Sunday, May 31, 2009

June 1, 2009

These days it seems fashionable to be identified as an atheist. Atheism has gained an exalted place in our modern culture because it is portayed as an intellectually superior philosophy. But is it really?
Here's what the Bible says,
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."
I Corinthians 1:18-22
The great British preacher, Charles Spurgeon once said, "There are no atheists anywhere but on earth. There are none in heaven, and there are none in hell. Atheism is a strange thing. Even the devils never fell into that vice, for 'the devils also believe and tremble' (James 2:19). And there are some of the devil's children that have gone beyond their father in sin. But when God's foot crushes them, they will not be able doubt His existence. When He tears them in pieces and there is none to deliver, then their empty logic and their bravados will be of no avail."
So, what do we need to understand about these who arrogantly deny the existence of God and who demean those who believe in Him?
1) Most of them carry spiritual and emotional baggage that are the real reasons behind their refusal to believe. Unfortunately, their reasons for not believing have little to do with God and much to do with misperceptions about Him. Perhaps they have been disappointed by faith or by a person of faith. Maybe they were hurt by a church or damaged by a parent who used faith to shield their abusive behavior. They project their disillusions onto God.
2) Atheism is often portrayed as the modern and trendy way to think and people of faith are belittled as archaic and backward in their thinking. The truth is that people have been rebelling against God and trying to rationalize Him away since the Garden of Eden. Unbelief is nearly as old as belief.
3) An atheist's claim that there is no God is intellectually dishonest for this reason, it is an attempt to make humans into gods. That, in a way, is the ultimate irony: atheists in their denial of God, cannot help but replace the truly omniscient God with a cheap imitation - themselves.
4) Also, his claim that God doesn't exist is intellectually inconsistent because the only way that could be true is if the atheist knew everything it is possible to know. Otherwise, it would be possible for God to exist but that He existed outside of his knowledge or beyond his ability to know. Since there has never been an oniscient human being, there has never been an honest atheist.
5) God believes in atheists even if they don't believe in Him and He sent His Son to die for them. So we should pray for them and reach out to them in love. We should live our lives in ways that make God seem real.
Lest we be too negative toward atheists, let me remind you that at times each of us behave as practical atheists. How is that? When we know what the Bible says and we fail to obey it, we are acting as though there is no God - or as if we are gods. Before we criticize or condemn them, let's repent of our own disbelief and rebellion. God help us, so we can help them.

May 31, 2009

What does love look like from Jesus' perspective?

How can I show my love for Him in a way that makes Him feel loved? What is His "love language"?

In John 12, He gives us some insights into that important question.
First, love is extravagant.
On Jesus' next trip to Bethany He attended a dinner in His honor to celebrate the miracle of Lazarus. It was a grand occasion! All of their friends were there, the ones who had shared the incredible event that snatched joy from the jaws of sorrow. All were reclined at the table, including Lazarus. Martha, of course, was busy serving them. What grand fellowship!
Amid the celebration, the other sister, Mary, entered the roon bearing something in her hands. Hardly anyone noticed until she approached Jesus, knelt before Him. At that point she held out an alabaster box filled with an expensive perfume. She broke the box and poured the fragrant offering over His feet and washed His feet with her hair.
Ironically, we only know the extravagant value of the gift because of the calculations of the greedy Judas, who bemoaned the fact that the gift could have been given to feed the poor. Afterall, it was the equivalent of a year's income.
What a contrast between someone who loved unconditionally and one who was calculated in His giving! There may be no clearer picture of extravagant love in the Bible.
Mary gave the best she had to demonstrate the highest love she possessed. Everyone in that room knew the cost of that offering and immediately grasped the depth of her love.
Jesus was moved. He was ministered to at a critical moment in His life.
Do you love Jesus? How would He know? When was the last time you offered your most treasured possession to express your highest love?
Second, love is expectant.
The next day, word got around that Jesus would be entering Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover celebration. Those who had followed His ministry knew that when Jesus showed up exciting things happened. Some had seen Him raise Lazarus. A few had been at the feast. Perhaps the blind and the lame and the possessed people that he had healed and delivered were all there. They came with great joy and expectation, grateful for what He had done and anxious to see the next great thing He would do.
Isn't that the way we are toward people we love? We can't wait to see them again! We get excited as their arrival draws near. We run to meet them when they arrive.
What are you expecting from Jesus today? Are you running to meet Him? Are you excited by His presence? That is how love behaves.
Finally, love is expressive.
Jesus was about to offer the ultimate expression of love, Himself. He tells a His disciples and a small group surrounding them that love is expressed in sacrificial service. Like the alabaster box, His body was about to be broken as an extravagant expression of love.
He explains that His earthly body must die and be buried so that His eternal life can spring forth. And through His sacrificial act of service, we will also live.
In the currency of God's Kingdom, a life spent in sacrificial love is accounted as an investment of love.
How have you expressed your love for God lately? Have you served Him? Have you given your life to something that He loves? How will sacrifice today?
Love that blesses Jesus is extravagant, expectant, and expressive.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30, 2009

What is worse than being dead? Being real dead.
The highlight of John 11 is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Many were amazed, a few were thrilled, and some believed in Him.
Unfortunately, there were those who were not impressed. There were those who were deader than dead. Not even Jesus could raise them.
What does it mean to be deader than dead? It means to be spiritually insensitive to God's truth. It means to be so committed to your own agenda that you are indifferent to the will of God. It means being so controlled by sin that you are dead to the Spirit of God. It mostly means trouble. Big trouble.
Raising Lazarus from the dead was not a hard thing for Jesus. Afterall, He IS the Resurrection and the Life. Lazarus had been dead for four days. He was sealed in a tomb. But that meant nothing to Jesus. He spoke and death fled.
But for those who were deader than dead, Jesus couldn't touch them. Jesus, who can do anything could do nothing for them. Their stubborn wills were beyond the reach of His sovereign will.
So, Lazarus lived again. He lived until he died. And then he lived forever!
Not so for these who were deader than dead. They never knew life - and then they died.
How ironic that at the same moment that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, there were those who chose death over life. They were dead wrong.

