Rev. T

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It takes faith

Genesis 13: 8-11

8 So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left."
10 Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company:

Abram gives Lot the choice of the lands. Lets’ look at the Land that Lot chose: 10And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. Nice Lush pastures, plenty of water, even compared to the garden of the Lord!

Abram is left with the scraps. It makes me wonder what most people would do in that situation. What would you do? Lets put ourselves in Abrams place. We know the Lord, he speaks to us, and he has personally promised to take care of our family for generations to come. We have trekked through the land, and found a place to settle, now there is unrest between our herdsmen, and our traveling companions herdsmen. We need to make a break, so, and here is the question……would we give Lot the first pick? Would we continue to place our trust and faith in the Lord, and say, “you know what Lot, take what you want, I’ll take what is left”. Or would we say “you know what, I have moved, drug my family through the land, I am tired, and weak, I have given my all for the Lord, now I am going to take the best of the land, and leave Lot to fend for himself.” I know we would all like to say, “well of course we would give Lot fist pick”, but if we look at the world today, we see that not many people will actually put their needs behind someone else’s. The bible is full of different passages, and parables where we are shown that putting others first is the right thing to do, however it takes a great deal of faith to do that. We have to know deep down inside that the Lord will provide for us. We have to have that unshakeable faith.

That is my prayer for each of us; that we might each day learn to have a little more trust and faith in the Lord, and a little less selfishness. Hopefully we all can become more like Abram, and do the right thing. If we want to be the greatest, we will have to serve others first not ourselves

Rev. T

Monday, August 25, 2008

new beginnings

Psalm 130:3-5

3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope

As my kids head off to school for the first day, it brings my thoughts to new beginnings. This is the first day at new schools for both of them. New teachers, new friends, new classrooms, so many choices, so many new beginnings. It reminds me of our Lord and how everyday is a new beginning in our walk with him. All of the struggle, all of the strife from yesterday is gone, today is a new day. Each morning is a new chance to make things right.

Each year we send the kids out in to the world. They have spent the last 10 weeks pretty close to the house, typically close to a parent or family member. Yet each August we launch them in to the real world. They will have choices to make starting from day one. Who will they be friends with, what table will they sit at for lunch. How will they handle all the situations that will come up when no one is around. The tough choices, when you make the choice between doing the right thing, and doing the popular thing.
Our adult lives are very much the same, however our choices usually come a lot faster, and we tend to play them down more than our kids do. It might sound harsh, but I believe that our kids wrestle with the hard questions more than we do. So many of us just hit the auto pilot and cruise through life.

If we reflect on the passage above we realize that our lives do not have to be that way. Each day is a new start for us. Everyday we wake up our new chance begins. We can decide to make it a day for the Lord, or a day for ourselves. Just as we expect our children to make the right choices, we should hold ourselves to the same standard. We spend a lot of time and energy teaching our kids right and wrong, then hope that when we send them off to school they make the right choices. Should we not expect the same from ourselves? We should be working to put the Lord first in our lives daily. I will go as far as to say if we do that and become a living example to our children, then it will give them the courage and strength to do the same. This start of the school year can be a new beginning, not just for the kids, but for all of us.

Hopefully we all can recognize this opportunity and make a commitment to start a new beginning, maybe we re-commit to our church (or make it a point to find a church), or we start a bible reading plan with our family. Perhaps it is something as simple as starting to take time every day to pray, and honor the Lord. The point is to seize the opportunity, to recognize that the Lord loves each of us, and gives us a chance to show our love for him each day. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is still a ways off. Today is the start.

We worship a God that does not keep a record of our sins, his son has paid the price for us, so that we might wake up everyday and continue our imperfect walk. Let us take the opportunity to find that new beginning, and put it into action.

Rev. T

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The blessing

Genesis 25: 23
The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."

