Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just Leave It To God

Gracious Father, I thank you this morning for all that you have done and will continue to do in my life.  I thank you this morning for your grace and mercy.  I thank you this morning for the blessings of life and health.  I pray that these blessings not only be bestowed to me, but to your children who loves you.  I pray a special blessing on the reader of this message.  I pray that you bless them and keep them, and pray that your Holy Spirit encamp around them in all that they do.  Father, I just thank you for being a God, who we can come to.  Not as we pretend to be, but as we are.  I pray Father that you continue to love your children who adhere and share your word.  And Father, I pray that you forgive us of any trespasses committed.  These I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

My spiritual walk up to this point has been a long rewarding and at times daunting one.  I have been saved for six years and in them I have experienced and witnessed what many have not in their whole life as a Christian.  It is amazing how my spiritual life sort of mirrored my secular life.  I’ve seen it and done it, and men who lived up to 80+ years conceded that they have never experienced what I have.  As I continue this faith walk and spiritual growth, I have come to one conclusion, to just leave certain things to God.  Before I go into the message, I would like to share that this will be my last message, at least in the form of the internet.   I have contemplated the thoughts of possibly slowing down to at least one message per week.  However, with seminary in my focus as well as my new direction with the prison ministry, I need to focus my time on learning and being effective in those areas.  I prayed extensively and the results were the same.  I thank those who have followed up to this point, and I pray I have been a blessing to you.  I give God all honor, glory, and praise.  Amen!
As I stated above I just came to a point to where I just leave things to God.  Part of it may have been birthed by the paper I have written for my seminary.  I titled it “Christianity: A Look At Christian Behavior” Most of the paper was about my walk and about others in certain spiritual circles.  However it amazes me when I was able to recall certain dialogues I heard, that I participated in, and certain messages I praised when spoken.  Oh how wrong I was.  I then recall reading Romans 14-15:3, and my eyes were opened.  Forget about the world, Christians at times can be far more an enemy to the lost than the lost themselves.  They claim to be about love, but love are sometimes (majority of the time) not in their speech or action.  They claim to be about unity, but all it takes is a certain doctrine they are emotionally tied to, and a division will birth.  My favorite is how they will spout on what this or that pastor deserves for his shortcomings, yet failing to see what they may deserve for their shortcomings.  My goodness, and I was just like them.  I was no different from a Pharisee.
Family, I encourage each and every one of you to read Romans 14-15:3.  Your eyes will open, and by the grace of God, it may just set you free of negative thinking that we hide behind as being the truth.  I recall how I would say that women cannot be pastors, and gays and lesbians cannot love the Lord, and this church should not teach tithing, and blah, blah, blah.  Regarding women pastors, I know what the scripture says.  I believe in it whole heartedly.   No one in my eyes can tell me different.  What about that woman?  She may believe in it whole heartedly and no one can tell her different.  So must I fight her because of her position?  This is a debatable item that I choose no longer to debate.  She loves God in her heart, and she teaches the scripture to the best of her ability, so the rest, I leave to God.  To those men and women who believe they can still practice their lifestyle of desiring the same sex, and claim to have love for Christ, I know what the scripture says.  To me it is a matter of faith and understanding.  If they love Christ like they say, then I leave it to God, and trust that He will work it out.  To the churches and parishioners who tithe, more power to them.  I believe that tithing was commanded and required to the children of Israel and them alone.  God did not command the Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites,  or Canaanites in the Old Testament to tithe, nor did He command the Gentiles in the New Testament.  It was only the children of Israel.  Punishment followed if they disobeyed.  What is going to happen if I do not tithe?  Am I going to hell?  Here is my stance.  I am a child of God, who gives as a child of God.  I give from the heart.  Not because of requirement, not because of obligation, but because I am a child of God.  At times it is a tenth.  At times it is more than a tenth, and at times it is less.  I have yet to starve, I do not live from paycheck to paycheck, and the only debt that can be seen as huge, is my mortgage.  What am I saying?  I am not going to beat down the pastor or condemn the church who preaches tithing.  God bless them.  I am not going to debate with them to show them they are in error or for them to show if I am.  I will leave it to God.
Family, Christians have the tendency to say or do things which can cause many to stumble.  Where was their love of God in that?  I just shared many things to where I view it as the truth, while to another it may be doubtful.  Cannot it be vice versa that someone may view things as the truth, and I be in doubt of it?  In truth they are matters of opinion and these opinions are between the one who spout them and the Lord.  So if there are things that I doubt, guess what, I leave it to the Lord and I make sure I do not engage in them.
Did I have some sort of epiphany, maybe?  I tell you this.  I believe that God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life.  I believe that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world through the Son can be saved.   I believe that Jesus was punished in our place.  I believe that he died, was buried, was risen, and ascended back to the Father.  I believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one.  I believe that I am a sinner, and a sinner by nature.  I believe that I could not change on my own, and needed to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and by repentance and confession I am saved.   I believe in both hell and heaven, and believe that Christ will come back to judge His people.  All I desire to do is study to show myself approved unto God, a man of God who need not be ashamed, and rightly divide the word of truth.  I want to love God with all my heart, mind, and soul, and to love my neighbor as I love myself.  This love however is jeopardized if I engage in debatable matters, or engage in a spiritual dual with one whose faith may be weak, or who lack understanding.  So what do I do?  I just leave it to God.  May the Lord bless you and keep you.  Amen!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Watch Your Mouth

