Saturday, March 19, 2011

Have Strong Faith

Heavenly Father I come to you today in the name of Jesus, for you are the God who I belong to and whom I serve. I thank you Lord for all that you are. I honor you, I glorify you and I praise you with thanksgiving.  Father, I speak that your anointing destroys every yoke in our lives that is keeping us from you.  I speak that our soul, spirit and body are renewed and function according to your will. Father, I ask that you overthrow the plans of troublemakers, scorners, mockers, persecutors and character assassins. Expose those sent by the devil and grant us divine strategies and tactics to identify, resist and overcome plots and plans that are created for our demise. Lord I know that you are our protector, our guide, our leader. I pray that this message will be read and absorbed, and that we will be able to use it in our daily living. Father use us to be a light to those that are still in darkness, and to help those that know the light but are still struggling.  And Father, please forgive us for anything we have done, that was not pleasing to you.  Father all these things we pray in your Son Jesus Name. Amen
                                                                                        Prayer by:  Judith Notice

As a child of God, I have come across many individuals where I had to minister to them by giving a word of encouragement, a word of calm, a word of chastisement, and a word of love.  In all of these conversations I had, if their faith was rocky, if their faith was not firm, if their faith was just simply weak, all that I have said they would not retain.  With the different talks I’ve described, I now have to give them a word to increase their faith.  Unfortunately, I came to a realization that many people will not get this.  Many people will not be saved; simply because they are allowing too many things around them to take precedence, and not allowing God to work it out for them, hence my direction verse, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”(Heb 11:6)
What comes to mind when referring to those whose faith seems to waver I think of two stories.  The first one involves Elijah.  To include all of the verses would drown out the message.  It can be read here in case you want to refer back to it.  Here is a brief summary.  Ahab is a Hebrew king in ancient Israel, his wife Jezebel, was a Phoenician (Canaan) princess.  Ahab married her and she became of course Queen Jezebel.  She turns Ahab away from worshipping God toward the worship of a Phoenician god, Baal.  They let temples of Baal operate in Israel, and this pagan religion is well pleased in their eyes.  Then Jezebel uses her control over Ahab to lead the Hebrews into idolatry, sexual immorality and subjects them to tyranny. She seen the prophets of God as a threat and have them slaughtered.  The prophet Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal to a test (1 Kings 18), exposes their god as powerless, has them slaughtered (1 Kings 18:40), and invokes Jezebel's furious enmity.
In setting up the test, Elijah went to seek Ahab’s audience.  He was not afraid even when he was considered an enemy to Jezebel for she worships another god.  He was not afraid to move forward in the test.  He was not afraid when he slaughtered the prophets of Baal.  He was not afraid because He was a prophet of the most High God.  He was not afraid because he was going up against the enemy of the Most High God.  He had FAITH!!!!!!!!!!!  Then the most confusing thing happened.  Jezebel heard of his actions.  She sent messengers to speak with Elijah.  She stated to him (1 Kings 19:2) “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”  The very next verse states Elijah ran for his life.  Not only that, he prayed to be killed!  WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FAITH?!!!!!!!!!!!  Hold that thought.
          Do you remember when I shared above that there were two stories that came to mind that speaks to wavering faith?  Elijah was one.  Peter is another.  Many people speak about this particular story in a positive light.  I am not sure.  Of course it is open to interpretation, but see if you can follow.  Consider Mt 14:25-31 “Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."  And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."  So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
          Here is why I do not see this story in a positive light like how it is preached sometimes.  The disciples were afraid when they saw a silhouette of Jesus on the water.  He assured them that he was not a ghost, but their loving teacher.  He stated, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."  The writer of Matthew did not indicate that the disciples were not convinced.  The only one who appeared to have doubt was Peter.  He was not satisfied with his Master’s voice so he said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." If it is you?  If it is you?  I thought “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  (Heb 11:1)  Why did Peter need proof?  So Peter already had doubt in his heart, nevertheless Peter did step out on Jesus’ word, but as soon as he was distracted, as soon as His eyes were fixated on the wind, he began to sink, hence Jesus saying “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt me?”  I could imagine Jesus saying “Why would I bring you out on the water unless I am going to protect you.” 
Family, both stories speak to what I call a Contingency Faith.  With Elijah, his faith was strong when he seen God work in dealing with the prophets of Baal, but to see a woman showing no signs of fearing God or His wrath, and even threaten him (Elijah), his faith diminished.  Peter already defeated himself, for first doubting it was Jesus, so when he did step out on faith, it was not strong, because the wind caused his faith to diminish.  In other words family, your faith should not be dependent on when things are only going good.  Your faith should be strong no matter what the conditions, no matter what the circumstance, because you have a God who is faithful, who said in His word that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Heb 13:5)  You have a God that promises that there is nothing unique about what you are facing, and that He is faithful, and will not allow you to face anything that you are not able to bear, and will provide an escape from it. (1 Cor 10:13)  Finally you have a God that promises that His thoughts toward you are of peace so that you can have a future of hope. (Jer 29:11)  With a God that declares so many things for us to have faith in, let’s try to believe it whole heartedly, without any wavering.  Amen.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Saved By Grace... Alone?

