Friday, May 29, 2015

Today I prayed for....

Happy Weekend.  For the last few months I have been posting a weekend blog which challenged our readers to spend some time with study and prayer concerning some Bible subject.  Prayer has been suggested in each lesson, sometimes for specific individuals and sometimes for all mankind.

This weekend is going to be somewhat different.  My challenge to you is to pick something or someone close to your heart, and devote some quality time in prayer for the person, event, or organization which you select.

Need some suggestions?  Pray for those graduating from high school or college.  Pray for your boss at work.  Pray specifically for every member of your family.  Pray for someone you consider an enemy.  The list is endless, but I know you can something or someone to pray for.

Each blog ends with the blog's email address, so by Sunday evening, I am asking each of you to send an email telling me about your prayer.  You do not have to mention names unless you want, and please, no specifics which might be embarrassing.  Your email content might look like this"

"Today I prayed for the list of sick people from our church's sick list."   Or, try this one.  " Tonight I remembered everyone in my immediate family from oldest to youngest, that they might continue growing in the grace and love of our God."

The challenge is yours.  Spend your prayer time with the knowledge that God hears and answers your prayers. 

Monday's blog will be a report, compiled from the email responses I receive.  Let's go global with this and see the hand of God in action.

God Bless!!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Two Prayers We Should Pray

from Nehemiah 1: 5-7

Then I said:Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

from Revelation 15:3-4

“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
    Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
    King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
    and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
    and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Read again these two selected sections of Scripture, making sure you are recognizing how awesome God is.  Yes, there are some things to be noted which will bring a contrast.  Looking at them from the standpoint of prayer, Nehemiah is obviously praying a prayer of confession.  He seeks God in a way of admitting to things God already knows.  He readily acknowledges God as great and awesome, while expressing his sin through terms like wickedness and disobedience.

The Revelation verses simply praise the actions and justice of God, knowing these things bring glory to the Lord.  He alone is holy.  God's righteousness is always revealed, bringing worship from all nations.

There are times when we need to pray a prayer of confession.  We, too, have sinned against God and acted in ways which can be described only as disobedience.  If that type of prayer is needed for your life, then seek God's direction and his love as you confess your wrongdoing.

The power of the Revelation prayer is seen from beginning to end.  While we may be confident in our salvation, we still have the need to pray prayers which reflect God's greatness.   Praise him for his holiness.  Give glory to him through the life you lead.

As a little girl said her bedtime prayer, "God, I'm not going to bug you by asking you for "things."  You have given me so much already.  I just want you to know this prayer is to say "thanks" for all you do, and for all you are."  Amen!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jesus, The Rock of Ages

Matthew 7:24-27
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Two builders are the main characters in this story Jesus told. In the way the Lord tells it, it is a story of comparison, and each of us has the choice of which builder we wish to use as our example.  Most will read the story and come away thinking the only decision they must make will concern the foundation upon which they will build. Closer observation reveals the foundation analogy is simply getting us to realize a deeper choice we must make, putting Jesus' words into practice, or not. 

Each builder heard the words, making them alike. One builder built his house on the rock, while the other built his house on the sand, making them different. One builder built a house that did not fall, while the other built a house that experienced a great crash.  The simple story from Jesus isn't hard to understand. The success or failure of a building depends primarily on the foundation upon which it is built, and there is a huge difference in the outcome in making the choice of building on the rock, or on the sand. 

The story of Jesus is intended to make us examine the foundation of our lives to see if we have chosen to build life on something solid like the rock, or on something continually changing like the sand.  The choice you make should be obvious, however in today's world there are many who seek security and success in "sand-things" which bring destruction and failure. (*Hint" Jesus is the Rock!)

In a little wood-framed church building on Loraine Street, in Midland, Texas, I heard and joined in singing as a child, about the "Sure Foundation." Here are some of the words:

There stands a Rock on shores of time
That rears to Heaven its head sublime.
That Rock is cleft, and they are blest
Who find within this cleft a rest.

Some build their hopes on the ever drifting sand,
Some on their fame, or their treasure, or their land;
Mine’s on a Rock that forever will stand,
Jesus, the “Rock of Ages.”


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How old is too old?

Maybe you have heard in the news about Margaret Dunning, of Michigan.  She became newsworthy by entering her car in a car show in Canton, Ohio.  What makes it newsworthy is Margaret is 102 years of age and is believed to be the driver license record holder in the United States.  She learned to drive when she was 8 years old, and became the youngest licensed driver at the age of 12 after the death of her father.  Margaret was the only person in her family that knew how to drive and with some string-pulling from the prominent family, she was issued a driver license.

Margaret has several automobiles, currently driving a Cadillac.  Her claim to fame is enhanced greatly with the 1930 Packard Roadster, the car she entered in the car show. She purchased the car in 1949 and completely restored it to original, and brags that she still changes the oil and spark plugs as well as all other maintenance on the car.  She is also well known among local radar cops for all the speeding tickets she has on her traffic record. 