I brought up Jacob, and Esau yesterday to show how people give up great things for instant gratification. Anytime I bring up Jacob and Esau the blessing always comes up. So I thought I would go ahead and put my thoughts on it out there.

Jacob receiving the blessing was God’s will. Now I know that the big question here is did Jacob do wrong by following his mothers advice? That is a hard question to pick apart. The birthright, and the blessing go hand in hand. Isaac’s blessing was really a recap of all the things that the Lord had promised Abraham, and Isaac. Isaac was simply passing the proverbial torch. Esau, had little reverence for the birthright, but he wanted the blessing. Don’t we all feel that way form time to time? We want the payoff, we want the benefit, but we do not want the responsibility that comes with it! This is what I meant earlier in the week when I said all the crying in the world will not change it. Choices made during defining moments will affect your life forever. Esau shunned the birthright; he traded it, and then walked away. At this point in his life the blessing was not his to have. Just because he finally realizes what he has lost, does not mean that the deal he made is negated.

Jacob fully understood both. HE wanted both, and it had already been said that the older would serve the younger. God’s plan unfolds weather we like it or not. His will comes to pass even though we might not approve of how it does come about. Jacob took what was his to take. It was his through the deal made with his brother, and it was his by word of the Lord. You cannot steal something that belongs to you. Yes he tricked his father into it, but his father would not have understood, and written it off to childish behavior. Yes you could argue that it was wrong, but at the end of the day what belongs to you belongs to you, especially if the Lord wills it. When the Israelites crossed into Canaan they took the land from the people there. The Lord delivered the land to his people as promised. It was violent, and people were hurt, but as I said before God’s plan will unfold. That plan is not always neat, and tidy. Often it is messy, and people who have turned their back on him will be visited by his wrath. To steal something back from a thief is not theft, it is taking what is yours. Esau knew the deal; he saw an opportunity to take back what he had already given away. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword, he who lies and cheats, will be lied to and cheated. We reap what we sow. The bible is full of these examples, we will get our just reward, it might not be what we think we deserve, but it is by his will not ours. What Jacob did could be viewed as wrong, but God is perfect, and he has to deal with imperfect people. His plan will unfold.

Rev. T

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What are you hungry for?

Genesis 25: 29-34
29Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." 32Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?" 33Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

We have to really understand just what was traded here. Today there is not really a sense of birthright in the family sense. Children are not longer guaranteed or expected to take over the family business, farm or trust fund. Most families today raise their children and the children set off to make their own mark on the world, not continue the family legacy…..and that is a whole different topic! Just what did Esau trade? We have to remember the both of these boys were grandchildren of Abraham. The boys were the direct lineage of Abraham, the one with the birth-right would be the one who God continued to reveal his covenant with Abraham through. Yes, Abraham was a powerful and respected man, and his lineage continued to be profitable, so Esau gave that up as well. The main focal point has to be that Esau cared so little about God’s promise that he traded it for a bowl of stew. I know most people are thinking how could he do that, but if you think about it, don’t many of us make that same choice?

We too have a birthright, it was bestowed to us when we were formed in our mother’s womb. That birthright is our salvation. Yet today, just like Esau so long ago, many think so little of it that daily they trade it for whatever looks good now! So many of us today put very little thought into our actions, many of us only think of the Lord on Sunday…….if even then. Instead we busy ourselves with the “right now” what can I get, even if it means I have to give up a piece of my soul! That is what Esau meant when he said I am dying of what use is my birthright. The boys lived in the house of Isaac! It was a house of plenty. It was not that there was nothing else to eat, the fact was the Esau wanted what he wanted, and he wanted it now. Esau did not have faith in God’s promise. He did not believe that it would come to pass. We see many just like that today, they believe in the Lord, they know about his promises, they just have no faith. They believe in what they can see and put in their hand now, tomorrow is tomorrow for them, it is too long to wait.