Father God, I just thank you this morning for life, health and strength.  I thank you for protecting my household while we slumbered.  It is a time where we are most vulnerable, yet you saw it fitting to provide a covering, and I thank you for it.  I thank you for your mercy, and your grace, and it is because of your grace, why we have an opportunity to come back to you and commune with you, but it must be done by our actions.  I pray this morning a blessing on those who read this message.  I pray that they are in a right mind and spirit, and that there is nothing that will hinder them from reading a word that you have blessed me with.  So I pray oh God, that you allow your Holy Spirit to reign down on each reader’s location.  I pray that you set the atmosphere for them to study and meditate on your word, so they can see in fact there is no other wisdom, but yours.  I pray Father, that if there is anything that we have done, whether in thought, speech, or deed, that was not pleasing in thy sight, I pray for forgiveness for myself, and all.  We give you all honor and glory in the precious name of your Son Jesus, and it’s in His name I pray.  Amen

This is a message I shared a while back and I feel that I should share it again.  I had a conversation a while back with a sister in Christ, and we were in a healthy discussion regarding the goodness of God.  In our discussion she stated that we are saved by grace.  I concurred but added by our faith also.  She insisted that only God’s grace is why we are saved.  After expressing my agreement with her again, yet sharing there is more, we concluded that she will not budge from her stance, and I neither will I.  Below is why I believe there is more and after reading, you decide.

We can find the “saved by grace” concept in Eph 2:8, which states “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”  In this verse, the Apostle Paul used 3 key words, in which 1 of them is a action word that would be performed by us.  They are grace, saved, and faith.  If we are to truly understand the intent of the Apostle’s statement, it will require us to determine the meaning of these words and how it applies in his verse. 

GRACE - favor or good will; mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace.
SAVED  - to rescue from danger or possible harm, injury, or loss: to save someone from drowning; To deliver from the power and consequences of sin.
FAITH - confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability. 

So in essence, grace is mercy or pardon, saved is to keep or rescue, and faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing without any proof.  The Apostle is saying only by God’s mercy (grace), do we have the opportunity for salvation (saved), and that we would have to believe (faith) this is to be true.  We would have to believe ( action) and understand that we could not have done it by ourselves, but only by it being a gift from God.  God did His part, and man (mankind) will have to do his part. 

Now let’s look at the verse again: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God .”  Does this verse sound familiar?  What did the Apostle John write?  For God so loved(GRACE) the world  that he gave his only begotten Son(GIFT-GOD’S PART), that whoever believes (FAITH-MAN’SPART) in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (SAVED)  The Apostle Paul reiterated what John the Apostle stated, but put a more emphasis on it.  It is not because of the many alms that we do (Matt 6:1), or by repetition of prayer (Matt 6:7), but by God’s mercy.  The world was in a condemned state, about to perish eternally, and was without power to rescue itself from destruction.  God, through His eternal love, gave us an opportunity and provided a means of rescue, by giving His Son to die for us (study atonement in its entirety).  That was God’s part.  No man is saved through this sacrifice, “unless” they believe.  Amen!  Now that is man’s part.

A gift is not a gift unless you have someone who gives, and the other who accepts the gift.  God gave to man, man accepted.  When God gives, it is now up to man to show what he does with the gifts.  God gave us the beast of the ground, fowl of the air, and fish of the sea.  We accepted and named them.  He gave us plants.  We accepted and named them.  He gave us woman, we accepted and named her.  All of these were man’s part.  God did His part, and man has to do his part.  It was man’s actions that cause us not to physically live eternally, but it will be man’s actions again, via the grace of God to live spiritually eternally.   There are two parts to salvation.  God has already done His part.

