Monday, April 23, 2018

"Those People"

      This is probably going to piss some people off, and they will probably get mad at me and ignore me and walk away when they see me. But, I think it needs to be said. I have heard too many times people who attend my church refer to the homeless and poor who attend our community supper as "Those People". As in we don't want "those people" in our church. "Those people" are dirty and smelly and that doesn't look very inviting to new people coming into the church. Even though Jesus clearly tells us throughout the New Testament that that is one of the most important commandments in the bible.  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." If you are not sure who your neighbor is, the parable about the good samaritan is a good place to start (Luke 10:25-37).

       If you have heard my first sermon or read my blog, you would know that I was for most of my life one of "Those People". I was shunned by the church my whole life, told that I was no good, and I would never amount to anything. After being told that so many times you begin to believe it and just give up. Instead we should be sharing God's love, letting them know that God does love them, that someone in this messed up world cares for them as a brother or sister in Christ. Knowing that someone cares, knowing that God loves them, that they are children of God can do miracles. I know first hand, because if it wasn't for a certain pastor, on a Christmas eve 8 years ago, I would not be a Christian today, I would not be writing this blog, or even trying to share God's love to as many people as I can. I wouldn't be a Stephens Minister, or a mentor at my daughter's school, or mentoring homeless and fatherless children. This all happened because that one pastor told me that Jesus loves me, that He was born in that manger and died on that cross for me. If you would have told someone I know, family or friend, that one day God would put me up in front of people and use me to share His promise of love, they would have laughed in your face. 

      I know first hand what it's like to have to ask for help. I know first hand what it's like to have to stand in line at some food bank. I know how demeaning it is to not be able to care for yourself. I know what it's like to go to school with last years fashions. I know what it's like when "Christian" people stand up and tell you that "We don't want you here", because your not worthy. Well guess what. Neither are they. But God gives it to everyone freely, no matter who you are. That is the message we as Christians need to be sharing. So, when you are talking about "those people," I take that as you are talking directly to me. And, If you don't want them in "your" church that means you don't want me in "your" church. But, I know Whose church it really is. Praise be to God.....

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Live Like Jesus

I was getting ready to go to worship last Sunday, and I was looking in the bathroom mirror brushing my teeth, and the song I can only imagine by Mercy Me came on. I tried to imagine what Jesus might look like, does he look like me? Do I look like Him? Then, it was like I got hit with a 2 X 4. Once again I have to be reminded that we as Christians are supposed to live lives that resemble and reflect the life of Jesus Christ.

So, there is the question, do I resemble Jesus? Does the life I lead reflect Jesus? I guess the point I am trying to make is that we the church are actually the living and breathing body of Jesus. We the church have to reflect Christ to this world. If someone wants to know what Jesus would do, they should be able to look at Christians and know what He would do. If someone wonders what Jesus looks like, they should be able to look at Christians and see Jesus.

I guess that might be a question for everyone, not just me. Do we as young people, or adults, or husbands and wives, or grandparents live a life that reflects Jesus Christ? Do we act like a Christian in any circumstance? Do we follow Jesus' greatest commandment? Do we Love God completely and everybody even if they treat you wrongly whether you know them or not? Jesus said "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" Jesus says in John 13:15, "I have given you an example, that as I have done, so should you do." In I Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ." Ephesians 5:1 says, "Be imitators of God as dear children. Set aside time for meaningful prayer. Make intercession for people who do not pray enough for their own development, i.e.: children, cousins, friends, enemies and family, etc. In Ephesians 1:16 Paul prays for a "Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation." I recommend that you say the prayer in Ephesians 1:16-23 for yourself everyday for one year and God will open up your spirit and develop your understanding. You will have so much spiritual insight that you make a big impact on others.

Be patient with people who anger you; work on trying to forgive those who may have hurt you. You must learn to love your enemies. God loves everyone, and we need to, also. Say farewell to selective loving. If you have a hard time loving your enemies, pray to God for help. Treat others kindly as you would like to be treated. Even simple acts of kindness like holding a door open for someone are good deeds that can help.