Gracious Father, I thank you this morning for one more day in the land of the living.  I thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed on me.  I pray that these blessings are also bestowed on your children who love you.  I pray the same on the readers and doers of your word.  I pray a special blessing on the readers of this message.  I pray that they receive it in love and consider it moving forward.  I pray that you bless them and keep them.  I pray that your Holy Spirit encamp around them in all that they do.  I pray that they continue to be a light for those in the dark.   Father, I just pray that you continue to show mercy and grace on an undeserving people.  And Father, as always, I pray that you forgive us of any sins committed, whether my thought, speech, or deed.  You deserve all honor, glory, and praise, and I pray these in Jesus’ name, Amen.

There was a time when I was a young boy, that I was a bit loose with my lips in speaking what I believe to be right.  I was speaking to my mom at the time.  I do not remember the content of my words, but I do remember feeling the need to say it, and I also remember not finishing my statement.  In mid sentence, I remember my mother grabbing the front of my collar with her left hand, and making some movements with her right hand as it was coming toward my face.  All I thought was how in the movies a man grabs another man by the collar and punches him in the face and knocking him out.  It was that thought that caused the tears to roll down my cheeks.  It was then, my mom’s right hand changed course, sort of.  I believe a fist was about to make contact to my face, but the tears caused her to change her mind.  What she did was just as painful.  To be honest, I might have preferred the punch.  She used her fingers and grabbed my lips and began to twist them while saying “watch yur mout, likkle bwoy” in her deep Jamaican accent.  It was more like w..a..t..chhhhhhhhh, yur mout likkle b..w..oooooooooooooy”, and each syllable was like an extra twist.  I swore my lips switched places.   It felt like my bottom lip was on the top, and vice versa for the bottom.  Surely I have given you a clear illustration, if you are not cracking up by now.  What my mother taught me that day was to be careful of the words I choose when speaking.  Clearly there are consequences if consideration is not taken.

That took place as a child, which I am sure many of you can relate.  What about as an adult?   I believe we are bolder now to say certain things, because we feel it is our right.   Part of our 1st Amendment is Freedom of Speech.  So many of us say, “I can say what I want, and it is my God given right!”  Yes and no.  We are to be careful with our liberties.  The Apostle Paul says “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” (1Co 10:23)  Meaning, that yes you have the right to say anything you want, but what you say may end up being harmful to you or others if you are not careful.  We have the tendency to have the last say.  We have the tendency of winning an argument.  There is something about remaining silent, when someone disrespects us verbally, that makes us feel weak.  So what we do is say to ourselves, “who does that person think he/she is talking too? Well he/she is going to find out.”  And before you know it, our tongue takes on a life of its own, and after the smoke settles, the devil sits back and says “bravo!”

The bible says “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” (Jas 3:8-10) Think before you speak.  Watch your mouth.  Silent rivers run deep.  All of these clich├ęs represent the same thing.  Our words can have an adverse affect on what we initially wanted to express if we are not careful.  Some of us praise God with our mouths, and from that same place, would tell someone about themselves if they push the wrong buttons.  There is power in words, and with that, we ought to handle what leaves our lips with care.  Words can cause people to commit suicide, or even murder.  Do you see the power of words?  Knowing what damage you can do, is it not worth handling it with care?  The bible says:

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Pr 10:19)
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Pr 18:21)
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. Mt 12:37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Mt 12:36-37)

They all speak on practicing restraint with our lips.  In order for this to happen, we have to change the way we think, and what we allow to resonate in our hearts.  When my mother told me to watch my mouth, it was because my words caused her to feel in such a way, that she had to answer me back physically.  Your husband did something to hurt you, and now you want to hurt him back by saying something to injure his ego?  Please reconsider.   You are tired of your co-worker boasting on how the boss likes her work, and now do you want to burst her bubble?  Please reconsider.  When at the checkout and that young lady have an attitude, not knowing that your taxes that comes out of your check is her paycheck. Do you want to rub it in her face?  Please reconsider.  Are you just tired of that person who just talk too much, and you want to tell them to shut the blank up?  Please, please reconsider. 

When God created us.  He created us after His image, and after His likeness.  God made things come to pass by saying it.  We too, have limited power in making things come to pass by our words.  Let us use this gift wisely in where God will be well pleased, and not the devil.  Amen!