Monday, November 24, 2008

11 24 08 Click, Click…We Won’t Quit!

“When you make a promise to God, don't wait too long to carry it out. He isn't pleased with foolish people. So do what you have promised. It is better to make no promise at all than to make a promise and not keep it.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 NIrV)

Too much is at stake…Too many need too much…If we don’t…who will? If not now, then when? When the going gets tough, well, God is still right where’s He’s always been! But where are we? So many sayings; is there enough doing?

There is a saying I picked up from my friends in ministry in New Orleans. As they interact with the kids, they repeat “Click, click” and the children respond, “We won’t quit.” I take this a step further with my six-year-old and others: “We won’t quit…on God and each other”, we answer back.

That’s just where I am today…in need…in want…not knowing exactly what God will do or how He will do it; yet committed to my Father and His purposes. I won’t quit. It will be an embarrassment to God! It will shame my family. My wife and I promised the Lord over 11 years ago that we would dedicate our family and our lives to His work and through all the struggles; we have stayed faithful to that promise. If others are to see God at work, I want it to be through us. After all, aren’t we here for one sole purpose: to serve God…to allow Him to use us…for Him to get glory?

“Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.”
(Proverbs 25:14 NIV)

I really have nothing to give God that He doesn’t already have. I have no special gift or talent. I don’t propose to know what He’ll do today or tomorrow. I only know what He has done in and through others and that He does it for His glory. When He provides a need, it may help me, yet it lets others know He is working. When the miraculous occurs, it’s not because someone is so righteous that they deserve it, but that God desires to announce that “I am God”! He doesn’t need my empty promises, lackadaisical attitude, or woe is me whining. He deserves my obedience, respect, and commitment, nothing less. If He provides me with something unexpected; praise God. If I must have less than I expect (maybe I am expecting too much) praise God as well. You see, one thing I know of God: He does things His way in His time!

God only wants my devotion to Him. I can promise Him that. I definitely do not want to promise what is out of my control! I don’t want to promise what I know I won’t let go of. I won’t tell God He is selling me short. Neither will I tell someone what God has for them. God holds us accountable to every idle word we mutter.

It comes down to a lack of respect for the One who still holds the world in His hands. I pray I can let go of what I am holding onto and let Him hold onto me…to His glory…to His honor…for His pleasure! I WON’T QUIT!

Friday, November 21, 2008

11 21 08 Giving Thanks

“Brothers and sisters, we should always thank God for you. That is only right, because your faith is growing more and more. The love you all have for each other is increasing.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3 NIrV)

Why was Paul so committed to giving thanks to God for those in Thessalonica? Their faith was growing day by day and there love for one another was increasing. Their affection, good will, love, and benevolence (agape love in the Greek) was evident. I believe Paul was GIVING THANKS to God because he could see God working in them. They truly loved one another as they gave back the love God had showered upon them. This is really GIVING THANKS; not in words, but in deeds! There is no doubt God loves to hear His praises in how we thank Him in our words and songs. But true love, true thankfulness and appreciation shows in our giving to one another in an unselfish manner.

“Jesus called the crowd to him along with his disciples. He said, ‘If anyone wants to come after me, he must say no to himself. He must pick up his cross and follow me. If he wants to save his life, he will lose it. But if he loses his life for me and for the good news, he will save it. What good is it if someone gains the whole world but loses his soul? Or what can anyone trade for his soul? Suppose you are ashamed of me and my words among these adulterous and sinful people. Then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.’” (Mark 8:34-38 NIrV)

Take a moment to recall all God has freely given each of us: life, breath, health, homes, jobs, food, vehicles. Even if we are lacking in those areas we still have eyesight, hearing, the ability to walk, to read, to speak, etc. Even more so, we have our very breath from God! Lest we forget, if we truly know God, we have the joy and peace of knowing we have the forgiveness of sin and life eternal with our DADDY in heaven! God has given us all we’ll ever need, even if we get nothing else!

So what are we trying to hold on to? What are we really in need of if not a closer relationship with our Savior? Why are we bitter, or confused, or even jealous of those with more? What could we ever trade for our soul? Do we think that someone living in a house made of gold and precious stones, in a neighborhood paved with streets of gold, where everyone lived at peace with one another would want anything else? Is that not where we live?

