Saturday, December 5, 2015

Renew Your Love – Strength Your Commitment

You may have noticed I’m sporting a new hair style. This morning I’m going to explain why. God desires our obedience and has always called upon His people to be peculiar. The Prophets of the Old Testament are shining examples. Don’t misunderstand, or jump ahead and think I’m asking us all to shave our heads. The message is: Be Obedient to God!

Ezekiel was told to lie in the street on his left side for 390 days. Then to turn onto his right side for another 40 days. One day for each year of sin in Israel and Judah. God said He would bind Ezekiel so he could not move until the days were completed.

Hosea was commanded to take a prostitute for a wife & every time she cheated on him Hosea had to forgive her and take her back.

Jeremiah had to buy a fine linen belt, put it on, and protect it from being ruined. Then go to a place, take off the belt, hide it in a crack in the rocks, wait several days, go back and get the belt.

We are called to a life of separation from the world. Dedication to God requires obedience. “So, why did you do that to your hair Pastor?”

Numbers 6:2 “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk” (KJV)

All my life I’ve been told I have beautiful hair. My grandmother would say, “Wouldn’t he make a really pretty girl with this hair?” When I got older, hair stylists would say, as they ran their fingers through my hair, “You have such nice hair.” I would laugh and say, “Just cut it until the gray is gone.” NO! That is not what happened this time.

Many of you know I’ve been fasting and praying about the Church and asking God to direct our plans here. Thanksgiving and Black Friday I began to experience such horrible pain in my kidneys. The pain was excruciating and I told God, “Whatever You have to do to heal this pain – Just do it!”   Around here we always pray, “God touch them from the top of their head to the soles of their feet.” Well, my prayer went like this, “God, slap me from the dandruff to the toe fungus.”

I woke up Saturday still in pain. I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Shave your head!” I went to Sports Clips and told the stylist, “Take it ALL off.” She asked, “ALL of it?” I replied, “Yes, ALL.” The pain left my body the moment the hair started falling.

Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (KJV)

The thought never crossed my mind that I was overly attached to my hair. I have never been a person who was consumed by my appearance, but in order to be obedient to God a sacrifice must be made. In my case it was a sacrifice of pride. God calls upon each of us to make a sacrifice. We must all give up something to serve Him.

Psalm 4:2-4 “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah. But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” (KJV)

We have all turned the glory of God into shame. The Old Testament says, “We have turned everyone to our own way” and the New Testament says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We need a Savior. We cannot be ashamed of Him or the testimony we have in Him. Our faith in Him brings life and healing.

2 Timothy 1:8-10 “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:” (KJV)

If we desire to experience a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit we first must re-establish a standard of holiness. Repentance and personal sacrifice will guide us along the path. We have been attempting to relive the “Glory Days” of the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit without the surrender of our hearts to the Holiness of God.

1 Peter 1:15 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;” (KJV)

God’s promise is to “pour out His Spirit on all flesh” but first there must be a return to God’s Word with complete resolution and overwhelming faith. If a Nazarite suddenly found themselves in the midst of a dead body. They were required to shave their head and renew their wow before God. The Jewish tradition was to tear your clothing to express the depth of your grief. We have all been touched by death, and we live among a culture that is lost and going to Hell.

Joel 2:13 “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” (KJV)

We must repent, or run the risk of becoming useless to God in the fulfillment of His plan. Make no mistake, God’s plan will be established! The question is: “Will we make ourselves available for His use through repentance and sacrifice; or, will our stubbornness, pride, and over inflated self-worth render us useless to His plan?”

Jeremiah 13:10 “This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.” (KJV)

Before we read the final Scripture for this message, I want to preface it by saying, “There has been too much Gong banging and cymbal crashing in the Church and far too little LOVE!” (I am not talking about the drums, or the drummer.) Really think about these next words.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “Though I speak with this tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (KJV)

I don’t have any idea how many have ever considered these words from 1 Corinthians, but I grew up in a Pentecostal household and Pentecostal Church. A “move of the Spirit” was always “with signs following” but not always in the overwhelming Spirit of LOVE.  Do we recognize the importance of LOVE, as we read the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 13? Examine the verses closely. We can demonstrate EVERY manifestation of the Holy Spirit, but without LOVE those gifts are useless. We according to those verses are ourselves NOTHING without LOVE.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Gain Wisdom Accept Correction

Proverbs 1:8-19
8 My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. 9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck. 10 My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! 11 They may say, “Come and join us. Let’s hide and kill someone! Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent! 12 Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave; let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death. 13 Think of the great things we’ll get! We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take. 14 Come, throw in your lot with us; we’ll all share the loot.” 15 My child, don’t go along with them! Stay far away from their paths. 16 They rush to commit evil deeds. They hurry to commit murder. 17 If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away. 18 But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed. 19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life. (NLT)

On the path of gaining wisdom God has placed fathers and mothers as or primary guides in this process. Proverbs 1:7 cut straight to the heart of the matter by explaining all TRUE knowledge begins with reverence toward God and a healthy respect for discipline. Parents who are themselves committed to God balance the scales of wisdom: The father supplies correction and the mother offers instruction. When we, as children, ignore mama’s instruction, daddy gives us the correction and redirection we need to get us back on the path of wisdom.

