Saturday, December 31, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
“What steps would you take if a sudden storm came up on the starboard?” he asked the young man.
“Well, sir,” said the crew member, I’d throw out an anchor, sir.”
“What would you do if another storm sprang up aft?”
“I’d throw out another anchor, sir.”
“But, what if a third storm sprang up forward?”
“I’d throw out another anchor, sir.”
“Just a minute, son,” said the captain. “Where in the world are you getting all these anchors?”
“Well, sir. I’m getting them from the same place you’re getting all your
The Bible tells us this world is filled with storms. The Bible is filled with stories of the storms that many of the great men and women of faith encountered in their lives. It matters not if you’re reading of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Samuel, Esther and others, each and every man and woman of faith encountered at least one crisis of faith.
Even Jesus warned us repeatedly that life wouldn’t be easy for those who follow Him.
BUT after having told us all that, the Bible tells us there is ONE thing we must not do.
Jesus is with us in the midst of the storms the one thing we shouldn’t do is worry. He said “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" Matthew 6:25
Jesus said: don’t worry about your life.
Don’t worry about where having enough to eat.
Don’t worry about having good enough clothes to wear.
And other Scriptures say almost exactly the same thing:
Psalm 55:22 tells us "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."
Psalm 62:8 declares: "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."
And in the New Testament we’re told the same thing:
Paul wrote: "Do not be anxious for anything..." Philippians 4:6
And Peter wrote: "Cast all your anxiety on him" I Peter 5:7
So, I’m not supposed to worry.
I’m not supposed to be anxious.
But I do get anxious. I do worry.
Why do I get anxious?
Why do I worry?
Well, you could offer all kinds of reasons:
• I don’t have a job.
• I don’t have much money.
• I have a boatload of debt.
• I’m going through a divorce.
• My family’s falling apart.
And the list could go on and on and on...
But Bible tells me: In the midst of those difficulties in my life I’m not supposed to worry.
I feel better already!
I mean, if I’d only know I shouldn’t be worrying, it would have been all better by now
If I just wouldn’t be anxious life would be smooth sailing.
If I didn’t worry all my problems would be solved.
Is that way it works?
No… it doesn’t work that way does it?
Just because I decide not to worry doesn’t mean my troubles pack up and disappear.
NOT worrying doesn’t SOLVE my problems.
So then, why does God say that I shouldn’t be anxious or filled with worry if that doesn’t really solve anything?
Well, the first thing we need to do here is go back to our original question:
Why do I worry?
Why do I get anxious?
Well, the answer’s very simple actually
I get anxious because something has happened that I can’t control. I don’t have the money, I don’t have the resources, I don’t have the ability, I don’t have the time...
You name it, I ain’t got it.
Essentially, the reason I worry is because there’s a problem and I can’t do anything about it.
I can’t change it!
I can’t fix it!
I can’t do a single thing to alter my situation!
So, I worry because I have a problem I can’t fix.
But does worrying help me fix the problem?
Jesus said “no”
He asks "Can any of you - by worrying - add a single hour to your life?"
Well, the answer, of course, is NO!
Worrying can’t change that because worry doesn’t fix anything.
AND SO what Jesus is saying is this: worrying is worthless.
When your back is up against the wall... worrying is a worthless emotion.
It doesn’t change anything... it’s a worthless reaction to my problems.
In fact – worrying is worse than worthless.
Worry NOT ONLY doesn’t change what you’re facing it just makes everything I DO face worse.
Corrie Ten Boom said:
“Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow
It empties today of its strength.”
In fact, worry NOT ONLY robs today of its strength, when worry takes over my thinking it robs ME... physically.
Dr. Charles Mayo himself observed:
"Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt."
Worry is NOT the solution to our problems.
Now Jesus said: “... do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
Each day has troubles.
Even as a Christian you can’t avoid those troubles.
But worry doesn’t help us... it hurts us.
And SO we need to get it off our plate, we need to get it out of our minds, we need to remove it from our considerations. And we need to do that immediately if not sooner.
So, one of the reasons we worry is because there’s a situation we can’t control.
I hate to say it... but worrying is faith issue.
And I say “I hate to say this” because I’ve been known to worry. To be anxious.
But right in the middle of His teaching on doubt Jesus says:
”Oh Jerry of little faith.”
No… that’s not what He said. He said “Oh you of little faith.”
But He may as well have said my name… and your name… and your name.
He could have said “Jerry don’t you know? Don’t you understand “the PAGANS run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Mt 6:30&32
You see – WORRY is a faith issue.
Worry is when I put more faith in my problems than I do in God’s promises.
Let’s repeat that:
Worry is when I put more faith in my problems than I do in God’s promises.
That’s why so many Scriptures stress looking on God in the midst of our difficulties:
Psalm 55:22 declares "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."
Psalm 62:8 declares: "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."
And Peter writes in I Peter 5:7: "Cast all your anxiety on him for He cares for you." 7
You see, God is the doctor for my doubt. God is the antidote for my anxiety. He’s the fix for my lack of faith. And the Bible tells me that over and over and over again.
So if that’s true (and it is) how do I lay hold of God in the midst of my doubt & fears
Well 1st, Jesus says, it’s a question of what you look at.
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23
If I focus on doubt and fear and anxiety and worry my eyes grow so dark that my whole body gets FULL of darkness. That doubt and fear will so invade my soul that I won’t be able to see anything else.
So Jesus says: focus your eyes in the somewhere else.
“LOOK at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
"SEE how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:29
Look at the birds.
Look at the lilies of the field.
