Archive for June, 2011

Sampling Church

June 30, 2011

Who doesn’t love free samples?  You have an opportunity to try a product at no cost.  When my boys were little, they loved going to the stores on the days that free samples were being passed out.  They would try just about anything, after all, it was free!  If we timed it right, it could serve as their lunch:)

Recently, we had a visitor at church.  When I introduced myself, he said that he was from the area, and was “sampling” the church.  It made me think of sampling coffee.  There are many varieties and tastes from which to choose.  You will like some, but not others.  They are all coffee, and they will all have their supporters, but not everyone will like everything.

Kind of like church.

There are many types of churches.  Styles of worship, preaching, teaching  and other areas do have differences… but they are all churches.  People will attend the one that “tastes right” to them.

Anyone want a free sample?

Adjustments

June 27, 2011

Today is the first day of the summer classes.  I enjoy teaching, but the summer session is a serious encroachment on my schedule.  We meet four days a week for three hours. From the time that I leave home, until the time that I return, it is about  four and a half hours each day.  The problem is that I already have trouble finding the time to get things done.  Now that I will have less time available, I will need to make major adjustments to my daily schedule.  I do believe that there is enough time to do what God wants me to do.  I will pray for guidance that I will use my time wisely.  It is like budgeting money, which I am very good at, now I will have to budget my time.

Protection at Work

June 23, 2011

A young man falls off of a ladder at work.  He gets a cut on his head, but nothing more serious.

Another young man is thrown into a dirt bank by sudden pressure on a water hose.  It is a significant impact, but there is no damage.

Another man falls through scaffolding  that is stretched across a concrete spillway, but is uninjured.

Any one of these accidents could have resulted in potentially serious injury.

All three of these men could be considered lucky that they were not hurt worse.

All three of these men instead, said “Thank you God, for protection at work.”

What are YOU Looking At?

June 21, 2011

The other day I was feeling a little blue.  There was no particular reason.  I am healthy,  life is going reasonably well, everything is fine, but I was feeling a little down.

Then I turned my thoughts back to the goodness of God.  I thought about His love for me, His plan for me and about the wonders of His grace, power and nature.  As I thought about God, my mood picked up and the rest of the day went well.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”  Hebrews 12:1-2

What are you looking at?

Generational Curse

June 16, 2011

Over the more than twenty years that I have been in ministry, I have occasionally spoken with people who have been concerned about the presence of a “generational curse”.   The biblical foundation for this concept is found in the Old Testament.  Exodus 20: 5 says “…For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, ”  ( see also, Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18, & Deuteronomy 5:9)

The concern is that there may be a curse afflicting those whose parents were ungodly,  even after their offspring  have turned to Christ.

Exodus 20: 6 says “but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  I believe that when we come to Christ we are immediately set free from the spiritual implications of the “generational curse” .  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away: behold all things have become new. ”  (II Corinthians 5:17)  “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you  shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

It does take a while longer to be set free from what one minister called “generational consequences” .  As we grew up we may have learned behaviors that are not Christlike.  It can take a while to learn new behavior.  Our spirits are cleansed and reborn, now we must “cease to do evil, and learn to do good”.  It is a process of changing learned behavior.  By the grace of God, as we spend time in the Word, and in prayer, God will continue His work in us to remove the attitudes and actions that are displeasing to Him, and hurtful to us.

Divine Healing

June 14, 2011

I believe that God is able to heal people.  James 5:14-15 says “Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. ”

Healing is also listed among the gifts of the Spirit “…to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, (I Cor 12:9) but there is a qualification stated in verse 11 “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

The power of God and the will of God must somehow be reconciled in our thinking.  We recognize that God is able to bring healing, sometimes instantly through a miraculous touch, sometimes over time, and sometimes in combination with medical treatment.  (Did you know that anointing with oil was a form of medical treatment, not just a prayer format?)  Yet people do not live forever in these bodies.  Only God knows how much time we have on this earth.

