“Your Grace Has Brought Me Safe Thus Far”

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So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there. — Joshua 4:8 NLT

Often when a major event had occurred in the lives of the children of Israel, God would instruct them to set up stones or build an altar.  These stones or altars were built or erected as a token of remembrance for God’s help in bringing them safely this far. It was also a reminder to tell future generations about the goodness and the mercies of God. They were unique in that they were always built with natural, uncut stones.  Crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land for the first time was a once-in-a-lifetime major event. The Israelis put twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan to mark the spot of the crossing and carried twelve stones to Gilgal and erected them there to mark the spot of their first encampment in their new homeland.  We need to be aware of the major events in our lives and construct mental and/or physical landmarks as a way to remember these events.  We need to point out these times to our future generations as a remembrance of what God has done for us.  When Samuel erected the stone between Mizpah and Jeshanah (1 Samuel 7:12) to mark the spot where God had defeated the Philistines for the Israelis, he named it “Ebenezer” which means a stone of help.  It is by the help of God that we have come this far safely.  Let us stop, set up an Ebenezer, pray, worship and celebrate God’s goodness and mercies in our lives.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 11-12-2018

I Can’t Help Myself!

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5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart;    do not depend on your own understanding.
— Proverbs 3:5 NLT
 
 

This may well be one of the best known and most repeated verses in the Bible.  What exactly does God want each of us to take away from this verse? Does it mean that we should realize that God is much more intelligent than we are?  He is, of course, but is there more here in this verse?  Could it be a rebuke to all of those self-help programs that people spend so much time, effort and money on only to find that when they have finished those programs nothing has really changed?  Is this verse a directive that says, you can’t help yourself, you need Jesus?  Could it be the first step in our coming to salvation?  After all, if we could help ourselves, if we could clean ourselves up, then it would have been totally unnecessary for Jesus to die. Jesus died on the cross to accomplish for us what we can never do for ourselves.  The natural, carnal mind will never understand this.  We must be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to have faith in God and to trust Him with all of our hearts.  Without the Holy Spirit’s guidance we will never understand the depth nor the width of what God wants to do for us and through us.  Our understanding is a broken reed that will support little or no weight.  God’s wisdom is a staff of strength that will bear up under any burden.  Learn to lean on Him, His wisdom and His understanding in the good times as well as the rough patches.

Post 10-01-2016

 

Talk to Me!

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27  Do not withhold good from those who deserve it  when it’s in your power to help them.
28  If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say,  “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.” — Proverbs 3:27, 28 NLT

Have you ever had this happen to you?  You are in a public place and you see someone and suddenly you have this strange notion that you should speak to them.  You don’t know this person, you may or may not have seen them somewhere before.  You think about speaking but you turn and walk away.  But minutes later, you come face to face with this same person and you feel that nudge to speak to them.  Looking at them, you can discern no particular need, but the urge to speak to them lingers.  No, I just don’t have time to engage anyone in conversation right now or he/she probably doesn’t have time or doesn’t want to be bothered is what we think.  So, we turn and we walk away.  If this should happen to you today or at anytime in the future, let me encourage you to just stop and simply say “Hello, how are you doing today?” and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit from that point on.  You might well be surprised at the blessing both of you will receive from that simple start.  We have to understand that the command to “go and make disciples” is a constant command and Jesus would not have told us to “go and make” if He wasn’t going to give each of us an opportunity to do just that.  Going and making disciples starts with our next encounter with any person.   Just follow the example of Jesus who “went about doing good”.

Post 09-01-2016

There’s A Hole In My Chest!

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12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.
— 1 Cor. 12:12 NLT
According to the latest polls and surveys, the percentage of people attending church on a regular basis is still declining year after year.  “So, what has that got to do with me?”, you ask.  Well, let’s continue Paul’s comparison of the body of Christ to the human body.  Let’s say that in the church you attend, the thumbs don’t show up when they should.  Let’s further say that we have a lot of things that need to be picked up and moved to a different spot in the building.  Not having thumbs makes this job a lot more difficult, if not impossible.  Let’s say that we plan a Wednesday night visitation program, but the feet don’t show up, going door to door is still possible but much more difficult.   The head of the church wants to do an outreach program but the arms don’t show up.  How can we reach out without our arms?  The head of the church wants to start an elderly care program but the heart is missing.  Because the heart is missing, no one cares enough to help each other or anyone else.  A human body can’t survive without a heart beat and neither can the body of Christ.  Are we willing to take the chance that we are not each a part of the heart?

