Monday, October 31, 2011

Joy to Peace to Miracles As An Undeniable Witness

I am not one who practices new years resolutions. My simple mind tends to think that if something is really worth changing, starting or quitting now is a better time than waiting for a new year to start.

There is something that I would like to challenge you to this new year however. Recently, God showed me this simple plan to an incredible life in faith.

This very first qualification is that you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It is at that time that each of us is give the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our future.

Galatians 5:22&23 tells us what comes to us with the Holy Spirits presence:

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

I invite you discover the connection between two of the Holy Spirit's gifts.

From Isaiah 55: 12;13 (God is speaking to His people)

"For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;

The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

"Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,
And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And it will be a memorial to the LORD,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off."

Could it be as simple as that? Begin each day with joy and we will not only find true peace but all of creation has been set up to respond to us. Together, the joy, the peace and the miraculous events surrounding us will testify to Jesus and an eternal sign!

He said it. Will you put it to the test?

Come back and let us all know what you find.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Will We Not Learn the Lessons Offered?

Solomon has a unique opportunity.  He had ultimate wealth and total authority at his disposal.  There was absolutely nothing out his ability to have.

We turn the the second chapter of Ecclesiastes:

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility.  I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?”  I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives.  I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself;  I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees;  I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees.   I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem.   Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasure"

He explored fun, pleasure, possessions, accomplishments, renown and found the pursuit "vanity" and "chasing after the wind".

We simply are too dense to learn from someone that had a gift of wisdom for our God which was beyond any normal human intellect.

God has expanded our resources far beyond that of most of the world and, in many cases, beyond what our own parents live with.  Was His purpose for expanding our borders for us to expand our possessions in the pursuit of pleasure?

Today, our churches, our neighbors and our brothers and sisters are struggling because we have grabbed possession onto what God has placed in our hands to manage.  We could consider a couple of parables that Jesus told about unfaithful stewards (servants).

We hear or read the weekly deficit of our own place of worship and think what?  "It is terrible that so many people only tip or God when will they finally get it?"  We sit justified because we "tithe" or we "more than tithe".

I tell you that no servant is justified in what he does if it is not in direct instruction of his master.

We have stolen what is not ours to have.

I know that this is a tough message to read but if we seek true freedom we must address this issue.  Our wold is rapidly unraveling and the sooner we pick up our opportunities the sooner God will open new doors of opportunity to us!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seeing The Unseen

SHOUT joyfully to the Lord all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100

Joy and gladness is a BIG thing to our God! It is a sincere expression of faith, and faith is music to God’s ear.

As a matter of fact joy and gladness insulate us from so pretty ugly things.

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your enemies…Deuteronomy 28:47&48

Are you weary yet with serving your enemies? Give a joyful life a try!

The Book of Philippians is an amazing book. The Apostle Paul is sitting in a prison cell and writing a letter of thanksgiving to the church in Philippi. To understand this situation it is important that we understand the setting. The prisons of that era were not like our prisons of today or even recent history. No, these were typically dungeons of filth and disease. Absolutely no care was provided to prisoners. The only food or clothing that they had was that which came from the outside world. This where the church at Philippi comes into the picture. They sent not only food and clothing but attendants as well.

There were no laws regarding false imprisonment, unfair terms of imprisonment or even the condition of the imprisonment. Paul had no idea when, if ever, he would get out!

This same Paul had left his entire family, his vaulted position and his society. He had traveled the known world to spread the good news of Jesus. He had been shipwrecked, stoned, whipped, stranded and alone and run out of town.

His recent life had been totally dedicated to the service of his God. Now we find him in the dregs of a filthy jail cell.

Paul, in writing his personal note of thanks to the Philippians makes this statement: …I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly so that I may also be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. Philippians 2:19&20

I’m not certain how I would react to this situation if I were up to my knees in filth, death and waste and I looked around and could find no one other than one single person that was trustworthy. Years of ministry, years of service, years of self-sacrifice had brought him to this.

His response?

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write these things again is no trouble to me and it is a safeguard to you.” (3:1)


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. (4:4&5)

There is his secret. It didn’t make any difference to Paul where he was; the Lord was always there with him. So, whether imprisoned or whether free, he was with his Lord.

The importance of rejoicing is that it keeps us in the presence of the Lord. He may be with us; it is rejoicing that places us with Him.

It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, choose to rejoice and be glad. Stand back and see how God will respond!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

For Freedom's sake!

I have been hesitating to post this message. It is not one that delights my heart but I post it only out of obedience. Jim

Realize this, that in the last days…men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 2 Timothy 3:1-4

Quite a list, isn’t it? As you read many of the descriptions what came to your mind?

Sounds a lot like the society that we live in doesn’t it? Everywhere we turn we see one or more of the traits described above displayed openly.

However, before we go too far down this road, we must read the rest of the scripture:

holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power… 3:5a

So, evidently, the descriptions above aren’t addressing the society’s issues. Those issues have always belonged to society. What is new is that these traits have seeped into the Church. It is only the Church that has the position to “hold to a form of godliness”; the world has never been interested.

Too easy it is to think of examples of the above traits within the Church. The music is too loud, it is too hot, the message was too long, church isn’t fun/friendly/applicable anymore and on and on.

Lost within the ugliness is the “power”. Long ago the manifest power of the gospel message has been buried under the self-interest and self-promotion. Each weekend we see displayed only the “form of godliness” while privately God’s people carry on the sickness.

Hear the Word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah. “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer; incense is an abomination to Me. I am weary of hearing them.”

So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, yes, even though you multiply your prayers, I will not listen.”

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease evil, learn to do good, seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”
Isaiah 1:10-17

As the Nation of Israel was equated to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah perhaps today’s church is not far from the equation as well.

We are well aware of who makes up today’s Church. Individuals like you and me are responsible for the loss of power. Jesus is inviting us to “wash yourselves, make yourselves clean”.

Let’s agree together to quit “trampling His courts” with our worthless prayers and come into agreement with how He sees us. It is only then that we can once again discover the power!

Our God desires our freedom and it is our freedom that glorifies Him!

Monday, October 3, 2011

There is a River!

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the morntains slip into the heart of the sea; though the waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at is selling pride. Selah

Our world is indeed changing rapidly. Perhaps you have been caught up in the web of change in your personal or your family position. Whatever is our state, God has not changed! He is, and has always been, the refuge and the strength for those who have discovered the wonderful life of faith! While others may fret over circumstances or possible anticipated circumstances, the individual who lives by faith trusts and resides in deep peace and rest withing the refuge of our God!

This next part of the Psalm is very important. Don't skip by too quickly.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy places of the Most High! God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered: He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold! Selah

"There is a river whose streams" meander throughout the churches in this world. It is a stream of true believers who "make glad the city of our God". These believers have sold out to the good news of Jesus. They overflow with "streams of living waters".

Remember the stark statement that Jesus said, "broad is the path that that leads to destruction but narrow is the path that leads to life and few find it".

Are you part of that stream? Does flow from your very being regardless of the day and regardless of circumstances? Too many Christians are compromised! Jesus told us that it is absolutely impossible to love both God and mammon yet far too many continue to attempt to do both to their own spiritual demise!

Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

One final invitation as we close, God invites us to cease our vain efforts and really, really get to know Him! It really makes no difference to Him, He will continue to be exalted regardless of your choices. Surrender! Life awaits!

The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Stronghold! Selah