What we should all remember is we all have defining moments, times when we are called and tempted. We will all be tempted to give up a piece of our soul for a small bit of earthly comfort. How we respond in those moments will change our lives forever. Esau cut a deal, got what he wanted and left with no thought as to what he had just given up, just as so many people today do. However as we will see, and some of us already know too well from personal experience, once you cut a deal there is no turning back, the wheels are in motion and God’s plan unfolds. All of the crying in the world will not change it or make a difference, as the saying goes you cannot un-ring a bell. So I pray for all of us that we recognize those moments for what they are and rise to the challenge every time. May we all choose our birthright over instant satisfaction. The Lord spent years here on earth persecuted for our benefit, let us not squander that gift for a bowl of stew.

Rev. T

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

but do you like your neighbor?

Genesis 24: 59-60
59So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham's servant and his men. 60And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, "Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands,and may your offspring possess the gate of those who hate him!"

All of Rebekah’s friend wish her well; they even send her off with a blessing. A good blessing at that! Did you notice anything that is missing? There is no negativity, there is no one standing around talking about how far away she will be, or how long the trip will be, or what this fella Abraham has or does not have. They wish her well.

As I read this chapter this morning, it got me to thinking about all of the times that I have moved or had an opportunity, and how I was treated, or the times that a friend of mine has moved and some of the thoughts I have had. If you think about it, it does not take long to remember the people who came up with all of the reasons to stay. The long list of all of the negatives that make the opportunity look less than it is.

I believe this passage shows us how we should be treating those around us. Instead of looking at all the negative, why can’t we just be happy for people anymore? In Matthew 25 we hear the Lord’s thoughts on how we treat others, and how it affects him. 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.'

Does this thought no transfer to our words? If it does then when we visit negative thoughts and wishes on our brethren, then aren’t we in fact wishing them upon God himself? I don’t know about you, but I do not find myself wishing God ill will, I would be quite offended if I heard someone else doing it, so it only stands to reason that for us to be the good Christians that we want to be, we should not encourage or perpetuate that type of behavior to anyone.

Yes, I know exactly how hard it can be to be happy for people, especially when some of the people in question have wronged you in the past, and I am not saying that it is not something that I struggle with, because I do. What we have to do is recognize the shortcoming, and work on it. That means we will have to look for the positive, not the negative. We will have to encourage others, even when it might be something that we wanted to do for ourselves. We will have to be positive, not jealous….and if we are honest with ourselves we will see that a lot of times those ill feelings are nothing more than “sour grapes” We start spending our energy looking for reasons why the event would not be as good as it looks. We think of all the potential pitfalls to make ourselves better. So when we fall into that trap of negativity, we are not just hurting our neighbor, and God, but ourselves as well.

Why rob anyone of happiness, including you? Look for the positive; focus on God, and all he has blessed you with. You might not think it is much, but I promise you there is someone out there with less than you, and they would be happy to trade places! When we start expending our energy on positive things like helping and encouraging, not only will we feel better, but also we will start to get a clearer picture of the path the Lord has already cleared for us!

Rev. T

Monday, August 18, 2008

Keep Searching

Colossians 2

6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

The key in this passage is for us to continue to live in him. So often today we view our spiritual life as a point of destination. As if there is some point in the distant horizon where once we get there, we have arrived. Our righteousness is fulfilled, and we can now rest. I know that I have talked about this in the past, but as I look at continuing my walk with Christ through education, I find myself reflecting on my own past. I can remember thinking that there were people that had all of the answers somewhere out there. I did not know where they were, but I thought for sure that they had to be out there.
As I started my own journey, I found that there is no end to the knowledge; there is no end to the walk. Each day brings another opportunity to expand our knowledge of the Lord, and give him praise.