Volunteer to help people. For example, you could take a shift at a soup kitchen near you,visit a person staying in a nursing home. Remain conservative in your ethics, moderate and modest being sure to remember that pride can be dangerous. Pride may imply that you are judging others falsely, and is said to be the mother of all sins, because pride resides in each one of us. The source of all sin is oneself and not considering others. These are just a few examples of how to live like Jesus. I am not claiming to an expert on Jesus, but through my studies this is what I have learned. We all need to live more like Jesus, if we do the world will become a much better place.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

God's Perfect Design

         Everyone of us is engineered by God. He wants us to understand His planned design, and for us to reflect His glory in everything we do, by loving the way He made the unchangeable designs of our lives. The greatest reminder of God's creative power is the understanding that each and everyone of us that has ever lived is uniquely different. From our fingerprints to our DNA, we are truly different, a spiritual snowflake if you will. God's fingerprint on us means that no 2 of us are alike. In all the generations dating back to Adam and Eve, no one person is exactly like another.
      
         Each one of us are created to a perfect and complex set of plans, made up by God Himself. The thing that sets us apart from all of God's other creations is that we were made in the image of God. Within every cell of our human body is a set of God's fingerprints know as DNA. This human genome is an exact engineering that lays down everything about your physical body. And, once we are regenerated by salvation, we have another set of plans made up of God's gifts and callings that connects to how God designed our unchangeable features. Our reaction to the spiritual DNA that God has given us with our salvation added to the design of our bodies and our physical gifts makes such a wonderful life for those who know God.

          So, each and everyone of us was perfectly created by God for His glory. And, each aspect of our being that we had no choice in, is a reflection of God's power. Where we were born, who we are, how we look, all of our imperfections and weaknesses, and all the countless other details, are all a part of God's perfect design. Each one of us are the handiwork of  God, like spiritual snowflakes, no 2 exactly alike. We are like rare precious jewels, no one is worthless or unimportant in God's plan.

         

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Death is not the end

   

       We all mourn in our own way, there is no set pattern. And we can mourn with the assurance of Jesus Christ, because He tells us, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." And, as a Stephens Minister, I want you to know that God is not immune to our emotions.

        As our Heavenly Father, God knows what His children are feeling, He felt it when Jesus died on the cross. And because He is all knowing, He already knows what we are thinking. It says in the bible that His Spirit witnesses to ours, which means He mourns our loss too. He knows what we are going through, experiencing the life, death, and resurrection of His Son. God has been through everything we are going through, or have gone through. He has been there.

        In the Old Testament we find scripture that tells us "The Eternal God is our dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27). Also, from Psalm 34:18 it says, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power, whose understanding is beyond all measure. So I believe that God is right here mourning with us, and because of that we can be honest with what we  are feeling, and we can remember our loved ones as they were. We can take that  moment and turn to God, and allow Him to comfort us in there memory.

        I have heard it said somewhere that death may end our lives, but it can never end our relationships. So let our caring for and loving loved ones be a testimony in our lives. Family will remain family, Friends will remain friends. Death can't stop that. God sent His Son to make sure that those who put their faith and trust in Him, will no longer see death as an ending, but as a pit stop on the way to something far greater. When memories of our loved ones drop into our consciousness, you will have no choice but to smile at them, cherish those times, and share them with each other.

         So, when those times are at their toughest, I invite you to turn to Jesus, I know He understands. When He was preparing the disciples for His eventual departure, He told them, truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy (John 16:20-22). Our loved ones were truly a gift given for a short time. May we remember and be thankful for that gift.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

God will help you face your giants

      I was listening to the radio the other day, and Casting Crowns "voice of Truth" came on. It got me thinking about who or what are the giants in my life. What or who are the giants in your life? Giants like stress, pains, persecutions, problems or pressures. We all have to face these in our daily lives, anything that distracts us from God is a giant. You see, these things in our lives can distract us from God, and those Giants must be defeated and removed as distractions. 1 Samuel gives us a story of David and Goliath, and I want you to see that there is more to this story than a boy defeating a giant. This is an example of great struggle taking place in the lives of God's people today, right now. And God's people need to defeat and remove those giants in our lives.

      I believe when David saw Goliath and heard him shout his taunts, that David said to himself that this giant must be slain. I also believe that David knew that this would not be easy. Goliath was defiant and arrogant against God and His people, his voice echoed off the walls as he shouted down in the valley. Satan was making more noise than perhaps he ever had, and people who claimed to be God's children were cowering and running away. But, David knew that Goliath had to be confronted. David knew that this would be a major task, but he also knew that Goliath would not go away. He knew that someway, somehow Goliath had to be defeated.