My father, an extremely quiet, was an example of Godliness and discipline. One experience that stands out in my mind from my early teen years happened just after, when I was 12 or 13. In my parent’s home the evening meal always consisted of meat, potatoes, vegetables, bread and butter. There was always a butcher’s knife on the table. On this particular evening, I was being a typical, mouthy, disrespectful teen/preteen and I hear, “That’s it! I’ve had enough of this!”

The quiet, peaceful man I knew as daddy, got up, grabbed the butcher knife, and looked at me. I had never heard him yell and I certainly never seen that look before. I got up and began running through the house yelling, “Daddy don’t kill me! Please, Daddy don’t kill me! I promise I’ll be good!”

My father had no intention of killing me, but that spanking made an impression on me. When we ignore Mama’s instruction we will face daddy’s correction.

The first instruction “If sinners entice you – Turn your back on them!” These words found in verse 10 are followed by several statements they may use to tempt us into their schemes. They are just wetting our appetite for sin.

Verse 15 restates the instruction, “Don’t go along with them – Stay far from their paths!” This second warning is followed by the results of sinful behavior until we see in verse 17 sinners do not have the brains God gave a bird. Sinners get caught in their own trap. “They are trying to get themselves killed.”

At this point we run head-long into the stop sign of verse 19, “Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money – It robs them of life.” This is in contrast to John 10:10 where we learn Christ came that we may have life more abundantly. Stay off the path of the simpleminded! Gain wisdom, accept correction, and follow the path that leads to Life Eternal. Check the link below.

The Bible and a Belt

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Purpose and Foundation of Godly Wisdom

Proverbs 1:1-7
1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; 3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; 4 To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. 5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: 6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (KJV)

Solomon – Son of David – King of Israel recorded these proverbs to accomplish a three-fold purpose. 1) They are to teach wisdom to the simpleminded. 2) They are to teach discretion and discipline to the young, and 3) they are to offer understanding and insight making the wise exponentially wiser.

Everyone achieving a successful life is the goal of these teachings – Success not measured in human terms – But success fulfilling God’s plan for our lives. Speaking only for myself, “I desire a successful life – On God’s terms!” If that is your desire as well, join me in exploring and applying these proverbs to current situations in life.

The heart of Solomon’s teachings is found in verse 7 of chapter 1. The fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (NLT)

If we are going to build successful lives we must begin with the correct foundation. Examine your life today as I examine mine. Is our version of success predicated upon reverence for God?
Is our knowledge base drawn from the well-spring of God’s Word or the cesspool of human desire?

James 3:17 “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” (KJV)

The journey toward wisdom begins upon a firm foundation. We must sweep away dividing influences and focus on God’s attributes. He will open our eyes to wisdom, discipline and success.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wisdom Matters

James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (KJV)

Common sense is becoming less and less common. Unwise decisions seem to be the trademark of this society. This trend is directly related to the removal of God from everything public. Sound judgment and righteous actions adorn the lives of those who have submitted to God’s authority. Those who do not acknowledge His authority or seek His wisdom will corrupt and defile everything they touch.

Psalm 53:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.” (KJV)

We as individuals, families, communities, states and nations are being called to seek God and His wisdom. It is found in the Bible. God’s desire for everyone is that we know Him, that we have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, and that we glorify Him with successful and disciplined lives.

The Bible has been labeled, “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” For that reason, over the next several weeks we will be exploring those instructions from the book of Proverbs.

If you are ready to ask God for TRUE wisdom, please join us as we discover God’s Wisdom Matters.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

No Sugar Added

Have you ever searched in vain to find just the right way to say something, asking yourself repeatedly, “How can this be said without sounding harsh, condescending, or just flat out rude?” I’ve struggled with that quest for a little over four weeks now and decided no matter how it is perceived I must speak.

