Saturday, February 28, 2015

March 1, 2015

"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Corinthians 15:57

I never went into a baseball game thinking we wouldn't win but imagine knowing that you have already won!

How would you play the game if the victory had already been secured?

I would play to have fun! 

I would play for the love of the game!

I would play to improve my skills and increase my confidence!

I would play to enjoy the fellowship with my team mates!

In other words, I would play the game for all the right reasons!

Isn't that how we should live our lives as Christians since God's Word guarantees us that He has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ?

Just as we forget baseball is a game and games are meant to be fun, we tend to forget that the Christian life is meant to be lived with joy!

Can you imagine how much impact our Christian faith would have in our weary world if Christians lived in the joy of the victory God has given us through Christ?

What could happen if we had faith like winners?

What could happen if we prayed like winners?

What could happen if we fellowshipped like winners?

What could happen if we worshipped like winners?

What could happen if we witnessed like winners?

Don't you think our faith might be more winning?

You are a winner you know!

Why not play like it today?

Why not enjoy your faith?

Friday, February 27, 2015

February 28, 2015

This is the fourth of four great goals for those who submit to God’s pattern in the Home Run life.

#1 – God loves you more than you will ever know!
“I pray that our of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

#2 – There is more to God than you will ever know!
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

#3 – God has put more into you than you will ever know!
“and know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

#4 – God has more for you than you will ever know
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Let me ask you this, “Do you think you will get more out of life if you submit to the pattern of God’s Home Run life?”

I know I have!

I’m sure you would as well.

Looking back at my years of playing baseball I believe I got everything out of my experience given the talent I had and the background I came out of. I have no regrets and many memories. I’m thankful I was given the opportunity to play at the college level.

At the end of my ministry a I pray that I will be able to say the same! If I am to have any chance of that happening it will be because I have chosen to submit to the Home Run life!

What about you?

But even if I were to execute the Home Run life perfectly by connecting with God every time I came to the plate and by touching each of the bases exactly right allowing me to experience the fullness of His love and power, even then I would only know a portion of His greatness!

My God is too great to fully know in one lifetime! That is why He has given me eternity!

One thousand years into eternity, there will still be more to be revealed to me by my God. One million years or a billion years will not be enough to fully grasp the glory of my God!

So, while it is true that God has more for me than I will ever know I will get a chance to know it because I submitted to His pattern for living as illustrated by the Home Run life!

Are you in the game?

Are you playing according to His pattern?

If not, you have no idea what you’re missing!

February 27, 2015

This morning is the third of four great goals for those who submit to God’s pattern in the Home Run life.

#1 – God loves you more than you will ever know!
“I pray that our of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

#2 – There is more to God than you will ever know!
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

#3 – God has put more into you than you will ever know!
“and know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

How do you know when you are filled with the measure of the fullness of God’s love that He has put within your spirit by His Spirit?

In baseball, the measure of the ability a player has is this, “can he hit the curve ball?”

If you can’t hit a curve ball your potential in baseball is limited to the lower levels of play.

One of the first times I faced a curve ball was in middle school when I went against Stan Frantz. Stan played for South Whitley and was one of those kids who had matured faster than most. He stood on the mound a head taller than the rest of us with well-formed muscles and the shadow of a beard. His fastball had enough speed that he really didn’t need to throw the curve ball. But he did. He tied me in knots.

Stan Frantz forced me to learn how to hit a curve ball, even though I had little success with his. He exposed a weakness and challenged to get better. Through that process he led me to discover that I had what it took to hit a curve ball.

Fast forward nine years. I was a senior in college playing baseball for Indiana Wesleyan against our rival, Taylor University. It was the bottom of the seventh. The score was tied. We had a runner on first when I came to the plate for what I knew would be my last at bat in my college career.

Guess who was on the mound? Yep, Stan Frantz! He looked exactly the same as he did in eighth grade! I knew he didn’t recognize me because I was much bigger and stronger than when I last faced him. Besides, he had no reason to remember me since I had never caused him any concern.