      So let me give you this to think about. What are the "Giants" in your life? Is it something that happened in the past? Are you having marital or financial problems? How about resentment towards someone you feel wronged you, and these things are making it difficult to lead a Christian life, or maybe keeping you from becoming a Christian and giving your life to God. Guess what you have to do? Put your trust in God, and with His help face your giants. David's faith was not in his ability, or his armor. He understood that it was all from the power of God. David's faith and confidence rested with the God that brought him through the past. This is where the victory was won, because David knew his God was bigger and stronger than Goliath. When you are facing giants in your life, put your trust and faith in the God who can do all things. Don't look at it from an earthly view, look at it from a Heavenly view. God is bigger than any giant you will face in your life.

      It makes no difference what giants you are facing, you can defeat any of them that come your way. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. When David defeated Goliath, others were blessed. Other people are watching how you face your giants, and when you allow God to give you the power to defeat your giants, they will be encouraged and blessed.

      God is greater than your giants. Amen.............
   

Friday, March 9, 2018

Betrayal

      being betrayed by someone you trusted and considered a friend is very hurtful. If you have ever experienced betrayal, you know how hurtful it could be. Perhaps someone was bad mouthing you behind your back without giving you a chance to defend yourself, or maybe they shared your deepest darkest secret. It doesn't matter how you have been betrayed it is very painful thing to go through.

      In the bible there are many men who have been betrayed by someone close to them. Of course Judas is the one that comes to mind first. We all know that Jesus chose Judas after praying all night long. They spent everyday together for 3 years, talking and eating together, praying and even laughing together. Can you imagine how broken hearted Jesus must of felt? Judas knew Jesus, knew what His mission was, and yet betrayed Him for just a few coins. Maybe you know someone who is going through this now, or maybe even you are experiencing being betrayed. I want you to know this right now, Jesus knows what you are going through, He knows your pain. He has compassion for you that only someone who has been through the same thing can have.

      Jesus knows this pain, He was to be betrayed by the 12 that were closest to Him. But, even through this pain Jesus responded by washing the disciples feet, even though He knew He would be betrayed.  He gave them supper, even though He knew He would be betrayed. When Jesus gave that piece of bread to Judas, He not only revealed who Judas was, but also revealed who He was. He is the One who feeds His enemies, and goes on loving them to the very end.

      When we are betrayed Jesus says we must respond with love. Not anger for anger, don't plot your revenge. Jesus tells us in Mathew 5:43-48, You have heard that the law of Moses says, love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But, I say love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. In that way you will be acting as true children of your Father in Heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and on the unjust too.If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even the tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, How are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

        Being like our Father in Heaven is showing the one who betrayed you the Love of Christ. Turn your shock and anger into love and compassion. When we are betrayed, we must not also betray ourselves by giving into anger, revenge, hate, or despair that can be produced in our hearts. Take that pain to Jesus Christ, who already knows the excruciating pain of betrayal.

        I will leave you today with this word from Romans 12:21, Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.  Amen ......

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Promise


     We have all had someone break a promise to us, and the older you get the more jaded you become. Promises that people break to us make us "wiser" or less trusting, or they may even break us deep down inside. But, promises that are kept give us life, and hope. They are the cause of us realizing joyful dreams. We need to realize that our faith is only as good as the object it's put into. People, even though they mean well, will fail us. But, God never will.

      That leads us to "The Promise," The only truth that matters, and makes a difference. The one that gives us life. In the Old Testament Jesus is call the Promised One. He is God's great "YES" to all of us. Though people may make us skeptical and leery, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit strengthen us and give us the hope that we can trust God fully. YES, we can trust God. We can trust God with our marriages, we can trust Him with our family, with our children, with our careers, with our finances, with our health, even with our lives.

      Jesus Christ, the Promised One, came as promised. He died for us, and rose again, as promised, and placed His Holy Spirit in us. Our God does not break promises, He doesn't lie to us saying He will be there and then doesn't show. He is with us 24/7, day or night, even in our lowest darkest times. He knows your worth, He highly regards your unending value. He looks at you and says YES !!!! This is My precious child, this, is My masterpiece.

      Jesus is our savior, our helper, and our friend. He is our YES from God, He is YES for the whole world. He is not only with us, but God is for us. And, as Paul says in Romans 8:31, If God is for us, who can be against us. With God you won't find any fine print, there isn't any need for disclaimers. With God we don't have to be leery, or skeptical, because God keeps His promises. This should give us comfort in this world that is running out of control. Nothing can stop God's holy purpose. He promised to send us a savior, and He did, in-spite of the failings of His people, and strong opposition by His enemies. Jesus came to fulfill the promises of God, and all of the promises God made are fulfilled through Him. Wouldn't it be an awesome thing If you and I could keep our promises like God keeps His.......Amen