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Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change

The leaves are falling.  Soon the snow will be flying.  Before long, the grass will shove through the earth and the flowers will blossom.  The heat of summer will emerge, and the fall will be here before we know it.  Seasons make the year interesting.  Just as with the seasons and natural progression of hot and cold that God established, the Christian life and God’s church also goes through changes.

Change is something that human nature is resistant to.  We get comfortable.  We become accustomed.  What is “Normal” is what we have known to this specific point in our lives.  We can arrive at “new normal” when we willingly adjust our expectations.

Change in the Bible is good.  If you are a Christian, the specific moment you trusted Jesus for salvation, a big change took place.  You passed from “death unto life!” In John 5:24 Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Change for the Christian is good. For example: we are to be “transformed” (Changed from the inside out) by the renewing of our minds in Romans 12:1-2.

The Christian is to be continually changing to look more like Jesus.  In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul teaches, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Change is good.  Individual Christians are changing to look more like Jesus.  Churches also go through changes.  One preacher aptly stated: “Churches are always in transition.”  Very true.

A local church cannot remain stagnant.  A church must strive to be vibrant, meeting the edification needs for its members and the evangelism needs of its community.

Here are three areas a church can benefit from change:

  1. A renewed spirit of unity. We are to strive together to fulfill the Great Commission. We are unified by Christ around the Gospel.  Philippians 1:27, commands, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Perhaps this humorous story will help: “Intending to raise cattle, a family from New York bought a ranch out West. When their friends visited and inquired about the ranch’s name, the would be rancher replied: “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one of our sons wanted the Flying-W, and the other liked the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the BAr-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.”

“But where are all your cattle?” the friends asked.

“None survived the branding.””

There are casualties in a church when the members are not united around the main thing. Don’t be distracted in your service to the Lord!  Preferences, nuances, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” And personality issues should not divert your attention.  Keep serving Jesus.  Stay united to the cause of Christ and do not allow side issues to get your eyes off Jesus.

  1. A restored community of trust. Paul’s ministry even encountered seasons of disunity and discouragement.  When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, some of the believers were divided.  Read 1 Corinthians 1 for more details.  Some liked Paul’s preaching, others preferred Apollos (A great orator), and others enjoyed the passion of Peter.  The division was causing problems in the church.

Paul makes a hasty trip to Corinth in between these letters to try to resolve their issues.

Later, in 2 Corinthians, we find Paul sending another letter, not to elevate himself, but to elevate Jesus and help the people start to trust God again.

2 Corinthians 3:1-5 says, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles (letters) of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”

The church belongs to Jesus.  He purchased her with His own blood.  We can trust the church to God.  Jesus can overcome any doctrinal, personal, or preferential problems a church may face.  Paul knew that he was not sufficient to solve the division, but Jesus was (and is) sufficient.   Paul was not boasting in his ability, but in the fact that these Christians had started to yield their sin, personalities, and problems to the Lord and God healed their church.  Jesus said: “I will build my church.”  We can trust Him!

  1. A revived attitude of respect. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 instructs, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”

Pastors are not dictators.  If pastors were dictators, then no church member would ever miss a service, and no one would ever not bring their tithe to church, and members would bring Snickers candy bars to every church function. Lol… if you like.  The role of pastor is that of “Servant – Leader.”  It is an accurate and healthy description.

Pastors are to be gentle shepherds leading and feeding the flock.  Sometimes that includes protecting the sheep from wolves (in sheep’s clothing), false doctrine (bad spiritual food to eat), and dangerous pasture fields (emergent church models).

There should be a mutual respect among the members of a congregation for one another.  Church members should be trusting the deacons.  Church members and deacons should have an attitude of trust with the pastoral staff as well.

One service I was preaching through this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5, and suggested that it helps the pastor of the church when the church members are not fighting or bickering and that when a church was at peace, the true work of the ministry can thrive.  It is a true thought.

A thoughtful man, a genuine student of the Bible, suggested to me that the peace among the members was also connected to their respect or lack of respect for the pastor.  Read that verse again please.

“Esteem” means to “deem, consider, or count.”  A faithful church member must be able to count the pastor as respectful and worthy or he will not be able to learn, grow, or develop in that church.  A result of disrespect is that the pastor is not able to lead as effectively as he should.  Why can he not lead effectively?  Because of the lack of peace.  A pastor constantly putting out fires cannot commit the time called for – for the actual work of the ministry.  It could look like this old saying: “Too many chiefs – not enough Indians.”  Let the pastor be the “Servant – Leader” overseeing the overall work of the church.

These are 3 examples where change is good!  If these areas are lacking – Change!  Change to the glory of God.

  • Are you united with your church family in the purpose of the Gospel?
  • Do you have an attitude of trust for the other members, deacons, and pastoral staff?
  • Is there a mutual respect that you have for the church leadership that creates a peaceful environment?

Change is good.  Christians as well as churches go through “Seasons of change.”  Transitions and changes are sometimes difficult and even turbulent because human nature does not like change; but when we see Jesus – it will be worth it all.  When we make the needed adjustments as individuals and as a church, the Lord is glorified.

And. His. Work. Will. Continue.

 

 

 

 

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The Bodies Were Still Warm

The Bodies Were Still Warm

Blame.  Who is to blame?  500+ people shot, nearly 60 dead. The worst shooting scene in American history.  The dead bodies of the concert goers were still warm when people began to play the “blame game.”

Politicians began to politicize.  The Media began its narrating and spinning. Conspiracy theorist started to make their guesses.

