Monday, November 12, 2018

The Bitter Taste of Being Bitter

10 The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy. (Proverbs 14:10)
            I may have written on this topic before but please listen again… Have you ever heard the phrase ‘misery loves company’? Each day we encounter people who are just full of anger and bitterness. It seems like they want to pull you down into their suffering. These bitter people have been wounded. Too often they do not seek help but let that hurt fester inside of them. As a consequence, they lash out and hurt others. And these bitter people do not have to be strangers—they can be a friend, a co-worker, a fellow church member, a family member, or even your spouse.
            So how do we go about dealing with someone who is holding onto that anger or bitterness? God gives us the answer in Ephesians 4:32, “32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” We exhibit a Christlike attitude toward someone when we are kind to them. Jesus blessed those who cursed Him. This tenderheartedness is being moved with the compassion of Christ toward that person. Jesus was hanging on the cross and asked the Father to “Forgive them for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34). When we forgive that angry person, it means that we do know hold their sin against them in future dealings. The grace of God we find in Christ empowers us to have this kind of supernatural attitude. It propels us to supernatural actions—namely true forgiveness. The only way we can forgive these angry and bitter people is to exercise the forgiveness that we have been shown in Christ Jesus. 
            When we encounter someone who is bitter and offends us, we have a choice. We can respond the way the world responds—bitterness and anger right back at them. Or we can respond the way that Jesus would want us to respond—with compassion for their suffering and understanding for what they have been through. If we are to make disciples, we must meet people where they are in their lives and go from there. If we expect people to clean up their lives Before they come to our gatherings, we will never make disciples at all because it is only through the power of Jesus Christ that our lives are changed. Go be a blessing and light in the community and meet people where they are. Oh, and bring Jesus with you—they desperately need to meet Him!! Have a great and godly week!! 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Nobody Likes to be Disciplined

30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, (Daniel 4:30-31).
            This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.Were you ever told that as a child? I never believed that phrase. I’m sure I at least thought that when disciplining my children if not said it outright. But think about it. Can discipline be painful for both painful for the parent and profitable for the child? Yes. I certainly did not like having to discipline my children at all. At times, it broke my heart, but it had to be done. My girls absolutely did not consider it profitable at the time, but I believe it was.
            It should come as no surprise that your Heavenly Father sometimes willingly disciplines you for your betterment. This does not mean that he delights in seeing you punished. God has a plan for you life. It involves things that are for your good and His glory. Consequently, He reserves the right to do whatever it takes to pull you toward Him and set your feet firmly on the paths of righteousness.
            Nebuchadnezzar made to grave mistakes. First, he boasted that he had built Babylon. Anytime you take credit that God alone deserves, you create the need for Him to discipline you. Our God is a jealous God and will not share His glory. The second mistake was having the wrong motivation—“the honor of my majesty.” Desiring praise that God alone deserves is idolatry. Your goal as a disciple of Christ is living a holy life, not one filled by the praises of man.
            God responded accordingly; He discipline Nebuchadnezzar. Make no mistake; God resists the proud (James 4:6). Scripture says that right after pride comes the fall (Proverbs 16:18; 29:23). Are you actively and willfully doing things that would invoke God’s discipline? God never does it to hurt His children but to allow them to be chastened for His holy purposes. Nebuchadnezzar learned his lesson. Daniel 4 ends with him giving God the praise and glory and receiving God’s restoration. When you pursue holiness, God will liberally pour out grace and blessing in your life. What are you pursuing? I encourage you to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the other stuff will be added to your life. Go and be a blessing to someone this week as you pursue holiness!!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Are you Part of the Lord's Secret Service?

3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (Matthew 6:3)
            There is a thing in our country called the Secret Service. Their job is to protect the president. If you look out into a crowd of people, you may not even spot which ones are agents. Up close, you may notice an earpiece that would give them away, but unless you are looking closely, you still may not be able to recognize them in a crowd. Their service is secret and unannounced. They is they way they want it. They want to blend in and be able to stop any threat that may occur.
            In our congregation, we also have a few that are among the secret service. But unlike the ones that serve the president, these agents serve the One True King. It is their job to do things like mow the church yard, buy the paper products for the restrooms, clean the kitchen, and sweep the auditorium. Unless you catch them in the act, you’d never realize they were serving the King. These agents do not do it for the recognition that comes from people. They do it to please God by serving others around them. There are tons of jobs around our congregation that get done with any hoopla or fanfare, and that is just the way these secret agents want it.
            I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the secret agents in our congregation. You exhibit the true heart of a servant of God by serving others. I know you don't do it for the recognition or the praise, but THANK YOU. Keep up the good work. Your Father in heaven is looking down and smiling upon you. God bless you and your efforts. Take heart, your reward is piling up where moths, rust, or thieves can get to it. If you are not in the Lord’s Secret Service, join today!! Find somewhere that you can serve and get going. The Lord will bless you all the more for your efforts!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Telltale of Our Priorities

31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33)
            There was an elderly man sitting alone on a park bench. He was enjoying the beautiful day when a younger man from his church joined him. Their conversation was that of exchanging mere pleasantries at first, but it soon turned to deeper topic. The younger man was truly anxious to serve God and wanted to know how to tell if God was first in his life. During their conversation the elderly man noticed that the younger man looked at his schedule on his phone. He also noticed the younger man returning his debit card, which had slipped out, to his pocket. The older man asked to hold both his phone and his debit card. The younger man was puzzled by the request but gave both to him.
            The older man turned the card and the phone over and over in his hands. He said, “Son, I want you to examine both of these very carefully. You see, our real priorities are always revealed by the way we spend our time and our money. The younger man looked over his phone’s calendar and his debit card and realized that his work and his hobbies had consumed way too much of his time and money, leaving only a scant amount of either for the Lord.
            Many of us will be quick to say that God is first in our lives, but our actions tell a markedly different tale. We believe that God blesses those who give, but we rarely give to the Lord’s work. We believe that the Lord honors those who obey His Word, but we constantly ignore His teachings when we are making decisions about our time or money.
            Our walk with the Heavenly Father seems to get the left overs instead of the first fruits of our time and money. We too often devote our time, energy, and resources to other things. If we are truly “seeking first the kingdom of God” our activities will show it! Focus on giving God what He deserves not what’s left over this week. May God richly bless you my loved ones!!

