Archives for category: Power for Living

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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

4577acda4bb3fb9aedb5097cb97eb514Right now, depending on the setting you are in, the word faith is being bantered around. Olympic Athletes are talking about the faith their parents, coaches, and/or teammates have had in them.  Others are talking about their lack of faith and confidence in the US political system and the Presidential Nominees.  Still, others use the words “just have faith” as feel good comment to try and encourage people who are going through difficult and tryng times.  So what is this “faith” thing and what might it look like?

To get a better handle on things, we first need to define what we mean by faith. The dictionary has several explanations and depending upon if your eyes are world focused or God focused will determine the outcome.  If you take faith in a simple explanation, faith can be a strong belief in someone or something.  In other words strong conviction and/ or loyalty.  If you take a higher definition, faith is belief and trust in and loyalty to God:  firm belief in something for which there is no proof:  complete trust.  There is quite a contrast between the two.

The worldview will always leave us short because people fail, convictions and loyalty are often sacrificed to get the next promotion, more influential circles, or higher positions of power and politics.  Even in the Olympics you hear of athletes and coaches who will sacrifice their faith in the system of hard work and perseverance and throw it away to “juice” and try and beat the system to get a medal.  When your back’s up against the wall and there is no where to turn, will a piece of metal part the pathway for you?  Will that “golden calf” deliver you?  When your body is failing and your heart is broken under the weight of trials, will that medal sustain you?  This is not the faith we want to aspire to.  We want to talk about God’s Gold Medal of Faith.

Faith, loyalty, and trust in God is a firm belief, for eternity, that will never leave us wanting more.  God never disappoints and more than a gold medal, He promises and delivers so much more.  The Lord not only gives us more than we deserve in faith, but He is the one who gives us the faith in the first place.  Once faith is given to us, what we do with the faith is up to our own free will.

Will we work at faith and relationship with God?  This work that we are talking about is like an athlete that learns the routines, exercises faithfully, eats right, submits themselves to the coaches teachings, and continue, to strive even when it gets difficult.  As Christians this means we should desire to move beyond the infant stage of only wanting the “milk” and move on to the solid food of all of God’s Word. We should desire our faith to impact every area of our lives and rid us of those sins and actions that are not in line with God’s Word.  Our lives should reflect the abandonment of the world and show the signs of loyalty to God at all worldly cost.  Faith that is rooted in God and watered by the Word produces stronger faith so we can continue to run the race of Jesus with endurance.

This life on earth is hard on Christ Followers and that is nothing new. This has always been the case because Satan wants us to fail and lose the crown of glory that God has waiting for us at the end of this race that finishes in heaven.  All we have to do is look at Scripture and see the difficulties that the faithful have endured.  When we look at this same Word of God we see what a rich reward faith offers.   By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 11:17-12:3 esv

As you can see, Faith in  Jesus is “Risk Taking” by worldview and it will stretch you, but just as Jesus was big on the walk in loyalty to the Father’s plan of Salvation, may we follow in His footsteps and be ever faithful even unto death for His namesake.  No matter what comes may faith be our defining moment. 

Want an extra shot of encouragement?  Take a listen to New Songs’ hit “Defining Moment”.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fF64-zFONzk

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.

We live in a fast-paced, high-tech, competitive society. Our way of life produces an over abundance of stress; and that stress can produce unlimited opportunities for conflict and disputes. Conflict can flare up at home, at work, at school, even at church.

People were never meant to live under the amount of stress we have in today’s world. That’s why we react so negatively to it. That’s a primary reason we have so many disputes. What we want to address today is, “How do we deal with conflict and disputes in such a way to honor Christ; the one whose name we bear?”  Read the rest of this entry »

Hell never was, and still is not, God’s planned destination for the people he has created. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God said: Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? I take no pleasure in the death of anyone (Eze 18:23, 32 NIV). And Paul told Timothy: God our Savior wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Ti 2:3-4 NIV).

Jesus tells us admission to heaven takes a righteousness greater than that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. How do we attain such a high level righteousness? Scripture has already shown us that no matter how good we try to be, we will always fall short of God’s requirements. But all is not lost.

Salvation hinges on only one thing – faith. All who believe Jesus died for their sins, and believe Jesus’ death has brought full payment of their sins, will be saved. Read the rest of this entry »

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Every Spring and Fall we hear the familiar honking of geese as they migrate from south to north and north to south. This is a common event so most of us probably pay little attention geese as long as they don’t take up residence in our front yard. However, Scripture sometimes uses the common things of nature to provide wisdom for us humans.

To begin with, geese practice synergy. As geese fly in formation, each one flaps its wings and creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the flock can increase its flying range by 71% over any one single bird flying alone.

Our lesson from the flock of geese is this: people who share a common direction, a common goal, and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of each other. Read the rest of this entry »