I meet weekly with an accountability partner and the first order of business we address is The Prayer to The Holy Spirit. For all those unfamiliar with that prayer, I’ll present it here:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in us the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may truly wise and ever enjoy your consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our goal in these weekly meetings is to recap the events of our lives and measure our successes and often our failures as Disciples of Christ. The other day, the thought struck me that Job – You know the man from the Bible who lost EVERYTHING on the same day – did not deserve the criticism he received from his “friends,” but this generation – That’s another story all together.

Job 15:11-13 11 Are God’s consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you? 12 Why has your heart carried you away, and why do your eyes flash, 13 so that you vent your rage against God and pour out such words from your mouth? (NIV)

For over 2,000 years we have enjoyed the blessings of liberty secured by the cross of Christ, and now the Church is trading that liberty for bondage to Political Correctness. It was for freedom that Christ set us free…freedom from sin…not freedom to sin! Job’s comforters were right judgment comes from God and the wicked will face His wrath. Is this generation cognizant enough to recognize the trouble headed their way? Is the Church willing to awaken and preach the GOOD NEWS of SALVATION?  Or, are we content to ignore the warnings?

Job 15:20-26 20 All his days the wicked man suffers torment, the ruthless man through all the years stored up for him.21 Terrifying sounds fill his ears; when all seems well, marauders attack him. 22 He despairs of escaping the realm of darkness; he is marked for the sword.  23 He wanders about for food like a vulture; he knows the day of darkness is at hand. 24 Distress and anguish fill him with terror; troubles overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack, 25 because he shakes his fist at God and vaunts himself against the Almighty, 26 defiantly charging against him with a thick, strong shield. (NIV)

There is no shield of protection if the opponent is God, and yet this generation seeks to discount, disgrace, and deny any and all Christian influence. Jesus faced the same issue. Is the Church so, blind as to think “WE” can bow to the will of men and ignore God’s Word?

Mark 3:2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. (NIV)

Wake up, repent or be damned! As my Aunt Flo says, “Get RIGHT, or get LEFT!” These are not political decisions. They are spiritual destinations – Heaven or Hell the choice is yours to make. Get right with God or be left behind – Darkness is on the rise. We can curse it or let the light of Jesus shine. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

History Matters Don’t Change it – Learn from it!

Mark 3:24-26 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. (KJV)

History Matters Don’t Change it – Learn from it!

My last three years as a teacher in the public school system were spent teaching American History. I began each of those years with the quote: Those who refuse to learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.

After a discussion to determine the meaning and validity of those words, I introduced the question: What makes America so great? For each of the 180+ days of the school year, seventh grade students were presented with assignments to discover for themselves the answer to that question. America and her history good, bad and often bloody does matter. History can be a wonderful teacher if we explore it with a desire to learn from it.

Today, it is shocking to me to witness the number of people who have no appreciation for the accomplishments and history of America. It is disturbing to watch as that rich history and the blessings of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are being re-written or erased completely.

 Psalm 5:4-6  For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; 6 you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest. (NIV)

After watching the video series: How the States got Their Shape, as a final assignment I asked my students to redefine the US map and think of all the things they had learned about America the states and what makes this a great nation. I was struck to the core of my being at the results they presented.

1 Samuel 2:7 The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. (NASB)

Each and EVERY student presented me with a US map divided in half NORTH and SOUTH. Across the northern half were written the words “Given to Canada” and across the Southern half the map read, “Given to Mexico.”

Are we as a nation writing God out of our History? Is God in return preparing to write America out of existence?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bullwhips, Knives, BB Guns, Bow & Arrows

The innocent days of childhood, carefree sun filled summer time and cool-aide ran through my mind the other day and I remembered these cute quips. “Sugar and spice and everything nice: That’s what little girls are made of.” Contrary to that we are taught, “Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails: That’s what little boys are made of.”

1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (KJV)

When I was 10 years old my parents moved our family to the desert. I was so excited because we were moving to the wild-west. Along the way I spent what little money I had on what I considered necessities. Somewhere in Texas I picked up a Bullwhip. As we drove through New Mexico I added a bow and arrows to the collection of weapons my youthful mind considered “must haves.” I already owned an assortment of knives and BB guns. I was prepared for any uprising. I would not be caught by the unexpected.

There was no end to the depth of my despair when reality hit. There were no feathered Indians with war paint and scalping knives. The gun toting outlaws didn’t ware neckerchiefs and ride horseback. Life in Arizona was just as modern and boring as life in Tennessee, although the people did talk funny!

Ephesians 4:10-16 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (KJV)

It’s time to stop playing with the ideas that divide us and start teaching the TRUTH that unifies us! Let go of the old stereotypes. See in others the glory of our King.