God Answers Every Prayer!

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13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!  — 1 Kings 3:13 NLT
It has been said that when we get to heaven, if we should ask God why He didn’t answer our prayers, He will show us a list of all the prayers we have ever prayed and His answer to each one.  Then, He will show us a list of all the prayers we should have prayed but didn’t and His answer to all of those.  The list that we prayed will be in the thousands and the list we should have prayed will be in the tens or hundreds of thousands.  Why are we so hesitant to ask God for everything that we need?  No, He isn’t some heavenly Santa needing a list of our needs, but He does want us to ask.  We need to realize that every breath we take is an answer to prayer.  God owes us nothing, but He wants to give us everythng.  The old expression that “God helps those who help themselves” is not Biblical.  God wants us to be totally dependent on Him for our needs.  As long as we think that we can do it ourselves, He will allow us to struggle.  We must reach the same point that Solomon reached and admit to God, that we can’t.  As Solomon asked, “how can one man do this?”,  we need to admit to God that we can do nothing without Him and that we believe with all of our hearts that we can do all things through Him.  It is at this point of need and full realization that we are helpless, that God can move in and use the full force of heaven to accomplish what needs to be done.  When we feel that God has not answered our prayers, He has either said “No” or “Wait for my timing”.  That is the two answers we don’t want to hear, so we just say that God hasn’t answered.  Instead of rebeling and complaining, we need to use that time of waiting to prepare for what God is going to give us that we didn’t ask for.  After all, He gave us the most precious and expensive gift He could give when He gave us His Son, why would He withhold anything else?
32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? — Romans 8:32 NLT
Post 04-28-2016

Here I Raise Mine Ebenezer

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12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[a] He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” — 1 Samuel 7:12 NLT
When the Philistines were attacking Israel, they were defeating them in every battle.  The people called for Samuel and asked him to sacrifice to the Lord and pray for their deliverance.  Samuel told the leaders to gather all the people and meet him at Mizpah.  The people met Samuel there where they fasted all day and confessed their sins before God.  Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel.  Because of their fasting and praying, God relented and caused the Philistines to be so completely confused that the Israelites were able to defeat them and chase them away.  To show their appreciation for the deliverance and the answer to their prayers, Samuel raised up a stone in that location and called it Ebenezer which means “a stone of help”.  Each evening, we should look back over our lives and recognize those areas where God has given us victory over satan and his dominions.  Then, we should take the time to symbolically “raise our Ebenezer” by taking time to praise God and thank Him for his great mercies.  We should bow our heads and our knees in honor of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords because it is only by His help that we have come this far and only by His help will we make it home to spend eternity with Him. There is victory and joy in Jesus and there is failure and defeat without Him.  Give Him the glory that He so richly deserves for all of our victories.  Sing praises to His Name and marinate yourself in His goodness.
Post 04-12-2016

 

If You Choose to Accept This Assignment

even-smaller-bug-light147 All the men between thirty and fifty years of age who were eligible for service in the Tabernacle and for its transportation 48 numbered 8,580. 49 When their names were recorded, as the Lord had commanded through Moses, each man was assigned his task and told what to carry. — Numbers 4:47-49 NLT