When you and I get bogged down with doubt, we need to look around for God... pay attention to what He’s ALREADY done
That’s what Philippians 4 tells us:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Rejoice in the LORD always and peace of God will guard my heart and mind?
What am I supposed to rejoice in?
Well, Paul goes on to say “...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me— put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
I need to think on the things God’s has already done.
The things that are: True, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable.
And when I rejoice in those things that God has done THEN the peace of God will be with ME. Worry will be beaten back/ anxiety will disappear. And I will replace doubt and fear with the peace of God.
If we Remember, Rejoice and Give thanks, THEN the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.
So the first thing I can do to combat worry in my life is to change my focus from my problems to His Promises.
Then Jesus tells me a 2nd thing I can do:
Right in the middle of his discourse on doubt and faith, Jesus says this
”But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
What does it mean to SEEK something?
It means to hunt for it, search diligently.
Those of you who wear glasses. Have you ever misplaced the You knew roughly where they were – they were in your house somewhere, and you knew that because you can’t drive without them. You searched everywhere for those glasses… which was fairly difficult since YOU CAN’T SEE MUCH WITHOUT THEM.
You eventually found them, but the process of searching for them was a little unnerving. You desperately wanted to find them.
In the same way, Jesus is saying we need to desperately want to find God’s Kingdom and His righteousness in our lives. It needs to be THE highest priority in our lives. And Jesus says that when we do that – He’ll reward us.
That’s a common theme for things that important to God.
We seek, He rewards.
Hebrews 11:6 says “... without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that HE REWARDS those who earnestly seek him.”
In order to please God I must believe not only that He’s out there somewhere. That He exists and I can’t see Him. In order to please God I have to have a faith that says He’s there and He’s willing to reward me if I earnestly seek Him.
So how can I seek Him and His Kingdom and His righteousness?
Well, one way is to tithe
In tithing I am seeking first - not MY kingdom – but His.
In tithing I’m putting my money where my faith is... and I expect God to reward me.
In tithing I am investing in the things that are important to God.
And that’s exactly what God says in Malachi 3:10 said would happen if I tithe: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not THROW OPEN THE FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN and POUR OUT SO MUCH BLESSING that you will not have room enough for it.”
We seek, He rewards.
Another way of seeking God and His kingdom and righteousness is in giving to others. Proverbs19:17 “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.”
When I help the poor and the needy with my time and resources I have invested in God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness. And notice what God says he’ll do?
We seek – He’ll reward.
And that’s just a couple of ways you can SEEK first His Kingdom and His righteousness.
One last thing: In Matthew 6:32 Jesus said “... your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”
1. He knows what you need
2. He knows whether you need food, or clothing... or something else.
Sometimes, food and clothing isn’t really what we need. Sometimes what we need is something else entirely.
A young man who wasn’t very religious once lost his job, and he grew more and more desperate about his situation, until at last he went to see an old preacher that he knew.
He stood by the door and poured out his heart to the preacher... and then he angrily shouted "I’ve begged and begged God to say something to help me, preacher. Why doesn’t God answer?"
The old preacher, who was sitting across the room, spoke a reply so quiet the young man was unable to make it out. The young man stepped across the room.
"What did you say?" he asked.
The preacher repeated himself, again in a soft tone. So the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair.
"Sorry," he said. "I still didn’t hear you."
With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more.
"God sometimes whispers," he said, "so we will move closer to hear him."
Sunday, December 18, 2011
(The life of Jesus as told through the Old Testament. Written roughly 700 years before His birth)
God spoke and said, "O Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2)
A Star shall come out of Jacob (Numbers 24:17).
Behold! The virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)"
And the world rejoiced and cried out, "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, Prince of Peace! (Isaiah 9:6)
Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:4-6).
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied."
Then God declared, "By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong. Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 10-12)."
Why a Virgin Birth?
Every Christmas season our thoughts turn to the birth of Christ and to his mother, Mary. To some extent, we all take the nativity for granted. But why was Jesus born of a virgin? One answer, of course, is to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14: "Behold the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
But that's more descriptive than causal: why was it necessary in the first place? There are, of course, many profound theological issues inherent in the virgin birth. One way to view this issue is to address one of the problems it solves.
God announced very early that His plan for redemption involved the Messiah being brought forth from the tribe of Judah1, and specifically from the line of David2. The succession of subsequent kings proved to be, with only a few exceptions, a dismal chain. As the succeeding kings of Judah went from bad to worse, we eventually encounter Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin), upon whom God pronounces a " blood curse" : "Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah."(Jeremiah 22:30)
This curse created a rather grim and perplexing paradox: the Messiah had to come from the royal line, yet now there was a "blood curse" on that very line of descent! (I always visualize a celebration in the councils of Satan on that day. But then I imagine God turning to His angels, saying, "Watch this one!")
The answer emerges in the differing genealogies of Jesus Christ recorded in the gospels. Matthew, as a Levi, focuses his gospel on the Messiahship of Jesus and presents Him as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Thus, Matthew traces the legal line from Abraham (as any Jew would) through David, then through Solomon (the . royal. line) to Joseph, the legal father of Jesus3.
On the other hand, Luke, as a physician, focuses on the humanity of Jesus and presents Him as the Son of Man. Luke traces the blood line from Adam (the first Man) through to David -- and his genealogy from Abraham through David is identical to Matthew's. But then after David, Luke departs from the path taken by Matthew and traces the family tree through another son of David (the second surviving son of Bathsheba), Nathan, down through Heli, the father of Mary, the mother of Jesus4.
One should also note the exception to the law which permitted inheritance through the daughter if no sons were available and she married within her tribe5.