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009

Jesus did a lot in His brief three-year ministry. Do you want to know one think He never did? He never did a funeral!
As I am reading through John I am blessed as I am reminded of Who Jesus is! He is revealing Himself to His disciples and others who are paying attention. While they are hearing it for the first time, it is still good news of great joy as I reflect on it again. Thanks for joining me in this journey. I hope I have thrown a few blessings your way, too.
In Chapter 6 He fed the thousands with just a few loaves and a couple of fish and then revealed Himself as "The Bread of Life" and invites us to feed on Him!
In Chapter 9 He healed a blind man and introduces Himself as the "Light of the World".
Yesterday we reflected on the great truth of Jesus as our "Good Shepherd". We are well cared for! I quoted a friend who said, "When the Lord is your Shepherd the future is your friend!"
Each of those manifestations of His nature is significant. If only one of those was true it would be sufficient - BUT JESUS IS ALL OF THOSE! And more! Check out Chapter 11!
Jesus got one of those 9-1-1 calls. "Come quickly! Our brother Lazarus is deathly ill!" This plea came from His best friends, Mary and Martha. They lived in Bethany and it was a safe place where He could go and get ministered to. But He did something interesting - He headed the other way.
When I get one of those calls in the middle of the night I rush to the hospital or the home to bring comfort and support. Jesus didn't do that. He went back to Judea where He had just been rejected.
By the time He arrives in Bethany He is greeted by two grieving and disillusioned sisters. Martha greets Him with an accusation, "If you would have been here my brother would not have died!"
That certainly was true. But she was underestimating Jesus. Mary, Martha and Lazarus knew Jesus better than anyone and yet they underestimated Him. I have to admit that makes me feel better, because I am guilty of that.
Just when you think you know Jesus, He reveals something new about His nature. That is what He is about to do here. Mary and Martha knew what Jesus HAD done and defined Him in those terms. They were sure He could have healed Lazarus but they didn't reason that He could also resurrect him. How many times do I limit Jesus by expecting Him to respond in a predictable way? He is anything but predictble!
So, Jesus asked to be taken to the tomb. Mary and Martha are concerned because of the stench - he had been dead four days. They are thinking funeral, He doesn't do funerals. When He ordered the tomb to be open, they have "grave reservations". They are thinking about rotten odors He is thinking about resurrection! The tomb is opened and Lazarus is called forth. Since Jesus is Life, death has to obey! Lazarus comes walking out of the tomb! Jesus commands the grave clothes to be removed - Jesus is God of the living not the dead!
When He claimed that He is the "Resurrection and the Life" He meant it! Now we know for sure! As the Good Shepherd He give us "abundant life"! As the Resurrection He gives us eternal life!
So, what does this tell us about Jesus? He is bigger than life but also BIGGER THAN DEATH! He raised Lazarus from the dead (and others) before He submitted Himself to death on the cross. And when He rose from the dead, He conquered death for us! He truly became the "Resurrection and the Life"! Wow! What a Savior!
As one who still has to do funerals, I am thankful for the knowledge that Jesus is the "Resurrection and the Life". As one who has stood beside too many caskets and gravesides, I am glad I can point people to the hope of the "Resurrection and the Life".
Have you recently lost a dear one? Have you been overcome by the reality of death? Are you staring death in the face today?
I have good news of great joy! Jesus is the God of the living! There is no death in Him. When you live in Him you live in life! While in this life you live "abundant life" and then you simple move to REAL LIFE - eternal life!
So, welcome to life in a dying world! As you celebrate abundant life, breathe in a deep breath of His Life and live in hope of a life to come! Life is good! And it only gets better!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28, 2009

The word for today is "preparation". Are you preparing? Are you prepared?

Reading this morning in II Chronicles and in John 10 the importance of preparation became obvious. Preparation for what? Preparation for the presence of God.
Solomon is fulfilling his destiny and the dream of his father, David, by building the Temple of the Lord. The first five chapters of this book go into great detail - painstaking detail of all the people, the plans, the contributions, the materials, and the procedures that went into preparing for the building of God's Temple. Why all the attention to detail? Because they were preparing for the presence of God!
When the building was done and the details completed, the significant moment arrived when the Ark of the Covenant was carried into the beautiful new Temple. With great joy and ceremony it was placed in it's specially prepared place. Here is the dramatic moment:

"The priests then brought the ark of the LORD's covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and covered the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends, extending from the ark, could be seen from in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: "He is good; his love endures forever." Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God. II Chronicles 5:7-14
Wow! What a moment! How would you have liked to been there for that! All the hard work and planning paid off! It was well worth it!
In the second half of John 10, Jesus is being hassled by the religious elite questioning His miracles and his claims of being the Son of God. Despite ample evidence to the claims He was making, they refused to believe and continually challenged Him. Once they picked up stones to stone Him but He avoided them and later they tried to seize Him but He slipped away and got out of town.
The change of scenary made a significant difference. Here's the story:
"Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true." And in that place many believed in Jesus." John 10:40-42
In one place Jesus had nothing but resistance, but in this place He had nothing but results. What was that about?
Simple, it's that "P" word again - "preparation" ! John the Baptist had preached and taught and ministered in that area and prepared the way for Jesus.
It seems obvious to me that God honors prepartion.
We crave the presence of God but we don't like the hard work involved in the preparation. 
We show up at worship or LIFE group and expect the leaders to produce the presence of God. While it is their responsibility to adequately prepare, it is incumbant on each of us to show up prepared.
Preparation is hard and tedious - but the payoff is well worth it! What are you doing to prepare for God's presence?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 27, 2009

What a Savior we have!

In John Chapter 6 we see Him as the Bread of Life! He bids us to feed on Him.
In John 8 He identifies Himself as great than Abraham.
In Chapter 9 he presents Himself as the Light of the World and illustrates it by healing a blind man!
Wow! What a Savior!
Moving on to Chapter 10 he refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd. His description sounds a lot like Psalm 23!
As a pastor friend of mine once declared, "When the Lord is your Shepherd - the future is your friend!" Here's why:
He Leads Us!
A hireling or a sheep rustler drives the sheep, but the Good Shepherd leads us. He leads us into the safety of His presence! He leads us into the security of His pasture! He leads us into the abundance of His truth. He speaks gently to us and calls us by name as He leads us. Think of that, the Good Shepherd knows your name!
He Loves Us!
A hireling or a rustler has no regard for the sheep. They mean nothing to them. To them the sheep are a necessary inconvenience. They lead the flock only for their own personal benfit. So when the sheep are threatened, they will flee to protect themselves. But the Good Shepherd loves His sheep. He provides for them. He protects them. He prays for them. He will give His life to save them. Think about that! You are loved by the Good Shepherd!
He leads us. He loves us. And, He layed down His live for us. Verse 10 sums up the desire of the Good Shepherd and the destiny of His sheep:
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full!"
To quote my friend - "When the Lord is your Shepherd, the future is your friend!"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 26, 2009