I worked the count to a full count, three balls and two strikes. Having two strikes on me with a man on base I knew what he would throw – the vaunted curve. And this time I was ready for it because I had learned how to keep my hands back and wait on it. I went with it off the outside of the plate, caught it on the fat part of the bat and ripped a slicing line drive down the right field line. As I rounded second base I saw my team mate cross the plate with the winning run and I looked over my left shoulder to see the right fielder just getting to the ball. Those were two very thrilling sights! But the image that is burned on my mind to this day is Stan Frantz walking dejectedly toward his dugout!

I realized at that moment that I had gotten much better and he hadn’t! But I also knew that he was the one who had forced me to improve.

Applying that story to the truth of this Scripture, God will allow life to throw you some curve balls at you to help you understand two things: where you need to get better and to discover the grace He has put in you to get stronger.

In the Home Run life, you will face curve balls at every base, not just at home plate. That is because God wants you to grow in your character, in community and in competence.

You may never know all that God has put into you, but if you submit to His pattern in the Home Run life you will know that it is more than enough!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

February 26, 2015

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  Ephesians 3:14-20

Yesterday I talked about the truth that God loves you more than you can ever know.

Today’s truth, also found in this great portion of Scripture, THERE IS MORE TO GOD THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW!

Just as you will never know God’s love unless you live according to His pattern, neither can you get to know Him unless you are living in close connection with Him.

When I began to play baseball I didn’t know much about it nor did I know if I’d like it. The main reason I tried baseball was because I thought it might make my dad more interested in me. Also, my buddies were all trying out for little league so I decided I would give it a try.

By the way, my dad made it to just one game during my entire baseball career.

So, my reasons for getting into baseball didn’t have much to do with baseball. But once I began playing it I found out there was so much more to it than I ever imagined! I enjoyed every practice and every game I ever participated in. I loved the competition. I loved the feeling when I swung the bat and connected with the pitch! I loved the feeling when I caught the ball. I loved the comradery with teammates. I loved the challenges of the various situations during the game. I still miss playing the game.

In the same way, people often come to God for less than ideal reasons. Usually they have been running the bases the wrong way and find themselves in a mess. When they come to God they just want Him to help them out of the mess. And, once they connect with Him and begin running the bases according to His pattern, He does straighten things out.

But in the process they discover God is so much more than what they expected! The longer they play by His pattern the better He gets!

The Home Run life is a life that allows God to love you and to constantly and continually reveal His grace, His mercy, His peace, His strength, His power, His presence, His holiness, His hope and the unsearchable riches He has available in Christ Jesus. You come to realize that He is so great that through all eternity He will still be able to reveal new aspects of His nature!

Yes, there is more to God than you will ever know. But you never know that until you stop running the bases backward, connect with Him and begin living according to His pattern.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 25, 2015

Spring training started last week at FredWes!

I put on the old ball glove and went over the ground rules for the Home Run life and we used a Hall-of-Famer, Joseph, to illustrate how it plays out.

When you play the game according to God’s pattern you have no idea how good it can get!

That’s what Paul tells the believers at Ephesus.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  Ephesians 3:14-20

God loves you more than you will ever know!

Until you submit to God’s pattern you will never know His love. Even then you will need to stay connected and touch all the bases. You will never find this love if you are running the bases backward.

Home plate is where you connect with God! That connection allows you to know His love. Until you make that connection you will never know the joy of His love.

Once you have a meaningful faith connection with God you can move to first base.  First base is where His love grows in you and shapes your personal character.

Second base is where knowing God’s love and growing in His love allows you to show His love to others. I was introduced to God’s love through people who were second base people and knew how to show God’s love. Perhaps you were, too.

Third base is results base where you begin to see the harvest from sowing the seeds of His love.

When you play according to His pattern you will know His love in increasing measure.

Connect at Home Plate and know His love.

First base is where you can grow in His love.

Second base is where you show the love you know.

Third base is where you growing in love and you showing His love results in others knowing His love.

Then you head back home to connect to His love at deeper level!

The goal of the Home Run life is to live your life according to His pattern so you can experience the fullness of His great love, the fellowship of His great love and the fruit resulting from His great love!

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 24, 2015

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12:1-2

There are two patterns referred to in this well-known Scripture.

The pattern of the world is mentioned but in contrast to God's pattern.

As I introduced in yesterday's message (listen to it on baseball has a familiar and well-defined pattern as designed by its creator, Abner Doubleday. In order to score a run the batter must connect with the ball and advance around the bases in order and return to home plate.

