CHRIST THE KING Sunday

Today in many churches and church calendars it is CHRIST the King Sunday.  Isn’t every day His? It is the last Sunday of the church calendar year. This is celebrated as a pre Advent event. We are in Nashville at Trevecca today after visiting my mom for thanksgiving returning our daughter to school and while here we will experience the service. Should be interesting. This week we be in preparations for the celebration of Jesus’ birth and we look forward to sharing how much Scripture foretold of His coming. 

Be Thankful

Ok, so I know you feel inundated with people writing about thankfulness and then you saw this. Well, yes it is another but then again is it?   David writes in Psalm 138 humbling himself in God’s loving arms. He recognizes who God reaches closely to and who reaches out but just cannot seem to touch and feel the warm protection of God’s arms. Why does it seem that even in his riches, David consistently humbles himself? He knows God and always looks to Him no matter the circumstance. Yes he made mistakes and even broke the Commandments but God still made good on His promise due to David’s humility and the humiliation that he suffered later in life. God was always with him because of his faithfulness and thanksgiving. David knew who was in control and understood that in his wrongness, God would somehow make things right. 

Some people really miss the boat when it comes to trying to understand why God sometimes allows bad things to occur. We are tested on a daily basis by the Adversary but God will make good from the bad. Not right away and it might take a generation or two but it will happen. As we go about our lives in the world today, stay humble, do your best to do what’s right and even if you fail, remember God is with you and will get you back on track as long as you maintain your faith.  

Beauty of God’s Handywork

Seek God in everything and you will see the wonders of the universe. Most of us have heard someone tell us to, “stop and smell the roses”, but there is more to a rose than just a beautifully intoxicating aroma. Closing our eyes when smelling (actually a very common thing) flowers we can sense the pollen, the bees, and everything else that went into the creative design by God. How much more we could sense if our eyes were actually opened to His creation (that includes us). We are beautiful creatures with one job, be caretakers of God’s Creation and while at it, enjoy it not destroy it. 

Brothers and Sisters, we have not done as God commands. We have let this world go to pot and us with it. Between depletion mining and drilling, war, ethnic cleansing, human trafficking, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, and other acts of immorality which God abhors,  we have destroyed His most prized creation, us. No wonder the world is fighting back at us. 

We all need to stop, seek the Father, actually listen, forget about our own selfish desires, and start working our purpose. We cannot do it if we forget about those who were in the church but left for higher education, or because they were not being used for or able to use God’s gifts properly. How many people get lost in a church that has over 1000 members? A whole lot really. If you are not in the clicke or a large tither, the staff usually looks the other way. THAT HAS TO STOP. 

Seeking God’s Handywork actually starts with the individual.  What kind of upbringing? Was there good relationships with immediate family? Was God’s presence known in the home? Did the church family do right by the person or just ignore as if treated like a waste of oxygen (I have witnessed this)? How Christians treat others needs to be how they would want God to treat them (not just how they want to be treated by others). Would God throw out wasted flesh? NO. He is the great potter who reforms the broken and creates beauty from ash, dust, and clay.

Can we start acting like Christians and not be seen as the hypocritical goody two shoes who finds the wrong in everything except themselves? Be more open and welcome to all who hunger and thirst for healing no matter the sin. God is the judge, not us. Jesus is our scapegoat (or sacrificial lamb) who took away our sins and defeated death. We cannot be judgmental of others when we do not examine ourselves finding sin and asking for our own forgiveness. How many planks are in your eye?

Brothers and Sisters I know I am not without sin and am every day reminding myself that I must follow Jesus’ right way of living. I know He took my place and so I must do as He says so that He will say He knows me. So must we all do this. Remember when Jesus spoke of separating the sheep and goats? Which one are you?

Think on these things and stay in the Word.

Amen    

Belief In Man-Made Or Divine: The Misguidance of the Youth Today

11 18 2017

Answers in Genesis speaker Ken Ham posted an article recently on the things Millennials are turning to for answers and a belief system. The two systems have been around for a very long time but have been perverted to fit man’s desires for understanding. Now God does say that He placed the heavenly bodies out there to show signs and wonders but what signs and wonders was He talking about. These signs are placed so we would understand patterns of life, weather, travel, and our place in the world.