The daughters of Zelophehad had petitioned Moses for a special exception, which was granted when they entered the land under Joshua.
I believe it was C.I. Scofield who first noted that the claims of Christ rely upon this peculiar exception granted to the family of Zelo-phehad in the Torah. Heli, Mary's father, apparently had no sons, and Mary married within the tribe of Judah. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, of the house and lineage of David and carrying legal title to the line, but without the blood curse of Jeconiah. [I believe that every detail in the Torah -- and the entire Bible -- has a direct link to Jesus Christ. "The volume of the book is written of me." (Psalm 40:7) [For a more detailed discussion, watch for our new book, Cosmic Codes -- Hidden Messages from the Edge of Eternity, presently in publication.]
This was no afterthought or post facto remedy, of course. It was first announced in the Garden of Eden when God declared war on Satan: " I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."(Genesis 3:15)
The "Seed of the Woman" thus becomes one of the prophetic titles of the Messiah. This biological contradiction is the first hint -- in the early chapters of Genesis -- of the virgin birth.
John also presents a genealogy, of sorts, of the Pre-Existent One in the first three verses of his gospel6. The Prophet Micah also highlights this: " But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."(Micah 5:2)
Christmas Questions & Answers
WAS JESUS REALLY BORN DECEMBER 25th?
Probably not. In Luke 2:1-5 we learn that Joseph and Mary were traveling to Bethlehem to register for a census (Rome wanted to know how many people there were so they would know how much was owed to them in taxes). It would be foolish to have so many people travel in the wintertime. The widely held belief is that Jesus was born in the spring, summer or early fall at the latest because the shepherds were more likely to be out in the fields that time of year.
So why is Christmas on December 25th? In 336 AD the church decided to celebrate Jesus' birth on December 25th to offset the pagan celebration of the winter solstice.
WHY WAS JESUS BORN IN BETHLEHEM?
In Micah 5:2, we find a prophecy that tells us the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. If we go to the book of Ruth we find the connection between Jesus and Bethlehem. We discover that the Messianic line (Jesus' earthly family tree) began in Bethlehem. Ruth and her husband Boaz began the line when they had a child named Obed who was David's grandfather.
There is a very old tradition that says that Ruth and Boaz began their family in the exact same location that Jesus was born some 1100 years later and the fields of Ruth 2 are the same fields the angels visited the shepherds in Luke 2. Another interesting connection is found in the meaning of Bethlehem. Bethlehem means "house of bread". An appropriate name for Jesus' birthplace because He referred to Himself as "the bread of life" (John 6:35).
WHO WERE THE MAGI?
The Magi (or Wise Men) were a priesthood of the Medes (known today as the Kurds). They were said to have great religious knowledge and held much political power. But how did they know Jesus was born? In Daniel 5:11 we read that Daniel was made Chief of the Magi. Daniel, no stranger to prophecy, must have taught about the coming of the Messiah.
Because of their high standing and the fact they were traveling into Roman occupied territory, they were certain to have been escorted by many armed guards. This is why Matthew 2:3 says that Herod and all Jerusalem were troubled when they heard the Magi were looking for the true King of the Jews. Herod held that title and it was feared that this was an attempt to overthrow Roman rule! (Matthew 2:1-12).
Their visit led to Herod ordering all male children two years old and under killed (Matt. 2:16-18). He had hoped that Jesus would be among the dead. The Magi presented Jesus with three gifts. Gold, which represented His Kingship, frankincense was a spice used in priestly duties and points to Jesus as our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14), and myrrh, an embalming ointment which anticipated His death. Together these gifts present a picture of the Savior: The King (gold) who is Holy (frankincense) and who came to be a Sacrifice for our sins (myrrh).
WHAT WAS THE STAR THE MAGI FOLLOWED?
There are all sorts of ideas about what the star the Magi saw really was in Matthew 2:2. Some have said it was a comet, others have said it was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.
WHY WERE THE SHEPHERDS SO IMPORTANT?
Luke 2:8-15 tells the beautiful story of the angels telling the shepherds about the birth of Jesus. Shepherds were not very high up on the social scale. But while they were not well thought of by men, in the eyes of God they were very special. So special that He sent a multitude of angels to invite them to come and worship His Son. The shepherds were important because they showed that Jesus was a gift to all of us, regardless of who we are.
As we read the accounts of the birth of Jesus we find the Magi -- powerful and respected standing beside the shepherds -- weak and lowly and all were bowing down worshiping the newborn King. All were equal in His sight. And good tidings of great joy were -- and still are today -- for all people.
Friday, December 09, 2011
Following Christ is more than doing spiritual things. It is more than what we say. It is more than what we do. Following Christ is not just an event. It is a journey, a relationship, it is a process, it is purposeful, productive, and provocative. It is a life filled with problems, promises, people, and potential. B ut it's definitely more than a feeling!
In the past few years I have been processing some things, walking in new places, developing new relationships and learning some things. I must admit it hasn't been the easiest process I've been through. There are days when God is silent. Moments when I am complacent without meaning to be. Days when my feeler doesn't feel anything, but my knower knows that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. I know that I will do exactly what God intends me to do. It just might take some time for me to get there.
Perhaps it's an age thing with me. I consider myself a passionate, progressive, aggressive person. I am rock solid on my convictions and my dreams. Only I will choose the hill I die on. I will fight to the death or at least the enabling of those things I know are right. But as I age I'm not so interested in the short race. I'm looking toward the marathon. I'm hoping to create and develop things that last Something that will leave a legacy. So I'm learning to push past the pain, the lack of feeling at times, and move in faith toward the things and places I know I'm supposed to go.