If you hit the ball and run to across the diamond to second base, you are out!

If you hit the ball and run to first, round the base and head toward third, you are out!

If you hit the ball and run to third base, you are out!

Anything done apart from the pattern demanded by the rules of the game will result in the batter being called out.

If you are going to play baseball you must play according to the pattern prescribed by the rules.

In the same way, if you want to win with God you must play according to his pattern! To play according to God's pattern you must break from the pattern of the world.

The pattern of this world, which is the pattern programmed in the human nature is to run the bases backwards. Another name for the human nature is the “sinful nature”. This nature is sinful precisely because it rebels against God’s pattern.

In the message yesterday, using the story of Joseph, I outlined God’s pattern for spiritual development. Home plate is the connection base. It is at home plate where you connect with God by faith and discover His purpose and power for your life. Like baseball, everything begins and ends at home plate. First base is the character base. After you connect with God’s purpose and power, He will go to work on your personal character. Second base is the community base. Connecting with God at home and developing your character at first prepares you to win with others. Third base is the competency base where you win results. Rounding third base brings you back to home.

The Home Run life is the life that is connected to God and touching all the bases according to His pattern. Everyone can have this life but very few do. Only those who break free from the pattern of this world can experience the Home Run life!

Which pattern runs your life?


Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 23, 2015

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody."  Romans 12:17

When the writer of Romans penned these words I think he assumed that his readers would know what evil is. Nowadays that may not be the case.

Is evil a noun or is it a verb?

There is much confusion over that these days. Is evil something that is done by you or to you or is evil something you are? Is it a dark and powerful personal force within you or is it the harmful and hurtful things you do? That confusion contributes to many of our problems in our world today.

If we are going to overcome evil, obviously we must have a clear and actual understanding of what evil is.

A study of the whole 12th chapter will give you a good concept of what evil is.

V.1 - Evil is refusing to surrender your sinful nature to Christ.

V. 2 - Evil is conforming to the "world" or the "cosmos" in your thinking and your values.
          Evil is not desiring the will of God.

V. 3 - 8 - Evil is failing or refusing to serve God with your gifts and talents.

V. 9 - 13 - Evil is self-seeking and despising others.

V. 14- 20 - Evil is being conceited, spiteful and retaliatory toward those who disagree with you.

You will either overcome evil or it will overcome you. And until you deal with the evil that controls your nature, you will be overcome by evil.

So, evil is a noun.

It is a nature that dwells in you from the time of your birth. Being born evil you are also born separated from God. And that spiritual separation from God is the essence of your evil.

But, evil is also a verb!

It is because of the evil that dwells in you, evil guides your thoughts and decisions. Evil thoughts breed evil attitudes that are expressed in evil actions.

God calls you to be delivered from evil. You can choose to allow Him to deliver you and cleanse you from evil.

Or, you can be overcome by evil. Which will  it be today?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

February 22, 2015

"I am come that you may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

Everyone wants to enjoy a Home Run life.

That means everyone wants success, someone, self-respect and significance.

Significance comes when you connect with God at home plate. That happens when you win dependence on God.

Spiritual growth is counter-intuitive to human development. You began your life full dependent upon your parents. But as you grew into your adolescent and young adult years your parents allowed you to become increasingly independent. However, as a Christian, God wants you to repent of your independence and become fully dependent upon Him. That is winning dependence.

Winning dependence on God and finding significance allows you to advance to first base. At first base the win is within.

First base is the character base where your dependence upon God begins to shape your character and be reflected in your conduct. Winning within results in self-respect.

Finding significance and self-respect prepares you to move to second base where you can begin learning how win with others.

You were never intended to live life alone. God created you with a need for Him but He also wired you to need others. So just as you need to learn live in relationship with God you must also learn to connect with others.

Winning dependence in God at home plate, and winning within at first base, and winning with others prepares you to move on to third base.

Third base is the success base where you learn to win results.

Having rounded the bases you can head home with greater significance.

That's the Home Run life! That's the life that wins!

February 21, 2015

"I am come that you might have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

We have identified four felt needs everyone wants to have met. Let's integrate those into our baseball scenario.