Man has used these signs to try and predict many things using certain designs in the sky. One of the predictors recognized by man is the zodiac which apparently dictates how we will act in certain events. People actually relied (and some still do) on as to how they will go about their day and their let the stars dictate their reactions towards others. God warns us not to do this “divination” or future knowledge seeking to rule our lives. Rather we should rely on our conscious thought which is guided by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

Now I used to believe the accuracy of the zodiac, but when I began to trust in God I found the inaccuracy of how it dictates our social practices. Meaning, purpose, and hope aren’t found in trying to discern patterns in the motions of the heavenly bodies. If you stay within the bounds of the interpretation and the specified social circle in which the interpretation tells you to stay in and away from, you do not really experience life. Letting the stars dictate actions removes us from our God given purpose of being caretakers of this world.

Spiritualism, not what some may think! It is man’s attempt to find purpose and meaning apart from God and his revelation to us in his Word. It is man seeking truth through his/her own inner being and reaching out to the “spirits” in the world. Spiritualists do not put their trust in God but seek inner peace where there is none.       

The article states that the individuals in question are those who are in or entering college. Why are they turning from God? Part of the problem is outside influences where they are not near the comfort of their home church and decide not to find a church near them. Campus Crusade for Christ does not appear to be as active as it used to be because of other collegiate sanctioned activities which have tried to knock anything Christian and or conservative off college grounds. Church groups are not as welcome as they used to be unless the college is a Christian faith based facility.

 The largest problem that leads to youth searching for “other than God” answers is the lack of follow-up starting at the high school level. An even larger issue that turns more and more away to include those in their 30s and 40s is the lack of relationship and belonging found in larger churches. Those churches where you get chided for not tithing your 10%, not being in the right click, are never approached, or the church attendance is more than 1000 and you are a number not a name, people leave. Those that are consistently depended on somehow get the feeling that there is an obligation to be there. The church is not going to blow up if you miss a Sunday!

Another issue may be the message of the church itself. Some are so concerned with the dollar, the message becomes a constant reminder to give in the offering plate. Money does not heal the broken. Some pastors have fallen into the love trap where all you have to do is believe and the rest is taken care of by Jesus without us speaking a word or lifting a finger.

Folks, listen closely to the pastor’s messages and the delivery. If the pastor is transparent and speaks of love, tough love, fear, grace, and mercy all in the same sermon, that is a place to be. An inviting church is a loving church. A church that does not close the outer doors before, during, and after the service is a relational church.

So how do we regain the interest of those who decide they want other human means to ponder life’s questions? Stop playing the Jesus is cool with your sin game and straighten people (and some pastors) up. Yes, Jesus died for our sins by crucifixion, but He did not die so we could freely sin. Yes we are saved by grace through faith but that must be an active faith. Yes we should be inviting to all people no matter their sin, and if they get offended (convicted) it is a good thing. Let’s work with them so they can reflect and find repentance and get right with God.

 God loves each and every one of us because He created us. His love is gracious, merciful, jealous, kind, fearful, comforting, and forgiving. His love knows no bounds and unfailing but is requiring of us to love Him back as a child loves his parent. That means being obedient to His Word. Does that scare people? Yes. So why do people run to worship things that are not Him? Those man made things and beliefs are temporary fixes to a psychological misnomer when make people happy. The only way to life eternal is through Jesus. I don’t know about you but I’d rather worship the entity that has control of my final destination rather than a man thing that makes me happy till I die.     

God First

In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? Declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.” Haggai 1:1-11 ESV

Reading this passage what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Did you think about the poor Israelites who just can’t catch a break? Did you think that this has nothing to do with me so why are we studying this? Did you think that the Jews were being selfish and are being tormented? Did you think about God and the fact that these people put themselves before the creator? Well, for the most part that is how many different people view this passage. Yes, God is a jealous God but He is also the provider of all things. They were literally biting the hand that had cared for them and put God off as a secondary thought. This is not the right thing to do as they found out. So what does this have to do with us?