Just thinking out loud!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Have you ever seen the Energizer battery commercial on television? You know that is the one where the little bunny appears beating a drum, and the announcer says" still going! On he goes, across the desert, over mountains, on lonely highways. Nothing seems to stop the little bunny. Now, I want you to understand that the point of the commercial is not the bunny, but the battery.
It’s important to have good batteries because weak batteries cause problems. Cars with weak batteries have problems starting. Once the motor starts the car usually runs, but it takes a good battery to get it started. Particularly in cold weather, a weak battery just won’t do it.
Finally, she called a mechanic who took one look at her cable ends and analyzed her problem. He said “Ma'am, you have a good battery but your cables are bad.” That day she learned a good lesson about her car; you must always make sure that you have a good connection to the battery. My brothers and sisters, we too, as “born again” Christians, must make sure that we have a good connection to our power source; and that source is Jesus.
Now, in our text, the Cross of Christ represents the power of God unto salvation. It also represents the power of God for every believer to live in the spirit. But like the battery, we must have clear contact to keep the power flowing. We must be in harmony with the will of God to benefit from the power that is available to us.
It is of little or no value at all to have the power of the Almighty God at our disposal, and let our connection get rusty and corroded. You see, that corrosion causes a bad connection. There are too many believers who go through life hearing the "clicking" sound that suggest that there is power under the hood that can't get through. Many of us have the ability to achieve greatness through the exercise of our gifts, but every time we turn the switch all we get is a clicking sound.
We, as Christians, need to keep a clear and uninterrupted connection with God. Yes, others might think that we are foolish for doing so, but we who are saved know that our power comes from the Cross, the Power of God.
In our text, Paul writes to the church at Corinth about the wisdom of preaching the truth of the cross of Christ. Paul explains that those who are saved recognize the cross as a symbol of the power of God. But to those outside of the faith, the church seems to be involved in foolishness.
What is this foolishness of which Paul speaks? Maybe it’s the command to love your enemies or to pray for those who use you. Maybe it’s your belief that what you hope for will become evident through your faith. Maybe it’s your belief that you are blessed when men revile you and persecute you, and utter all manner of evil against you falsely.
Now, notice in our text, it says, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God”. And Romans 10:14 reminds us that the first step to releasing the power of God is by hearing the Word of God. Hear the Word of God:
”How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher?” Now watch this; verse 17 says this: “So faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
Singing, praying, testimonies and other forms of worship are inspiring to me, but it is the Word of God that connects us to our power source. It is the Word of God that directs me to the foot of the Cross.
When Paul spoke of the cross as the power source for Christians, he was not talking about the wooden stake or post in the ground that was used for capitol punishment. When Paul spoke of the cross as the power source for Christians, he referred to what the cross symbolizes…that symbolism includes the sacrifice of Christ, His blood shed on Calvary, His death, burial and resurrection.
The crucifixion of Christ transformed the cross from a symbol of shame and embarrassment to a symbol of the Mighty Power of God. The Cross embodies this symbol because Christ’s death on the cross blotted out all sin and man’s foolish laws from which there could be no redemption.
This is what Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians, Chapter Two, verse fourteen; “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, (Christ) took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” When Paul preached about Christ and His crucifixion, the Jews considered it a stumbling block. The Greeks said that it was foolishness. But I stopped by to tell you that those who perish are those who reject the power of the cross. They’ve heard the story, but they refuse to accept it’s truth. They view preaching as a waste of time…foolishness…. And they will perish.
But to those of us who are called, both Jew and Greek, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Those of us who are believers know that, at the foot of the cross, we find our ability, our strength, and our power.
Our knowledge of the historical account of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is our power source; it is our spiritual energizer that just keeps us going, going, and going. There are many who are hooked up to the wrong source; they’re trying to use a six-volt transistor to empower a twelve-volt understanding. What am I saying? I’m saying that too many of God’s created people are depending on their own skills and education to get them through life. Educational skills are necessary, and I wish that every one would get a degree from the college of their choice. But when trouble comes, that battery is too small for the job. When you need real power, you’d better be hooked up to the power that holds the world in the palm of His hand, and lights up the night with the moon and the stars.
Now, in order to get the needed energy from your power source, you must have the right connection. You can have a good battery but if the connection is wrong, there is no power. And since we are talking about connecting to a power source, we must also determine the type of connection required.
There are two types of current, A/C and D/C. Some folks in our churches are A/C in nature. They suffer from being hooked up to an alternating current. They attend church on alternating Sundays. They pray on alternating occasions. They tithe on alternating occasions. What I’m trying to say is that they come to church when they feel like it, pray when it is convenient, and give when they want to.
Then there are those who are hooked up to the D/C, or direct current. God is looking for some D/C folks…dedicated Christians; people on whom He can depend. People who just don't do things when it’s convenient for them, but “press toward the mark” daily. God is looking for those who will keep on going no matter how hard it gets.
Now, if you have a good battery, and the connecting cables are good, there’s still one more thing you need to know. The connection must be tight! The battery must be free of external interference. There can be no space separating the cable from the battery post.
Paul said it best when he declared, “nothing shall separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.” And when it comes to the life of a Christian there must be no space that separates us from the Master. The life of a Christian must be lived in such a way that there is nothing between our soul and our Savior.
And what can corrode your connection with God? Well, pride will corrode your cables and interfere with your connection. Hatred will keep you from having a good connection with God. Jealousy will keep you from having a good connection with God. Strife will keep you from having a good connection with God. And there are many more. Get rid of the things that are keeping you from having a good connection with your power source.