I have heard many pastors and priests preach as if they have the answers, as if they have reached some plain of existence that only few will reach, it is these men and women that I am wary of. It is only when we realize that even in the end we will only know a small fraction of what God truly is that we can start to learn truly what the Lord has to show us. Proverbs 2 tells us: 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
The search for the Lord is a life long quest. One that will start with our being saved by the truth that is Jesus Christ, and will not end until all is reveled at our earthly death. SO I encourage each of you to continue the search, find more ways to include the Lord in your life. Search for his knowledge, and his truth, the more you look for him, the more he will reveal.
Rev. T

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An idea of God's love

Genesis 22: 6-8
6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" 8Abraham said, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together.

"God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son."……..God always provides the offering. He provides the path, the light, and shows us where to find the offering. Here again we see the faith of Abraham shining through! No questions, no why, but , or if. He just woke up the next morning and packed up. I can only imagine the heavy heart of Abraham. He would do anything for the Lord. Even give up his son form Sarah that he had waited on for so long. I am sure he had conversations in his head that pointed out that the Lord promised, the Lord delivered, now the Lord was taking away…it would not make the trip any easier, it would not lift the spirit of Abraham, offering your son as a sacrifice to the Lord, still takes that son away from you. Glorification of the Lord can be a hard hard task sometimes.

One has to wonder, how God must of felt. He did the same thing for each of us. HE sent his son to this world to live a life of persecution, only to be ultimately offered as a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of all the sins of the world. God did this for us knowing that even making that sacrifice would not be enough for some. People would still not turn and glorify the Lord. SO Abraham had faith in the Lord, but how much more faith does the Lord have in us? Abraham loved the Lord, but how much more does the Lord love us. Abraham was willing to offer his son to the Lord because he knew that it was God’s will and it would please the Lord. God offered his son, and knew that some would still shun him. Abraham was willing to offer his son because the Lord commanded it. The Lord offered his son because he loves us.

To do something that someone you love asks you to is a sign of love indeed, but to do something for someone you love without being asked; that is love at it’s finest moment. However, to do something for someone you love when they don’t deserve it………..that will give you a small perspective of the depths and heights of God’s love.

Rev. T

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Twelve hours of daylight

John 11: 4 – 10
4When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. 7Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." 8"But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?"
9Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. 10It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light."

Patience, faith, and determination.

Christ sat for two days before he went to Lazarus. It is through Christ that we can learn so much and this is a perfect example of patience. There is a time and a season for everything, and it will not come to bloom until its season is here. Christ understood this, and waited. He knew that sitting and waiting for the time to come, was more important than rushing in and forcing something to happen. The bible if full of examples where men and women force time. They cannot wait on the Lord, and they make things happen on their own, then are left wondering why it did not work out…..are we not guilty of the same things? Are there not twelve hours of daylight, more than enough time! When the time comes Christ takes action, but not until that time comes.

Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Christ was, is, and always shall be. He comes from a time where there was no darkness only the light of God, and it is to that world he will return, as we all will, and there will be no darkness, all will be lit with the light that is Jesus Christ. Christ knew he was here but for a short time. He had faith that in the time allotted he would carry out his work. We are no different. We each have a purpose here. I know that in today’s world that might seem impossible, when some days it seems that we barely survive……but we did survive. We live on to the next day. We are all immortal, until our task here is complete. It is that faith that will carry us through. The unshakeable faith of Christ. Just as Christ our days here on earth are numbered, while our impact on the world might not be as great, each of us will impact the world around us. We might only have twelve hours, but we will complete our task, the sun will not set on our lives until we do.

twelve hours of daylight. As Christ pointed out, a man that walks in the light will not stumble. Yes the people in Judea tried to kill him the last time he was there; Christ’s attitude was one of determination. He knew that he was walking in the light of his father, he would not stumble. Many in Judea were in darkness; their lives were a constant effort of trying to find their way. Christ knew that when he arrived he would bring the light many needed; he would cast that light on all that accepted him. Christ once again showed that while the light is shining on us, we will not fall. We should all be as determined, starting each day with the determination of utilizing our twelve hours to further our walk with Christ. Knowing that while we walk in the light we are protected form the evil one. We will prevail; with patience, faith, and determination……after all are there not twelve hours of daylight?

