Archives for category: Obedience

OXYGEN Volume 24Who am I?  What am I to do with my life?  What do others think of me?  What activities should I pursue?  These are all questions that everyone has faced at one time or another in their lives.  People, it seems, are always on a quest to “find themselves” The current trend is to have something to fight for or against; to be most noticed and to stand loud, strong, and proud.  It’s all about being “noticed” either in a relationship, career, or public policy.  What is  most interesting is the enormous amounts of time, energy, and monies all to seek answers to questions that are, at their heart, very simple.

As Christians, our identity should be singular.  It’s not a hard answer because our being, worth, and purpose should be surrounded by those marks of discipleship and servanthood that Christ laid out for us.  It is a quiet and simple answer.  Not one that will sell millions of books, get rave reviews, raise you to the top of the corporate ladder, or gain you a ton of friends and political posh.  It’s not some gregarious act that leads to the masses following you.  Really, outside of a few, rare, high profile people, the masses are just common, ordinary,  unsung heroes operating in the quiet, obedient steps of Jesus.

One of the biggest problems Christians, and non Christians alike, face is that comparison often leads to compromise.  We want to be just like so and so, but that isn’t the life God has for us. However, we fight, claw, kick, and scream to keep reaching for a brass ring that doesn’t fit and doesn’t belong to a Christ One.  The world wants us to be just like them and fight for identity in sex, gender, status, wealth,  etc..  Christ says “My Grace is Sufficient for You.”

How do we know that statement to be true?  Well, let’s look to the life of a very quiet, unsung hero of Faith named Andrew.  He was never a big front runner in the group of Jesus’ followers.  He didn’t make big public speaches before the masses, like Peter or Paul.  He just quietly, and simply, was about the work of Jesus and reaching others with the saving message of Jesus.  You might just say Andrew was a “nobody”.  However, when you look deeper you will see this “nobody” was behind the “somebodies” coming to faith.  Because Andrew was in relationship with God’s word, He knew Jesus.  Andrew was in relationship, one on one face time, with others, he could share Jesus with those he knew and loved.  Andrew was a trend setting, trailblazer of his time.  As often happens with trailblazers they don’t get the glory but you do see the fruits of their efforts.  We can see all of this in John 1:29-42:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. NIV

We can learn much from Andrew and his quiet way of evangelism and witness.  Andrew knew who he was and why he was here.  He was a child of God called to bear witness to the Son, Jesus Christ.  He had a desire to share God.  To reach someone who doesn’t know Jesus Christ as the only Savior of the World, we have to know Jesus and be in relationship with Him.  We have to have a heart that is real, sincere, and filled with desire to see the lost come to faith.  We need to really know people.  That means inter personal relationship time.  It’s not a text message, email, facebook, twitter, or instagram thing.  If we aren’t genuine in our care and approach, we can’t reach anyone.

Another part of knowing Jesus and others is to be in prayer and communication.   On our own, we will never reach a lost soul but in prayer we ask for God’s guidance and wisdom and then in our relationship we communicate our story.  What story?  The simply story, when the moment is right, of what Jesus has done, is doing, and will continue to do for you in this life.  Where your life used to be and where it is now.  How God’s word helps you through the trials and tribulations of this life.  These are easy stories to tell because you know them because they are you.

Andrew, this quiet fisherman of fish turned to a fisher of man, who reached out and shared Jesus so his brother Peter could be saved.  Peter went on to reach thousands but because his brother knew the right answer – Jesus- and shared, Peter became a Christ Follower.  The world might see Andrew as a “nobody” but he was a valuable soul to reach more souls.  Andrew knew who he was and why he was here.  He was a child of God called to bear witness to the Son, Jesus Christ.  He had a desire to share God. You might feel like a “nobody” but Jesus says you are “somebody!”  The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, says “I died for you!”  There is no greater identity or purpose than to be a quiet, humble, servant of Jesus Christ to reach others so that they too can know their sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name.  Go out into the world as an Andrew and rejoice in the only identity that matters – a Child of Christ!