We have so much to be thankful for, all year…every day. But at Thanksgiving, we really need to be GIVING THANKS to our family, our friends, our neighbors and those who seem to have so little. We need to allow our faith I God and our love for others to increase beyond what we believe. God gave His Son for everyone, even a sinner like me! In our GIVING THANKS this season, let’s commit to give beyond our means and watch God move, not because we deserve it, but because we honor His name! Someone needs to feel His love today! Will we give it?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

11 20 08 Good for Nuthin’

“It is written,
‘No one is right with God, no one at all.
No one understands. No one trusts in God.
All of them have turned away. They have all become worthless.
No one does anything good, no one at all.’ (Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20)
‘Their throats are like open graves.
With their tongues they tell lies.’(Psalm 5:9)
‘The words from their lips are like the poison of a snake.’(Psalm 140:3)
‘Their mouths are full of curses and bitterness.’(Psalm 10:7)
‘They run quickly to commit murder.
They leave a trail of failure and pain.
They do not know the way of peace.’(Isaiah 59:7, 8)
‘They don't have any respect for God.’(Psalm 36:1) What the law says, it says to those who are ruled by the law. Its purpose is to shut every mouth and make the whole world accountable to God. So it can't be said that anyone will be made right with God by obeying the law. Not at all! The law makes us more aware of our sin.” (Romans 3:10-20 NIrV)

All throughout the Old and New Testament, as read above, we can see that in and of ourselves, we are nothing but filthy rags. Even our best work, without the leading of God the Father, is worthless. Only those things done for Christ…for the Kingdom, will last. As human beings, created with sin nature, we are bent toward selfish desires, jealous schemes, and plans to take care of me and mine first. We are trained and instructed to look out for number 1; love yourself first; and what’s mine is mine and you can’t have it! Yet God instructs us to put others first, love our neighbor as ourselves, and sacrifice what we have for the comfort of others. God’s laws reveal how short we come to His standards! Apart from God, we are GOOD FOR NUTHIN!

“‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good except God.’” (Mark 10:18 NIrV)

Paul, in all His abilities and service for the Lord, says no one is good. Even Jesus, when walking in human flesh, replied to the rich, young ruler “No one is good but God.” The young man was not acknowledging Jesus as God, but as a good teacher. Without the saving blood of Christ, no one can ever be good or do any good. His blood makes us holy. Once cleansed, we can do the things of God and live out His will so others will see our good works and want to know Him themselves. One who is forgiven of his sin, sealed by God’s Holy Spirit, and positioned in the Body of Christ, can then do good!

As His Law reveals our need for God, we humbly seek His grace. Once forgiven, we use His power to live in that grace in a world full of sin. Otherwise, we’re GOOD FOR NUTHIN!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

11 18 08 Pray Continuously…Test Everything

“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient toward all. See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not extinguish the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt. But examine all things; hold fast to what is good. Stay away from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 NET)

What happens when we are duped; slowly tricked into believing a lie? Think back to November 18, 1978?

The People’s Temple, a religious community led by James Warren (“Jim”) Jones (1931–78) came to international attention after some 900 of its members died at their compound, Jonestown, in Guyana, in a massive act of murder-suicide on November 18, 1978. Jones began the Peoples Temple informally in the 1950s as an independent congregation in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was inspired by the ideal of a just society that could overcome the evils of racism and poverty. In 1960 the Peoples Temple affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and four years later Jones was ordained. In 1965 members became active in both Protestant ecumenical circles and state politics. An agricultural settlement, Jonestown, was founded in 1974. Following the tragedy at Jonestown, the Peoples Temple was identified as a cult, and Jones was depicted by the media as the epitome of an evil cult leader. (Peoples Temple. Encyclop√¶dia Britannica. 2008. Encyclop√¶dia Britannica Online. 18 Nov. 2008 ).

Paul writes from Corinth to the capital city of Macedonia, a Roman province in A.D. 51. Paul had visited Thessalonica on his 2nd missionary journey and sent Timothy and Silas back to the area reassure the new believers. This letter is in response to Timothy’s good report. Paul’s desire was to encourage the believers in the face of moral temptation and to instruct them to remain steadfast in faith and conduct.

Verse 14 relates so well to our role as parents and teachers within the home and how we are to not only teach sound doctrine but to be a strong symbol of hope and strength to our children and to one another. We not only see our children a bit undisciplined, discouraged, and weak at times, but we as parents can be a bit frazzled too at times! And think of the teachers: they have multiple challenges each and every day! We have to be careful to be positive, encouraging, and on one accord. This requires us to PRAY CONTINUOUSLY!