This Week's Bible Trivia Question:
What synagogue first disputed with Stephen before he was stoned?

Last Week’s Answer:   the Beautiful Gate;  Acts 3:2

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Being Part of God's Plan

29 Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.” (2 Samuel 7:29)
            David was often known to meditate on God’s word. Born of this desire for a deeper connection to God, David desired to build a permanent dwelling place (the temple) for God’s glory. But to David’s surprise, God said no! There are many things I’ve asked for and am pretty certain God has said no. The question is then how do we react when God says no to our hopes, aspirations, and dreams? David’s response is a great example of how we should handle this disappointment. He humbly gave thanks to God, praised Him for his character and works, and reaffirms his complete dependence upon the Lord (2 Samuel 7:18-29).
            David had hoped to build a house for the Lord, but it was the Lord who ended up building a house for David. This house is known in Scripture as the Davidic covenant. It is the promise made by God to establish David’s throne forever. How’s that for a promise? In David’s prayer recorded in verse 29, he is asking God to bless his family and his descendants. He knew that God always kept His end of the covenant even when Israel strayed from their end of the deal. David knew that God would bless His people through His covenant for generations to come.

            David’s desire to build God’s house was a good one. Even though it was not God’s will for David to build the temple, God did praise him for having the desire in his heart to do something wonderful for God (2 Chronicles 6:8). When we find ourselves having specific desires to serve God, we should thank Him. We should then seek Him in prayer and meditate on His word to see if our dreams and desires are in alignment for His plan for our lives. Sometimes when have to put our dreams on the backburner or let them die completely. We see things not turn out the way we had hoped, but we must always remember the Lord’s promise in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  We can do great things for God, but they may not be the things we imagined doing for Him. Seek His will for your life and have a blessed week!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Even Jesus had Family Issues at Times

Whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother (Mark 3:35).
            Do you ever have any trouble with family members? If you’re like me, that’s a resounding yes. If you have problems with people in school, the chances are you will never have to see them again after graduation, or at least not very often. But when it comes to family, you have to see them at holidays, weddings, funerals, and other special activities. It may give you comfort to know that even Jesus had problems with His family members too.
            Jesus’ own family thought He had lost His mind. After all, He did claim to be God in the flesh. They saw Him as too religious! Too radical!! They were concerned that He had gone off the deep end and came to rescue Him before He damaged the family reputation too horribly bad. They did not realize until after His resurrection that He had come from heaven to rescue them…
            Why had He left His great paying job at the carpentry shop? He had no place to lay His head much less a few of life’s luxuries. And who was this ragtag band of questionable disciples following Him around everywhere He went? Tax collectors? Ugh!! Fishermen? Pew!! His family did not understand and they definitely did not approve.
            Have you ever noticed that when someone is consumed with nutrition and health, it doesn't seem to bother their family? If they are running every day, no one gets worried. If they are lifting weights three or four times a week, no one is concerned. But if they are reading their Bible every single day, the family’s alarm bells start sounding. When someone is excited over sports, you just dismiss them as a fan. But if you are truly excited over spiritual things and want to talk about God a lot, people call you a fanatic. Someone once called an old-timey preacher a nut. The preacher replied, “At least I’m fastened onto the right bolt!”
            Jesus issues this invitation: “Let me be Lord of your life.” Having your family’s approval is worth a lot, but have the approval of heaven is priceless! Obey God today, follow His plan for your life, and hear your Heavenly Father say, “This is my beloved child, in you I am well pleased.” Latch onto God. Have a blessed week!!!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Are You Self-Suficient ?

21 I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, ‘I will not listen.’ This has been your way from your youth, that you have not obeyed my voice. (Jeremiah 22:21)
            Ever since the Garden of Eden, human beings have had an inclination to be totally self-reliant. When we are successful, we often lean even further into this attitude. We thing that the blessings we are enjoying are a direct result of our own abilities and resources. The Word of the Lord, however, asks, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Self-suficiency can be a destructive and deadly spiritual state.
            There are many other concerns that may hinder us from hearing the Lord’s voice. Even good and proper things – responsibilities of life – may press us for our time and cause us to neglect our fellowship with and dependence upon our Lord Jesus the Christ. Luke 10:38-42 gives us an account of Jesus’ visit with Mary and Martha’s house. Martha was diligent in preparing dinner for Jesus. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach. Jesus told Martha that Mary made the better choice – spending time with Him. While the meal that Martha prepared would soon be eaten and forgotten, Mary would be changed forever by her close fellowship with Christ. Dependence upon Him and fellowship with Him should cornerstones of our lives.

            I hope you are truly aware of your dependence upon the Lord, whatever conditions you are facing in your life. We need Him for everything, even the air we breathe is a gift from God. I sincerely hope God grants you the blessing of dependence upon Him. I pray that you hear His voice and obey promptly the things He asks of you.