Monday, March 26, 2012

Are you unaffiliated?

Over the weekend I watched "Oh Brother where art thou?" for the umpteenth time. I love watching the show as it has a diverse group of characters and is very entertaining. This time though I noticed something I hadn't noticed before after the baptism scene they pick up Tommy the man that was at the crossroads, the mythical place where it is said the devil will trade fame and fortune for your immortal soul. Delmer and Pete were the ones that had just been baptized, Tommy had sold his soul to the devil as to quote the character in the movie, "I wasn't usin it" and Everett made the comment that he was the only one unaffiliated.

I hadn't put much thought to the movie or the comments before but this time it hit me how so many people in the world today are either like Tommy and have made wrong choices or like Everett and unaffiliated.

What does it mean to be unaffiliated, if we go by the dictionary definition it means not associated with another or others as a subordinate, subsidiary, or member; independent.

For years I was UNAFFILIATED, lost, and ended up at the same crossroads as the character Tommy, not tempted by the same things as Tommy but tempted none the less. It doesn't have to be fame and fortune it could be that car you always wanted, or the new house or basically anything that you could covet. Satan will always be there to tempt us, someone that was bold enough to think he could tempt God himself finds no trouble in sending things our way.

What I have found since becoming a child of God though is not just that I am affiliated but I have an advocate that is always there to help me in my times of trouble or when temptation comes my way. I truly feel for people like Tommy and Everett, for ones like Tommy as they don't  see the value of their soul, and for ones like Everett who think being independent and UNAFFILIATED make them more of a man.

Mark 4:1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’
Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The power of His Word!

Last week we talked about the old children's rhyme sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. We found that in fact the words that come out of our mouths have more power than we thought they had and can hurt us.

All through life we are taught that seeing is believing, what are you going to believe what you are told or what you can see. These little rhymes along with the one above, I believe are the reasons so many people have trouble taking God at his Word. The world has fed our hearts and minds since childhood to by into their way of thinking and settling for whatever circumstances come our way. That is not what God had planned for us. If Abraham would have went by worldly standards and believed he and Sarah were too old to conceive we would not be here today. Instead he believed the promises of God and a great nation was raised from his seed. If Joseph had not believed God's Word where would we be, if David had not meditated on God's Word and believed that what was written would come to pass the lions would have devoured him, and the Philistine army would have continued to rule Israel. Even the Roman centurion knew the power of God's Word as evidenced in the passage below.

Matthew 8:5-13
Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”
And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.
10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

By meditating and memorizing God's word and keeping it in our hearts we are able to access the power that being a child of God affords us. His Word is power and His name is above every name. When we say that his name is above all names we are not just talking about a person's name. We are talking his name is above disease, poverty, fear, anxiety, stress, above all the problems the world can throw at you.

When the problems of the world come at you remember God's Word and keep it in your heart and it will be your armour and quench the fiery darts of negativty and unbelief that are the tools of the devil.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?

Over the past few weeks we have been talking about the power of not only God's word in our lives but what our words can do. I normally wouldn't bring up anything from the talk shows but this past week all of the focus of Facebook and the news is Rush Limbaugh and his inappropriate comment.

If words can never hurt us why is there so much made of someone's comments no matter how offensive? If words have no power why have wars been fought and lives been lost over words? The truth is words are far more powerful than anyone thinks. Most people can't recall the first time they skinned their knee or even a jammed finger but I would bet most would remember a name they were called in elementary school. I know we have all done it at some point in our lives, called a person fat, ugly, stupid or something derogatory and didn't even think about the effect that it had on the person on the receiving end.

The point I am driving home is our words are powerful. They bring positive and negative feelings and reactions. In the following passage James is speaking of the power of our tongue or words.

James 3:1-10
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 

No matter whether it is a few people talking around the water cooler, or on a nationally broadcast radio talk show the power of our words is far greater than one would think.

This week before making that comment or gossiping about someone, think of the effect of your words.

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Forgiveness and prayer!

This past week at a base in Afghanistan copies of the Islamic holy book the koran were found burned in a trash dump. I was not able to find out if they knew how they were burned, but the official report was that they were inadvertently burned. In the hours and days following the incident many riots broke out, lives were lost, and the tension between Americans and people of the Islamic faith has grown to extremely high levels.
When actions and reactions like these happen I think of what Jesus told us immediately after he told us we have the power to move mountains.
Mark 11:25-27
25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

We must learn to forgive as our father in heaven freely forgives us. It is so important that right after telling us in what manner we should pray in The Lord's Prayer, Jesus followed with this passage.

Matthew 6:14,15
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Forgiveness was so important that he mentions it in Matthew 5 by mentioning forgiveness before giving. I believe God wants us to live in peace while we are here on earth. So much so that love and forgiveness are placed higher than anything else.

Matthew 5: 21-24
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
   23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

When I heard of all the terrible things that people were doing over the burning of books I thougth of these passages on forgiveness. I would hope to think that if the same thing were to happen to the Bible that we as Christians could follow Jesus teachings and bring these passages to mind before acting on our earthly emotions.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The power of The Word!

