Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Time Is Now

Lord I come to You today Father as humble as I know how, to give You thanks Lord.  Thank You Lord for blessing me one more time with the ability to wake up Lord.  Thank You Father for my family and friends Lord, for giving them life to see another day.  Thank You Father for all that You have provided me with Lord. Thank You Father for  forgiving us of our sins Lord, known and unknown Lord, And Father I Thank You for Your son Jesus, who because of him Lord we are able to have everlasting life.  These we pray in Jesus name.  Amen.
                                                                                                                  Prayer by: Judith Notice

As humans, we are bound by time.  It is what it is.  Everything that we do has time associated with it.  If we go to school, we have to reach school at a specific time.  Whatever we need to do to prepare, we have to do it within a time frame that will permit us to reach school on time.  The same is for work.  Those of us who plan for the future, this too is also dependent upon time.  We want to work and save as much money as we can because there will be a time where we will be too old to work, and we want to have something in addition to social security to live off of.  Again, there is a dependency on time.  When you come to think of it, time is a precious commodity that we must handle with care.

Because of time, and how it seems we hardly have enough of it, there is something that I encourage us to do while there is time.  The bible states “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:6-7)  When I think about these verses, I am reminded by a gospel singer and Pastor by the name of John P Kee.  He has written some powerful songs.  One is titled “It's Time to Praise the Lord” The first stanza goes as follows:
It's time to praise the Lord
Oh, it's time to praise the Lord
Oh don't, don't you wait, it might be too late
It's time to praise the Lord

This man of God penned a song that is similar to what we just read.  He emphasized on my title “The time is now.”  He emphasized on the verse “Call upon Him while He is near” by saying “oh don’t, don’t you wait, it might be too late.”  Indicating that there may be a time where we will no longer have the opportunity to call on the Lord.  Indicating that there may be a time we will not have a chance to seek Him.  INDICATING THAT TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE AND WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF IT!!! 
Isaiah had to live up to his name.  His name means simply, messenger of Jehovah. His chief task was to convey messages from God to men.  His aim was ever definite - the establishment of the worship of the Lord in righteousness and truth. Redemption through suffering and sacrifice (Chapters 49-57) He was a prophet!!!  When a prophet speaks, it is as though who is speaking?  God!  So if a prophet says “Make search for the Lord while he is there, make prayer to him while he is near” Who really is saying this?  God!  Today’s message serves as a reminder to those who are saved, and as a warning to those who have yet to be saved.
If the word says the time is near, then don’t play with your time.  If the word says repent to God, and He will remember your sins no more, then do it.  Don’t allow the enemy to sway your thoughts thinking you have no chance, or that you can willfully sin but repent later.  Get out of that habit.  Live your life as though whenever you close your eyes, that there is a possibility you will not wake up.  Know in your heart you have served your Father with sincerity and have no worries where you will spend eternity.  Amen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Some People Are Dummies

Father God, I thank You for this day that You have made. Thank you for waking us up this morning Lord with everything intact, for blessing us with life Father to see another one of Your Glorious days.  We thank You Lord for watching over us and our families.  Father I pray that You use your saints today Lord to let Your light shine Lord. So those that are in darkness will be able to see Lord.  I pray Lord that you order the words that comes out of my mouth today Lord so they can be rejoicing to you Lord and comfort to those who are listening God. Oh, thank You Father.  We know that we are nothing without You Lord and ask that You strengthen us when we are weak Lord.  Oh we thank You Father for Your mercy and grace Lord.  Thank You Lord!  All these we pray in Your son Jesus name.  Amen!
                                                                                                               Prayer by:  Judith Notice

My former pastor, Pastor Chris Likely has a unique way of preaching.  He uses trigger words to catch his audience’s attention.  For example, if he wanted to emphasize the verse that speaks about people having itching ears (2 Tim 4:3), he would say something like people out there enjoy having ear infections.  Or if he is speaking about how people’s hearts are not right (Matt 15:19), he would say something like they have a severe heart condition.  I think it is genius because of the unorthodoxy of it and how it is easy to associate a thought or position with aligned scripture.  Well, as you can see in my title, I may take the cake for this one.  I pray that if you are still reading, and despite how offensive it may seem, in the end I believe I will succeed also in associating a people’s behavior with a trigger word that will make the related scripture easy to remember.