And finally, make sure both cables are connected. Along with the hot wire, there must be a ground cable. Somebody, today, is trying to get a prayer through and you’re not properly grounded. You’re trying to sing His praises but your ground wire is loose. How do I become grounded?
You are grounded when you accept Christ as your PERSONAL SAVIOR, confess with your MOUTH the Lord, Jesus Christ, and believe in YOUR HEART that He was raised from the dead. Abide in the Word of God. Ground yourself to the Cross of Christ….then plunge into the “foolishness” of loving those who hate you. Plunge into the foolishness of believing with seeing. Plunge into the foolishness of praying for those who use you, and finding a blessing in persecution.
Ground yourself to the belief that in Christ we live, move and have our beings. When you need power you need to go to the one that created the trees and the flowers. When you need power you need to go to the one that is able to heal the sick and raise the dead.
Yes, when you need power you need to go to the Rock of (your) Salvation and His name is Jesus. If you are looking for a good power source let me introduce you to God's original power source.
Before there was a 36-Month Goodyear Power Source….Before there was a NAPA 40 Month Power Horse…..Before there was a Sears 60-Month Guaranteed Power Source…..Before Sears and Roebuck ever thought of the name, Jesus was the original Die-Hard.
Yes, Jesus is better than Ever-ready; and He's got power to spare.
They crucified Him on the cross, they buried Him in a borrowed tomb, and they tried to drain Him of his power. But early one Sunday Morning, My Die Hard, My Ever Ready, My Energizer, My Duracell, rose with all power in his hand… “Wonder working power”, “soul saving power”, “healing power” in His hand. Are you connected to His power?
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Friday, November 25, 2011
Unfortunately, in some parts of the country, Black Friday was quite violent. People fighting over merchandise. Mobs trampling people to death as they rush through the doors to beat others to the bargains.
What is Black Friday? Where did it come from? When is Black Friday? I have found the answer to these questions by looking at about.com.
The history of Black Friday began in 1966. This is when a story appeared in an ad in The American Philatelist. The Philadelphia Police Department used the name to describe the traffic jams and crowding in the downtown stores.
Black Friday has been the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season since the 1930s. In fact, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week during the Great Depression because retailers wanted an extra week of shopping revenue. This pleased retailers, but irritated shoppers, who had to change plans.
Black Friday 2011 is the day after Thanksgiving, November 25 2011. It officially kicks off the holiday shopping season, as 195 million shoppers usually hit stores during the Black Friday weekend. This is important for the economy because nearly 20% of retail sales occur between Black Friday through Christmas. For some retailers, such as jewelers, it can be as high as 40%.
For 2011, the National Retail Federation said that shoppers usually spend about half of their total holiday gift shopping on Black Friday. The NRF forecast that shoppers are more optimistic in 2011 than they were last year. Holiday sales will be up 2.8% to $465.6 billion. This is higher than the 2.6% increase experienced in the last ten years, but lower than the norm (3.4% annual increase) for the decade before the 2008 financial crisis. It's unlikely growth will return to those levels anytime soon, since most of this spending was fueled with credit card debt. This debt has been declining in the last three years.
On average, each shoppers said they expect to spend $704 in 2011. However, it's possible they could spend more than their expectations, because that's just what happened during Black Friday 2010. They said they would spend $688 each, but they actually spent $719 each. Shoppers will spend less than the all-time high of $755 per person set in 2007. It's much better than the recessionary low of $682 per shopper set in 2009.
That increase could be because shoppers have delayed big purchases during the year to take advantage of holiday sales. Nearly two-thirds (60%) said they would buy non-gift items for themselves and family. They said they would plan to spend $130.43 each to buy apparel, electronics,and household items on sales. This is up from $112.20 they spent on non-gift items last year.
Most of the money ($403) will be spent on gifts for family members. The rest will be spent friends ($68), co-workers ($21), and others including pets ($23). In addition to playing Santa with presents, shoppers will celebrate the holidays by purchasing candy and food ($96.75), decorations ($46.73), greeting cards ($26.52), and flowers ($18.23.)
Ever since the recession, retail trends show a shift to thrift. This is not just a search for the lowest price, but also an interest in finding the best value for the price. The 2011 Black Friday survey shows the same. Nearly half (41%) said sales and price discounts are the most important factor. However, 15% said quality of merchandise was most important, while 6% were most interested in superior customer service.
Shoppers head toward the retailers that meet their need for discounts and bargains. For this reason, most of them will visit discount stores (66% vs 65% in 2010). Department stores, that have learn to provide more savings through private labels, will see an increase in the percentage of shoppers planning to visit them -- 57% vs. 55% last year. Shoppers plan to spend more time visiting a variety of retail outlets to find the best bargains. For that reason, more will visit clothing or accessory stores (35% vs. 34%), drug stores (21% vs. 19% last year), and grocery stores (49% vs. 47%). More of those looking to make their own gifts will visit crafts and fabric stores (18% vs. 16% in 2010).
For recipients, gifts small and large are expected to make big impressions this year. For the fifth year in a row – and at the highest level in the survey’s history – 57.7 percent of shoppers say they’d like to receive a gift card this holiday season. What kinds of gifts do people want to receive? Well over half (58%) simply want a gift card, so they can be sure they won't be disappointed with their gift. Others trust their gift-givers' taste in clothing and accessories (50%), consumer electronics (35%), jewelry (23%), and personal care items (19%).