 Matthew 21:17-23
18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”
21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

While reading this passage this past week the power of the Word became more evident to me. Jesus points out to us that we have the power to move mountains in our words. I am not sure how many of you have mountains you would like to have listen to you but I know myself I have many mountains I have yet to conquer.

When I say mountains I am talking about anything in your life that is of the world. Debt, health issues, anything that you feel is controlling you and the decisions you make in your life. When you accepted Christ as your Savior and asked Him into your life you were given the same power as Christ.

John 14:12-14
12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

The power of God's word in our lives is so powerful but too often overlooked. Many people pray day and night and wonder why they are not seeing change in their lives. I know in my life it is not the power of God's Word, it is all the distractions that create unbelief, that block God from working in my life. This past week in worship we played a song called "Be the Centre". After playing the song I thought of the story of Peter walking on the water. he was able to walk on the water, but once he focused on the things of the world, the waves, the wind and the storm producing them he began to sink. The same thing happens with us, when we focus on the problems instead of the solution, Christ, we being to sink.

This week when problems come your way, repeat the following scripture and put your focus on the solution and not the problem.

Ephesians 3:20
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

Monday, February 13, 2012

What does it take to fit in?

 Over the past several weeks we have had a sermon series running at our church called " Finding your fit". We put puzzles in a bowl on the communion and offering table for people to get and take home and pray over. The idea behind the puzzle was for people to seek God's fit for their lives in the body of Christ. The puzzle has been coming together and everyone in the congregation has enjoyed seeing it come together.

This past week was suppose to be the last week for everyone to bring their pieces in for the puzzle. Monday after church my wife asked if she had given me her piece and I told her I didn't remember getting it. She was in a panic as this was one of the first ideas I had given at church.  After looking through the dirty clothes we realized that the pants she had worn were washed and dried. We looked through the pockets and found that the one puzzle piece had now become two and was just plain grayish blue pieces no color no picture. I was a little disappointed as I was excited about seeing the end results of the puzzle as well, but what brought things into perspective was how it affected her, she didn't want to go to church the following week as she felt that piece would be the one that would keep the puzzle from being completed.

It was at that point that the true message of the puzzle came to mind. It is not about how you look, or that you come to him perfect or rough around the edges or how you fit into the worlds scheme of things that matter, it is all about what God has planned for your life. He is not focused on whether you followed his plan from the beginning, or have taken some wrong paths along the way.

It seems so many people put off coming to God because they have lost their puzzle piece and don't want to disappoint Him. He is not interested in that, God has plans for each and every one of us. He ultimately wants to bless us so we can be a blessing to those around us.

What matters most about finding God's fit for you life is that you come to him!

Proverbs 16:9
A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Look for His word in everything and let His light shine!

This past week has been filled with Super Bowl parties and the festivities surrounding the game. They have shown every angle and strategy that can be thought of pertaining to playing the game on Sunday. They have had programs voting on the top commercials, ones showing all the prices of the stadiums, and everything else imaginable. What they hadn't done until today was show the human side of the game.

I normally don't watch all of the pre-game shows but today I watched a few. I am so glad I did as I found that God, if not a football, knows how to reach football fans through the stories.

There were a few stories that stood out to me. The first was of Matthias Kiwanuka and his family's legacy, his grandfather being instrumental to bringing democracy to Uganda only to be executed for speaking out against Idi Amin', his mom working nonstop to ensure that her children would have the best education and know a better life than she had.

Zoltan Mesko beginning his life in Romania under a tyrannical communist regime, his family covering him with pillows as the revolution was going on right outside their apartment. They eventually sold everything they had, got on the lottery to get into America, a place where if a person can believe it can happen, it can happen.

Both families sacrificed everything to make sure their children would have a better life than they had. While watching these stories I started to think of how our heavenly Father did exactly the same thing. God sacrificed living as God to come to earth and live out the same struggles that people have been going through since our beginning in the garden. He knows pain as he has seen the worst that man can do, he knows loss as he gave up his only son to bring salvation to a people who couldn't have known it on their own.

After watching these stories and thinking of what these families had sacrificed and God's sacrifice for us it made the game a little less important. It actually had me wondering how we can spend four hours before a game talking about a game that lasts roughly three. How we can spend three and a half million on ads that last thirty seconds, or how once a year we hear a few stories about the triumphs of life that are happening around us every day, we are just blind to them.

I guess the story and comment that hit me more than any that day was the one about Steve Gleason the former Saints star that was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. He is battling a debilitating disease and his wife's main comment was "I hope he doesn't lose his voice as he is able to touch so many lives with his story and words."

I know this has been a slight variation from what I normally write but hope that it makes everyone think how we are here to be God's light. We can either let His light shine through us every day or we can keep the light under a shade and like these stories only let it shine once a year or when it is appropriate.

Isaiah 9:2
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.