Rev. T

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sorry takes action

Genesis 20:14- 17
14Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. 15And Abimelech said, "Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you." 16To Sarah he said, "Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated."

This is a good glimpse into the attitude of God on unknowingly sinning. While Abimelech did wrong by accepting another mans wife into his house as his own, he do so unknowingly. We Also know during this time that Abimelech did not lay with Sarah. When God comes to Abimelech he make him fully aware of the sin. At that point for Abimelech to continue his ways would make him knowingly sinful, and God promised death to him and his family.

Once the sin is known to all, immediate actions are taken to re-join Sarah with her husband. I believe there is an important lesson to be learned from Abimelech. Notice what actions he takes once he is made aware of the situation?

14Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. 15And Abimelech said, "Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you." 16To Sarah he said, "Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated."

He not only returned Sarah quickly, but he sent livestock, and servants, he gave 1000 pieces of silver……he not only recognized the sin, he made it right. He offered restitution, he restored Sarah’s name. So often today when we hurt people or our actions cause trouble with out our knowledge, we are all quick to say I am sorry……well most of us will say I am sorry. However, we as a society today tend to forget the important question. “How can I make it right?”
Somehow we have moved to a place where sorry is supposed to cover any type of wrong. To make matters worse we have found ourselves at a point where the word sorry is knee jerk, we say it, but very few mean it, especially when it was not our intention or we think we are acting with integrity but later find out we were wrong. We think that our ignorance is some type of shelter. This chapter shows that while sinning without knowing we are sinning might be excused to a point, once that sin is known to us we have to not only quit the action, but make the situation right. Just because we did not know at the time, does not excuse us form our actions once the truth is brought to light. We must takes steps to right the wrong and clear the name of those who we might have slandered. That is the hard part. Saying you are sorry is easy, making it right is the challenge.

Rev. T

Monday, August 11, 2008


Luke 10:27
He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "

Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Do we really do that? Oh I know we all love our God, and we even love our neighbors. That is not what I am questioning. I call in to question the key to the second law. Like you love yourself…….many people tend to drop that part out when reflecting on that verse.

The concept of loving others as we love ourselves is mentioned twice in Leviticius, it is in Matthew, Mark Luke, and John. The same concept appears in Romans, Galatians, and James. The key to making it work is loving people like you love yourself. Yet there are so many out there that might love God, they might love their neighbor, but they are far from loving themselves.

Today it is common for people to do one of two things they will hold themselves up to such a high standard that they will never reach it. As a result they live their lives in disappointment. They don’t love themselves, they hold themselves as “not good enough” or they go the other way and don’t believe that they can accomplish anything, and as a result they have no feeling of self-love, only self loathing.

I know many people who are spending so much time running around doing for others, that they take no time for themselves. They worry so much about others spiritual life, that they do not make time for the Lord in their day. I have said it many times before, but I believe that we all should get ourselves on the steady path BEOFRE going out to save the world. That means we should be taking a small amount of time for improving ourselves, for acknowledging what we have a accomplished. If we think about it, what did God say at the close of each day? HE looked at what he created and said it was good. We too should take some time and tell ourselves we have done well. We have to allow the love of Christ to fill our hearts, and overflow out to others. For us to receive love, we have to know that we are worthy of love. After you were born, I can promise you the Lord looked at what he created and said it was good!
So today we should all ask, do we love ourselves? DO we take the same time and the care for ourselves that we so eagerly give to others? Perhaps we should all schedule in a little time for us. Time we can spend with the Lord reflecting not just on his greatness, but the love that he pours inside of us daily. It is that love that should give us the grace and peace to love ourselves. Maybe we can all learn to be a little more forgiving with ourselves. I would think it would give us that much more love to give to our God, and our neighbor!

Rev. T

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Philippians 2: 1-4
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.