Jesus himself said it, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  We are saved by grace.  We were given the opportunity to restore our broken relationship with our Father.  This was His gift to us.  That was His part.  Our part is to believe in His son.  We are to believe and adhere to His teachings.  We must strive to imitate our Father in as many ways we can.  It requires workOur works is the result of our faith.  They work hand in hand.  I understand why James said “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (Ja 2:24)  A person, who has a genuine faith, will produce.    James also stated “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! (Ja 2:19) One would do well in believing that there is one God, for it means you believe the truth. However, it will do you no good, any more than it does devils who believe the same, unless it leads you to obey him.  Your faith will require proof of your faith.  Abraham proved it to God with Isaac (Gen 22:1-22).  Jesus healed many according to their faith (Matt 9:22, Mark 10:52).  Jesus was even moved by the Gentile guard, by saying “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (Matt 8:5-10)

There has to be something to distinguish your faith from those of demons.  That “something” will have to be the works.  Demons are incapable of obeying.  What makes you different from others who also say they believe in God?  What makes you different than those who just live morally right?  What makes you different than your co-workers, friends, spouse, etc?  These questions I encourage you to ask yourself, and then re-read this lesson.  So is it grace alone, or is there more to it? Amen!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Many Words, Harm Is Inevitable

Gracious Lord, I give thanks this morning for allowing me to see another day.  I am blessed to know that I am your child, and have an opportunity for eternal life, based on the love you have for us and the obedience to your word.  Father I pray that you remove any hindrances from us that will prohibit us from hearing the instructions on our lives, and instill in us a spirit of truth, so that we have the only focus of serving you.  I pray a blessing on the reader of your word, and more a blessing on the doer.  I pray that all who reads are in a right mind.  I pray that they are comforted, and pray that they are at peace.  If not Lord, I pray that you grant them it, if it be your will.  And Father, please forgive us of our trespasses, whether in thought, speech, or deed.  We honor you.  We love you.  We give you all the praise and these we pray in the precious name of your Son Jesus.  Amen

I do not like watching chick shows.  I really don’t.  There were times where my wife somehow tricked me into watching Lifetime with her.  It is bad enough how I am already hooked on General Hospital, but that is another story.  Any-who, as I was saying, I don’t like watching them.  They have the guys in these shows all wimpy and stuff.  For example you have a man and woman arguing for some reason.  They have been arguing back and forth saying mean things to each other, and then the man says something really hurtful.  Then there is the awkward silence, the woman tears up, then the man says he is sorry and did not mean to say it.  Man up buddy!  Of course you did.  The both of them were going back and forth saying other hurtful things to each other.  It is only because he saw the affect it had on her, why he said he did not mean it.  Suppose she did not respond and kept going back and forth with him?  Would he still say he did not mean to say it?  You and I know the answer.  The truth is, he said what he had on his heart.
The bible states “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Lu 6:45)  Have this ever happened to you?  It has to me as well.  We need to learn how to curb our tongue.  We are human beings with emotions and sometimes if we are not careful, our emotions can get the best of us.  We all have the ability to say some hurtful things, but that does not necessarily make us evil.  However we must take great care in how we manage the words that leave our lips especially if the conversation we are having gets heated.  Do you remember how it felt when you said something that you shouldn’t?  It makes you feel low doesn’t it?  What about how the hearer feels?  It reminds me of a story I read a while back.  I do not know the title, but it goes as follows:
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”
The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said “I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you.”
“Of course I can,” said the father.

             The bottom line is, words that hurt, are normally said when in anger.  That was a beautiful lesson the father taught his son.  If we are able to physically see the effect of our words when spoken in anger towards someone, we would be extremely mindful in what we say in the future.  The bible states “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Pr 10:19)  Family, as I look back on the carnage I left when I did not curb my tongue, I make it a daily ritual to speak less, and if speech is necessary, it is to speak edification.  Will you join me?  Amen