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Do your finances always seem to have you under lock and key?  Do you want to unlock the Biblical keys to financial success and start mastering money instead of your money mastering you?  Join us for the next Financial Peace University Classes that will begin February 16, 2017 at 7:00 PM.  We will meet at 28000 New Market in the Gymnasium/Fellowship Hall Class Room.  To register, please go to this link.  ttps://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/classes/1032731

1428250327951For many of you, seeing the title of today’s blog, instantly conjured up images of the 37 foot 2 inch wall in the Red Sox’s ballpark.  Others might have seen the green gooing claw marks from the energy drink can.  Yet for others maybe you saw a green monster figure like a nasty dinosaur.  Maybe your first thought was the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz. Whatever image you had jump in your mind, hold onto it as we walk through a few likely scenarios.

What I had in mind actually can have similar traits as those images we just talked about.  It can be a high almost insurmountable monolith of a wall once it gets into your ballpark, and it will enter your playing field.  It also is an oozing, creepy claw marking thing that just rips to shreds all that it touches.  It has an energy of its own and it doesn’t generally wear off like the stimulating drink.  It’s also a very nasty, ugly large dinosaur of a creature that can carry you away without a trace.  What about the Wicked Witch?  Yes, this thing I am talking about even has her nasty disposition. It takes away your ability to love, care, and be nice to others.  You only see the ugly and it melts your heart like the witch when doused with water. Are you a little curious yet?  Are you a tad anxious to know that this doesn’t allude a single person and it’s as corrosive as cataracts to good eyesight.

This green monster is simply summed up in one little five letter word but has the impact of the green monster wall, energy drink, green dinosaur creature, and Wicked Witch, wrapped up in one and then even dwarfs all of those.  It is GREED!

Maybe when you see the word greed you think that is reserved for only the rich, powerful, political, or well the Ebenezer Scrooges of the world.  Maybe you think it only refers to money.  Sadly, you would be wrong.  Greed is the Green Monster Elephant in every room in every home, in every heart, that no one wants to admit to seeing, possessing, or being. Greed is rooted in dissatisfaction and lust for more of anything.  It’s a lack of trusting God for the way He provides.  See, we and the world say “feed my wants and desires”, “buy more”, “get more”,  and “spend more”.  The holy ground of the temple of greed beckons us to shop until we drop, buy one more lotto ticket, visit one more casino, get one more degree or job title to be able to get one more thing because that “thing” it will fix my pain, my problem, my emotional emptiness, my broken relationships.  The only thing it tends to fix is a large debt that can’t be paid and empties the heart of joyful, thanksgiving.

The problem with the green monster of greed is that it never satisfies. You can have a million dollars and still not have enough. You can jump from relationship to relationship and still not have enough love that you want.  You can have all the bedrooms in your house filled with kids and still not be satisfied with the blessings you have in your family.  Greed breeds ingratitude and the lust for more of it never fulfills.  It never satisfies.  It never delivers on its bogus lies and keeps us distracted chasing the illusion of the American Dream and heaps on the disillusionment because nothing lasts forever and we can’t get enough, buy enough, earn enough to stop death.  No matter how much stuff we acquire, we will all die. You could pull a U-Haul behind the hearse but you still can’t take it with you into eternity.  No matter your station in life, just like chess, at the end of the game the King and the Pawn go in the same box. Just like we all have death in common, as sinful people, we all have the problem of greed in one area or another and the first step in getting handle on greed is admitting we own it.

Jesus dealt with the sin of greed and we can learn from Him on how to Fend off the Feeding of the Green Greed Monster.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:13-21

Jesus first shows us that for eternity purposes the only inheritance we should be concerned about is storing up treasures in heaven and not worry about worldly wealth and possession.  Jesus then tells this man to guard himself against greed and lust and want of what others have or are given.  He straight up tells this guy STUFF won’t make you happy and life is more than possessions.

So how do we guard ourselves against the lies the world and our sinful selves tell us?  How do we scale the green monster wall? How and where do we find our energy to conquer the green monster in the room of our hearts and souls?  How do we fight off the monster dinosaur of lust, desire, and the likes?  How do kill the green wicked witch of greed?

Jesus tells us to be concerned about God’s riches first.  The riches of knowing Jesus Christ comes in the Word of God.  The power of the Holy Spirit touching us when we read God’s Holy Word and actually digest it.  The Word will teach and instruct us and douse the wicked witch of greed with the Living Water of Jesus Christ.