When we are in communion with God we are taken care of but the second we try to do things on our own and not give God the time of day or the glory which is rightly His, we are in trouble. Life can be pretty difficult without God in the forefront of our lives. Think about this…when you forget to talk with God about the positive and negative things happening in your life, is there not a sudden hole and matters seem to get worse? When you don’t spend time reading His Word and get a daily dose of His love and devotion towards you, where does your love and devotion go….to things of the world? Do you not realize that God is in everything, He is everywhere and knows your every move? How much do you have to lose before you go back to God?

We need to always remember to put God first. After all, He is our creator and His name is imprinted in our DNA. Like an artist who signs the painting, God signed us. We do not belong to anyone including ourselves so everything we do is for His glory, not ours, His.  When we wake up in the morning our first thing should be thanking God for our life. I know that most will say that God is not always the first thought especially as we get old and have a full bladder, but God is already waiting for us to wake. He speaks to us if we listen but even the most devout sometimes have trouble opening their ears in the morning. Once we have our faculties about us (when we feel more awake) then we can speak to God without mumbling and bumbling through our thoughts and can hear Him clearly. Recognizing God when we wake before getting on the phone, tablet, or computer and plugging into the world supplies us with the right mind to do God’s work He has planned for us. We are, after all, His temple.

The best part of waking up is knowing that God is with us and has us in His hands. Yes I know, but not all people can have coffee in the morning but they can have communion with the creator.

God Has A Plan For The Proud (And It Ain’t Good)

If you think that because you are human and do not have an All Powerful Being in control of your fate, you have some serious issues. The Pride of man will be his undoing as we have seen many times in the past even recently. Though right now we have many issues that have resulted from people bieng in lofty and high places who thought they could not be caught, they are being exposed and revealed to the world. Sins of man are being brought to light by those who have been victimized. Some have passed the statute of human limitations but God reveals all. The solution, do not give into temptation.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.       1 John 2:15-16

I myself have had a dark few months recently where temptation had taken hold. Am I suffering for it? yes. Have I repented? yes. Have I asked forgiveness from those I have wronged Physically and Spiritually? Yes. Will I recover? God forgives those who seek Him, Love Him, and return to Him (Think Prodigal Son).

The immoral behaviors of Hollywood which have been rampant for decades are finally coming to light. Fame and fortune do come with a cost. The Idol of money has taken over the lives of many with quid pro quo, bribes, hush money, and even extortion. These are things that man thinks will cover up misdeeds. The love of money called greed will be man’s undoing.

Now as Isaiah points out, there is no escape from the wrath of God. Sometimes He uses people to exact His wrath upon those who sin, and even though they think they can hide, God knows their hearts so they will be found out.

Be aware of those who will try to persecute you or vicitimize you, they will have their day in the heavenly court where they will be seated in the furnace awaiting punishment. Stay in the Word, and if you falter return quickly and repent. Do not let temptation rule your life, I have learned that the hard way. Love One Another Just As He Loves Us. Do not give up hope, He will be returning soon.

Are You of the Spirit or of the World?

MATERIAL SPIRITUALHow often do we hear of people getting rich, living mostly happy lives then dying or becoming destitute all of sudden? This seems to happen to some lottery winners especially in the last 10 years. How about those folks who amassed great wealth and lived long lives, sometimes too long, and thought they could control people by conditionally sharing their wealth to meet their personal desire for mass control? When they go they are either heralded as good or evil men. How many of the wealthy follow God’s Word? How many manipulate it for their own conscious to be satisfied? Throughout Scripture we are constantly reminded how material wealth is deadly while spiritual wealth leads to life eternal.

That being said, why have so many popular pastors fallen into a false material prosperity gospel that does not lead to Spiritual happiness? I mean think about it. Books titled, Your Best Life Now, God’s Formula for Success and Prosperity, God’s Master Key to Prosperity and others have convinced many that God wants you to have materialistic (mostly monetary) wealth. Money won’t buy your place at the banquet table of Christ. This prosperity gospel is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to scripture. Most of the progenitors of this heresy are televangelists who live lavish non humble lives. This ideology goes back to the mid-1960s and needs to stop.