Let's relate the need for significance with home plate since it is the most significant of all the bases. Everything in baseball begins and ends at home plate. Home plate is were a batter goes to connect with the ball. Home plate is where a runner has to cross in order to score a run. Nothing significant happens in a baseball game unless a connection happens at home plate. Game after game and season after season the connections must continue to happen.

Spiritually, everything begins when you connect with God. Nothing significant can happen until you connect with Him through faith in Christ. That spiritual faith connection must continue day after day for your life to have significance.

In baseball when you connect with the ball you run to first base. You can't score on first base but neither can you score without getting to first base. Connecting with the ball and arriving safely at first base is called a hit. It feels good to get a hit. If you get more hits than outs you will earn the respect of your manager and your team mates.

First base in our spiritual analogy is the Self-respect base. Developing a connection with God introduces His grace into your life along with His, peace and joy. Those supernatural changes alone will get you to first base in the development of your personal character.

When you get to second base in baseball you are halfway home. You can get home from second if a team mate gets a hit.

In terms of spiritual development, second base is the Someone base. Once you have connected with God and learned to respect yourself, it is time to learn to love others. Faith was never intended to be lived alone but in community with other believers. The connection you each have with God enables you to connect with each other.

Getting to third base means you are in the home stretch on the baseball diamond. It is a measure of success. Making it to third is the result of doing things right. You connected for a hit and advanced around the bases.

Spiritually, third base is the Success base. You have arrived there by developing learning to love God, love yourself and others. Those are the things God created you and called you to do! When you are successful in those crucial areas a lot of other good things happen. 

Rounding third gets you back to home plate for the score! 

In the spiritual sense, the score is finding greater significance by running the bases and playing the game God's way!

Each time you round the bases your relationships get richer and your respect grows and your results increase!

That is the Home Run life! That is the way that wins! That is what we will be studying between now and Easter!

Batter up!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

February 20, 2015

"I am come that you might have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

Success, someone, self-respect and significance are the four big needs that drive you. It doesn't matter if you are a person of faith, a person who is searching for faith or a person who has no use for faith those four needs still motivate you.

But if you are a Christ-follower, you will have those needs met by God according to His definition.

Significance for the believer is found in learning dependence on God. Spiritual maturity happens opposite of how human maturity does. When you grew from childhood you developed from total dependence on your parents, to interdependence with your parents and then to independence from them. That is healthy and normal growth and development.

But spiritual growth demands that you move from depending on yourself to fully depending on God! That is where you will find the significance that fully satisfies and shapes your being.

Finding significance and satisfaction in God is a huge step toward gaining self-respect. Living in dependence on God allows His grace to deal with what wrong in you and develop His good in you!

You cannot love what you don't respect and since the Great Commandment demands you to "love others as yourself" self-respect is necessary to enable you to love others.

Finding significance and self-respect in your relationship with God opens your heart for Him to love others through you! You were designed and created to share life with others. While there is a hole in your heart that only God can fill, there are also gaps that can only be filled through relationships with family members and friends.

The abundant life God intends for you includes significance found in Him, self-respect found because of Him, relationships with others through Him and success that is glorifying to Him. When you depend on God to help you get right with Him and with yourself and with others, you have found success in your relationships! Success in those three vital areas of relationship inevitably translates into success in other areas of life.

When Jesus announced that He came to give you life in abundance, this is what He is talking about - significance, self-respect, someone, and success!

Are you experiencing the abundance He promises?

Have you found the place of complete dependence on Him?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February 19, 2015

"I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

I don't know anyone who doesn't want more out of life. I'm not sure I would want to know someone like that.

There are four things everyone wants from life; success, someone, self-respect and significance. Jesus came to make it possible for believers to enjoy those basic desires.

Every healthy well-adjusted person strives for success. Success is an indication of competence in a job or career. Success wins respect from others and brings opportunities for advancement. The opposite of success is failure and no one enjoys failing. 

Success begins with your relationship with God through Christ. Success starts when you connect with God and discover the purpose and power He has to give.

But success alone is not enough. Success is far more enjoyable when you can share it with someone else. In addition to success, everyone wants someone to love and be loved by.

The beginning of all healthy relationships is found in a personal relationship with God through Christ. He created you to know Him and to be known by Him. When He is your primary Someone, He is able to lead you into deep level friendships with other Christ-followers.