I am still in John 9 thinking about the blind man that Jesus touched. This guy impresses me as I think how he stood toe to toe with these Jewish religious leaders who were trying to bully him. They were relentless but he was rock solid. They demeaned him. They doubted him. They disrespected Jesus. They doubted Jesus. But nothing phased this fellow? Why was that?
What are we to take from this encounter?
Here's what I am taking away from it - the power of a personal testimony. This man had been blind all of his life. Then Jesus touched him and his eyesight is fully restored. The first face he ever saw was the face of Jesus. Not bad!
This newly sighted man didn't know much about spiritual doctrines. He had not been formally trained in matters of faith and was no match for these well educated religious professionals. He had never been to a Bible study or a preaching service. He had no formal evangelism training. All he had was his testimony. All he knew was that for his entire life he had been blind and this morning he had an encounter with Jesus and now he could see. It was a fact! A strange, powerful, wonderful fact!
Apparently, the Pharisees and other religious leaders didn't have a testimony and they obviously didn't want this man to have one either. But their empty accusations were far overwhelmed by the fervor of this fellow.
Never underestimate the power of your testimony. Be sure of what God has done for you and have it memorized in a short and compelling form - ready to share it at a moments notice. Take joy in telling what Jesus has done for you! That's what he did - and it is still being shared!
Not only did his testimony impact some of the religious leaders, but as he repeated what God had done for him in the face of opposition and skepticism, he blessed himself with the recounting of the miracle God had given him.
Even when the Jewish leaders cursed him and kicked him out of their church, they could not discredit the wonderful work that God had done for him.
What life-changing work has God done for you? Who are you telling about it? Believe in the power of your testimony!

Monday, May 25, 2009

May 25, 2009

You have undoubetly heard of the saying, "None is so blind as he who will not see." I am not sure if that originated from John 9, but it certainly could have.
The chapter is dominated by the story of a blind man who was healed by Jesus. But when Jesus healed him He not only opened his physical eyes but his spiritual ones as well. That is a good thing because his newly found faith was quickly tested by his neighbors and by the Pharisees.
Imagine if you had a neighbor who had been blind all of his life and he leaves in the morning to go begging and comes home at the end of the day seeing. Would that not make you a bit curious?
When it became obvious that he had been the recipient of a miracle, rather than celebrate with him over his incredible blessing, they chose to question the miracle. If they accepted his explanation of his healing at the hand of Jesus, they would have to accept two other truths - that miracles DO happen and that Jesus was the Source of the miracle. These men where not prepared to accept either truth. In the light of tangible evidence that this man had been miraculously healed, they chose not to see it that way. Notice how hard they worked to deny the obvious:
1) They tried to claim that this was not their neighbor, but someone who looked like him - V. 9 - "Others said, 'No, he only looks like him."
But, the formerly blind man would not allow it - "I AM the man!" He insisted.
2) The still doubted him and demanded an explanation - "How then were your eyes opened?"
Not daunted, the formerly blind man took the opporunity to tell his story, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes, He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed and then I could see!"
3) Still refusing to accept his simple story, they demanded that he show them this man. But he would not back down under their assaults, so then went after the big guns - the Pharisees, to see if they could break him down. They came and asked him to repeat his story, so he gladly recounted it. Again, rather that rejoice in his good fortune, they underminded it by accusing the validity of the miracle since it had been performed on the Sabbath. Since it is a sin to heal on the Sabbath, that would make Jesus a sinner and sinners can't perform miracles.
But again, the man would not be intimidated, he continued to insist, "He is a prophet!"
4) Their next tactic was to question whether he had actually been blind to begin with. So they sent for his parents to get them to vouch for him. They hoped that perhaps the parents would feel intimidated and invalidate the claim of their son. But they artfully avoided the controversy, "We know he is our son," the parents answered, "and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don't know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself."
The encounter ends with the formerly blind man presenting a crystal clear picture of what had happened to him, but the spiritually blind antagonists refusing to see the truth. They continued in their efforts to discredit him, his story and Jesus.
We tend to believe that miracles force unbelievers to believe. This incident debunks that notion. Here was a clear and undeniable healing and the spiritually blind religious leaders were the ones who were leading the charge to discredit this man and his miracle.
"No one is as blind and he who will not see."
In this ironic encounter, the blind man became the one with 20/20 vision while the acknowledged spiritual leaders proved that the were blind leading the blind.
Will you approach God with eyes wide open? Will you read His Word with eyes wide open? Will you ask Him for 20/20 spiritual vision to see the miracles that God is working in your heart and life each day?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 24, 2009

When I took a job selling cars the company sent me to a sales training class. One of the first things they taught me proved to be the most valuable - not just for selling but for the rest of life.
What was that? They taught me this premise, "A good deal is a state of mind." In other words, the job of a sales person is to convince a customer that you have given them a good deal. That is a corrollary of another popular saying, "People believe what they want to believe."
During my sales career I found that was indeed true. Some of the customers that I made the most money from were convinced that they had gotten a great deal, while some of the one who beat me down to the last dime where sure that I had robbed them.
I have found the same to be true in ministry. People believe when they and what they want to believe. Some people for whom God has done so much are the ones who struggle to believe. And then there are those who are so quick to embrace God and His Word without much coaxing.
In John 8, Jesus is confronting a group of religious people who are hard to sell. They are face to face with the Truth and they don't want to receive it. Their idea of a good deal doesn't match what He is telling them.
Jesus, as usual, nails the problem when He states, "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
In another place Jesus makes this statement, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."
Another thing they taught me at sales school was that most customers have already decided that they are going to buy a car when they leave home. What they are looking for is a salesman they can trust. They reminded us that we were selling ourselves as much as we were selling cars.
That is precisely what is happening in this encounter between Jesus and these Jews, He is telling them that truth is not a concept it is a Person - Him. If they buy into Him they will have the truth. It is not what you know ABOUT Jesus that matters it is knowing HIM and buying into HIM. The truth that sets you free is HIM! And they were staring right at Him.
When you are ready to buy into Jesus you will know truth. If you are ready to let Him transform your heart and mind you will sell out to Him. Then you will know that you have found a great deal!