When it was time for the Israelis to leave a place in the desert and move forward, the Tabernacle had to be completely disassembled.  Moses and Aaron would assign each membmer of the Levite tribe a particular task to achieve this,   The things that were in the Holy of Holies could not be touched by anyone but Aaron and his sons.  If anyone else touched these things or even looked at them for a moment they would die or be put to death.  Each person had a specific job to do and a specific way to do it.  Some carried the Holy objects and others carried the poles and skin coverings.  Aaron and his family were chosen by God to be the priests and the Levite tribe was chosen by God to be their helpers.  If the move was to be successful, each person chosen by God must accomplish his task in the manner prescribed by God.  God never changes.  He has the same plan in place today and if the Church, His body, is going to move forward, each of us must do our job.  Just as Israel was called out of Egypt and Aaron was chosen to be the priest and the Levites were chosen to carry the Tabernacle, we are called out of darkness and chosen to be priests and a holy nation.  We may not feel a calling to be pastors, missionaries, choir directors or teachers in the congregation where we worship God.  But in the Church, the body of Christ, each of us has a speicifc task to do.  Just as the Levites were chosen to help Aaron and Moses, we have been chosen to help our local pastors and the Church staff.  God has a specific plan and purpose for our lives.  The Holy Spirit abides in each of us so we are not restricted as the Levites were.  We can touch every area of our world with the Word of God.  Ask the Holy Spirit what task God has assigned you and do it diligently.
Post 02-19-2016

Wordless Sermons

even-smaller-bug-light11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. 4 He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. 5 He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!  6 “And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make: — Exodus 31:1-6 NLT

Not only did God choose these specific men to make all the things needed to fulfill the laws of worshipping Him, but He gave each a special skill.  God is still doing the same thing with those He has chosen.  He has called each one of us and filled us with the Holy Spirit.  Not to sit on the sidelines but to accomplish a specific task for His glory.  If we are unwilling to do that task, whether it be cleaning the bathrooms or preaching the sermon, then the worship service is incomplete.  Most of our sins are those of omission rather than commission.  Our choices of what we do and/or don’t do and the attitude with which we do them preaches a message that is louder than words. That message is seen and heard by everyone we pass by each day.  Does our message draw people closer to Jesus or does it leave them wondering if they even want to be a part of His Kingdom? As we go along life’s journey, are we more like the priest, the temple assistant or the good Samaritan?  Do we soothe and bandage wounds or do we cross the street rather than taking the time and effort to help those who are hurting? (Parable of the good Samaritan- Luke 10:30-37)
Post 02-02-2016

A Call To Action

even-smaller-bug-light126 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. — James 1:26, 27 NIV

​In the days that James lived and penned this book through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, people were weighed down with ritualistic religions.​ They were bound by rules that said “you must do this”and “you must not do that”, particularly, in the areas of eating and drinking. Those that did a decent job of following the rules considered themselves to be “religious”.  They attended the services at the temples or synagouges and prayed at the right times, etc. Much like today, when we go to church on Sunday morning for a couple of hours and mumble a few (if any) prayers or spend anytime reading the Holy Scriptures during the week.  We seem to feel that if we do those things, we are fulfilling our duties as Christians. We can spend the other 166 hours of the week doing whatever we please. We can gossip, criticize and say and do all kinds of things. We Christians would never steal, kill or destroy, we don’t commit the “big” sins. But the two areas in which we do fall short are in our speech and in our “not doing”.  Jesus gave us a solemn warning about the things we say:
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” — Matt. 15:10
​We must take this warning seriously and be very careful of what we say. 
There are also many verses about how we should treat others. Jesus says that if we see a brother or sister in need and take care of that need for them, it is the same as doing it for Him. If we don’t take care of that need, it is the same as refusing to do it for Him.  Helping others is how we show them the love of Jesus Christ. It is these actions that will draw others to Jesus.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. — 1 John 3:16, 17

Post 11-14-2015

Help Me!

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​7b …. ​Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Cor. 12:7b-10 NIV
​In the verses​ from 2 Cor.11:5 to 12:7a, Paul has been making the case that only a fool would boast about the things that they accomplish in their own strength. He is is making two points. One is that as long as we think we can, God won’t and the other is that we are foolish to think that we can do any of God’s work in our own strength.  Jesus made that fact very clear.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. — John 15:5

We are not put here on earth to brag and boast about ourselves and our accomplishments.​ Our purpose here on earth is to bring praise to God ​in our words and actions.

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.​ — 1 Peter 2:9​

​It is in our weakest moments that God shows up to deliver us, it is when we come to the end of our rope and ask God for wisdom, that He shows us the open door through which He will take us to safety. Therefore, let us, like Paul, delight in our weaknesses and in whatever situation we find ourselves, trust God. ​
​As long as we think we can, God will allow us to struggle on our own.
Post 10-05-2015