I want to drill down on the last verse here. We should look out for not only our interests but also the interests of others. Indifference has become the rule today, not the exception. This was called to mind today, as I read about a man in the U.K. was found dead in his bed…….2 years after his death! How can that happen? How can a man with neighbors on both sides of him be dead for two years? The answer is indifference.

People are encouraged now more than ever to worry about themselves, and nothing more. While that does make for a selfish society, it also creates a society steeped in indifference. It breeds an attitude of “well it does not affect me, so why do I care?”
We have created a society where if anyone looks after their neighbor, it is almost viewed as an invasion of privacy.

It goes beyond your neighborhood, out into the world. It affects the place you work, you city, county, state, and country. The political world (both sides) would have you believe that we do not have to think or worry about anything; they can provide all that is needed. They depend on our indifference. The citizens of this country are being tricked into a mindset of as long as I do not get hurt, who cares what laws they pass. The thing to remember is that the laws that are passed today about things or a class or a topic that you do not care about, can just as easily be passed at your expense tomorrow.

This mindset will come home to roost. More people today have no ides what is going on right outside their door, let alone in the world. For proof all you have to do is ask 10 people about a topic that does not have to do with the latest celebrity buzz, and it becomes clear that not only do the majority of them not know, but they are indifferent. Now over 80% of people here in the U.S. consider themselves Christian, yet they are totally indifferent to their neighbors, their local government, or to what is going on in the world around them. So my question is are they indifferent to Christ, and how he works within each of us? Have we become indifferent to what Christ has offered?

Elie Wiesel said:
There is nothing worse in life than indifference. Indifference to evil is evil and at times worse than evil…”“The opposite of love is not hate but indifference. The opposite of knowledge is not ignorance but indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness but indifference. The opposite of life is not death but indifference because he or she who is indifferent is actually dead without knowing it.”

Dead without knowing it, very much like the guests that were invited to the wedding banquet in Matthew 22. They had no time; they were indifferent to the invitation. Verse 5 reads: 5"But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business.

I pray that each of us can soften the hearts of our brothers. It is my hope that we all do not fall into the rut of indifference. It is only when we start to open our eyes to the world around us that we can start to have true concern for those around us. We cannot love our brother as we love ourselves, if we do not know who our brother is…….we would all do well to go check on our neighbor!

Rev. T

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

The Lord never closes a door, without opening a window. What I mean by that, is we are never trapped in sin. When we find ourselves tempted, there is always a way out, or around. When I look back at my life I see that no matter the situation, the Lord had always provided an escape route. However, it is up to us to take that route.

Your temptation is no better or worse than the next persons. It is something we all deal with. As 1 Peter 5: 8-9 reads: “8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” The devil knows your soul make no mistake about it, He knows what your sinful nature desires. He will place it at your feet, knowing the price you will have to pay to accept the gift……a piece of your soul.

I think it is important to note here that God is not the one tempting you. James 1: 13-14 points that out well.” 13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” Jesus himself was tempted, I think the way Christ handled it is the key to how we should handle temptation. In Matthew chapter 4 it gives a good account. When you read it, notice that Christ does not make excuses, he does not try to fight the temptation alone, he calls on the scriptures. Every time the devil puts temptation in front of Christ Christ’s response is “ for it is written…..” That is the first response we should all have. Instead of trying to rationalize a reason, refer to the scripture. It is all right there, laid out in black and white. Call on the Lord, and utilize his words. They will put every situation is perspective. (another good reason to read the bible daily) God will always provide an exit strategy.