Friday, May 22, 2009

May 23, 2009

I don't know about you, but I don't always take disappointment well. When you have dreamed of something and strategized and sacrificed to make it happen - but God says, "No!", that's not easy!"
With that in mind I was impressed and inspired by King David when Nathan the Prophet told him that he would not get to build the Lord's Temple. David had hoped that his legacy would be building the Temple during his reign.
So how did he respond to this distressing news? Here's your answer:
"Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: "Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men, O LORD God. "What more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant, O LORD. For the sake of your servant and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made known all these great promises. "There is no one like you, O LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You made your people Israel your very own forever, and you, O LORD, have become their God. "And now, LORD, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, 'The LORD Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel's God!' And the house of your servant David will be established before you. "You, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. So your servant has found courage to pray to you. O LORD, you are God! You have promised these good things to your servant. Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, O LORD, have blessed it, and it will be blessed forever." I Chronicles 17:16-27
Wow! That is character! That is commitment to the will of God!
How does your character measure against that of King David? How did you respond the last time things didn't go your way? What will you do next time?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 22, 2009

King David had the Ark of the Covenant returned to its rightful place in Jerusalem. He stands before the Ark, where the presence of the Lord dwelt, and sings this psalm. I share with you and it needs no further comment.
"That day David first committed to Asaph and his associates this psalm of thanks to the LORD : Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the heartsof those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, O descendants of Israel his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: "To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit." When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed no man to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm." Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength, ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns!" Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Cry out, "Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise." Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting." I Chronicles 16:7-36
Then all the people said "Amen" and "Praise the LORD."
And I say, "Amen! Praise the Lord!"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 21, 2009

“The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden as its gardener, to tend and care for it. But the Lord God gave the man this warning; ‘You may eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil for its fruit will open your eyes to make you aware of right and wrong, good and bad. If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die.’” Genesis 2:15-17

God has always demanded honor. After all, He IS God, what else SHOULD He expect? And God interprets honor in terms of obedience. If you claim to honor God but do not obey Him, He is not honored.

God created Adam in order to enjoy fellowship with him and God was honored through being in perfect relationship with Adam. Adam was honored through being the crowning touch of God’s creation. God further honored Adam by creating a companion for him. Adam and Even were to honor each other and together they were to honor God. When they did, life was………well, perfect!

We can see that honor is the foundation upon which healthy relationships are built. Is it any wonder that the wedding vows include the promise to “love, honor, and obey”? Honor and obedience strengthens relationship. Failure to obey dishonors a partner and weakens the relationship.

You can trace all of the sin and shame that pollutes human nature to the moment when Adam & Even dishonored God by disobeying Him with the forbidden fruit. They were urged to do so by the Serpent, Satan, the master of dishonor. He convinced them that they could disobey God without dishonoring Him. They were wrong! Dead wrong.

The immediate result of Adam and Even dishonoring God was their sense of shame. That was evidenced when they hid from God and made coverings for themselves. And as their ancestors, we inherited their shame and disobedient nature.

Does obedience really matter? It does if you want to honor God! You cannot honor God while you are disobeying Him. That is a devil of an idea.

You were created to honor God through obedience. Shame on you if you don’t!

The Deal: God is not honored by your good intentions, He is honored by your obedience.

May 20, 2009

"This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." John 6:58

What sort of bread is this that comes down from heaven? What kind of bread can you eat and live forrever?
Manna was bread that came down from heaven in the days of the Exodus. God called Moses to lead His people from the bondage of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land. There was one minor complication - they had to cross a wilderness. Several millions of people traveling through the desert need food in order to survive. How would that happen? That's a lot of food!
God's answer was manna, an amazing substance that appeared each morning like dew. It was white and sweet and nutritionally perfect - and non-fattening! They had never seen anything like this before so they called it "manna" which means "what is it"?
Every day for forty years they fed on this manna from heaven. They were allowed to take as much as they could eat for that day and a double portion before the sabbath. But anything they did not eat would spoil. It would not keep. God doesn't deal in leftovers!
This "Wonder Bread" was one of a number of miraculous ways that God provided for His people. He brought them out from under the rod of Pharoah by demonstrating his power through a series of plagues. Then He opened the Red Sea so they could escape the Egyptian army and then closed it over the army to destroy them. He gave them water from a rock, quail from the sky, clothes that never wore out, and fresh bread daily. There is no way that millions of people can survive - and grow - for forty years in a desert, but they did!
Now God sends a new Deliverer, His Son, Jesus. And after having miraculously feeding thousands of people in the wilderness with only five loaves and two fishes, He identifies Himself as "Manna from heaven" and "the Bread of life". That is pretty simple and straight forward - feed on Him and live or choose not to and die.
Think about Jesus as Manna. It fits! He is sent from heaven by God. He is sweet and life-giving. He supplies all of our needs. You can feed on Him as much as you desire. He is fresh each day and doesn't work as a left-over. Feeding on Him will get you to the Promised Land.
Are you hungry this morning? How about some "Manna"? Eat, enjoy and live!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 19, 2009

Hanging around with Jesus was never boring! The disciples had barely cleaned up the crumbs after the miraculous feeding of thousands of people from one humble lunch, than they received a lesson on the lake. Here's the story:
"When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid." Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading." John 6:16-21
Jesus became an instant favorite of 5,000+ people who had just received a free lunch. They wanted another. He knew they intended to make Him into their king, so He disappeared into the mountains after He sent the disciples off in their boat.
When they were halfway across the lake a ferocious storm blew in. Even though they were experienced with handling a boat, and even though they rowed hard against the storm, they were at the mercy of the waves and about to sink. I am sure they were praying and crying out to God, but I don't think they expected what happened - Jesus walking to them across the waves! Walking on calm water is a miracle. Walking on the waves during a storm is uber-miraculous!
In addition to having their lives saved, here are some significant things they learned:
1) Jesus always knows where we are - even when we aren't sure where He is!
2) Jesus will never let us go to a place where He can't reach us. That is because He loves us and because there is no place He can't reach! Even in the middle of a storm!
3) Jesus doesn't always save us FROM the storm but He will always save us IN the storm.
4) Jesus doesn't deliver us until we welcome Him into our boat.
5) Jesus brought them safely to their destination on the other side.
If you have ever suffered through a storm, you can appreciate the lessons on the lake. What Jesus did for them He will do for you!
Have you welcomed Him into your boat?

