Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"In Season, Out of Season either way...God's Good"

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 12:13
Ecclesiastes starts off by telling us in Chapter 3 that everything has a season, a moment, or a purpose and concludes in Chapter 12 by saying that the ultimate purpose of man is to fear God and keep His commands.

I have come to understand that in whatever season or moment I am currently in my life, I am to glorify God. It does not matter if I agree or disagree with the season of my life, the location, or the current circumstances surrounding it. All that matters is His Glory. And God receives glory when we allow Him to be Lord over our lives (fear Him) and live according to His Word and Will (Keep His Commands).

So hang in there and keep fighting the good fight no matter how complex the battle, so God may receive His Glory. Stay focused, you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

"Help The Helper"

Romans 12:6

It is a JOY! to know that God has gifted his people with so many wonderful gifts and talents. Some of us seem to have an abundance of grace, some of us have a servants heart, others seem to have their ear on the heart of God and always have a "word of wisdom" from the Lord, there are those who encourage us greatly, others show forth great mercy or generosity, some are known for leadership, and some seem to overflow with mercy. 

But there are times I see those who use their gifts for the kingdom get backlash. The one with the gift of grace is struggles with perfection. Those with the gift of service struggle to say "no" when asked to volunteer for yet another church ministry and have no time for themselves. Those with the gift of prophecy always seem to "have a word" for everyone but themselves and are consumed at times by the doubt of "Does God hear my prayers?" The one who exhorts can encourage anyone but battles against depression. Those gifted with generosity wonder why do so few give to them when they are in need. The leader ponders "I am surrounded by the people I lead daily and yet I feel so alone" The merciful show mercy to others but fail to receive it themselves when they need it most.

What do we say to this. Just tell them, "Well it is a thorn in your side and God's Grace is sufficient enough" No, good try but it just lacks compassion. Or maybe, "Hang in there you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength" No, "A" for effort but lacks understanding. Or maybe we say "It's because you are in sin." No, just plain lacking.

As a Christian we stand by our brother and sister and encourage them in the faith. To the one who struggles with perfection, we encourage them to grab hold of God's Grace because they were saved through the gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8) and not the toil of their work. For the volunteer who cannot say no, remind that most important thing is not their service but Jesus (Matthew 10:38-42) and even Jesus took a regular break (Luke 5:16). To the prophet who is ridiculed by doubt, remind them that God hears them and will answer them (Psalm 138:3, Psalm 118:5, 21, Psalm 34:4). The one who struggles with depression, We say you are never alone in your battle (2 Corinthians 4:8, Deuteronomy 31:6) and you are always connected to God's love (Romans 8:39). God sees the faithful giver and will supply their needs (Philippians 4:15-19). Encourage the leader to seek out other Christian leaders and form a bond to discuss their concerns, tears, fears, and JOY! or be that person for them (Ecclesiastes 4:12, Proverbs 27:17). And for the merciful looking for mercy the Lord promises they will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:17) and His word never fails (Isaiah 55:11). 

The sum of all is this, we should strive to use our gifts for God's Glory. But we should not be so consumed with gifts (of others as well as our own) that we forget to encourage another daily in the faith (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13, 10:25). Because we all need it from time to time. Stay focused you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

"Honesty does not test like honey!"

Galatians 4:16, Ephesians 4:1-16

I am not a fan of hearing the truth. It hurts when someone tells you that you have an issue in your life that you needs to your immediate attention. It pains us when we begin to realize that we are wrong and someone else is right. Our pride takes a hit and we humility sets in. But sometimes instead of accepting the truth we reject it and consider our Christian Brother or Sister our enemy for telling us the truth. At this point we begin to rationalize how we are right and they are wrong.

We are not enemies within the body of Christ, instead we there is unity and not division in the Body of Christ. We are here to  aid to each other and not act as a virus or a cancer that slowly destroys the body. But the Body of Christ grows when truth is presented forth in love (Ephesians 4:15-16).  But where confusion and pride abide only impending destruction can expected.

So friends please remember the truth is only spoken to aid us and not destroy us. Stay focused, you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

"Precious Pearl"

Hebrews 4:12-13

When you read the Word of God you are reading an active and alive word. You are not reading the dead writings of Muhammad, The past unspired thoughts of Buddha, or the poor intellectual insights of Confucius. You are reading the Word of a Living and Active God who cares for His People and their concerns (1 Peter 5:7).