You might have to look for it, you might need to keep a level head, least you get caught up in the moment; but know this the Lord will never leave you stranded. There is an old saying that goes “God will never give me more than I can handle…….I just wish he did not trust me so much sometimes!” God knows your heart, he knows your soul, and he knows the path he has put before you. Yes he will allow temptation in your life. The key to remember is that he will not allow you to be pushed beyond what he knows you can handle. (you might not agree, but he knows) If we think about it, and take a good look inside ourselves, we know when we have stumbled, and we know that we could have avoided it. On some level we caved, we gave up, threw in the towel. That does not make us lost, that makes us human. We are all recovering sinners. Relapses happen during recovery, the important thing is to get right back up and check your armor, you might have forgotten to fully suit up for battle (Ephesians 6: 10-18)

When we feel the pressure pushing down on us, instead of meeting it head on, unsure of the out comes, find the door the Lord has provided. Slip out the side door, and remove yourself from the situation. The Lord opened the door for us to leave…..all we have to remember to do is walk through it!

Rev. T

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Ephesians 6: 10-12

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Be strong, it is something that we do not hear as much of today. When I was growing up it was one of the things I heard from my father often. Be strong, I grew up with that attitude, the world is not going to change, and I am not going to compromise for the world. No doubt about it, that does take strength. Especially if you are looking for that strength on your own. Oh you might find it within yourself, but it is hard to maintain on your own. That is why this passage tells us to be strong in the Lord. When we put our burdens on the Lord, he can bear the weight.

Today it seems that we are more about trying to manipulate the world to where life is easier on us. We hear about it all of the time, for the adult it is no money down, no credit, no problem. It is all of the quick fix; don’t read the fine print just sign here deals. It is the attitude of tearing others down to advance ourselves is OK as long as you get ahead. WE are robbing ourselves of our strength at the least, and allowing others to steal it from us at the most!

I think it is harder of the children, all of the let’s be friends, don’t hurt his feelings, or the everyone gets an A as long as they try. My favorite is how everyone makes the team now…..we would hate for any child to think they might need to improve to make the team….heaven forbid if we rattle his self-confidence!

My point here is that we should make a point to get back to being strong, When we meet life’s challenges head on sure it can be trying, and it is hard, but that is what we have the Lord, and prayer for. When we see a barrier in our path, the answer is not to turn back and go down the easier road. The answer is to look to the Lord for guidance; he will get you over, around, or under that barrier. If we will be strong in the Lord, we will overcome any obstacle. We should be looking for the challenges in life, for that is living. By looking for the challenges, we are looking for opportunities for God to work in our lives. Having a good life does not mean that it is easy, it means that it is a good life full of love, faith, and perseverance. When everything comes easy there is no worth attached to it. This is why we always hold on to the things we have to fight for, yet today it seems that the list of things worth fighting for is growing shorter. We should encourage each other to strive for the best. We should challenge each other to make it to the next level, not by taking the easy way, but by taking the road less traveled. We should walk with the Lord, not against him; we should rely on his strength, and realize it will compensate ours when we get weak. Without him it is hard to be strong, with him, nothing is impossible. Without him, we will get weak, and start looking for the easy way. With him there is only one way, and although it might be rough at times, it will always be bearable. So I pray for all of us, that we find the strength Christ has to offer, and we rely on that strength. Like water from a well, the strength of Christ the Lord will always replenish, it will always sustain, and it will never run dry.

I am sure you have seen this before, but I will leave you with this quote:

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your task. –Phillips Brooks

Rev. T

Monday, August 4, 2008

salty light

Matthew 5: 13-16

13"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Salt and light, if we put some thought in to it, we can see why Christ would want us to emulate these qualities. Lets look at salt, first thing to mind is taste, if something is bland, or boring, the first spice we look for is salt, a little dash of salt can change the entire taste of food; Just as our lives change by applying a little Christ to our lives. Salt is able to penetrate. When snow and ice are on the roads look out for the salt trucks. A good layer of salt over a road will melt out the snow and ice; it will get you back on the road. When we walk with Christ do we not see the same things happen in our lives? Barriers fall; obstacles that looked impossible to climb are easily overcome. We can do all things through Christ. Salt makes things happen. If you need water to boil faster, what do you do? Add salt! Salt will cause the temperature to rise quickly, and you will have boiling water in a shorter amount of time. When we follow the path that the Lord has put us on, we see the blessings in our life abound. We have all heard that someone was "on fire with the Lord." Just like salt to water, Christ will have your spiritual life at boiling point, and ready to overflow onto others in no time.