Nearly 80% are getting a head start on their holiday shopping, with 40% starting before Halloween, and another 40% will beg starting before Black Friday. Another 17% will wait until the first two weeks in December, while 4% will procrastinate until right before Christmas.
According to National Retail Federation, stores will hire between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, about the same as the 495,000 workers they hired in 2010. In addition, retailers added 100,000 workers since August 2010. This is another important way the retail industry affects the U.S. economy. (Source: National Retail Federation 2011 Survey)
The above stats concern me. Too much of our economy depends on Black Friday and the Christmas season. The confidence or the lack of confidence over the first quarter or two of next year will depend on this period of time. We have materialized Christmas so much that the very health of our country depends on it.
I hope everyone got the things they got up early or camped out and stood in line for. Every year the Christmas season is pushed back to where Thanksgiving and Halloween are loosing their status of even being a holiday. Our materialism is causing us to forget the meaning of the holidays.
Like everyone else, I like the bargains. But I'm afraid that little by little I'm afraid we are losing the true meaning of the holiday seasons. What are we leaving for our kids and grand-kids?
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Monday, August 08, 2011
Jeremiah 29:11-29:13 Deut 2:1-3 KJ
In this scripture the Lord was referring to the children of Israel. They had been wondering in the desert for 40 yrs on the way to the promise land.
What God was saying to them was I have something better for you. Aren't you getting tired of the same old thing yet?
Haven't you been walking around this wilderness long enough?
Don't you want to experience the change in scenery that I have in store for you?
Don't you want to experience the promised land that's been waiting for you all this time?
You've circled this mountain long enough turn you northward.
Can you imagine, wondering around in circles, in the desert for 40 years?
As hard as it is to have imagined, that happening, it really did happen.
They never sought the change that was necessary for them to experience all that God had in store for them.
Instead of I am, I can, I will, it was more like I'm not, I cant, I won't.
Sad thing is, there are still people today, just like the children of Israel were.
People who are reluctant to make a change in the course of their lives, to experience all of the blessings God has in store for them. Blessings so close, that they could throw a stone and hit them.
Like a strong pot of coffee brewing they could smell it but not taste it.
The word of the Lord said: you've been in this place long enough.
God said it then, and it still holds true today. It's time to change your circumstances!
You can you know, because Gods word says it's possible.
Its time to set a new course, a new plan of action. It's time to realize that a change is going to do you good!
Do you need a victory today in your;
Jesus is ready to deliver whatever you have need , because He has already been victorious over every situation you have encountered, or will ever encounter
He already took care of it, at the cross.
There is nothing that can stand up to what He did when He died on the cross for each and every one of us.
Are you ready to stand up and proclaim, I Am, I Can, I Will?
I Am ready to make the changes necessary in my life that the Lord wants me to make.
So that I can walk in and enjoy the abundant life and good things He has promised me.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 HCSB.
11. For I know the plans I have for you" [this is] the LORD's declaration
"plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
12. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
I love what it says, I love talking about Gods plans for all of us.
The accuser may tell you, your not worthy of Gods Goodness and blessings.
But that's not what Gods word has to say about the situation.
Lets go a little bit farther, it says For I know the plans I have for you
Making a plan requires a lot of thought.
Especially when your making it for someone else and their benefit and their welfare.
But Gods word doesn't say plan, it says plans.
That means God has thought long and hard about multiple ways, using multiple streams of blessings, to provide you with a hope and a future!
When God said, He wants you to have the abundant life He has promised, He meant it.
So many aren't willing to make the change in their way of thinking and just accept it at face value.
God said it, and that's more than enough reason to believe it can come to pass, in anyone's life.
Abundant life are Gods words not mans.
Don't be the one to cheat yourself out of what God wants to do in your life.
If you're not living the abundant life God promises, Don't blame it on God!
Get out of Gods way and let Him start giving you all that He has for you!!
I Am, I Can!
TBS. in Phil. 4:13 NKJ
13. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
MSG: Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
People can do and are capable of a lot of things.
God made a marvelous creation, when he created mankind.
After all TBS.(the bible says) we are created in His image!
We can put a man on the moon, we can accept and are willing try new inventions and medicines on another mans report.
But when it comes to the things of God and what He wants to do for us, the word can, suddenly has a T tacked on to the end of it, and becomes can't with a capital C.
Are you tired of being trapped by the word can't?
Jesus never used the word can't, the word wasn't part of His vocabulary.
He was a can do type of guy, and we can be the same because God's word says we can.
We can accomplish because the word of God says we can.
Because when we depend on Jesus and His finished work instead of ourselves, that's when and only when it becomes possible.
These are truths that have the promise of God behind them, truths that the accuser has stolen for long enough from Gods people, truths that need to be reclaimed!
I Am, I Can and I Will!!!
I will be faithful to the calling that God has called me to. Everyone that is a Christian has a job to do.
1st Cor. 12:27-28 NKJ.
27. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
28. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
There is so much to be done for the Kingdom of God and so few willing to get involved.
Isaiah 6:8 NKJ
8. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?
Then I said, Here am I! Send me.
God is looking for men and women today, who will stand up and say, I will
I will do whatever needs to be done to further the cause of Christ.
I will be what Jesus wants me to be. I will go where He wants me to go.
God is looking for someone willing to step out of the box of normalcy.
Someone that's ready for Him to do a new thing in their life.
Are you fed up with your present situation, and the way things have been going in your life?
You say yes, but you don't understand what it would take to make the changes in my life that need to be made.
Maybe not, but I know someone who does. I know the master of all possibilities!
God said you've circled the mountain long enough, its time to go on through it.