You are reading about the lives of real people who understand victory, failure, triumph, success, grief, temptation, etc. You are reading about how people lived theirs lives for Jesus and gladly died for their faith. We are seeing the unedited autobiography about the lives of people with great faith (Hebrews 11). We are not reading about comic book villains and heroes, we are reading about the devil's plot against God's children. But we are also reading about a future hope we have, a present victory, and a past that was forgiven. That is what we are reading.

Let us not minimize God's Word and make it something it is not, but appreciate it for what it is. Stay focused, you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

"The same inside and out"

Matthew 12:33-37

My desire is always to please the Lord with my mouth and my actions. But how can I speak of Jesus but deny Him with my actions. How can I point others to Christ with my words but point to the devil with my actions. I cannot do both. My words and yours reveal a lot about who we really are (Matthew 12:34). 

Our words are our testimony to believers and unbelievers alike to who Christ is in our lives. Our words will tell others of obedience to Jesus or our open rebellion to Him. Our actions produce the same result. God calls us to be an example to believers in or words and conduct (1 Timothy 4:12).

Sometimes it seems hard to reconcile the two but it does not mean it is impossible. We are called to be living sacrifices so we can show others what the Will of God looks like (Romans 12:1-2). But we must be willing to fight against who we think we are and be who God called us to be, through the power of His Spirit (1 John 4:4). Stay focused you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

"The Heart of The Matter"

Matthew 5:20-30

When we sin in our hearts it is just as sinful as acting out the sin. We cannot expect to hold someone to standards that we refuse to meet inwardly like the Pharisees and Scribes did (Matthew 5:17). That turns us into hypocrites and makes Christ less appealing to those who do not know Him.

However It does not mean we do not hold one another accountable when we see them sin (Gal
atians 6:1). It does mean we are not to condemn anyone because we are just as guilty of sin (Romans 3:22-24).

This is not a critique but an encouragement to search our hearts and deal with our sin by seeking the Lord by reading His Word and Prayer. Let us repent and turn away from sin. Some of us need to mindful of what we watch because it causes us to fantasize about sin or plan for future sin. Others need to abandon old friends that encourage them to sin and find new ones who will hold them accountable. And others still need to find a good Christian Counselor to discuss our issues and help develop a biblical plan of action.

Stay focused, you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

"We all are important not just the VIP!"

1 Corinthians 12 - 13

God has a calling on each and everyone of our lives. And these callings are wonderful gifts from God that we use to bring Him Glory and Honor. But sometimes we let these gifts divide us because we assume that one gift is more valuable than another. The Pastor is no more important than the church goer, The Actor is not more important than their fan, The Worker is not more important than the employee, etc. 

It is easy to miss the point of 1 Corinthians 13 if you don't read 1 C
orinthians 12. Paul was stating that gifts are great but they are to be used to build the Body of Christ and not divide it. All gifts and callings are equally important and one is not greater than the other. And regardless of how talented you think you are or actually are, if you lack love you gift is worthless.

We are one body united in the Lord with one goal and that is bring God glory and lead others to Him. If we are looking down on others it because we are not looking up to Jesus. We are bound in the unity of God's Love. Love is the most excellent way. Stay focused, you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

My Delight

Psalm 40:8, Matthew 6:21

If my delight is not to do the Lord's Will it is because my heart is not filled with His Living and Active Word (Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 55:11). And it is up to me to spend time reading The Bible to transform my thinking (Romans 12:2) so I can delight in His Will. This will take time and personal effort, but it is more than worth the sacrifice. Stay focused, you can do this. 

"In His JOY!"

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Persecute Him...I think?"

Luke 23:33-39

His clothes were gambled away, he was mocked, scoffed, and railed at, all while hanging on the cross in an enormous amount of pain. In the midst of all this He prayed that the Lord would forgive them all. Sure He could have prayed for God to pour His cup of wrath on the people but he did not. He choose to see the people as God sees them, sinners in need of a Savior

But this Bible passage has caused me to wonder about my own life. How many times have I scoffed, mocked, or railed at someone who is suffering. Because it is so easy to to look at someone who is having a tough time in life and make condemning opinions. When I see others going through a tougher predicament of life than I am, it is easy to say things like "He can help everybody else but he can't help himself", "She is not so tough now", or "I knew they weren't in God's Will." How many times has someone prayed, "Lord forgive Joseph he does not know what he is doing." How many times, unknown to me, have I needed grace for forgiveness? How many times have I been quick to speak and slow to listen as opposed to doing it Gods's way (James 1:19).