If I were to ask what comes to mind when we say the word “dummy,” most of you would say someone who is not smart or a mute, and I am being kind here.  However dummy is defined as a representation of a human figure, as for displaying clothes in a store.  That was actually the second definition where the first states it is a representation or copy of something as for displaying to indicate appearance.  Now that you have the definition, my title is not all that bad right?  Shame on those of you who thought differently.  The bible states “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Tim 3:1-5)

So there go the dummies I was referring to.  A mannequin from afar may look like a human but when you get close, you will realize they are just a representation.  They look like us from the outside, but they’re empty on the inside.  Dummies.  The Apostle Paul warned us of these dummies.  He gave us a checklist of what their inner would be, but their outer will display a form of godliness.  Amen.  That is why people who say they are Christians are not who they say they are.  What does that mean?

Read below and tell me if you are familiar:

  1. Someone who claims they are a Christian, yet they frequent the night clubs.
  2. Someone who claims they are a Christian, yet every sentence they speak either has a curse word, or leans to sexual content.
  3. Someone who claims they are a Christian, but they will fight you in a minute.
  4. Someone who claims they are a Christian, but are living carnally with their mate, saying they are waiting until they get money before they get married.
  5. Someone who claims they are a Christian, yet have the latest rap or dancehall tunes blasting in their car radios.
  6. Someone who claims they are a Christian, and will be in church shouting amen and hallelujah, but when church is over they have no clue on what was preached.
  7. Someone who claims they are a Christian, yet for six days their bible is catching dust, and on the seventh day they pick it up.
  8. Someone who claims they are a Christian yet they are finding illegal ways to get that earned income credit.  Hello!!!
  9. Someone who claims they are a Christian yet will put a dollar in the offering plate.
  10. Someone who claims they are a Christian, yet every minute they are faced with a challenge, they are reading tarot cards.

These ten examples represent “having a form of godliness.”  They are a bunch of dummies.  Imitators.  Looking smelling and feeling like the real thing, but they are not.  Do you know any dummies?  Amen!  We serve a God who wants His children to worship Him in spirit and in truth. He wants His children to have a sincere heart.  The above examples are those who still have a strong hold on them, and until they break free, they are just dummies.  Are you sure you are not a dummy?  I will assume that you may feel a way that I am calling you a dummy.  Well let’s take a look at verse 5 one more time.  It reads having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

1. external appearance of a clearly defined area, as distinguished from color or material; configuration: a triangular form.
2. the shape of a thing or person.
3. a body, esp. that of a human being.
4. a dummy having the same measurements as a human body, used for fitting or displaying clothing:
So if the first 3 definitions makes you feel better, then by all means have at it.  It is all the same to God.  This implies that the ten examples described, professed to be religious in outward form. You look one way externally, but inside….well… decide.

I may come off as harsh today, but the reality is if we are not addressed on this faith walk, this way of living becomes a habit.  We then deny ourselves from that spiritual connection that will give us peace and deliverance.  Scripture states For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” Those who may fall under the 10 examples above fall under them because they are spiritually lacking.  They have the form of godliness but lacking the spirituality and power to produce what they are trying to display.  So for example #7 Monday-Saturday they are distracted.  They find pleasures in other things.  They only pick up their bibles as a formality (there is that word again) when going to church.  Where is the spirit in them to cause them to search the scripture daily?  Where is the spirit in them to find the different ways to please God?  Where is the spirit in them to want to fellowship with other believers?  The spirit I am referring to is that Godly spirit.  So if that spirit is lacking, what spirit is on them?  They are only Christians outwardly.  So if they are not a dummy, would a hypocrite suffice?

Some people truly have a desire to learn God’s word, and really feel that they have a love for Him.  But it is necessary for all of us to examine ourselves to see if we need fixing.  Just like we check with our spouses to see if we are pleasing them, we should check the Word to see if we are pleasing God.  If we are going to stay true to God's Word, then we have to accept even the part that may seem insensitive.  In reality, many people are dummies.  Not stupid or mute, but having an outward religion, and their heart is not sincere.  There is a difference in what you "say" you are, in comparison to what “you” are.  People say they are Christians however saying it is not enough.  You have to live it.  It needs to mold you.  It needs to permeate from your inner parts.  Because believing in Christ, is more than just saying I believe.  Guess what?  The devil believes also, so what distinguish you from the devil?  Amen!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Consequences of Anger