I believe that the key is found with how Paul dealt with his “thorn in the flesh”.  II Cor 12:7-9 says  “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  Concerning this thing.  I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me.  ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

God’s grace is sufficient for us.  God may bring the gift of healing to our lives, or He will give us the grace to deal with our own “thorn in the flesh”.  Either way, our lives can be a testimony of the grace of God, either by healing , or by how we deal with the afflictions of this life.

Ask Anything

June 13, 2011

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”  John 14:13-14

When we read these verses, it sounds like we are being given a blank check.  We can have whatever we ask for in the name of Jesus.

It is not that simple.  The phrase “in My name”  refers to asking on behalf of Christ.  It is similar to the phrase “Dad, said…” that we may have used as children when dealing with our siblings.  When used properly, it was powerful.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”   I John 5:14 & 15

The phrase “according to His will” is critical.  Do we know the will of God?  God’s ways are not our ways.  If we are honest, we will acknowledge that God may use ways that we do not like, nor understand, to accomplish His purposes.

“Yet you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”James 4:2b-3

We can, and should, ask for anything that we desire, but we should recognize that not all things are according to His will.  We must always be willing to submit to the will of God.  It is not all about us, and our happiness or desires.  It is about living out “thy will be done”.

Running Hot

June 7, 2011

When I was a young man, thirty years and thirty pounds ago, I loved to go for runs on hot, summer days.  The hotter, the better.  There was something about the experience that was particularly exhilarating.

Not so much anymore.

Now I prefer the temperature to be in the sixties.

When it becomes hot, and humid, I struggle to complete the distance.  My times slow down and I may even have to walk, (something I never did when I was younger).  I wear a hydration belt that carries thirty-two ounces of fluid and will use it all before I am done.

Yesterday, it was in the nineties, with high humidity.

I ran inside, where it was air-conditioned.

Discipline, Justice, and Mercy

June 6, 2011

One of my favorite verses is Micah 6:8  “He has shown thee oh man what is good, and what does the Lord require of thee?  But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”

For many years I wondered about what it meant to love mercy.  I understand that we are dependent upon the mercy of God.  I understand the idea of a judge showing mercy, but I wondered how I could show mercy.

Some time ago I was meditating on the concept of grace and mercy.   I believe that God opened my eyes to a good working definition of grace and mercy.  Grace is receiving benefits we do not deserve.  Mercy is not receiving penalties that we do deserve.

With this definition in mind I was finally able to apply mercy in my own life and the treatment of others.  If a person treats us rudely, it is normal to be rude back.  They deserve it.  If someone strikes us, it is normal to strike back.  If someone insults us, we insult back.  You get the idea.  The normal way of the world is to repay evil with evil, with a little interest.

Mercy is not repaying evil for evil. ( I Peter 3:9)  It is not following the way of the world, but the way of Christ.

You might ask about discipline.  If people are not punished for their wrong actions, how will they learn, or how will justice be served?

Those are good questions and we must trust that God will help us to understand how and when to apply discipline, justice…or mercy. 

Thanks for Today

June 2, 2011

Thanksgiving should not be just one day a year.  Each and every day we have a multitude of things for which we should be thankful.  If we have sufficient food to eat, a place to sleep, clothes to wear; if we have friends in our life, family who care for us, a meaningful way to spend our time: if we are still able to appreciate beauty of sound, vision, or action; there are so many things for which to be thankful.

Most of all, as Christians we have the presence of God in our life.  We have an opportunity to live in a relationship with the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the creator of the universe.

He loves us.

What more do we need?

We do have problems, challenges that we face day by day in this life.  They may be financial, or health related,  they may be work or relationship orientated, there are many complications in life.  We do not face these challenges alone, God is with us.  He will give us wisdom to know what to do, strength to do what we must,  and He will be with us at all times.

We can give thanks for today, and we can trust God for tomorrow.