What can be said for light? First and foremost light pierces the darkness. If you have ever been in pure darkness you know that there is no such thing as a small light. When you are in darkness even the smallest most minute flame casts an amazing light. A candle that has such a small flame that it is not noticeable in the daylight will bring sight to someone in a cave. Yes, we all have different size flames of faith, and some are brighter than others, but I will tell you the truth, a person in darkness will be far happier to meet someone with even a small flame, compared to meeting someone else in darkness. Light also erases shadows, when you stand in a well-lit room, there are no dark corners to hide anything. When we have light, we can see things for what they are, not how others might “want” us to see them. So that means that light casts out fear. Many might be afraid of the dark; I have yet to meet anyone afraid of light. It is not the known that causes fear; it is the unknown. Light takes that fear away.

We should all try to be a salty light! We are the salt and light of the earth. It is our job as Christians to perpetuate these qualities. As we continue on this walk with the Lord, we become saltier, and our light gets brighter. We should work to be a blessing to others by proudly displaying these qualities. A good salty light can overcome any obstacle, it can bring to a boil the spiritual lives of those around them, while giving life that flare and taste of a good life that so many search for. All the while that light will be piercing through the darkness of this world, offering safe passage on the road for all of those that will walk with them. Giving off a bright light that will cast away shadows, and quite the fears that come with darkness.

I would like to call attention to the last line of the passage: In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Let your light be seen… they may see your good deeds. I call attention to that line because it goes back to action. Without action light and salt are useless, If there is a light but that light is stationary, then it will be of no use on our journey. If salt is never taken out of it’s box, then why have it? These qualities are qualities of action, let them be seen by all, for actions have always spoken louder than words! A good attitude is great, speaking good words is wonderful, but a Christian life in action is a calling song to the unbeliever.

I pray that we all can become a salty light!

Rev. T

Friday, August 1, 2008

Full Commitment

1 Kings 18:21
Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing.

Do we not find many in the same boat today? Many might not be worshiping a different God, but they are worshiping no God other than themselves. They want God on their terms, only when it is convenient to them. It has really, for many, become a don’t call me, I’ll call you relationship. There is no gray area with the Lord. That is one of the reasons I do love him so. There is right and there is wrong. You follow, or you do not. When we deny the Lord in the good times, why is everyone so surprised when he does not show up for the bad?

The first thing that this passage brings to mind is good old American Theism. I was guilty at one point in my life of the same thing. Oh I would tell everyone that wanted to know that I was a Christian, sure I loved the Lord…….when it worked for me. When I needed it. What I mean by that is that when things were going well, I never really thought about or gave thanks to the Lord. It was only when things got rough that I would start looking for the Lord. I know many people who would even go as far as to blame God at that point because things were getting tough.

God is not a fair weathered friend; you have to make the commitment. You decide if you will follow him, or deny him. I do want to be clear that I am not saying you are either perfect or you are not. There was only one perfect man, and he was nailed to a cross. What I am saying is that you make the choice to start down the path the Lord has provided, or you turn your back. Sure you will stumble, be unsure, have some doubts here and there, but you have to make the commitment.

Look at Abraham and Moses, for example. Both men left behind the comfort that was home for them, and made the commitment to follow the Lord. They put their full will into trusting, and having faith in the Lord. They made a choice, and stuck to it.

As we are told in Romans 12: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Shake off the chains of the world. Quit living half in the world of sin, and half in the world of the Lord. Commit to Christ, and he will provide the path, and the plan. Suit up in the full armor of the Lord (Ephesians 6:10-17), and you will see that the Lord will deliver you, he will sustain you, and he will never forsake you.

Rev. T