We face many challenges today. Paul is not saying in verse 16 to be happy that we are struggling, but to rejoice in the fact that God is present with us and if we are truly in fellowship, we have each other as well. When faced with decisions, economic struggles, and the lies our children face, as a Body, we can challenge one another to be steadfast and TEST EVERYTHING against the Word of Truth! It is so important to be on the same page as believers and as a school family as well. We have been lent these precious children to train in the fear (discipline) and admonition (instruction) of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Our children are gifts from God and like arrows in a warrior’s hand, prepared to pierce this dark world in future generations. (Psalm 127)

Together, we (families, school, and church), must covenant to be united in the raising of our children to better impact the world for Christ!

Monday, November 17, 2008

11 17 08 In the Trenches

“Brothers and sisters, God has shown you his mercy. So I am asking you to offer up your bodies to him while you are still alive. Your bodies are a holy sacrifice that is pleasing to God. When you offer your bodies to God, you are worshiping him. Don't live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect…Don't think of yourself more highly than you should. Be reasonable when you think about yourself… Each of us has one body with many parts. And the parts do not all have the same purpose…We all have gifts. They differ in keeping with the grace that God has given each of us…Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves. Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord…Share with God's people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes…Bless those who hurt you... Don't be proud. Be willing to be a friend of people who aren't considered important. Don't think that you are better than others… If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat.
‘If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. By doing those things, you will pile up burning coals on their heads.’ (Proverbs 25:21, 22)
Don't let evil overcome you. Overcome evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:1-21 NIrV)

Paul summarizes here in his letter to the Romans what our lives should resemble as believers. Because of what God has done for us, who were once His enemies as sinners, we are to give up our desires to serve Him as warriors on the battle against sin! The battle is done IN THE TRENCHES, in neighborhoods, along city blocks, on college campuses, in town centers, and in office buildings. While we all can’t go to the front lines of battle, we all can and must have a part in the battle, as a body! What we have is not ours, but given to us to share with the world to the glory of God, especially in this day!

Just as a regiment of soldiers has many parts, we as God’s army must work as a unit. Everyone doesn’t carry a weapon, but everyone is needed. The soldiers must be fed. Weapons must be in good supply. Camps must be fully stocked. The soldiers need to know they have the physical and mental support to carry out the battle plans. It’s the same in God’s army. Those in the trenches of urban neighborhoods, city gyms, suburban day cares, high rise offices, or high schools and colleges need the supply of prayer, teaching material, housing, transportation, and clothing. All this costs…and requires sacrifice from every believer, every member of the Body!

Donald King of the Southern Baptist’s North American Mission Board sending team encourages all to support the warriors: “It’s God’s call that leads rational men and women to walk on dangerous streets, to talk with colorful characters, to seek out people of peace in perilous places. Missionaries boldly go to the frontline of the spiritual battlefield…they are like warriors assigned to take the hill in the name of the Lord. Their very presence begins to penetrate the spiritual darkness of neighborhoods, city blocks, and college campuses.”(They are Warriors. Magazine. Fall. 2008.)

Are you willing to join the battle against the enemy of God? He is lurking in our neighborhoods and schools. He is creeping around the shopping malls and the playgrounds. We need to be on the offensive. Soldiers are suited up and ready to fight, yet the supply line is dwindling. This is not the time to retreat, but to lay it on the line; for our final victory is at hand! Encourage a soldier today. Do your part for those IN THE TRENCHES! There is even room for you on the front line if you so choose. But don’t give up…we too were once the enemy, but God redeemed us through Christ’s blood on the original battlefield. There is yet one final battle…join in!

Friday, November 14, 2008

11 14 08 Guilty as Charged!

“My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people claim they have faith but don't act like it? Can that kind of faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister has no clothes or food. Suppose one of you says to them, ‘Go. I hope everything turns out fine for you. Keep warm. Eat well.’ And you do nothing about what they really need. Then what good have you done? It is the same with faith. If it doesn't cause us to do something, it's dead.” (James 2:14-17 NIrV)

Imagine being handcuffed and hauled away out of your place of employment or taken into custody as you were having dinner with family or friends. The charge; we have been suspected of acting like a Christian in public and now must face those charges in a court of law. We will be allowed to call witnesses on our behalf and the accusers will bring their witnesses against us. How many will be convicted, GUILTY AS CHARGED? Could we garner enough people to say they know without a doubt where our allegiance lies? Would our accusers be able to bring overwhelming evidence against us that we do not live like a Christian?