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Go To Him

Gracious Father, I humbly come before your throne of grace, first and always to say thank you.  I just thank you for who you are, and the standard that you set for your children.  I thank you for your covering.  I thank you for your instructions.  I thank you for the opportunity to get it right.  Oh God, and I thank you for Jesus.  Father, there are those out there who are in bondage by way of their own thoughts.  I pray Father that you release them from it, so that they can come to you without shame.  I pray that you instill in them the courage to accept change, and the desire to receive deliverance.  Oh Father I just pray that you intrude on our lives and help us to clean up our mess.  We are unable to do it on our own, and seek your guidance Father.  I pray Father that you teach us how to die daily, and how to communicate with you better.  And Father, I pray that you forgive us of any sins committed whether in thought or deed.  This we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

About 15 years ago, a former friend of mine met this girl that he could not stay away from.  His name was Ephraim.  She was very pleasing to the eye, but there was just something about her character that did not sit well with me.  Ephraim was not that good looking, and according to the standards we adhered to back then, he was a good dude.  Another former friend of ours named Sefton, was better looking.  He had some funny ways about him, but overall he was also a good dude.  This was a time where the streets were our focus.  Recreation, compensation, justice, etc, was bestowed by the streets.  There were settings that I believe were not appropriate for females, yet Ephraim would bring this girl around.  Her eyes wondered too much for my taste, and when she spoke to you, she was touchy-feely.  To make sure there was no misunderstanding, I had a word with her.  I never had an encounter with her again. In fact, she did not like me too much after that.  Oh well, she can go to …….never mind.  Anyway, as time went on, I noticed that she was a bit friendlier than usual with Sefton.  Then there was a period about two weeks where I did not see Ephraim, Sefton, or this girl.  I thought nothing of it, and then I received a call from the fellas that Ephraim wanted a word with me.  This was unusual, but decided to accommodate the meeting.  When I went to the location Ephraim was with the girl, and she did not look happy.  She had some bruise on her cheek that clearly was healing.  I remember saying to myself “good job Ephraim.”  Surely you will not hold this against me right family?  Anyway, it was not Ephraim who did it.  It was allegedly done by Sefton.  Sefton tried to make advances on the girl, she refused, and he hit her.  This is according to her story.   Ephraim wanted to tell me to my face what his plan was regarding Sefton.  Of course I told him that was unacceptable, which he answered “watch me.” Oh what honor he had (being facetious).
Family, the whole story need to be told for you to get the picture so bear with me.  I was able to get a hold of Sefton, and he told me the story.  Apparently Sefton knew this girl from a past acquaintance he used to deal with.  He knew what type of girl she was but could not muster up the courage to tell Ephraim.  At some point this girl tried to come on to him, and he refused.  Things got physical, she hit him, and out of reflex he hit her back.  Because of my initial feelings about her, I was inclined to believe him.  I told him to lay low while I squared things away with Ephraim.  Too late!  Ephraim caught up with him and gave him a severe beaten.  He was in the hospital for days.  Ephraim spread the lie that this girl told him to the streets, and the streets accepted the justice that was handed down.  The only reason why he did not take Sefton’s life was because the girl supposedly stopped him.  Oh, how decent of her (being facetious again).  Family trust me when I tell you, the truth always comes out.  Not too long after, this girl found another man who was…… em-em (cough)…. generous.  Ephraim took that well.  What he did not take well, was when word got back that she has done this before a few times.  All he could say to me was how he was really about to kill Sefton.  He never was the same after that.  He could not face Sefton, and surprisingly, Sefton did not hold it against him.  Ephraim left the pack, got with some other dudes, made some bad decisions, got reckless, and his life was cut short.
How does this tie in?  Jesus was wrongfully accused and because of it, he was beaten terribly.  He was forced to carry a heavy wooden cross that upon destination, he would be nailed to it.  Each time we engage in an act we know is inappropriate, we are virtually siding with the Pharisees and religious order that denied Jesus’ deity.  We are denying that Jesus came to set us free.  We are denying that He is the son of God.  We are virtually accepting that lie that sent him to the cross.  Sefton just wanted his friend back, but Ephraim could not go to him.  He was so ashamed in what he did, and what he spread, that he enslaved himself to it, instead of taking the opportunity to release himself.  We can be that way also.  The bible states “Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” (Isa 1:18)  The Lord is calling us, but because we know what we have done, because we know He is watching, we feel ashamed to go before Him.  We feel that our wrong is so great, that He could not possibly accept us.   Oh how the devil is a liar!  God wants to have a talk with you.  He wants to tell you that He will accept you just the way you are.  He wants to cleanse you from the mess you have been wallowing in.  He wants to have a deep relationship with you.  It does not matter what you have done.  He just wants you to come to Him, and forsake your old way of living, and He will not remember your trespasses.  You just have to grab His hand that He is extending to you.  You should be saying Amen right now!  Oh Hallelujah!!!  Where would I have been if I did not grab His hand?  Where will you be if you do not grab His hand? 
Ephraim could not go to Sefton because he attempted to put himself in Sefton’s shoes.  He felt if it was him, he would not accept him.  This is what we also do.  We put ourselves in God’s place.  We try to think for God.  We would not accept ourselves and we assume God will do the same.  No family, His thoughts are not like ours (Isa 55:8).  If you repent of your ways and confess your transgressions, He will remember them no more.  He said “let us reason together” I love talking to God.   He is calling you too.  Go to Him.  Amen!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Leave It Behind: Instructions For The Non-Believing Believers