Discovering successful results and relationships develops the third important area of your life - self-respect! When you are winning in your personal pursuits and winning in your personal relationships your self-respect soars!

Finding success, and someone and self-respect brings you to the most important human need - significance! Your significance is the desire to matter and to make a difference in your world. Significance is formed by how much you matter to the most significant person in your life.

God says, "You matter so much to Me that I sent my Only Son to die for your sins!"

God says, "I sent Jesus to die for your sins because I greatly desire a relationship with you!"

God says, "Having a relationship with you is as important to Me as my relationship with my Son!"

How's that for significance?

When Jesus declared He came to give you life and give it abundantly, He means He wants to bring you success, someone, self-respect and significance! All of that and more is yours through a personal relationship with Christ!

Are you experiencing that abundant life?

If not, why not?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 18, 2015

"I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

In a few days the Big League pitchers and catchers will head to Florida and Arizona to begin Spring training in preparation for the coming Major League season.

What happens during Spring training is actually quite tedious and boring. During Spring training these millionaires and multi-millionaires who are some of the most gifted athletes on the planet spend hours per day doing throwing drills, and fielding drills and game situation drills over and over again. To get to this level of baseball these players have had to do these drills thousands of times but they gather at their respective training sites to do them over again. They will also do conditioning and running drills.

The reason these ballplayers will spend so much time focusing on fundamentals as they get ready for the season is because it is the executing the fundamentals that lead to winning baseball games. Especially, at the Major League level where the talent level is essentially the same it is the level of execution that make the difference between winning and losing. During the heat of competition in a regular season baseball game you don't want the players on your favorite Big League team thinking about what they need to do in a certain situation. Instead, you want your players to be so versed in fielding and throwing fundamentals that they react to the ball. Making plays on the field during a Major League game has to be instinctive.

While the Big Leaguers are heading off for Spring Training, the FredWes team will be heading in to our 40 Day Emphasis to work on the fundamentals of our spiritual walk with God. And this year we will be studying the "Home Run Life" that puts personal spiritual growth in terms of a baseball game:

Home plate is where everything begins and ends in a baseball game. A player steps up to home plate knowing he needs to connect with the ball in order to have a chance to score. For the Christian, everything begins with when you make a spiritual connection with God. So, for the Christian, home plate is where you connect with God to find your purpose and power for life!

First base is the goal of every batter who steps up to the plate. A player cannot score a run without getting to first base. In terms of Christian growth, first base is the place where you form your personal character. No follower of Christ can be successful without developing his personal honesty and integrity. And he can't develop his honesty and integrity until he connects with God.

Second base means a runner is halfway home! When a ball player gets to second base he is in "scoring position". For the believer, second base represents the development of connections with other people. It is essential for a Christian to understand how to live in community with other Christians. Jesus often emphasized that loving others is the evidence of God's love at work in you!

Third base is the base closest to scoring a run. If you can make it to third base your odds of scoring a run increase significantly. From third base you can score on a hit, an error, a passed ball, a walk or even a daring steal of home plate! In the Christian life, third base represents the competency base. It is the production base. It is the base where you can begin to see results. If you can connect with God and build Christ-like character and love others you will begin to see results that honor God! That is what happens at third base!

If a highly skilled professional baseball player needs to brush up on his basics before each season, why shouldn't those who follow Christ want to make sure they have a good connection with Christ and have all their bases covered?

Do you need to brush up on some Bible basics?

Are you ready to report for some spiritual Spring training?

Monday, February 16, 2015

February 17, 2015

"I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

I was seven years old when I trusted Christ as my Savior.

I was eight years old when I first began to play organized baseball.

These two seemingly different pursuits became two of the great loves of my life. Each, in its own way has played a significant part in shaping my life.

One of these two came rather easily to me. The other has been a life-long challenge.

Hitting a baseball and catching a baseball and throwing a baseball just seemed to come naturally to me. Being a faithful follower of Christ was not nearly as natural. It has required energy, focus and effort for nearly six decades.

In baseball, if you get one hit in three times at bat during a game you will have a .333 batting average and that will get you labeled as a great hitter. There are a number of baseball players in the Hall of Fame who didn't have a .333 batting average for their career. If you live for Christ just one day out of three, you will be a poor Christian.