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 18, 2009

Did you know that Wonder Bread is in the Bible?
Reading in John 6, the first 15 verses. Jesus is ministering in Galilee. In one of my previous posts I talked about how many of His miracles happened there in that region. Another one is about to happen. This one was a result of the success He was having. Even though He tried to sneak away to spend some time teaching His disciples, a crowd followed Him. Not just a crowd - a great crowd - great hungry crowd with nothing to eat. Big problem!
Maybe a problem for you. Maybe a problem for me. But not a problem for Jesus. For Him it was an opportunity for a miracle.
As I read this I saw some interesting insights about how miracles happen:
First, there was a great need. Philip was sensitive to the needs of the people and recognized that something had to be done. There has never been a miracle without a need. Nor has there been a miracle unless some concerned person recognized that need. Are you facing a need? You may be a candidate for a miracle!
Second, there was a great deed. Andrew found one little boy who had brought a lunch. That youngster was willing to give up his lunch to meet the need. Five loves and two fish was a humble lunch, but in Jesus' hands those five loaves became Wonder Bread! No miracle ever happens unless someone is willing to respond to a need. Miracles may provide something you don't have, but they derive from something of ours that we are willing to give to Jesus. What is in your hand?
Next, there was a great feed. Jesus took the humble lunch and turned it into an all you can eat buffet! Thousands of hungry people ate until they were full and when the disciples gathered up the leftovers they still had twelve times more that they started with! Twelve baskets and twelve disciples - hmmmmmm! God's power always exceeds the need!
The Feeding of the Five Thousands is one of the best known and most popular miracles in all of the Bible! But it also one of the most illustrative!
We learn that when there is a great need that is sensed by a few, and when there is a great deed by a committed person, Jesus can meet a great need! That is the mixture that makes a miracle!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17, 2009

I read this on ESPN written by the Rick Reilly. This is a touching story and a perfect picture of what a church should be:They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through. Did you hear that, the other team's fans?

They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, "Go Tornadoes!" Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.

It was rivers running uphill and cats petting dogs. More than 200 Faith fans sat on the Gainesville side and kept cheering the Gainesville players on—by name.

"I never in my life thought I'd hear people cheering for us to hit their kids," recalls Gainesville's QB and middle linebacker, Isaiah. "I wouldn't expect another parent to tell somebody to hit their kids. But they wanted us to!" And even though Faith walloped them 33-14, the Gainesville kids were so happy that after the game they gave head coach Mark Williams a sideline squirt-bottle shower like he'd just won state. Gotta be the first Gatorade bath in history for an 0-9 coach.

But then you saw the 12 uniformed officers escorting the 14 Gainesville players off the field and two and two started to make four. They lined the players up in groups of five—handcuffs ready in their back pockets—and marched them to the team bus. That's because Gainesville is a maximum-security correctional facility 75 miles north of Dallas. Every game it plays is on the road.

This all started when Faith's head coach, Kris Hogan, wanted to do something kind for the Gainesville team. Faith had never played Gainesville, but he already knew the score. After all, Faith was 7-2 going into the game, Gainesville 0-8 with 2 TDs all year. Faith has 70 kids, 11 coaches, the latest equipment and involved parents. Gainesville has a lot of kids with convictions for drugs, assault and robbery—many of whose families had disowned them—wearing seven-year-old shoulder pads and ancient helmets.

So Hogan had this idea. What if half of our fans—for one night only—cheered for the other team? He sent out an email asking the Faithful to do just that. "Here's the message I want you to send:" Hogan wrote. "You are just as valuable as any other person on planet Earth." Some people were naturally confused. One Faith player walked into Hogan's office and asked, "Coach, why are we doing this?"

And Hogan said, "Imagine if you didn't have a home life. Imagine if everybody had pretty much given up on you. Now imagine what it would mean for hundreds of people to suddenly believe in you." Next thing you know, the Gainesville Tornadoes were turning around on their bench to see something they never had before - hundreds of fans. And actual cheerleaders!

"I thought maybe they were confused," said Alex, a Gainesville lineman (only first names are released by the prison). "They started yelling 'DEE-fense!' when their team had the ball. I said, 'What? Why they cheerin' for us?'"

It was a strange experience for boys who most people cross the street to avoid. "We can tell people are a little afraid of us when we come to the games," says Gerald, a lineman who will wind up doing more than three years. "You can see it in their eyes. They're lookin' at us like we're criminals. But these people, they were yellin' for us! By our names!"

Maybe it figures that Gainesville played better than it had all season, scoring the game's last two touchdowns. Of course, this might be because Hogan put his third-string nose guard at safety and his third-string cornerback at defensive end. Still.

After the game, both teams gathered in the middle of the field to pray and that's when Isaiah surprised everybody by asking to lead. "We had no idea what the kid was going to say," remembers Coach Hogan. But Isaiah said this: "Lord, I don't know how this happened, so I don't know how to say thank You, but I never would've known there was so many people in the world that cared about us."

And it was a good thing everybody's heads were bowed because they might've seen Hogan wiping away tears. As the Tornadoes walked back to their bus under guard, they each were handed a bag for the ride home—a burger, some fries, a soda, some candy, a Bible and an encouraging letter from a Faith player.

The Gainesville coach saw Hogan, grabbed him hard by the shoulders and said, "You'll never know what your people did for these kids tonight. You'll never, ever know."

And as the bus pulled away, all the Gainesville players crammed to one side and pressed their hands to the window, staring at these people they'd never met before, watching their waves and smiles disappearing into the night.

Wow! Do people feel like that as they leave FWC on Sunday?

May 16, 2009

“Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” I John 2:6

Discipleship is a walk, a very distinctive walk, patterned after the life and teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Discipleship is taking a stand for what is right and what is healthy. Where does one get the strength to stand and to walk? From the nourishment that is received daily in the dining room!

I have been accused of having a distinctive walk.

One time Barbara and I were attending a large interdenominational conference in Colorado Springs. We were a few minutes late as we entered the huge auditorium where the evening service was being held. They had already brought the house lights down making it difficult to spot the empty seats. As we were cautiously making our way down the aisle I heard a voice whisper, “Brad! Brad Snyder! Is that you?” It was a couple that I had not seen in years! We quickly arranged to meet after the service.

As we came together later that evening, I asked them how they could recognize me in such a large crowd in a dark auditorium. They chuckled, “Are you kidding? We would recognize that walk anywhere!”

I was glad they did because it was good to see them and we had a great time!

If you had squatted behind the plate to catch as many baseball games as I have, you might walk funny, too!

Actually, I am not sure I can get off the hook that easily because unfortunately, my younger son walks that way, too.

Even more unfortunately, my daughter kind of does, too. You could pick them each out of a crowd.

Seriously, it does matter how we walk. It especially matters how we walk in our spiritual walk. People do notice. So does God.

