Sunday, August 31, 2014

Skeletons in my closet

When the enemy shows you the skeletons hanging in your closet close the door and remind yourself of your Savior who hung on the cross for each everyone of those skeletons. You are new!
Philippians 3:14, 2 Corinthians 5:17
"In His JOY!"

Read the Word, Share the Gospel, Be accountable.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lonely but not alone

John was imprisoned on the island of Patamos all by himself. But in the midst of it all Jesus was there with John showing him wondrous things. This reminds me that whether we alone or are physical alone, with Christ we are never truly alone. He neither leaves us or forsakes us.
Deuteronomy 3:16, Revelation 1:1-2,9-10, Matthew 28:20

"In His JOY!"

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Trusting a quiet God

Silence does not mean God has not answered you. I often find when I pray for God to be glorified in a situation in my life I have no need for a sign or to hear audibly from God. Because I am confident that regardless the outcome, God's Will, will be done. And the method He chooses to do His Will is of no concern to me. I give God thanksgiving through praise and I feel an unfathomable peace that over takes me. When we seek God for an answer He is under obligation to answer us but when we seek to know God and bring glory to His Name, He responds with His Peace and directs us by His Spirit.
Philippians 4:6-7, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 46:10, 62:1-2,5-6

"In His JOY!"

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"Let Go!"

This past Sunday my wife and I were having a causal conversations with a pastor friend of ours about forgiveness. He said that a lot of people preach and teach on the topic of forgiveness but very rarely do they actually give practical steps on how to forgive. Then he mentioned that one of the ways he teaches people how to forgive is to go find a rock that they can carry around for an entire week. You write the name of the person you are struggling to forgive on the rock and at the end of the week you bury the rock and pray for the person who you need to forgive. He told us when people bury the rock there is a lot of deliverance.

After we finished talking I thought top myself "I wonder if that will work?", not that I was skeptical of my friend but this was something I just had to experience for myself. So I gave it the "old college try". The first couple of days were fine just somewhat awkward because I was not used to carrying rocks around with me (I had to rocks for two issues that seemed unsettled in my heart). But as the week progressed it became harder and harder to carry those rocks. Every morning that I woke up I the thought of carrying rocks for a day we burdensome. Even though the physical weight of the rocks never changed they became extremely burdensome. At the end I did not care anymore why I was carrying the rocks I just waned it to end. Every step I took reminded me of the rocks, I stopped walking up the steps and started taking the elevators, I was doing whatever I could to seek relief. But the rocks were not that big are even that heavy it's was just uncomfortable and made everything I did just a bit harder.

When the end of the week arrived I took the rocks to the top of a hill that I run on during the week and tossed them down the hill with all might. When I cast the rocks out I said in a loud voice, "I forgive you!". As I left the hill I could already feel the difference, my movements were faster, and I did not feel the burden anymore. As "corny" as it sounds, I felt free of the weight that not forgiving someone brings. Ironically enough later that day one of the people I was struggling to forgive offended me and I had to make a choice to carry the unnecessary weight of that comes with n forgiving him or walking in love through forgiveness.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Carrying the weight of unforgiveness, bitterness, or a grudge is labor and extremely heavy because it is the weight of sin. (Yes not forgiving someone is sinful (Matthew 18:21-35) Much like the rocks it slows you down and makes each new step more difficult. And just like I sought the elevator for relief we seek the easy way out. It is easier to hate someone and shut them out your life then it is to love them through difficult times. It is easier to avoid a problem then it is to give your attention to find a solution. It is easier to separate then it is to reconcile. It is easier to validate your feelings then it is to deal with the truth of God's Word. But Christ promises us that He will give us rest from all this if we exchange what have for what He gives. Our bitterness for His JOY!, our grudge for His Reconciliation, and our need for justice in exchange for His Mercy. His Yoke means we cast our "rocks" away so we can accept the weight and burden of living a life that pleases Him. When I cast my "rocks" away two hours later I had to deal with forgiveness. One of the person's I carried the rock to settle the matter in my heart that I am going to walk in forgiveness offended me again, The temptation to pick up the "rocks" returned but I thought of the burden it brings. I thought of how two rocks had altered my life for one week and I begin to imagine how walking with this unresolved issue in my life had negatively altered it after all these years. I begin to think of missed opportunities to bring God Glory in the situation, I thought of how many times I could have been a light but I let my emotions over rule God's Grace and acted a "fool" as opposed to acting Godly. I thought of all this and I determined in my heart that the "rocks" will stay on the ground! In doing this I learned more of what it means to love like God (1 Corinthians 13) and my soul found rest.