I saw the picture of Margaret sitting on the running board of her 1930 Packard, and spent some time thinking of how much fun it would be to drive a car like that. No doubt she has turned down numerous offers to sell the car.  It's her pride and joy.  So she made the national news, a 102 year old woman driving an 82 year old car.  There are probably not many people you know that are older than the car they drive. 

Stories like this encourage those of us who are in our "senior" years.  When we hear stories like that we wonder if someone like Margaret has the same painful and stiff joints we have.  Surely, she must have led a sheltered life with no major problems or illnesses. I don't know anything from the story about her physical ailments, but she did work hard all her life, never marrying, but quite successful in banking and in retail sales. 

If Margaret were in your home church today, would she be active in the sewing circle?  Would she teach  a ladies class?  Would she busy herself trying to be a good example to the younger women in things about success and purity? Those are questions I cannot answer, but they start me to thinking about the place senior citizens have in most churches. In a time when the emphasis is on young families  we expect the older folks to slow down in their involvement, Margaret is the example of perseverance. Still going strong. Never giving up. 

If you are a younger person, spend some time with the older folks in the church. Learn from their example, their wisdom, and especially their love of the church.  If you are older, determine that you will continue to be a good example to those who are younger. Share your stories with them. Encourage them to keep pressing forward, to be steadfast in the Lord. 

Revelation 2:10, toward the end of the verse says, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." Regardless of our age, that is a promise of God we should all claim. 


Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

In honor and loving memory of those who served and those who gave their lives for our Country.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Attributes of the Holy Spirit

 I mentioned in an earlier post this week about attending a class taught by DVD's on the Holy Spirit.  For our consideration this weekend I want to steer you to some deeper understanding about the attributes of the third person of the Godhead.  Spend some time in thought, and in prayer and meditation on these names which enlighten us about the Spirit's workings.

1.  He is referred to in Ephesians 4:4 as One Spirit, signifying unity.

2.   In Hebrews 9:14 He is called the Eternal Spirit, an attribute of being everlasting.

3.  The Spirit of Glory is a name used in 1 Peter 4:14 for us to understand His glory is like that of the Father and Son.

4.  Calling him the Spirit of Life in Romans 8:2, affirms his eternal nature.

5.  Paul uses the term Spirit of Holiness in Romans 1:4, to teach us of the holy attribute of the Spirit.

6.  He is called the Spirit of Wisdom in Ephesians 1:7, with another reference from Exodus 28:3.

7.  He is the Spirit of Truth, according to Jesus' words in John 14:17.

8.  The Hebrew writer calls him the Spirit of Grace in Hebrews 10:29.

9.  Closely related is the reference to The Spirit of Grace and Supplication in Zechariah 12:10.

10.  John simply calls him the Holy One in 1 John 2:20.

There are other terms by which he is called, but we'll focus on these ten.  What a wonderful time of study as we read these passages, with each one revealing the workings of the Holy Spirit.  Your study time will be greatly rewarded.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Been to church lately?

In the days before Pat Boone became famous for his singing performances, he spent some time preaching.  From his book, A NEW SONG, he mentions being invited to preach for a Church of Christ in Monroe, Louisiana.  Boone began his message to the church that day:

"Isn't this ridiculous?  We could have stayed in bed and slept this morning.  Instead we came here to this building where we have now closed all the doors, sung songs and prayed--as if we actually thought someone was going to hear us!

"We have passed bits of bread and cups of grape juice around as if they had some significance.  When we get through here we are going to go out thinking that somehow or another we are better fitted for the tasks of the coming week, which will have no relationship to what we've been doing here.

"Not only that, but some of us will no doubt attempt to persuade other people to join us in this silly charade!

"What's more (and this must be the most incredible of all), we have taken money out of our pockets which could have been spent on other things to help maintain this beautiful building in which to play this shadow game!

"When you stop and think about it, it's an absurd thing to do, like the kids playing school on the back steps.......that is, unless we really do believe that God Himself is in this place, that he does know our thoughts and answers our prayers."

Have you ever heard such a sermon?  A sermon that challenged the aspects of our worship practices and seemingly made fun of the things we do to demonstrate our allegiance to Christ and the church.

Without being judgmental toward my Christian family, or any others professing to be Bible believing Christians, I think this glimpse into Boone's sermon could open our eyes to see how easy it is for us to go through the motions of our worship assembly, without accomplishing its purpose of expressing a deep and intimate relationship with God.  Do we really believe that God himself is present when we worship?

The point was driven home even further when I attended a Bible class where we studying, through a series of DVD's by Dr. Charles Stanley, and he referred to one of the reasons we don't remember much from even the most powerful sermons.  The reason, he says, is because when the worship service is over, the main thing on everyone's mind is .......LUNCH!