Just as my kids have a walk like mine, God calls His children to walk like Jesus. People ought to be able to recognize us as His kids by the way we walk.

That walk is often referred to as “discipleship”.

Have you ever played “Follow the Leader”? I am sure you have!

What happens in that game? One person is designated as the leader and everyone else must do exactly what the leader does! Those who follow the leader win the game and those who don’t lose.

Can you see the similarity to discipleship? As disciples we are called to walk in the path of Jesus as we follow the Leader.

If you can win at “Follow the Leader”, you have what it takes to be a disciple. It will just require regular trips to the dining room!

Here at FredWes, we are committed to spending ample time with you in the dining room so we can give you an HD understanding of how to walk as a disciple and then, eventually, lead others in that distinctive walk.

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 15, 2009

How many things do you do by the book? I know that I usually read the instructions as a last resort.
Reading in II Kings 22-23 this morning I was reminded of the value of "doing it by the book".
After Josiah became King of Judah, the Book of the Law was discovered in the Temple. The fact that the Book had become lost in the Temple is pretty sad commentary on the condition of God's people and the previous Kings.
Why was Josiah able to discover the Book when no one else could? Maybe the answer is found in II Kings 22:2 - "He did right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or the left."
Josiah rejoiced when the news came that God's Book had been found. He received it with joy and had it read in his hearing. Then he called together the people of Judah and had it read in their hearing. Once they were reminded of the Covenant God had made with them, Josiah dedicated himself to destroying all the shrines, altars, and idols to the pagan gods who were being worshipped by the people of God. Then he rounded up the mediums and spiritists and had them killed. It is heart-breaking to see how far this mighty nation had fallen because they failed to "do it by the Book". Their evil and depravity was breath-taking.
After all the symbols of evil and evil influencers were destroyed, Josiah ordered the nation to observe the Passover. Josiah was using his leadership to turn his people back to God, but it is hard to overcome years of spiritual neglect and ignorance of God's truth.
This story reminded me of how important it is to do life according to the Book. I have a fresh appreciation for Psalm 119:
"Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me. How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
The fact that you are reading this post shows that you have some interest in the Truth. So, like Josiah, I challenge you to live by the Book, to tear down the idols and altars in your heart, and walk in the joy and freedom of the Truth.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14,2009

Back in my baseball playing days, I would ocassionally hit a pitch on the "sweet spot". Every baseball bat has a spot where when it connects with the ball it launches it with maximum velocity. I'm not sure exactly why that is so, but I know it is because I would see the ball fly further than usual without swinging the bat harder than usual. To catch one on the "sweet spot" is....well.....SWEET!

The same is true in golf. A golfer lives to catch one on the "sweet spot" and hear that unmistakeable sound and watch the amazing way the ball flies straight and long!

Once you find the "sweet spot" on the bat or on the club, you try your best to hit the ball there every time you swing it!

I thought of that because as I was reading in the first few chapters of John I was noticing all the miracles that Jesus was doing while in Galilee. His first miracle was at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. One of his first converts was a woman at a well while on His way to Galilee. That conversion brought a revival to that area of Samaria in the region near Galilee.

Noticing that I did some research and found out that about 75% of Jesus' recorded miracles happened in Galilee. See the map above and notice the red triangle, it marks Jesus' ministry
"sweet spot".

His disciples also came from that area. John the Baptist had preceded Him in that area. I'm sure those two factors contributed to His high rate of results in that area. I'm going to do more investigation and see what other factors were involved.

It begs the question, "Did Jesus focus His ministry here because it was a "sweet spot" or did it become a "sweet spot" because He focused His ministry there. I suspect it was a little of both. That also merits further research.

But, for the purpose of this article, I want to concentrate on this thought about ministry "sweet spots". I believe everyone has one. Sometimes it is a geographical area, sometimes it is a ministry gift or anointing, sometimes it is ministry partner or team, sometimes it all the above.

Jesus had three years to accomplish His mission on earth. He couldn't afford to spend it in His "sweet spot". Even though your mission is more extended, you can't affor to waste time or efforts. So, know your "sweet spot".

What is your "sweet spot"? Where is it? Are you there? What must you do to get there?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 13, 2009

John 4 has one of the first and best examples of personal evangelism. Witness how to witness!

In Acts 1:8, the last words of Jesus before He left Planet Earth were “… shall be my witnesses….”

You see, the issue for every Christian is not, “Will you be a witness?” The issue is, “What sort of witness are you?”

Since your actions, words and attitudes are witnessing every day to the people you work around, live around, do business with, or play around, God thinks it is important to get it right. Your witness is either drawing people closer to believing in Christ or driving them further away from faith.

Wouldn’t you like to learn how to turn your witness into evangelism opportunities? Since you will be witnessing anyway, why not learn to make it count for the Kingdom of God?

In the Scripture lesson today, you will pick up some tips from the Master Evangelist, Himself. Learn these and live these and you, too, can become a soul-winner!

Pray For Lost People

Prayerfully take the time to sit down and write the names of five lost people you long to see come to faith in Christ. Pray for their salvation every day.

My Target List


Claim Their Salvation:

Pray according to I John 5:13-15 –

Pray according to II Peter 3:9 –

Pray For Divine Appointments

Ask God to arrange opportunities to have meaningful encounters with lost people that day. Expect Him to do it!

Then, learn from Jesus in John 4:

Be Intentional, John 4:1-5

Jesus went way out of his way to end up in a little town in Samaria.

Why was this unusual?

What did He have in mind?

Be Strategic, John 4:6

Jesus knew that respectable people, church-going folks, came to draw water in the morning and in the evening. Only outcasts came to the well in the heat of the day.

Why do you suppose Jesus wanted to be there at the hottest part of the day?

If you want to reach lost people, should you wait and pray that they come to you or should you develop a strategy to be where they are?

Be Inconvenienced, John 4:6

Jesus walked out of his way to sit in the hot sun and wait around for a thirsty person to show up.

Ask, “When was the last time I made time to connect with an unsaved person?”

Be Engaging, John 4:7-15

Discuss ways that Jesus engaged this woman in a conversation. What was the result? What are some keys to engaging others in a spiritual conversation?

Be Transparent, John 4:9-15

Be willing to share your testimony. Talk about how your faith has helped you in your real life battles.

Write out your testimony into a two or three minute presentation and memorize it show you are ready to share.

Be Graciously Bold, John 4:16-26

Jesus lovingly confronted her with her need for salvation and didn’t allow her objections to throw Him off track. He showed her how she could find peace and joy in her life.