The Bible is a book of amazing turnarounds. From Genesis to Revelations we see God turning things around for His people.
One of the best scenarios in the Bible is in the book of Ezekiel chapter 37 the Valley of dry bones.
It looked hopeless, impossible, beyond the point of no return.
We serve a God of endless possibilities. If He can breathe life into dry bones, He can take care of your situation if you ask Him to. Nothing is to hard for Him.
There is no situation that He can not turn around.
What's your need, whatever it is, God has the capabilities to do it with ease.
Isaiah 43:18-19 NKJ
18. Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19. Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
Can you imagine, a river in the desert?
You see a lot of people believe God can turn any situation around for anyone.
But they have a problem when its their situation that needs turning around.
This Scripture tells us that God is doing something fresh and new. But the condition and requirement for receiving the new is to let go of the old.
Reminds me of the man at the Pool of Bethesda, the place of blessing.
No doubt, he had seen many people get their healing. I'm sure he had seen many people get their deliverance and get their breakthrough.
And repeatedly the devil taunted him and tormented him and told him, you're never going to get your miracle, its been 38 yrs. Give up already. Why bother even trying.
But one day the water didn't just stir. But the one who could make it stir, stood in front him,
Do you know what Jesus did?
He didn't bring up any of the negative garbage in his life or the lies the devil had spun.
He just ask him one question, do you want to be healed?
At that moment there wasn't enough disease in the world to keep him sick.
The only one who could keep him from his blessing was himself.
And I tell you the same thing here , the only one who can keep you from your blessing is you.
God stands ready to bless you, He wants to bless you, The bible says, He loves to bless His Children it gives Him great pleasure!
Jesus has already done everything that could be done, for us to receive His Fathers blessing.
He's already paid our ransom for our sins with His blood.
He's already provided for our healing with His body and He is willing to give us access to everything He has and has done for us.
The rest is up to us. We are the most blessed people on earth because of it.
That's why God's word says, we can be the head and not the tail!
There is nothing that we will ever come up against in this life that He has not provided for.
He has abundantly provided. He is a God of more than enough, not a God of barely enough.
When you stop and think about it, He could not have made it any easier for us.
The solutions to all of lives problems have always been there waiting, just waiting for us to step into them and use them.
Why wait any longer? Start walking in all that God has given you,
Start enjoying everything that Jesus died for to make possible the abundant life that God has promised you. Soon you'll see God's Goodness and you'll be shouting from the rooftop, I Am able, I Can do all things, I Will be found faithful!
Saturday, April 02, 2011
· What does God want me to do?
· What does it take?
· Why should I do it?
I have challenged my church (Faith Community Worship Center) to do these three things in the next week. I believe that if we do these things, they will totally revolutionize our lives and bring the changes that are necessary to draw us to closer to God, as a congregation, than we have ever been before.
· Set aside 15 minutes a day to read a daily devotional and the Bible.
· Make a commitment to attend Bible study.
· Memorize a weekly Bible verse.
Today we are going to look at life's three greatest questions:
· The question of existence: Why am I alive?
· The question of significance: Does my life matter?
· The question of intention: What is my purpose?
These questions are not exactly new questions. In fact, thousands of years ago, Jeremiah, a man in the Old Testament of the Bible, asked God “why am I here?”
Jeremiah 20:18 (NLT)
Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.
Most of us have felt this way before. We have probably asked the “why” question multiple times. God, why do I have to put up with all of these problems? Why do I have so much stress, heartache and grief?
For centuries, sages and philosophers have asked the “why” question: “Why am I here?” and the “what” question: “What is the purpose of life?” People continue to wrestle with these questions, they wonder what’s the purpose of life and is life worth living. We see this in the fact that the suicide rate in our society has gone up. It's now the No. 2 killer of teenage students. You see, if you take God out of the equation, you don't really have very many alternatives.
Where do we find purpose? Most pundits will tell you "look within and you will find your purpose." You know if that really worked, all of us would know our purpose. I’ve tried it and I bet you have too. It’s not there. It takes more than looking within.
Others have sought to find purpose in power, pleasure, fame and fortune. If this were the case, Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Kobain, and whole host of others would still be here. These people and so many of us here today are searching for meaning in things that cannot satisfy.
So, where do we go to find meaning and purpose in life? Most people end up in the self-help section at the book store. I’ve been there. Most self help books say the same thing: "You've got to invent your purpose." You've got to create your own purpose in life.
They all give the same basic approach - discover your dreams, go after your goals, have some ambitions, aim high, believe you can achieve, have faith, figure out what you're good at, never give up, involve other people. That’s all good advice. If you do those things, you will be successful in life.
But being a success and knowing your purpose in life are not the same thing. You can be a raving success in life and still never know, "What on earth am I here for?" What did God put me on this earth for?
You see, the purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment. It's far greater than your own happiness. Even your own peace of mind. You were made by God and you were made for God and you were put here for His purposes. Until you understand that, life is not going to make sense.
Okay, why does God want us here? Why are we alive? Why are we on this planet? Is there a reason? This is what Proverbs 16.4 says:
The LORD has made everything for his own purposes ...
Now God has never made anything without a purpose. Every rock has a purpose, every plant has a purpose, every animal has a purpose and if you're alive, you have a purpose. Over the next forty days, you will discover that God has five purposes for your life. Over the next forty days, you will be reminded over and over that God loves you and you were created to be loved.
Yes that’s right. God wanted to create something to love and so He created you. He didn't need you. He wasn't lonely. But He made you in order to love you. He didn't need you, He wanted you. And before we can talk about anything else, you have to understand this is what on earth you're here for - to be loved by God.