Father God, I come before your throne of grace, the only way I know how; with my head bowed and heart humbled to say thank you.  Father I thank you for life and health this morning.  I thank you for the covering while my family and I slumbered.  I thank you for being a God that allows us to come to you not how we pretend to be, but as we are.  I thank you for your mercy and grace toward an undeserving people, and I thank you for your Son Jesus.  I pray oh God that these blessings that you have bestowed upon us continue Father, throughout the day.  I pray Father that the readers of this message are in the right mind to receive it, and that you will instill a spirit of change for those who needs it.  And Father if we can pray for one more thing, we pray oh God for forgiveness of sins that were performed by way of thoughts or deeds.  We give you all honor and glory, and we pray this prayer in the matchless name of your Son Jesus.  Amen

I was speaking with one of my co-workers today.  He has been tasked to improve how tickets are handled so that the level of our customer service increases.  The team that I am on is sort of unique and he was inquiring on what exactly we do.  After sharing the information with him, he was a bit confused.  He understood our support model, and understood what it entails, but he did not understand the other support that we provide.  My team has a basic support model, however other items fall under our support that should not.  It’s what we call a “grandfather clause.” It is an exception that allows an old rule to continue to apply to some existing situations, when a new rule will apply to all future situations.  So there is support that was carried over when we were promoted that should have been left behind.  This can be misleading at times when dealing with other teams, and also frustrating because at times we have to offer explanations why our team are involved in certain situations when majority of other teams are clearly defined.

This sort of confusion happens all the time between children of the world, and supposed children of the light.  Children of the world are unable to make out the children of the light because both behave similarly.  The bible states “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.  But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them.  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”  (Eph 5:1-11)  The bible is clear regarding what God instructs Christians to do.  We are to be holy, but sometimes people do not know what holy means.  There are key words and phrases used in these verses that need to be considered, and I believe because they are not considered, is why you have what I call non-believing believers.

We are instructed to be imitators of God.  This of course is impossible, so we have to put on our metaphorical hat.  I think “imitators of God” is self explanatory, but for those who are not clear, one way can be forgiving those who trespass against us. It speaks about things that should not even be named among us.  You have those who are caught up in a rumor mill because of their behavior and the company they keep.  The list is clear and precise and the charge is that we are not to be partakers with them.  The Greek word for “partakers” is “summetochos” which means a participant.  We are not to participate in any activities that the children of this world participates in.  This does not mean watching a football game or eating at a restaurant.  This implies to going to night clubs or a bars.  Children of light have no reason to be in those places.  Here is where the left behind comes in.  It stated “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”  Some of us at one time or another was once in darkness.  All of the things we were told to stay away from in the above verses, we were partakers of them.  Now that we are in Christ, we are a new creation.  Those things of old are exactly that; old and have passed away, now we look forward to a new way of daily living. (2Co 5:17) 

Unfortunately, you have those who want to apply the grandfather clause.  They were smokers before Christ, and they want be smokers in Christ.  They used to hit up the clubs, but they find ways to still dance and show their bodies off, just absent of the building, while claiming to be saved.  They used to listen to filth in their music, and still listen to the filth.  They were attracted to the same sex before, and still are now.  They hide behind love and commitment.  Please!!!!  All that garbage should have been left at the altar, and virtually burned once you became a new creature.  It should have been left in the tub, pool, or river when you were baptized.  When you came up out of that water you were washed free of it.  Some believe that it is ok to be this way. They believe as long as they believe in Christ, and ask for forgiveness, they are good.  News flash!  Hebrews 10:26-31 addresses that error superbly.