Worship gives us the ability to be ministered to by God and to be filled up with the love and forgiveness Christ won for us.  The Body and Blood given to us in Holy Communion is a constant reminder that Jesus Christ scaled the monster wall of sin on our behalf.

Giving of our tithes, offerings, special gifts helps us to see how richly God has provided for us in giving us all the things we have.  In turn by giving back to the Lord, we are blessed by knowing that we are caring out his commission to love care and provide for others in not only physical ways but spiritual ways as we tend to the business of the church.  This helps melt our hearts of ingratitude and thanklessness.

When we spend time in prayer this helps us be alert and on guard to where we need to seek God’s direction and repent of our ways when we let the green monster of greed rear its ugly head.  Prayer is always about us being in line God’s will and changing us from the soul on out to the body.  When we spend time to not only seek God in prayer, but listen to Him in prayer, we will find out that again, we are very blessed and rich beyond imagination.

Lastly, when we stop being greedy with our time and chasing our worldly pursuits, and start serving and giving our time at church and in service to others, we will be put in situations that show us people and situations in true need.  We will find out that no matter how poor we think we are there are always others far worse off than we are.  You will also find in serving that there are those that are destitute in the worldly things of money and possessions but way richer than you because they possess a peace and solitude that only God can give them.  They walk upright with the joy in knowing that God is caring for them even in the tough times of life.

So, there you have it.  Let’s start killing the Green Monster of Greed and start examining your holy grounds of the temple of greed and start being RICH in the Things of God!

Gracious Giver of all things, thank You for all that You give us and all that You keep from us because it is for our own good.  Show us our areas of greed, lust, and dissatisfaction and unthankfulness.  Help us turn from our sin and turn to You.  Give us an extra measure of Your Holy Spirit so we can fight this sin that erodes our hearts, relationships, time, and joy.  Put our priorities in proper order so that we only seek and want what Your Word tells us to desire.  Give us the power to give fully of ourselves to Your work and mission so we can help others climb over the green monster wall of greed and move into being rich in Your grace.  Melt our thankless, covetous hearts.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

In our current culture, it isn’t to hard to find what we would deem the “big sins.”  We see and  hear about murder almost daily.  We see lying, cheating, and just down right ugliness on most nearly all headlines.  We are a culture growing to mistrust and hate everything around us and then we lash out in the most ugly of ways – you know those “big sins.”

fearWe get so wrapped up in the “dramas” of each day that one of two things tends to happen.  We either join in the “drama pool” or we bury our heads in the sand, circle the wagons, and sing “kumbayah” pretending like nothing is wrong.  Both of these are relying on human ways to conquer the issues of the world and our own lives.  In all reality, we are falling victim to the very, very subtle sins of “unbelief and doubt.”

We don’t like to admit it but we make God out to be a hamstrung god who can only do what our minds can think or imagine.  We put God in a box of humanness, logic, and limited power.  We walk around thinking that God might fix that issue but “will He fix it or help me fix my BIG problem?”  It’s easy to forget God’s promises as we wait, move, and trudge through the mountainous times in our lives.  We start focusing on the summit of the problem and doubt the One who created the highest earthly mountains.  We focus on the pain and hurt around us and forget that Christ suffered the mountain of death, defeated Satan, and rose to bring us new life.  Those are no small hills, folks!

We live in a world where struggle and pain and disappointment just aren’t acceptable. We just want pleasure and fun.  Sometimes, God allows or puts enormous obstacles in our way so we have to trust Him and rely fully on Him!  In the struggles and pains and desert times we are taught much more than when life just goes along happy, happy, joy, joy.  Happy, happy tends to make us think “we’ve got this.”  But pain, agony, difficulties, disease, death, and destruction well, these make us stop and evaluate Who can handle this?  In our faith we either start down the path of unbelief or we turn down the road to “Illogical Obedience” Following God when it makes no human sense.

In the worldly view, the entire walk of Faith in Christ is illogical.  But as Christians, we know that nothing is impossible with God!  We have a track record, over 4,000 years old, that proves our God looks at impossible and laughs.  As we walk down the Biblical Memory Lane, we see that God takes and uses all the impossible people, places, and things and makes STUFF HAPPEN!