Oh heavenly and gracious Father, I come to you this morning Lord, to thank you.  I thank you Father for giving us another opportunity to see another day that You have made Lord.  Lord, we thank you Father for blessing us.  Father God, I come to you dear God in the name of Jesus to pray that You strengthen us Lord so that we will be strong enough to resist the temptations that the devil send our way Lord.  Remove the distractions that are around us or near us oh Lord.   Help us to draw to you Lord as our Savior dear God.   Only You and You alone are able, and have the power to rescue us Lord.  Thank You Jesus...I pray oh Lord for ones who are sick Lord.  I pray for recovery for them Lord. I pray that you heal them oh Lord.  I pray for those who are jobless Lord. I pray that you help them to find work that is suitable in your eyes oh Lord and not theirs.   God bless those with finance issues.   Lord bless them so they will be able to take care of their family Lord. Strengthen the ones who are grieving now Lord. Be therir comforter dear Lord.  Let them know Father God that YOU are there for them Lord. Thank You Jesus, oh Thank you Lord. I pray dear God for all the saints our there God that is doing your work Lord. I pray a payer of protection on them Lord. that you will continue to strengthen them in their walk Lord. Continue to give them knowledge Lord and understanding of what you say Lord and not what they say Lord. Continue to help them to feed your sheep Lord.  Father we thank You , we worship you Lord we give you the glory Father in Jesus name I pray and ask Lord.  Amen!
                                                                                                Prayer by: Judith Notice

Anger!  What is anger?  The definition I looked up and agree with, is a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; Yep.  I agree.  I must share with you without going into too much detail, my “strong feeling of displeasure” I had one night; and of all places; at church.  We had a business meeting that got out of hand, and because a charge was made against certain people, a charge that I agreed with, my anger aroused on the way my former pastor handled it.  I was furious to be exact.  I was completely out of order.  I did not have the firm mental capacity to try to resolve the issue or at least table it temporarily until we have a side meeting; possibly in the pastor’s office.  So I allowed my flesh to take over, to the point I realized I was close to using choice words, so I ended up excusing myself.  This blatant disrespect led the congregation to believe that there was no harmony between pastor and me.  This resulted in a divided church, which eventually scattered the flock.  All because of anger.
Anger can lead to an undesirable result that we cannot repair.  My issue, although was embarrassing, it can be repaired.  What about the ones that cannot?  The word of God states “Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” (Eph 4:26) We can be angry, but we are not to act negatively based on it.   Let us consider a consequence of someone who allowed his anger to sin.  In Num 20:1-13, we read about the children of Israel’s ungrateful behavior in the wilderness.   They seem to have forgotten what Moses and Aaron have done for them by God’s instructions.  It was through God’s instruction why they were able to leave Egypt.  It was through God’s instruction why they were able to successfully flee the armies of Pharaoh.  It was also through God’s instruction how they were able to survive in the wilderness.  Their lifeline was God!!!! Amen, but in between the happy times, there were bad times, and it is when they were faced with these bad times, they allowed their flesh to get control of them, and begin to do things that were not pleasing to God.  They were angry!  And now this anger has affected Moses.
The word of God states “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret-it only causes harm.” (Ps 37:8)  Simply put, when we get angry we do stupid things.  Some of these things we cannot undo.  In the case of Moses, he was so angry with the people, that he forgot his directive, forgot, his position, which in result did not please God.  His anger led him to believe that speaking to the rock would not be sufficient; therefore he smote the rock without any command to do so.  His anger led him to not do it once, but twice, which certainly in this case indicated a great agitation of his spirit.  His anger permitted his spirit to be carried away by a sense of the people's disobedience, and being provoked, he was led to speak unwisely with his lips: “Hear now, ye REBELS” His anger did not acknowledge God in the miracle which was about to be manifested, but took the honor to himself and Aaron: "Must “WE” fetch you water out of this rock?" His anger made it appear  that they did not properly believe in God, and did not honor Him in the sight of the people; for in their presence they seem to express a doubt whether the thing could be possibly done (speak to the rock).  And because of this, Aaron appears to have been consenting in all of it; therefore he is also excluded from the Promised Land.  My goodness.  I was speaking with a sister in Christ on Tuesday, and she shared with me, it is not good to be in the hands of an angry God.  Man is she right.
Family, anger/jealousy caused Cain to smite Abel.  Anger caused Saul to lose his kingdom.  Anger nearly caused Ezekiel to fall out of favor with God.  Anger if not careful can even cause us to lose our salvation.  I pray that we have the mind of Christ and worry not about the things that anger us, but worry about the things that will keep us in God’s mercy.  On your own please meditate on the following scriptures and may the Lord be a blessing to you today and forever.  Amen!
Proverbs 10:12" Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.”
Proverbs 14:17" A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of wicked intentions is hated."
Proverbs 19:19" A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again."
James 1:19-20" So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Respond With The Word