So I say to you today cast your rocks away and accept the light and easy burden of loving and forgiving like Jesus. At some point we have to get past our feelings and truly apply God's truth when it comes to forgiveness. Or you can continue to carry you "rocks" and be weighed down for the rest of your life. The choice is yours, stay focused you can do this!

"In His JOY!"

Read the Word, Share the Gospel, Be Accountable.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Our Arrows"

Psalm 127 is one of the most awesome chapters in the Bible that teaches us the importance of having God as the center of your family. Verse 1 says "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." It is plain and simple if we are not following the Lord's Direction for our family and we are doing it "our way" we are building on a foundation of sand as opposed to rock (Matthew 7:24-26). This means we must spend time in prayer and seek the Lord on how we are to lead our family because how the Lord tells me to lead my family may not be the way He tells you to lead your family. We can look to each other for encouragement but what works in my household may not work in yours. So as parents we must seek the Lord for the guidance to train our children according to His Word (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Proverbs 22:6). 

Verse 2 says "It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep." True we should work hard to provide for our for our families but if we are more focused on providing a financially comfortable lifestyle for our family then we are on ensuring our family is spiritually sound, we are fighting a losing battle. Focusing solely on providing things will always rob us of sleep because we will never have enough or be content. But when we are focused on the spiritual growth of our families we can teach that it does not matter if we are in need or abounding in much our contentment is in Christ and our possessions (Philippians 4:10-13) and our sleep will be sweet.

Verses 3 states "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. " Our children are a blessing not a curse, and they should be treated as such. It is easy to become annoyed by a child asking 5 million questions about the same thing, the child who struggles to listen, or the kid who just does not understand. But it is in these times we must try our best to quail our temper and not discourage them with a demeaning response because every moment is an opportunity to teach them something about Christ through our words and actions (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21).

Verse 4 goes on to say "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. " I love this verse because it reminds me that are children are tools that are meant to be used in God's Kingdom. And He uses us to direct them in the way the should go like an archer does with arrows (Proverbs 22:6). Like an arrow has purpose and direction are children have God given purpose but need Godly direction to get achieve it (this is why I cannot support abortion). So this means we must be actively praying for our children and actively involved in their life. Parents bare the primary responsibility to raise their children everyone else plays supportive roles. Some parents depend on the Pastor, Sunday School teachers, school teachers, grand parents, social workers, etc. to raise their children. God has not called the village to raise your children, He has called you. This does not mean you cannot seek out help and support but it does mean you should not put the sole responsibility on your support system and then fault them for children's flaws.

Verse 5 states ends the Psalm with "Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate." Simply put it is an honor to raise children in a Godly manner, and the more the merrier. We often look down on plus size families as if they are crazy. We call it abnormal, mock them, and judge them. But the Lord calls them blessed and has bestowed them with honor. It is an honor and a calling to raise Godly children. We should see the blessing in raising our children and take it serious because it is evident to me that God takes it serious. And what is important to Him should be important to me. When I raise my children in a Godly Manner my family will not be put to shame even if my child strays I have equipped them well enough to know how to get back (Proverbs 22:6). And like an arrow I discipline my child to keep them from going of course (Proverbs 29:15) because when it comes time for them to face the enemy as a mature Christians they will be ready for the fight of faith. Stay focused you can do this!

"In His JOY!"

Read the Word, Share the Gospel, Be Accountable.