Having witnessed many court cases over my lifetime and heard varying stories as well, I am amazed how judges react in the courtroom. Some seem disinterested. Others believe they are god-like and possess all the power in the world. Then there are those who take a genuine interest in the people and lives they are about to judge. They make careful study of character, facial expressions, word usage, appearance, and the physical support (people) the accused brings with him.

So if we stand before a judge (and we will one day!) facing charges of believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, what will he see in us? How will he perceive the evidence brought forth? Does our faith have the physical works to back it up? While many good people do tremendously good things, if they do not know Christ, they will never be convicted of being a Christian. Yet here is a rather difficult question to ponder:

If one who claims to know the Lord shows no evidence of that faith in His life, will the judge be convinced to rule that that person before him is indeed a believer?

I know God judges the heart. I also know that He requires sacrifice, service, and labor for Him. He pleads with us to turn from our wicked ways; to take up our cross, and to follow after Him (Matthew 10:38, Luke 14:27). Have we done that? Have we placed our light upon a hill for all to see and experience (Matthew 5:14-16) or hidden it under a bushel basket, inside our SUV or under our pin-striped suits?

Our faith in Christ should cause us to do good. Charged with being a Christian…Innocent of all charges or GUILTY AS CHARGED?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

11 13 08 How to Pray

“Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1 NET)

I received a question recently by a good friend and fellow believer: “Does how we pray determine how we will engage?” Think about that! If we pray, God promises to hear us. But He can only answer prayers in a way that are in His will. He will give us what he thinks we need. He will show us what we need to see. At times He will allow us to experience the consequences of our choices and other times He will grant us grace along with forgiveness.

My question is this: Do we miss out on real opportunities to be effective for God because we pray ineffectively? I do believe we may be just a bit too specific at times and other times a bit too general in our conversations with the Lord. One thing we all need to do is listen more as we pray; that’s right, listen as we pray. This requires some simple quiet moments in His presence. Oh He still speaks; in songs and hymns, in the simple whispers of the wind, in the thunder of a storm, and in the casual conversations of the day. But He also speaks in the silence we may place ourselves in for just a few minutes each day.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray that they honored God. He taught them to depend upon God for their daily needs. He taught them to pray for their forgiveness of others. Jesus taught His followers to pray for the Father’s will to be done. Paul taught us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6). So we know that we should seek our DADDY’s face about some things and everything, anything and all things. We are to pray at all times and for all people. Above all, we are to pray that we honor God and bring Him glory.

In all this, we need to be specific! Knowing God loves us and wants to hear the needs of His children, we should let Him know our needs, our hurts, our worries, and our dependency upon Him to supply the things we need. Then we leave it up to Him to decide. Stop worrying! Now we need to ask Him where he wants us to be and what He wants us to do to bring Him glory. Again, we need to be specific. God show me. DADDY lead me. Father I need You to direct me and make it clear to me how You want me to work to best serve You and others. I am but a dumb blind sheep and You are my Good Shepherd.

Then we must listen. We must have our spiritual eyes opened. We must focus our heart upon His agenda. Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God, Lifeway Press. 1990) would tell us that through an intimate relationship, God reveals Himself, His purposes, and His ways; and He invites you to join Him where He is already at work. Intimacy is the key. It comes from personal, intense, and confident conversations with the Father, DADDY.

He’s willing to reveal His plans, if we are willing to invest our time!
11 12 08 Derailing God’s Work

“At the present time, your abundance will meet their need, so that one day their abundance may also meet your need, and thus there may be equality…” (2 Corinthians 8:14 NET)

I don’t believe anyone would want to be a direct part in DERAILING GOD’S WORK here on earth, especially when it comes to saving a lost soul or providing the basic needs in someone’s life. But that is just what we do when we refuse to participate in the mission work going on before our very eyes in our own neighborhoods and cities.