In our verses from Genesis, we see “Illogical Obedience” in action.  And the Lord appeared to [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on – since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Genesis 18:1-14

Sarah doubted God and laughingly mocked at His words.  We might throw stones at her but we do the same thing when we go it on our own because we are tired of waiting on God or believe that He can’t or won’t come through for us in our times of distress.  We know from looking at Abraham and Sarah that when they started doubting God, they started making huge messes.  God allowed the messes and obstacles to happen.  They felt the pain of “their way” and the world still feels the pain of that mess.  The best part of it is, that God didn’t stop His Impossible Plan.

There could be no doubt in anyone’s mind, that knew Abraham and Sarah, that only God could make these two, in their geriatric ward days, become biological parents.  In them becoming parents, God kept His promise and showed His mighty power.  God took the young boy, David, and David’s Illogical Obedience, and slayed the Giant Goliath.  Not in mighty conflict, with brazen weapons, and mass metal armour, but with a simple sling shot and a stone. Again, God showing His Impossible Plan and Power.  The list goes on and on and is recorded in the Bible so that we know where to go to find God’s Plan and Will and Power.  We are never going to find it on our own, in worldly powers and governments, and we will never know the full power of God until we know His Word and it is in our DNA and is our DNA.

So, How Big is God?  Bigger than anything you can dream, think, or work toward.  Our God is so big that He defeated the biggest problem and issue of any day, SIN.  Jesus looked Satan in the eye and beat him forever, not with anything man could do but with His sacrificial blood on the cross, and rose and said I AM the way of the IMPOSSIBLE.  Even in these days of chaos, God still makes it possible for us to live and move and have our being because the Holy Spirit gives us the power to walk on the road of Illogical Obedience and follow in the footsteps of Christ.  So drop the hat of unbelief, take off the armour of doubt and disobedience, and put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the clothes of Christ and march on as soldiers of the Cross and carry the banner into the world and show them that with God, All things are Possible!

Lord God, turn our laughing and mocking of You, into pure faith and belief, that You can do anything in the world and in our own lives.  Help Your children in Your Church to believe Your promises, power, and passion to do the Impossible.  You have never been bound by human reason or worldly things.  You are limitless!  Cure the unbelief in Your Church and Your People by returning them into the Banner Barriers of Your Holy Word. Make Your Word our desire to become our DNA for You.  In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.

Gods_Heart_92120306_stdUnselfish is an interesting word and concept in our world today.  It goes against the grain of society, self, and what Satan would have us believe.

Selfishness, being concerned primarily, almost exclusively, with one’s own desires, wants, profits, and pleasures, is all the rage and comes sinfully natural.  We see, read, and hear about selfishness all the time.  TV, radio, and most forms of media report and/or advertise to the sin of self greed and egotism.  We hear about the senseless murder of lives, relationships, families, careers, and reputations at an alarming rate, all because someone’s selfish desires come before the thought of others.  We can easily believe that our world is more selfish now than ever.  However, when we take a stroll through history, we are reminded that since Adam and Eve, selfishness has been ingrained in us.

Jesus, hits self centeredness head on and addresses it and the many ways selfishness is disguised.  As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62

When we look at the Unselfish Love Christ had and has for His Father’s plan of Salvation, how He lived His earthly life, and these verses, we see the concept of Unselfish Love.  We see the need for daily sacrifice of self and the alluring, worldly trappings of this life.  It doesn’t take a PH D in Biblical Studies to see that Christ is calling us to a life that is led, lived, and loved with God as the Leader.  Christ set His heart, hands, humility, and life on the Father’s plan to buy back His children from their sins.  Nothing could or would stop Him – not even death.  Christ challenged these three men and their reasons/excuses for why they couldn’t put God first.

As Christ Followers, we are challenged and charged with the same confrontation as these three men.  We are called to sacrifice our own agendas- selfishness- and put on God’s agenda of Unselfish Love to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and then to our fellow man.  So when you find yourselves challenged to put you first, your career first, your emotions first, your desires first, remember;  God promises us that this world passes away and only salvation in Jesus Christ is forever.  That those who seek First His Kingdom and His Righteousness will have all things added unto them and the First will be Last.    Let’s start living UNSELFISHLY!