I have mentioned Boone's sermon and Stanley's videos in an attempt for each of us to examine our own worship experiences.  I'm saying our worship will be more experiential, more beneficial to our lives as Christians, and more pleasing to God, when we really believe that God is present, his Spirit lives in us, and the message of the gospel of Christ is "front and center" in all we say and do.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I have redeemed you

Isaiah 43:1-3
 But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

At the time these words were given through Isaiah, the children of Israel were in Babylonian captivity. We probably could not understand all the difficulties associated with being held captive, as individuals and as a nation of people.  Even though these people had a history of unfaithfulness to God, always leading them to troublesome times, the verses above are words of assurance from God who continues to love them. 

Comforting words are always appreciated when we are in trouble. None could be more comforting than words like, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you: I have summoned you by name; you are mine."  While I can only speak for myself, I hope you can sense during difficult times in your life, you also would welcome the message from God that he knows your trouble, he cares, and he claims you as belonging to him.  That is the message God longs for us to grasp in faith, no matter how dismal our situation. It doesn't even matter to him that most of our problems are the result of our own doing. 

While those words from Isaiah 43:1 bring assurance from a God who loves us, verse 2 gives us a glimpse of the great degree of that love.  Spoken in a way that there will be no doubt, God wanted them to know his presence is with them when they pass through the waters.  Further, when they pass through the rivers, they will not be overtaken, and when they walk through the fire, they will not be burned. The flames will not set them on fire. 

Perhaps we can visualize our difficult times, like Israel's, as devastating as passing through rushing water, forging the force of a river swollen out of its banks, or even walking through fire, surrounded by flames that could bring our demise.  God says, these things shall not overtake you. 

The first part of verse 3 was the promise to Israel, and now to us. "For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."  Trust in his promises through all your times of trouble. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

His love endures forever

from Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

As you read these words, do they reflect the positive and enthusiastic response in your life they demonstrate in the life of the original writer?  I like reading positive things, especially when words from the Bible lift me up and allow me to know I can take another step, or move up to a higher level of faithfulness, or even grow spiritually.

Immediately in the first verse I see a discrepancy between the encouragement of the writer and our response.  We don't do much shouting for joy when we gather for worship.  Verse 2 takes us a little closer to our identity because I know there are some who really do worship the Lord with gladness. Still others are obviously not filled with gladness. Ahhh, then verse 3.  We can all come before the Lord with joyful songs.  At least we can have the appearance of participating in joyful singing.

Before you start thinking I am only going to be negative today, I'm simply attempting to start your thinking about worship being more than a weekly or monthly appearance on Sunday morning.  Our presence in the pew doesn't automatically mean we are a true worshiper of God.

Let's read again the 5 verses above, with determination to examine ourselves in the light of our worship experience.  It might even take several more readings for us to grasp the importance of what the psalmist is saying.

I recently picked up a pamphlet which listed some prayers, and one of those prayers was prayed by a man who had just finished a study of these 5 verses from Psalm 100.  Here is his prayer:

Thank you, Father for your infinite goodness to me and to all people.  Thank you for the wonderful way you have so lovingly helped and guided me throughout the years.  In Christ I am one with you and with everyone here on earth and in heaven.  Thank you that as I turn to you, becoming obedient to your will, that I become radiant in your love and that my soul is at peace within me.  Amen.

It's a prayer we can pray when we really learn "The Lord is good and his love endures forever."


Monday, May 18, 2015

The Gloves

Daniel's Gloves (Source unknown.....just sharing it with you.)

I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town-square. The food and the company were both especially good that day.
As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read, 'I will work for food.' My heart sank.
I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief.
We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car.

Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: 'Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square.'
Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the church, going through his sack.
I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.
'Looking for the pastor?' I asked.
'Not really,' he replied, 'just resting.'
'Have you eaten today?'
'Oh, I ate something early this morning.'
'Would you like to have lunch with me?'
'Sure,' he replied with a smile.

As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions. Where you headed?'
St. Louis '
'Where you from?'
'Oh, all over; mostly Florida ..'
'How long you been walking?'
'Fourteen years,' came the reply.

I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, 'Jesus is The Never Ending Story.'
Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences.. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona... He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought.
He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God
'Nothing's been the same since,' he said, 'I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now.'

'Ever think of stopping?' I asked.
'Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads.'
I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: 'What's it like? To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?'
'Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me.'

My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused He turned to me and said, 'Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.'
I felt as if we were on holy ground. 'Could you use another Bible?' I asked.
He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite.. 'I've read through it 14 times,' he said.

'Where are you headed from here?' I asked.
'Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.'
'Are you hoping to hire on there for a while?'
'No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next.'
He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town-square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.

'Would you sign my autograph book?' he asked... 'I like to keep messages from folks I meet.'
I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, 'I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a future and a hope.'
'Thanks, man,' he said. 'I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you.'
'I know,' I said, 'I love you, too.' 'The Lord is good!'
'Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?' I asked.
A long time,' he replied

And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed.. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, 'See you in the New Jerusalem.'
'I'll be there!' was my reply.

He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, 'When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'
'You bet,' I shouted back, 'God bless.'
'God bless.' And that was the last I saw of him.
Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them... a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them.
Then I remembered his words: 'If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'
Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office.. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. 'See you in the New Jerusalem,' he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will...

'I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.'