Friends I am not discounting accountability, we need accountability (Galatians 6:1). However making rash judgments based off what we see is not biblical and does not promote the righteousness of God. The only things it does is boast our ego but be forewarned God will always humble the proud and destruction will soon find you(James 4:6, proverbs 16:18).

So instead let us have compassion and mercy with those going trough rocky moments in life and surround with love, mercy, and hope ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Stay focused you can do this.

"In His JOY!"

"Lose the candle, get some Sun"

Philippians 3:1-11, 2 Corinthians 4:18
While packing for our trip to Colorado this week, I stumbled across all these great accolades, awards, plaques, and trophies from years past. I could recall the feelings of joy, self-worth, and value I experienced with each one. 

But years have past and all those feelings have vanished and the hardware is now worthless. They help to provide good story material but they are all filled 
with vanity and have little if any worth. How many times do we put our value and self-worth in things that wither with time and fade to obscurity. We ascribe to obtain titles, positions, money, fame, and relationships. And yet despite our best efforts these very things always seem to find a way to disappoint us and let us down.

Titles change in level of importance, positions become obsolete, money loses it's economic value, fame is dependent on our audience's desire for us, and relationships are fickle at best.

We find our true value in The One who knows us, created us, and even counted the number of hairs on our head (Jeremiah 1:5, Luke 12:7) and nothing else. Establishing all your trust and seeking your value in anything else will only lead to disappointment (Psalm 20:7-8). This is why we see death as a JOY! because we will be with The Lord! And life as an opportunity to bring God glory (2 Corinthians 5:9)

What we could gain or lose on Earth 
 is like a candle held up against the Sun when we compared to Jesus, it becomes pointless and useless to try and obtain (Philippians 3:7). If you place all your hope, value, and trust in something else that is finite you will watch your hope, self-worth, and your purpose quickly disappear.

Trust this, if you put all your trust, value, and hope in Jesus your lesser desires will fade in the presence of a greater JOY!  
(Matthew 13:44). Stay focused, you can do this. 

"In His JOY"

Beautifully Remembered

Psalms 37, James 1:2-4, Ecclesiastes 3:11

God has not forgotten you. He may seem strangely quiet but He has not abandoned you and left you defenseless. Don't fret because you see others prospering with their wicked schemes. Instead rejoice and know that God allows moments like these to mature us and help us grow, because He makes all things beautiful in His time. Stay focused, you can do this. 

"In His JOY!"

Pastor Dad

1 Timothy 3:4,12 , Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:1

Christian fathers you are called to be the Pastor of your family. We need to lead our families in prayer, worship, and reading The Word. We are to set the example of what authentic Christian Living looks like in our household. I am not talking about perfection but I am talking about fighting the good fight of faith for our families, daily. Stay focused, you can do this! 

"In His JOY!"

Blessed beyond measure

Ephesians 1:3

God has blessed His Children with every spiritual blessing. Meaning we are blessed despite our present circumstances, life events, or poor choices. We have an assurance (as we trust in Him) that He has given us His Peace (Romans 15:3), His JOY! (Romans 15:3), His Righteousness (Philippians 3:9), His Grace and His Salvation (Ephesians 2:5), His Mercy (1 Peter 2:10), and His Love (Psa
lm 138:8). 

It is all there for those who believe. We are not bastard children looking for a father to love them. We are not a forgotten people aimlessly 
wondering around. We are loved and well taken care of by our God. His Spiritual Blessing cannot be bought, earned, or stolen it can only be received when we trust in Him. Because of this our sleep is sweet (Proverbs 3:34) and all our worries are given to Him (1 Peter 5:7). In Him we have all things but without Him none of this is promised. Stay focused, you can do this! 

"In His JOY!"

Embrace the challenge

2 Chronicles 20: 15,17

New challenges, obstacles, and tasks can seem overwhelming or daunting. However we do not become discouraged and flee. Instead we embrace them because we rely on The Lord and not ourselves.  Alone we are not strong enough but with Christ we are unstoppable. Stay focused, you can do this. 

"In His JOY!"