In baseball, if I made an error or struck out or grounded into a double play, when that game was over I could start with a fresh stat line in the next game! As a Christian, my sins and failures seemed to trouble me and haunt me despite God's grace.

Although I have often made analogies between baseball and faith, I never realized how closely they correlated until I discovered the book "Home Run" by Kevin Myers. Kevin is the Lead Pastor at 12Stone Church, a Wesleyan Church in the Atlanta area, which happens to be the fastest growing church in America. In his book, Kevin described spiritual development in the paradigm of the game of baseball. Being a follower of Christ and a fan of baseball I found many helpful applications from the comparisons.

I hope you will, too, as we study it together over the next forty days.

February 16, 2015

"Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited." Romans 12:16

You don't have to be an expert in music to appreciate the importance of harmony. Even an untrained ear can hear when the music doesn't mesh!

First of all, you wouldn't want to listen to an orchestra consisting entirely of one type of instruments. One violin is beautiful when played properly. Even several of them when played harmoniously. But an entire orchestra made up of violins would grow tedious rather quickly.

Even worse, would be an orchestra made up entirely of violins and everyone of them playing out of tune.

When you listen to an orchestra or a choral group you expect to hear instruments or voices lifted in harmony. All the instruments or all the voices meld into one glorious sound, full and rich. It is a thing of beauty! It touches the soul!

But when you go to a concert prepared to be inspired by the music you notice right away if one of the voices or one of the instruments is out of tune or off key. The fine music of the many is spoiled by the lack of harmony by one.

Harmony is many blending their talents together into one beautiful result. It is what a local church is supposed to be. When each member plays his part so as to blend with the parts of the others in harmony, you have an example of what God wants His Church to be like. When that happens those people make beautiful music that is like a masterpiece in God's ears.

Harmony is preserved and protected by humility.

How so?

Each member of the orchestra must agree to play his part and only his part, nothing more or less. Perhaps there is a brief solo piece somewhere in the score for the concert, but a the beautiful music is realized when each member plays his music in a way that blends with the other instruments.

That is how God designed His church. It is not a place for solos or for stars to perform. It is a fellowship of God-lovers presenting a concert of love in unity with His Spirit and one another. At the heart of the harmony is humility.

The Church of Jesus Christ is better when each of us blend with all of us! When I humbly honor you and merge my talents with yours we hit all the right notes for God and He is glorified!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

February 15, 2015

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; those who follow His precepts have good understanding." Psalm 111:10

The word fear means more than being afraid or fearful. In fact, I have found that the negative fear is a result of not being submitted to the fear of the Lord.

Everyone fears something and you will submit to what you fear. So, choosing to fear the Lord is a proper and proactive step to avoiding the negative fear and anxiety that can make life miserable.

Fearing the Lord means to have a reverent respect that leads to submission to His Word, His will and His ways. Fearing the Lord is the result of deliberate and daily decision to put God first in everything. Fearing the Lord means you wake up everyday to declare, "You are God and I am not!" Fearing the Lord means the thought of living outside of His will is the thing you fear the most.

King David wrote these words and he chose to fear the Lord early in his life. His fear of the Lord was evident when he faced the giant, Goliath. David's fear for the honor and security of God's nation was great than his fear of confronting the giant warrior.

David's son, Solomon, also chose early in life to fear the Lord. That reverence for God led him to submit to God's wisdom as he assumed the throne from King David.

But David and Solomon also serve as examples of the need to continue to submit to God's wisdom at every impulse, every invitation and every opportunity. Later is life they both made a series of unwise decisions that changed the course of their lives AND the nation they ruled.

Fearing the Lord IS the beginning of wisdom but every day must be a new beginning! And each day will bring a series of choices and decisions points that will require you to ask, "what's the wise thing to do?" and act accordingly.

This question we have devoted the last six weeks to is crucial because life is lived one wise decision at a time. And as David and Solomon testify, one bad decision can significantly alter your life.

You are where you are at this moment in time due to the decisions you have made over your lifetime. Today will confront you with more decisions that will continue to shape your life.

That ought to sufficiently frighten you enough to cause you to ask, "In light of my past experience, my current circumstances and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?"

Ask it, and then in reverence and respect to God, act wisely!