While many of us gladly support the wonderful and sacrificial labor of many in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and other areas, we in America tend to depend upon the government to supply food, clothing, medical, and personal needs to our neighbors. Lest we forget, even Jesus came to first reach His people…the Jews! How can we neglect the very people we live among each and every day? If we don’t love and care for our brother, how can we say we love God, or someone we have never met? Do we actually think a government program can touch a hurting soul as much as the work of a local Christian mission and its workers? Will food stamps share the Gospel? Will Medicare teach God’s mercy and forgiveness? Will a tax break save a soul from hell?

Local mission work is an effective and valuable tool meeting needs in our urban areas and needs to be fully supported by local churches, their members, and the community as a whole. Historically, Christian religious organizations were established to provide spiritual, physical, and social assistance to the poor and needy. As the government cuts services and the program budgets fall short, the missionary stays in the trenches.

President Bush (July 2004) once said that “a change of heart will change behavior and governments can’t change hearts.” God’s servants on the local mission field not only meet physical needs, but they get to the heart issues of life as well.

Donald King of the North American Mission Board sending team encourages us to support the warriors:

“It’s God’s call that leads rational men and women to walk on dangerous streets, to talk with colorful characters, to seek out people of peace in perilous places. Missionaries boldly go to the frontline of the spiritual battlefield…they are like warriors assigned to take the hill in the name of the Lord. Their very presence begins to penetrate the spiritual darkness of neighborhoods, city blocks, and college campuses”

We may not see the need to give today, but as Paul said above, as we give today, our needs will be met by those who may give tomorrow! As we gladly participate in the work of God in our local areas, we see immediate results as well as sending blessings ahead for ourselves and future generations. Let’s not have any part in DERAILING GOD’S WORK! We have a choice:

“We can give without loving, but we can not love without giving.” (Alexander Duff).

Monday, November 10, 2008

11 10 08 A Sense of Urgency

“Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given to the churches in Macedonia. They have suffered a great deal. But their joy was more than full. Even though they were very poor, they gave very freely. I give witness that they gave as much as they could. In fact, they gave even more than they could. Completely on their own, they begged us for the chance to share in serving God's people in that way. They did more than we expected. First they gave themselves to the Lord. Then they gave themselves to us in keeping with what God wanted. Titus had already started collecting money from you. So we asked him to get you to finish making your kind gift. You do well in everything else. You do well in faith and in speaking. You do well in knowledge and in complete commitment. And you do well in your love for us. So make sure that you also do well in the grace of giving to others. I am not commanding you to do it. But I want to put you to the test. I want to find out if you really love God. I want to compare your love with that of others. You know the grace shown by our Lord Jesus Christ. Even though he was rich, he became poor to help you. Because he became poor, you can become rich. Here is my advice about what is best for you in that matter. Last year you were the first to give. You were also the first to want to give. So finish the work. Then your longing to do it will be matched by your finishing it. Give on the basis of what you have. Do you really want to give? Then the gift is received in keeping with what you have, not with what you don't have. We don't want others to have it easy at your expense. We want things to be equal. Right now you have plenty in order to take care of what they need. Then they will have plenty to take care of what you need. That will make things equal.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-14 NIrV)

What a time we are living in today! Do you have A SENSE OF URGENCY? Can you feel the necessity to be sure everyone you know has a chance to know the Savior? Do feel the burden to point out the differences between what God says and what the world is expressing as acceptable? Are you feeling the desire to point out that there is a disjoint between what some Christians are saying and what God has put in writing? There is one way to be sure the Truth is getting out. We must support the work that God is initiating within His foot soldiers and do our best to join the army!

Paul is very clear in the message to the Corinthian church (and to us). The Macedonians were poor and destitute yet they jumped at the chance to give to those in need in Jerusalem. Key to their financial giving was the fact that they had already given themselves over to the Lord’s use. Just as Jesus gave up His stature in heaven to sacrifice for us, we need to selflessly lay aside our comforts for the needs of others. We can’t keep wanting what is ours when others are in need of the basics of life.

In these challenging days, the Christian should be known by His unselfish giving. We should give ourselves totally to God, look for needs of others, follow Christ’s example of unselfish living, and trust God to care for us as we care for others. It’s not the size of our gifts, but our attitude in giving. We can’t stop giving to others and expect God to provide for us. It just doesn’t work that way! We live in a very unique time: giving is living. I feel A SENSE OF URGENCY!