There was a time when someone heard you were a Christian, they would ask you to pray for them.  They would want to be in your company because they knew God is covering you.  Now, we are ignored.  We are not taken seriously. You can walk in some churches and can’t tell the difference between those who claim to be children of light and those who are in the dark.  They look alike because they did not leave their past in the past.  It is time for men and women to stop talking about it, but being about it.  Amen.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What If It’s All True?

Father God, you are God all by yourself, and I continue to be in awe of your majestic works.  I submit myself before your throne of grace, expressing gratitude by way of thanksgiving.  Father I just thank you for your Word. I thank you for your Holy Spirit. I thank you for your anointing power.  I thank you for your covering.  I thank you for your grace and mercy which can be seen every time I take a breath.  It is a reminder of a gift that I did not have to receive, but you saw fit to be a blessing to me, and I thank you for it.  Most of all, I thank you for your Son Jesus, who’s sacrifice was a gift to all mankind.  I pray this morning, that all who are reading this message are in the best of health.  I pray this morning, that they are comforted.  I pray this morning that they are at peace.  I pray this morning that they are worry free, and if they are lacking in any area, Father, I pray that you fulfill that area.  I pray a blessing on them.  I pray a blessing on their children and household.  I pray a blessing on their going and coming.  I just pray that you be a God to them, just like how you have been to me.  And Father, if there is anything we have done, that is not pleasing in thy sight, I pray in the name of your Son Jesus, that you forgive us for it.  We give you all honor and glory, and this we pray in your son Jesus name.  Amen

There was a time where I did not believe in God.  In fact, I used to question those who were Christians about their faith.  I was logical and asked really complex questions, where I remember at times I gave them (Christians) pause.  My goodness!  It was fitting for me to question their God.   I always made God theirs and not mine.  As stated, I can question their God, but to cause them to question their own God, man, where was their faith?  I did this successfully for years.  Then I met my match; my oldest son.  He was a boy at the time and you know how young children get?  They ask questions and when you give them an answer, they ask why.  Then when you answer, they ask why again until you get annoyed and shout, “Because I say so”!  I never did that with Q.  Anyone who knows me, know I have some very inquisitive children, and if I thought I was going to escape God, my children will prove the contrary.  Q asked me where God lives.  I did not think it was right to tell my son there is no God, since his young mind would not comprehend my thoughts on the matter, so I told him what everybody believes; He lives in heaven.  He then asked me why?  Of course I said, well God cannot be contained in one place so He has to live in a place where there are no limits and that is heaven.  So he then asks me where is heaven.  I told him it is beyond the clouds.  He flipped the question and asked does God speak.  I told him in different ways.  He speaks to us by dreams, by thoughts, or by people when they are in church, and it was when I said that, I regretted saying it.  Yep, you guessed it; he then asked me what is church.  So I explained it to him.  Then he said “oh ok.”  I was relieved.  As I was driving, I looked in the rear view mirror and I seen him smiling.  I remember saying to myself how good a dad I was that I was able to answer his questions satisfactorily.  Then as I hit the next light, it came to me.  I had that feeling of being had.  I said you got to be kidding me.  Of course there was another word between the “be” and “kidding”, but remember I was not saved then.  God used my son to put me in my place.  Here I was questioning Christians about their faith, yet I have plenty of it myself.  Good one God!
It moved me, and I began to research.  I began to look into why things happen.  Like why does the earth spin one way and not the other?  Why does the moon affect the tides?  What is behind our heart beat?  Why is every snowflake unique?  I was pointed in this direction and that direction, and everybody and their mother adding their theories, and when I was done, I was cross-eyed for all the reading and my tongue was bruised for trying to pronounce so many big words.  Everybody had answers, but I was still left with, why?  Then I asked myself this question, suppose it is true?  I never really thought about God again nor did I question people’s faith because it was too complex for my mind to comprehend.  But every now and then, that question would nag me.  What if it’s all true?
Our country, counting the revolution up until present, has either engaged in war or was the leader as an intervention where warlike methods were applied.  We are talking 236 years.  The amount of war or intervention is approximately 50.  So if my math is correct the equivalent of how many times our country either went to war or was leading a warlike intervention, was approximately every 4.72 years from 1775 until present.  That was just our involvement.  Nations had their wars against other nations.  Well guess what, the bible says “Then He said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Lu 21:10)  Is that a coincidence?  What about the greed of the world?  Are more children respecting their parents?  Haven’t they removed God out of the classrooms?  What about these reality shows?  The bible speaks to all of that in 2 Tim 3:1-4.  Are these coincidences?  The bible states “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!  Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,  Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man!” (Isa 5:20-23)  My goodness!  Can anyone of you read the above verses and say with a clear conscience that this is not happening now?  Finally, we just heard of the devastating earth quake that rocked Japan.  Was it not last year when Haiti was hit with a severe earthquake?  Did not years before that a wicked tsunami hit Indonesia and Thailand?  The bible states “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.”  Are these coincidences too?  I am sorry, that is just too many coincidences for me.
If the bible speaks about all of these things happening, and it does, and if you still do not believe, then the logical thing to do is to look deeper into other things that the bible speaks about.  By the grace of God, the process that led me to be saved started with my second son Aj (Matt 21:16), and the conduct of my wife (1 Pet 3:1-2).  And during that time, I looked back and asked myself that question, what if it’s all true?  I answered by saying, “I would rather live my life as though God is real, die, and find out that He wasn’t, rather than live my life as though He wasn’t, then to die and find out that it was all true.”  Amen!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Then What?