          When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I had fight with a boy a bit older than me.  I really did him in.  If it was up to him, he would have just let it go, but the obvious damage I left of his face caused his mother to investigate which older boy did this to her son.  I remember when she knocked on the door and the expressions of both her and my mom.  My mom’s expression because she could not believe little old me did that to that big boy, and his mom’s expression as though she could not believe her son allowed a little runt like me to do so much damage.  The adults were of course much more civilized.  My mom asked me why we were fighting, but I did not respond.  In my eyes whether I responded or not, I was going to get the beating of my life, so I chose to remain quiet.  The other boy unknowingly saved my behind.  He stated why we were fighting.  You see my mom, has a big behind.  What makes it stand out even more is she has a real small waste.  So to a young boy’s eye that is considered fat. 
            This boy, Felix is his name, would tease me about it.  The more others laughed the more he added to it.  I remember it was in the middle of winter, and we were outside in the park playing in the snow and ice.  Everybody was just having fun, until Felix felt he needed to add excitement to it.  He started in on my mom’s behind.  I got mad and told him a couple of choice words after I told him to shut up.  I remember he pushed me down and asked what I was going to do about it.  I remember looking at him crying, knowing that I would not be able to win.  I felt a piece of sturdy ice near my hands.  I pretended to take my skully off to wipe my face, but I put that piece of ice in my hat.  I let him have it until the ice turned to slush.  I went home with a sense of accomplishment.  I finally was able to silence his disrespectful behind.  After a few minutes sitting and watching our mothers speak, Felix looked at me and apologized.  When they left, my mother’s look told me that I escaped a sore behind.  She said that famous phrase.  “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt” I remember saying to myself, speak for yourself mom, what he said was hurtful.
            Thank God for Jesus.  I am of course a grown man, and a different man. So situations like that would of course be handled differently now.  However, there is that specific somebody that always has something swift to say.  Can you get with me on this?  That someone who just don’t know when to shut their mouth.  Always in your ear with some type of foolishness.  Not knowing when to be sensitive when it is warranted, or just not realizing the hurt their words inflict.  Sometimes you wish you could just slap the taste out of their mouth and silence them once and for all.  As good as it may feel to do such a thing, it is required that we do not.  That person has one of those annoying spirits on them, and the only true way to silence them is by using the word of God.  Jesus when he was led up to be tempted was tried 3 times by the devil and 3 times the word was the response.  I know it is “easier said than done”, but nonetheless this is what we are dealing with, an annoying spirit, and the word is the best weapon to combat it.  Amen.
            The Apostle Paul was faced with a similar scenario.  The bible states “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.  This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation." And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And he came out that very hour.”  The King James Version used the word “grieved” instead of “annoyed, which gives it an alternate meaning.  This is up for the individual’s interpretation, however the Greek word is “diaponeo”, which can mean to toil through, or grieved.  Toil is defined as hard and continuous work.  Since the scripture points to this slave following Paul and the other Apostles and chanting the same gibberish for days, it is fitting that “annoyed” is the proper word to use, since they had to deal with that, or toil through that for two days.  So now that I have offered an exegetical view, as you can see, Paul was annoyed with this girl.  He did not address the girl, but address that spirit, and the spirit had no choice but to vacate the host, because of the name used.  Jesus!!!
            Family, we have to step out of what we are used to and step into what is required.  For some of us, we were taught to respond in kind when someone says hurtful things.  We were taught that responding in this manner will give us justification.  No family, this brings us closer to the enemy and further away from God.  We have the power to tell that spirit to flee.  We are able to put that spirit under subjection.  It is a better feeling to use the word of God to address the issue, and possibly being a positive testimony to that same hurtful person, than to have temporary satisfaction giving a tit for a tat.  Give it a try.  You will most likely gain a friend.  Amen!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hearing Is Not Enough