Friday, November 7, 2008

11 07 08 Love Is….as Christ Loved

“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people's wrongs. Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up. Love never fails. But prophecy will pass away. Speaking in languages that had not been known before will end. And knowledge will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIrV)/strong>

As our baby girl gets married today, I can think of no better advice that what Paul gave back in A.D.55. When dealing with love and commitment, we look no further than Christ and stay right there! He is love. He showed love. This is the only way to love, with sacrifice, Truth, and commitment. Love is more than a feeling, an action, a box of chocolates, or the world’s biggest diamond. Love is a person. LOVE IS AS CHRIST LOVED.

“Wives, follow the lead of your husbands as you follow the Lord. The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church. The church is Christ's body. He is its Savior. The church follows the lead of Christ. In the same way, wives should follow the lead of their husbands in everything. Husbands love your wives. Love them just as Christ loved the church. He gave himself up for her. He did it to make her holy. He made her clean by washing her with water and the word. He did it to bring her to himself as a brightly shining church. He wants a church that has no stain or wrinkle or any other flaw. He wants a church that is holy and without blame.

In the same way, husbands should love their wives. They should love them as they love their own bodies. Any man who loves his wife loves himself. After all, people have never hated their own bodies. Instead, they feed and care for their bodies. And that is what Christ does for the church. We are parts of his body. Scripture says, ‘That's why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. The two will become one.’(Genesis 2:24) That is a deep mystery. But I'm talking about Christ and the church. A husband also must love his wife. He must love her just as he loves himself. And a wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33 NIrV)

It has been proven over time and as God made each of us different, we find that women need to feel loved. They need to feel secure. They need to be cherished (treasured). Men need to know they are respected and highly valued. In marriage, that means that husband and wife are inseparable and glued together in love, in respect, and in their life as one. No one can separate what God joins together. We may break it up o the surface, but husband and wife are joined together from the heart...from the core!

Marriage is a mystery…and standard set by through His covenant relationship with His people back in Genesis. It involves sacrifice and commitment. It is unwavering. Moods may change. Circumstances may change. But love never changes. Love is a person. LOVE IS AS CHRIST LOVED. So we are charged…love one another!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

11 06 08 Allegiance

“The Holy Spirit clearly says that in the last days some people will leave the faith. They will follow spirits that will fool them. They will believe things that demons will teach them. Teachings like those come from liars who pretend to be what they are not. Their sense of what is right and wrong has been burned as if with a hot iron…
Point these things out to the brothers and sisters. Then you will serve Christ Jesus well. You were brought up in the truths of the faith. You received good teaching. You followed it. Don't have anything to do with godless stories and silly tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. Training the body has some value. But being godly has value in every way. It promises help for the life you are now living and the life to come. Here is a saying you can trust. You can accept it completely. We work hard for it. Here is the saying. We have put our hope in the living God. He is the Savior of all people. Most of all he is the Savior of those who believe.
Command those things. Teach them. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young. Set an example for the believers in what you say and in how you live. Also set an example in how you love and in what you believe. Show the believers how to be pure. Until I come, spend your time reading Scripture out loud to one another. Spend your time preaching and teaching. Don't fail to use the gift the Holy Spirit gave you. He gave it to you through a message from God. It was given when the elders placed their hands on you. Keep on doing those things. Give them your complete attention. Then everyone will see how you are coming along. Be careful of how you live and what you believe. Never give up. Then you will save yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4 NIrV)

I pledge ALLEGIANCE …I promise my loyalty and commitment. I give my word of honor. I vow to be faithful. Yes it’s honorable to pledge ALLEGIANCE to our nation…one nation under God. It’s worthy to pledge support for our church, our pastor, and the ministries of the church. It goes without saying to commit our faithfulness to our spouse and children. Yet above all these commitments is our undying loyalty and vow to commit to God, His purposes, and His principles.

In a day when we face so much change, one thing never changes. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8) He still seeks for all to be saved. He still seeks our praise and we should seek nothing but His glory. He still wishes for us to treat all men with respect and to pray for all men, especially those in authority. He also expects His people to obey all authority that He has put in place, unless of course it goes against His principles.

So as we face change and challenges, we also are provided chances to stand for His Word and His ways. We respectfully stand, preach, and teach. We use the gifts He has given each of us. We share the fruit we possess. Our true ALLEGIANCE is to our Father!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

11 05 08 Congratulations America

“The beginning of wisdom is to fear the LORD, and acknowledging the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NET)

After all the rhetoric, all the accusations, and all the TV ads, America has a new President. In what is a celebration of the democratic process, America finally has a leader who truly represents America. Say what you will about his viewpoints, his charisma, or his experience, Mr Obama is what we are.