Know a step-by-step soul-winning plan so you are prepared to lead someone to faith in Christ. Ask Pastor Brad or any of the pastors to help you with this.

Don’t force the opportunity to present the Gospel, but be politely persistent with them, as Jesus was with this woman. If they continue to resist, graciously thank them and tell them how much you enjoyed spending this time with them. Let them know you always welcome the chance to talk about spiritual issues.

Continue to pray for their salvation.

This story had a happy ending. This dear woman put her faith in Christ and was so transformed by Him that she became a witness to her entire village! Because of her witness many others believed.

Not all of Jesus’ encounters had happy endings. Neither will yours. But He was always a good witness and He always worked these eight steps into His daily routine.

Will you be willing to become a better witness?

You can incorporate these steps into your daily routine without seriously changing your schedule. Why wouldn’t you do this?

When will you begin?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 12, 2009

Can you be alive and be dead at the same time? According to Jesus, you can.

Reading in John 3 this morning I was reminded of an encounter Jesus had with a religious leader named Nicodemus.

Despite being a religious professional, Nicodemus recgonized a spiritual void in his life. He didn't know what was missing but he knew Who to ask. He went to Jesus under the cover of darkness.

I doubt if he was prepared for what Jesus told him. "Nicodemus, you are alive but you're dead."

Confusing? It was for Nicodemus. He didn't get it.

Jesus clarified, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

Nicodemus still didn't comprehend, "How can I be born when I am old? There is no way I can climb back into my mother's womb!"

Now he was fully engaged! Jesus explained that just like we are born physically, we must have a spiritual birth as well! We are born into this life spiritually dead because of the sin nature we inherit from Adam. Spiritually dead means that we cannot connect with God because He is holy and He is a spirit while we are sinful and of the flesh.

As a religious leader, Nicodemus should have known that. But give him credit, he was teachable. When Jesus explained how he could become fully alive, Nicodemus discovered the great joy of being "born again"! He entered the Kingdom of God!

How about you? Are you fully alive - physically alive but spiritually dead?

It is time for a birthday, or a "rebirth day". Learn from Nicodemus. It is not about being religious it is about being reborn. Stop trusting your goodness and your works and receive the "gift" of salvation - Jesus, the Christ!

Monday, May 11, 2009

May 11, 2009

Reading in John 2 this morning I saw something about Jesus' first miracle that I hadn't noticed before. Maybe it is because this is the day after Mother's Day and I have been unusually mom-focused.
John 2 is the setting for Jesus' first miracle. It happened at a wedding. Mary seems to have been involved or closely connected to the wedding party. As a result, Jesus and His men were invited - so they came.
While Jesus and the disciples were invited, there may have been others show up who weren't because they ran out of wine. I a culture where hosting others holds very high value - running out of wine is a big problem. The wedding hosts would become disgraced in their community.
Mary discovered the problem and also thought of the solution. She came to Jesus and asked Him to make more wine. Jewish mother alert!
It is clear in the Scripture that Jesus did not want to do a miracle at this time. I am sure He had good reason for being resistent to her request - but, because it was his mother who asked, He obliged.
I found it interesting that most of His miracles He did for the glory of His Father but His first one He did at the will of His mother. I like that!
Notice too, that Mary did not ask for this miracle to make herself look good. How tempting would that be when you have a Son like Jesus? She didn't do it to launch Jesus' ministry career. That is also a tempting option for moms! She did it to save a friend from becoming a social outcast and from ruining the wedding day of a young couple she cared about.
Apparently Jesus respected the reason for the miracle as much as He respected her request.
What did you do to honor your mother yesterday? She doesn't need a miracle, just some respect will do!

May 10, 2009

I was reading in Luke 24. What a great chapter! It records the events of Resurrection Day!
Especially meaningful was the experience of the two who unknowingly met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Their testimony is written in verse 32 - "They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures?"
Because Jesus is alive He can walk with us! And when the Living Jesus is walking with us His Word comes alive in us!
From this encounter I can see some blessings of walking with Jesus:
Walking with Jesus causes your mind to learn.
Jesus opened the Scriptures and taught them "beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself".
Since Jesus IS the Word, walking with Him makes the Scriptures come alive in you. We see what happens without the inspiration and influence of Jesus "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken." (V. 25). There is a huge difference in your ability to learn when you are walking with Jesus!
Walking with Jesus causes your spirit to discern.
"Their eyes were opened and they recognized Him...." There is a difference between understanding truth in your mind and having the wisdom to apply it to your life - decisions, attitudes and actions. Walking with Jesus gives you wisdom to rightly apply the Word. You can learn like Jesus so you can live like Jesus.
Walking with Jesus causes your heart to burn.
When was the last time your heart burned from something besides bad pizza? As these two walked and fellowshipped with the Risen Christ, a strange and wonderful warmth filled their hearts. In a matter of minutes they changed from despair over what had happened to Jesus to a great joy! That is the difference Jesus can make!
Walking with Jesus makes a difference! It is the difference between life and death. It is the difference between abundance and dearth. Walking with Jesus makes your mind to learn, your spirit to discern and your heart to burn!
Will you walk with Jesus today?

May 9, 2009

I am doing a series during May entitled "Games People Play". This is the second in the series that will be preached on Mother's Day.
Today’s game is “Aggravation”. Why did I pick this particular game to speak about on Mother’s Day? Because this game requires the players to move four marbles around a game board from their home base to a home on the other side of the board.

That reminds me of motherhood! Mothers have a lot of marbles that there are trying to move from one home to the next – while trying not to lose their marbles in the process! What marbles am I talking about?


How do you move those marbles, get them all home and not lose your marbles?