There is a woman who is beautiful.  She is beautiful based on her character.  She is beautiful based on her heart.  She is beautiful based on her conversation.  She is beautiful based on the love she has and is willing to give.  But she has a problem.  Every morning and every night she sees herself in the mirror.  The mirror reflects a woman who has a few blemishes on her face.  When she looks at her chin, she sees an addition of flesh that makes it appear that she has another chin.  When she is naked, she sees dimples that should only be on her face.  She sees lumps positioned to where she is not sure where her waist ends and her stomach begins.  When she looks at her legs, she sees them pressing together.  She now understands why the inner part of her jeans seems to always wear down.  As she is evaluating her appearance, her mind wonders off on images of actresses she sees on television.  How slim and trim they are.  How flat their stomachs are.  How the clothes they wear looks so good on them.  Then when her mind has given enough room for dreaming, she is brought back to that mirror.  She realizes that her outer does not match her inner.  She then removes herself from the mirror, to soon forget the undesirable image of herself.  She attempts to band aid the wound.  For the blemishes, she applies makeup.  For her stomach and thighs she wears girdles in conjunction with tight fitting clothes.  She is no longer reminded of her physical flaws, until she is back in front of that mirror.
This scenario can fit both men and women.  It may not only be about weight.  It can be about anything, but the mirror reflects what is true.  The mirror reflects reality and not illusion.  Michael Jackson wrote a song titled “Man in the Mirror.”  Part of the songs states,
“I'm gonna make a change,
For once in my life
It's gonna feel real good,
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right”
Further down in the song it states,
“That's why I want you to know
I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have
Been any clearer
If you wanna make the world
a better place
take a look at yourself, and
then make a change”

The bible states “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;” (Ja 1:23) Amen!  The word of God is always instructional.  We are to read and hear these instructions, and apply it appropriately to our lives.  The word of God shows us where we are lacking.  It shows us where we have fallen short.  It shows us our many flaws.  In essence, the word of God is like a mirror.  However, the word of God also acts as a remedy to all the things we see, and if we are only just reading and hearing, but not doing, we will continue to see the same reflections.  The woman above can visit a dermatologist to help with her blemishes.  Instead of fantasizing about being smaller she can do something about it to be smaller.  Instead of wearing girdles, she can monitor her intake of food consumption or stay faithful to an exercise regiment to where a new image can be reflected back to her.  When we look in the mirror and say we are going to make a change because we do not like what we see, we are to follow up with action.  Because once we are removed from the mirror, it is out of sight, out of mind.  We will not be reminded of it again unless we are back in front of the mirror again. 
Hearing the word of God is not enough.  We also have to practice it.  Change will only be successful when we add action.  Amen!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Be a Representative

Yesterday my pastor invited me to a Leadership Conference where those in attendance will learn 10 critical skills under the focus which was titled “Redemptive Leadership.”  That was my first time ever attending a conference spiritual in nature, and I must say I never knew what I was missing.  Anyway, the speaker told an amazing story about a man who was hired to be a church consultant.  This man is hired by some churches to survey the church, meaning that particular local assembly in all of its aspects.  He is known as the church guru.  He stated that whenever this man is hired, he would want to come 3 days before service to sort of get a feel of the community.  He and two partners would stand on the street corner where the church is located and speak to drivers while they are at the stop light.  So let’s say that particular church’s name is Full Gospel Church of Christ, he would ask the drivers if they passed by daily.  If they would confirm, he would ask what they thought about Full Gospel.  The answer he shared was shocking.  Although they were standing on the corner where the church was located, 95% of the drivers asked where the church was located.  You would assume since he was standing at the church’s corner that they would at least ask if that was the church they were referring to.  Nope, not the case.  So what you have is a church located in a community, but the community does not know them.
I shared with you in a prior lesson how I used to go witnessing and see so many churches located in a community, but the community does not reflect the church’s presence.  I then said to myself, in the case of Full Gospel, there is definitely a lack of an evangelical effort on their part, but more importantly how many of us are truly letting people know what God did in our lives by way of Jesus Christ, and how often are we sharing His gospel?  The bible says “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2Co 5:20)  Amen!  An ambassador is a person sent from one sovereign power to another; and is supposed to represent the person of the sovereign by whom he is deputed.  Christ while on earth represented God.  His apostles and their successors represent Christ.  Christ declared the will of the Father in his teachings, and we are now his ambassadors.  We are to be a representative of the saving grace that God bestows on those who are faithful.  We are to be a representative of the evident power of the Holy Spirit.  We are to be a representative of the kingdom.  We are to show our representation by our walk.  Amen!
The Apostle Paul said “we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”  That is taken from the New King James Version.  The King James Version uses the word “beseech,” which was translated from the Greek Word “parakaleo” which means to make an urgent appeal.  The Apostle Paul was speaking to the Church of God at Corinth with an urgency for them to get it right, which implies that there may have been report that confirmed it.  Many of us were saved by someone speaking with that same passion and urgency for us to get things right with God.  Many of us were saved by someone’s awesome testimony.  Many of us were saved by someone being a representative of Christ.  Now that we are saved, it is our turn to share what was taught to us.  It is our turn to share how we were saved.  Let’s go out there and be ambassadors.  Let’s go out there and declare the awesome power of God.  It’s time that we become a representative.  Amen!