He is of an immigrant background. He is from a broken family. He has fought his way to his position in life. He is black. He is white. He can be a bit liberal. He can also be a bit conservative. He has a loving wife and beautiful kids whom he wants to love, protect, and provide for. Whether we agree or disagree with his political views, Mr. Obama represents the United States to the rest of the world! He is the mosaic that we are as a people. We as Americans have come a long way and I for one applaud the process and the man. CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA!

Now where do we go? Believe it or not, there are still factions in America who want what they want for selfish reasons. Some are very excited today and with great reason. Others are very angry for no reason. We must turn to God for stability, guidance, and wisdom. If we really want to grow, heal, and prosper as a Nation, we need to humble ourselves, as both candidates did last evening, and realize what a task we have ahead of us. Though both candidates skirted around the issue once again, we need God to intervene or it will all be for naught! We need to ask God to forgive us, heal us, and guide us, not simply to bless America! We need His wisdom and we need to obey Him.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2 NET)

Thank You Father for allowing President Bush to serve You and the United States these past eight years. Thank You for his stand for Your principles. Humble us all God as we call on You for wisdom, guidance and protection for our new President. Cause him to humbly and diligently seek Your face and cause our people to embrace Your will for our Nation!

CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA, now let’s see how far we have actually come!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

11 04 08 Give Us a King

“But this request displeased Samuel, for they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us.’ So Samuel prayed to the LORD. The LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do everything the people request of you. For it is not you that they have rejected, but it is me that they have rejected as their king. Just as they have done from the day that I brought them up from Egypt until this very day, they have rejected me and have served other gods. This is what they are also doing to you. So now do as they say. But seriously warn them and make them aware of the policies of the king who will rule over them.’”
(2 Samuel 8:6-9 NET)

GIVE US A KING! Israel wanted a king like the other nations. God was not enough for them. They wanted to be like everyone else…not a special people, but a normal people. As they rejected God over the years, He allowed them to have what they wanted. Yet He warned them of the policies of the coming ruler; the one they would choose. It would never be the same again!

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”
(Psalm 33:12 NKJV)

One nation under God: I believe we have wandered far from that mantra. Our new laws, policies and rights have caused us to not even consider God when making policies and laws. “What do the people want?” What will get me elected?” We want…I want… Do we ever consider what would please our God? Why are we not as blessed anymore? Is He still our God, or has He been replaced with Wall Street, the Stock Market, and our retirement plans?

“Some trust in chariots and others in horses, but we depend on the LORD our God.”
(Psalm 20:7 NET)

In whom do we trust? As we face a turning point in HIStory, do we trust in God, or man? Do we trust His promises or the politicians’ rhetoric? GIVE US A KING? No, give me Jesus! In God I trust. I depend upon His sovereign hand and eternal promises!

Monday, November 3, 2008

11 03 08 God’s Authority

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1 NET)

We get so caught up in people and their promises during political elections, that we forget the promises of God and how the candidates get into office. Oh yes, we vote, but have we forgotten Who has the final say? Have we forgotten, in all the rhetoric, that we are responsible to the Word of God as well as we vote issues? For every idle word and I believe, every action we undertake on earth, even voting, is something we all will be held accountable for.

We have to be very careful as believers whom we endorse and how we get involved in politics. Political parties stand for specific values and principles. When we line up with a particular candidate or party, we join them in agreement. Though we may register with a particular party, we have to be very careful how involved we become. As for me, my allegiance lies with God and His Word and if necessary, I will abandon all ties with any party or candidate who stands in contrary to God’s principles. God has all authority and He appoints those who are responsible for governing the people.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”
(Isaiah 9:6 NKJV)

The prophet Isaiah told of the Ruler to come who would carry the burden of all government. Jesus declared such in Matthew with His final words to His disciples (Matthew 28:18). This is no political promise or campaign slogan. He is so Wonderful, a comforting Counselor, a Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace! He is God and He still rules from heaven above. It’s by GOD’S AUTHORITY and no one else.

As we use our privilege and right to vote, let’s do it with fear and trembling to the One who rules each of us. Let’s not side with the popular vote, but the authority of God. Then we can rest and peacefully trust our King to rule!

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...