They will all fit if you put them in the proper order. To do that you must add one more marble – THE MASTER MARBLE

THE MASTER MARBLE – “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…

COMMIT TO HIS WILL – For You, For Marriage, For Motherhood, For Career

COMMIT TO HIS WORD – Let it be a lamp and a light

COMMIT TO HIS WAY – Live Out His Will And His Word

COMMIT TO HIS WISDOM – For Marriage, For Motherhood


ELIZABETH CORCORAN shares this experience:
Four – year old Sara, had asked to pray before our breakfast this morning. That is quite typical of her. I think it's more her penchant to take charge than her avid spiritual growth as of yet. But I happily obliged as it still does something to my heart to hear that little girl of mine talk to our Heavenly Father. She started off per usual. Thank You for mommy, thank You for daddy, thank You for Jack. Then she added, and thank You for me.
She has yet to come across that place in life where you feel silly or full of yourself in bringing any sort of attention to who you are as a person. As adults, we'd probably be a bit taken aback
to hear a
fellow pray-er at our Bible study thank God for herself. But if you think about…I think the situation is less that she hasn't quite learned prayer etiquette, and more that she may know more than we as grown-ups do. Why not thank God for ourselves? He made us as much as He made the other people we thank Him for. We have as much value as those other people do. And I bet, if we began to sprinkle our prayers every now and then with a small "thank you for me," I just bet we'd start to see our value though His eyes. And that wouldn't be such a bad thing.
She then moved on to the rest of her list of thanks. Sara has not yet progressed much past the thanksgiving kind of prayers. She doesn't ask God for anything. She doesn't confess much either. (That will need to come…) She just thanks Him. And today, I noticed exactly what she was thanking Him for. She went through her routine of thanking Him for breakfast and her pretty clothes, saying, "Thank You that I'm beautiful again today" (no self-esteem issues with this little girl).
Now, I'm sure she wasn't hoping to teach me some huge theological lesson in that moment…but wow, did she ever. What if I stopped, just for a day even, asking God for stuff? Asking Him to fix things in my life? Asking Him to change this or that circumstance? What if--what if I just thanked Him for all of my situations as is? How might my life be different? How might I see God and my current status differently…if instead of complaining to Him or asking Him for a quick-fix, I just rested where I was at that moment…searching for His hand and for any lesson I could glean…and thanked Him for it? Maybe I'll just have to find out. – TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

THE MARRIAGE MARBLE – Next Play The Marriage Marble

I heard of a couple who, as they were paying for groceries in the check-out line, were discussing their soon to be 50th wedding anniversary, when the young cashier interjected by saying, "I can’t imagine being married to same man for 50 years!" The wife wisely replied, teaching the young girl a lesson at the same time, "Well, Honey, don’t get married until you can."

"Rules of Male-Female Relationships" 1. The Female always makes the Rules. 2. The Rules are subject to change at any time without prior notification. 3. No Male can possibly know all the Rules. 4. If the Female suspects the Male knows all the Rules, she must immediately change some or all of the Rules. 5. The Female is never wrong. 6. If the Female is wrong, it is because of a flagrant Misunderstanding, which was a direct result of something the Male did or said wrong. 7. If Rule 6 applies, the Male must apologize IMMEDIATELY for causing the Misunderstanding. 8. The Female can change her mind at any given point in time. 9. The Male must never change his mind without express written consent from the Female. 10. The Female has every right to be angry or upset at any time. 11. The Male must remain calm at all times, unless the Female wants him to be angry or upset. 12. The Female must under no circumstances let the Male know whether or not she wants him to be angry or upset. 13. Any attempt to document these Rules could result in bodily harm to the Male.

Recently, a survey was made of 200 married adults in regards to forgiveness The researchers were wondering how one’s ability to forgive others would affect their marital satisfaction and personal well-being. The results were astounding! This research suggests that there is a huge relationship between marriage satisfaction and forgiveness. In fact, it appears that as much as one third of marriage satisfaction is related to forgiveness. Not only does the ability to forgive impact the marriage relationship, it was significantly related to personal emotional distress. As forgiveness ability went up, individuals reported fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue! These results are powerful and suggest that all counselors, both secular and faith-based, should be helping people develop the skill of forgiveness.

Gary Thomas commented, "I don’t believe couples fall out of love—they fall out of repentance."

The secret of successful marriage is to strive for the perfect 16 – 4 better, 4 worse, 4 richer, 4 poorer…..

MOTHERHOOD MARBLE – Best Thing To Do For You Kids Is Love Their Dad

My mother taught me RELIGION: When I spilled grape juice on the carpet, she instructed, "You better pray the stain will come out of the carpet." My mother taught me LOGIC: From her decisive words, "Because I said so, that’s why." My mother taught me FORESIGHT: "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident." My mother taught me IRONY: "Keep laughing, and I’ll give you something to cry about." My mother taught me about STAMINA: "You’ll sit there ’til all that spinach is finished." My mother taught me about WEATHER: "It looks as if a tornado swept through your room." My mother taught me THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out." My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION: "Stop acting like your father!"

One of my favorite columns by Erma Bombeck tells of God in the act of creating mothers. She says that on the day God created mothers He had already worked long overtime. And an angel said to Him, "Lord, you sure are spending a lot of time on this one." The Lord turned & said, "Have you read the specs on this model? She is supposed to be completely washable, but not plastic. She is to have 180 moving parts, all of them replaceable. She is to have a kiss that will heal everything from a broken leg to a broken heart. She is to have a lap that will disappear whenever she stands up. She is to be able to function on coffee & leftovers. And she is supposed to have six pairs of hands.
"Six pairs of hands," said the angel, "that’s impossible." "It’s not the six pairs of hands that bother me." said the Lord, "It’s the three pairs of eyes. She is supposed to have one pair that sees through closed doors so that whenever she says, `What are you kids doing in there?’ she already knows what they’re doing in there." "She has another pair in the back of her head to see all the things she is not supposed to see but must see. And then she has one pair right in front that can look at a child that just goofed & communicate love & understanding without saying a word.""That’s too much." said the angel, "You can’t put that much in one model. Why don’t you rest for a while & resume your creating tomorrow?""No, I can’t," said the Lord. "I’m close to creating someone very much like myself. I’ve already come up with a model who can heal herself when she is sick - who can feed a family of six with one pound of hamburger - & who can persuade a nine year old to take a shower."
"Can she think?" asked the angel. "Not only can she think," said the Lord, "but she can reason & compromise & persuade."Then the angel looked at the model of motherhood a little more closely & said, "She’s too soft." "Oh, but she is tough," said the Lord. "You’d be surprised at how much this mother can do."Then the angel reached over & touched her cheek. "This one has a leak," he said. "I told you that you couldn’t put that much in one model." "That’s not a leak," said the Lord. "That’s a tear.""What’s a tear for?" asked the angel. "Well it’s for joy, for sadness, for sorrow, for disappointment, for pride." "You’re a genius," said the angel. And the Lord said, "Oh, but I didn’t put it there."


Organize and Plan: Make the most of your time
Delegate: Share the load

Develop a Support System: Family, Friends, Church

Set Realistic Expectations: Big Rocks First!

Take Care of Yourself: Sharpen The Axe

You CAN move all your marbles and get them home - without losing your marbles! But you must know which marbles to move and the order in which to move them!