Heavenly and gracious Father, I come before your throne of grace with head bowed and heart humbled, to say thank you.  Father I thank you for life this morning.  I thank you for protecting my household while we slumbered.  I thank you for allowing me to wake up in good health, and soundness of mind.  I thank you for allowing my organs to still function and my bones remaining intact.  I thank you for my eyes to see your works in nature, ears to hear your word preached, and a tongue to confess and to profess what an awesome God you are.  I thank you Father for just the simple things that we take for granted that can be taken from us at any time.  And I thank you for your mercy by way of your Son’s sacrifice.  I pray this morning, that all who read this message, are in the best of health, and in the right state of mind.  I pray that their household is in peace.  I pray that all is well where they can receive this message without any hindrance.  I pray Father that you just continue to love us and shower us with grace.  And if there is anything that we thought, said, or did that were not pleasing in thy sight, I pray that you forgive us for it, Father.  Oh, just have mercy on us, Lord.  We give you the honor, the glory, and the praise, and we pray this prayer in the name of your Son Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.  Amen.  Amen.  Amen

I want a big house.  I want a fancy car.  I want to sip wine and nibble on cheese.  I want the hottest wife.  I want the hottest husband.   I want big bank.  I want to be able to travel the world at any time.  I want servants at my beckoning.  I want the finest of apparels.  I want to own expensive shoes made in Italy.  I want beautiful jewelry.  I want to have rock star status, and have Robin Leech present me on “Lauife Staoils of De Rich and Fey-mus”  These are the statements you would hear from those who find happiness in things that are tangible.  They do not see what is behind closed doors, nor are they able to tap into the individuals’ heart.  So if they were able to obtain all of these things, then what?
With all that happened with the officers of Enron and Bernard Madoff, one would think that being rich and famous is not what it’s cracked up to be.  These men had it all, and now many of them have lost everything.  These things are of the world and if you are of the world, there is no relationship you can have with God.  The bible states “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world.   And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  (1Jo 2:15-17)  The finer things in life, at least what the world states they are, are an illusion, and do not last.  These items are perishable and have no significance other than to satisfy flesh.   God wants us to consider matters of the spirit.
Solomon had wisdom that no one before him or after him had possessed, and he also had riches.  Let’s consult his words on the matter.  It reads “I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards.   I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.  I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove.  I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me.  I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.  So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.  Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor.  Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.  Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness and folly; For what can the man do who succeeds the king? -Only what he has already done.”  (Ec 2:4-12)  In essence, he became bored of what he had.  Solomon chased after and obtained anything his heart desired, but when it was fully experienced, he was empty only to chase after another temporary pleasure. 
Our happiness should not be measured by foolish pleasures.  It should be measured by the love that God has for us, knowing that if we set Him as our nucleus, we will possess just what we need.  “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mt 16:26)  Solomon learned that lesson before it was too late.  Amen.