The Question of Significance
The second key question of life is the question of significance. Many of you have pondered the question, “Does my life matter?” Isaiah asked this question in chapter 49 verse 4.
.... my work all seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose at all....
You were made for meaning, and if you don't have a meaning and purpose in your life and you don't know why God put you on this planet, life doesn't make sense.
Most people live on one of three levels.
The Three Levels People Live On
The first level is the barely getting by. People just exist from week to week. They are not living. They just put in their time for the weekend. They are just surviving.
There is another group of people who have taken a step forward and they are living at the success level. This is where most Americans live. By the world's standards, you've got it made. You've got a comfortable living compared to the rest of the world. You have possessions, you have freedom, you have good health and you may have prestige and you may be quite successful.
But today there are a lot of books coming out that say things like, "If I'm so successful, how come I don't fill fulfilled?" The reason is, it takes more than success and it takes more than status to satisfy.
There’s another level of living that is called the Significance level. To live on this level, you must go through three things:
· Know the meaning of life,
· Know that you matter to God,
· Know God's purposes for your life and you're living them out.
Look at these verses from the Bible:
GOD who made you has something to say to you; the God who formed you in the womb wants to help you. Don't be afraid.
God made you and He wants to help you. Stop living in fear, but trust him with your life.
Is God playing games with us? Is God intentionally trying to confuse us? Does He keep us in the dark so we don't know why we are here? No, not at all. God wants you to know how much you matter to Him. God wants you to know the meaning of life. He wants you to know His purposes.
If you just stay with us the next 40 days, we're going to talk about that. Unlike the fruit fly, which does only live 24 hours, God has extremely long-range plans for you. What we will talk about over the next forty days will not only impact your life now, but it will influence you into eternity. God's purposes are eternal.
This life is the warm-up act, this is the dress rehearsal. There is another life just beyond the bend. One day your heart will stop beating and that will be the end of your body, but that's not the end of you. You're far more than a body. You were made to last forever.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
This life is not all there is. You are going to spend far more time on the other side of death, than you do on this side. Life is preparation for eternity. Over the next 40 days, we are going to talk to you about how you prepare for the future. You will find the key to the meaning of life, and that is, when you realize that life is preparation for eternity.
2 Corinthians 5:1
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
So the question of existence - why am I alive? God answers it by saying, "I made you to love you, that's why you're alive."
In the question of significance - does my life matter? God says, you matter. You matter so much that I intend on keeping you alive for the rest of eternity. You're no 24-hour fruit fly. You're going to be around for a long, long time.
The Question of Intention
So then comes the third question: the question of intention. What’s my purpose? What on earth am I here for? And that's what we're going to spend the next couple of weeks looking at.
God made you for a reason, and He made you for a purpose. The only way you're going to know your purpose is first looking to Him.
If you don't know something's purpose, it is likely to be misused or abused. Do you want to know why there are so many abused people today? Because we don't know our purpose. When you don't know the purpose of something, it is likely to be misused, or abused. That's the first point.
Now here's the second point, the only way you're going to know what some things are is either
· You talk to the inventor of it or the creator of it, or
· You read the owner's manual.
You will never discover the meaning of life by listening to philosophers, because even the best ones are just guessing. You've got to talk to the creator and look in the owner's manual. It's the only way you will ever know your purpose in life.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
In the beginning God created. It all begins with God. It all starts with God, it continues with God, it ends with God. "In the beginning, God created."
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Do you want to understand the meaning of life? Do you want to understand your purpose of life? You find your purpose by getting to know God. It all starts with God. The more you get to know God, the more you're going to understand the ways and the wisdom of God and the more you're going to understand the meaning and purpose of life.
You're not going to learn it on some talk show. You're not going to learn it in some séance. You're not going to learn it reading tea leaves, your horoscope will not tell you . You're not going to learn it going to a seminar. The only way you're going to learn the meaning of life and your purpose in life is to get to know God. It all starts with God, because it's all about God. "In the beginning, God." It's all about God.
Understanding God's purposes for your life does take time. It's not just give it to me quick, and it's over. That's why we're going to take the next few weeks actually 40 days. to look at God's purposes for you.
You may be asking, why 40 Days? Well, the Bible is very clear that God considers "40 days" to be a spiritually significant time period. In fact, in the Bible, any time God wanted to prepare people for His purposes, He took 40 days. For instance:
· Noah's life was transformed by 40 days of rain
· Moses' life was transformed by 40 days on Mount Sinai
· The spies were transformed by 40 days in the Promise Land
· David was transformed by Goliath's 40-day challenge
· The city of Nineveh was transformed in 40 days
· Jesus was empowered for ministry by spending 40 days in the desert and the disciples were transformed by 40 days with Jesus after the resurrection.
The next 40 days are going to transform your life. Today, I want you to make a commitment with me to embark on a journey that will change our lives.
We are all at different stages in our spiritual journey. Some of you are seekers, and you're saying, "I'm not even sure I buy this, but I'm intellectually honest enough to check it out."
Some of you are brand new believers. The next forty days are going to help you start your Christian journey off right.
Some of you are what I call "stumblers." You say, "I call myself a Christian, but I'm not really very close to God. And I've been really, honestly, living for my plans and not God's." Well this 40 days is the time to come home.
Some of you are strong believers, and you're going to go deeper with God than you've ever gone before and you're going to bring others along, too. Regardless of where you are in your spiritual journey, look at this last verse.
It makes no difference who you are or where you're from -- if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open.