Jesus tells us,  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6: 19-21

If God based a person’s faithfulness on their amassing of material goods then the poor would never even see the inside of a church. If this was true then Jesus would have welcomed the money traders and sellers of all goods (even sinful ones) in the temple instead of going on a rampage. He would have been more friendly to the members of the Sanhedrin than the poor and destitute. Get the picture yet????

How did the Catholic Church raise extra funds? Before we answer part of that let us look at Psalm 49:5-12.

Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice,that he should live on forever and never see the pit. 10 For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. 12 Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.  

 

The Catholic Church charged people money for saving a soul while in purgatory. They called it an “Indulgence” which was above and beyond the tithe paid weekly if they had a recently deceased relative. It was not covering burial costs but went into the Bishop’s and Pope’s pockets. Look at verses 7 through 10 again. We cannot ransom a soul.

 

Jesus spoke to us in parables that were clearly understood back in the time of His Ministry. Take for instance the story of the Rich man and Lazarus:

“Once there was a rich man who used to dress in the most expensive clothing and spent his days in magnificent luxury. 20 At his gate had been laid a beggar named El‘azar who was covered with sores. 21 He would have been glad to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table; but instead, even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 In time the beggar died and was carried away by the angels to Avraham’s side; the rich man also died and was buried.

23 “In Sh’ol, where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Avraham far away with El‘azar at his side. 24 He called out, ‘Father Avraham, take pity on me, and send El‘azar just to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue, because I’m in agony in this fire!’ 25 However, Avraham said, ‘Son, remember that when you were alive, you got the good things while he got the bad; but now he gets his consolation here, while you are the one in agony. 26 Yet that isn’t all: between you and us a deep rift has been established, so that those who would like to pass from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house, 28 where I have five brothers, to warn them; so that they may be spared having to come to this place of torment too.’ 29 But Avraham said, ‘They have Moshe and the Prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 However, he said, ‘No, father Avraham, they need more. If someone from the dead goes to them, they’ll repent!’ 31 But he replied, ‘If they won’t listen to Moshe and the Prophets, they won’t be convinced even if someone rises from the dead!’”  Matthew 16:19-31 CJV

What does this tell us? Has the point been driven home yet? It does not matter what you have physically, God wants you to be humble. In the Beatitudes Jesus says that the poor in spirit are blessed. He is speaking of those who are humble in their ways, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).

When we come to God in prayer, we need to understand our own sin, our spiritual emptiness and poverty. We cannot be self-satisfied or have proud hearts, thinking we don’t really need God for successful living. Staying humble and being dependent on the Spirit for our success is more pleasing to God than how much money or stuff we have.

When Will This Terror End

Once again the world has experienced an act of a coward. This time on a bike path in Manhattan that took 8 innocent lives and injured 11. The man used a rented truck had a paintball gun and a pellet gun. The person wrecked the truck then took off on foot yelling Allahu Akbar. He was stopped by a bullet but not killed and will pay for the crime.

Brothers and sisters this must stop. The Adversary has taken full control and distorted the thinking of many. Not only do we have the ISIL threat but the leftist terrorist group ANTIFA has threatened to take action on the fourth of November against small businesses. Scripture warned us that we would be persecuted and would have to be watchful and the danger is increasing daily.

Matthew 24: 9-14  Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 

So what does this mean for us? We must be strong in adversity. We cannot let those who are against us win. Trust that God will carry us through. Our Faith must be stronger than the resolve of those against us so that we can defeat the adversary through the strength of the Holy Spirit. Yes we will lose people and yes we will be deceived. Put on your spiritual armor every day and prepare for the battle ahead.

Our heart goes out to the families of those senselessly murdered by this spiritually confused person. Our prayers are with those hospitalized for a quick recovery. Please join us in praying for all involved to include the individual whose idealisms have been distorted by the adversary. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies and those who are suffering so let us pray that the adversary loses ground and Jesus gains the world through the Holy Spirit and the sharing of the hope of salvation in Jesus.

Amen

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