Some blamed Isis.  Others blamed the US Constitution and the Second Amendment.  Still others even went so far as to blame Christians.   Other ideas from “white males” to the President, drugs, and even money were brought up.

What was the shooters motive?  Was there only one shooter?  Is there more to the story? How long did it take to plan for this?  Early news reports are just that – early.

Some commenting on this event are so violent (in their mind) that they even suggested that “white colored, country music fans” deserved to be killed because they were most likely Republican!

Vilifying one another, casting blame, and trying to legislate morality does not actually address the deeper issue here.

Why do bad things like this happen?

Sin is the cause of all heartache, pain, loss, suffering, and death.  Sinful thinking leads to sinful deeds.  Theologians call this “Origional Sin.” That is the problem. All. Problems. Stem. From. Sin.

Proverbs 23:7 teaches: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”  What is in the heart of man is what eventual comes out.

Adam and Even introduced sin into this world.  Mankind is to blame for our own sin.  God is not the originator of sin.  He allows mankind to make choices.  Adam chose rebellion and disobedience. He chose sin.  We have had to live with the consequences since then.

While you may never take another persons’ physical life, Jesus taught that hating people is the same as murdering them.  Read the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters 5-7.  Try, with God’s help, to live that way.

How did we get here?  How is it that new records of evil and atrocities are being recorded in our lifetimes?   Where we live?  How?

Romans 1:21 tells us: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Instead of valuing God, we value money.  Instead of valuing truth, we value what is convenient.  Instead of loving our neighbor, we are loving ourselves… to death.

Examine your heart.  Are you living in spiritual darkness?  Those who commit such acts have been living in darkness for some time.  Come to the light today.  Believe in Jesus.  Become a Christian and then enjoy a daily relationship with Him.  God is love!  He wants us to love one another.

No matter if we ever find the motivation, or if accomplices are ever uncovered, we can know that our fallen sinful nature is blame.

As a whole, these United States are no longer submitting and yielding to Jesus, the author of love and peace.  As a result, we are divided.  People are being unkind to one another. And sadly, more tragedies will unfold.

Pray. Ask the Lord to help us to turn back to Jesus.  Turn to your neighbor with love and kindness. And look for ways to show kindness to your fellow man.

If you have not yet believed in the Gospel, please go to the “How to go to Heaven” section on this site to learn how to be forgiven of your sins and be saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons for a Revival Meeting

Five Reasons For a Revival Meeting

Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Psalm 85:6

We need revival.  Every Christian needs the renewal, refreshment, and revitalization of commitment, perspective, and a deeper fellowship with God. Notice this study from several years ago:

“The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago recently released its finding from the first comprehensive study of spiritual beliefs in the former Soviet Union since the fall of communism. Among the most interesting findings is the large percentage of conversions from atheism. Twenty-two percent of the population at large said they were once atheists but now believe in God. Andrew Greeley, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, wrote a report on the findings and titled it “God Is Alive and Well and Living in Moscow” Greeley said, “It would seem, at least at first glance, to demonstrate that after the most serious attempt to obliterate religion in human history, they are experiencing the most dramatic religious revival in human history.””

The word Revive (Chayah) means to “restore life, make alive.”   Some believers have been saved for a while and have and lost the fire and joy of their salvation. Some go through the motions of Christianity while drying up spiritually inside.  Others do not even go through the motions anymore.

Backsliders today were in need of revival yesterday, but tragically, they neglected it.  That does not have to be the case!  Embrace your life in Christ.  Have hope for a closer walk with God today!

Evangelist and friend, Dr. Rich Flanders identified 4 ideas that hinder Revival in his book “Back to Normal.”   He said:

  1. “Let’s define revival from history.”
  2. “Let’s improve the plan of salvation.”
  3. “Let’s not talk too much about the Holy Spirit.”
  4. “Let’s get in touch with this new generation.”

Those are definite ways to hinder revival and we could do those things purposefully – or accidentally, if we not think about it.

When Paul wrote to the local churches he expressed that, many times he found hope, encouragement, and refreshment in their testimony and steadfastness.  Their walk with Jesus renewed Paul’s joy.  If you are living in revival, you will encourage others too!

2 Corinthians 7:13 says, “Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.”  Again in 2 Timothy 1:16, “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:”

Evangelist Gypsy Smith, was asked what the secret of revival is. He said, “Go home. Take a piece of chalk. Draw a circle around yourself. Then pray, ‘O Lord, revive everything inside this circle.’”  Put yourself in that circle today and ask the Lord for revival in your own heart and life.

King David lost his joy.  Following his selfish sins with Bathsheba, the cover up and murder of Uriah, he confesses to God in Psalm 51:12, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”  If you do not have an inner, long-lasting happiness and satisfaction in Jesus, you can have it restored in your life today – through revival.

Here are 5 areas affected by personal revival…

  1. Your Heart. Ephesians 4:23 speaks, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”

Now, my perception of self-shifts from being selfish to being Biblically accurate.  My emotions are controlled.  I am not easily offended.  Where I may have been depressed, now I am thinking of God and others.  Where I may have been discouraged, I find my self-worth in Jesus.  It could be that I was defiant to rules, authority, or leadership; now I am submissive to the Holy Spirit.  Bitterness is not allowed to take root because I deal with disappointment on a daily basis.  My anger is under the control of God.  My relationship with God is primary, and my relationship with others is prioritized.  Like Mark 12:30 says, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”

2. Your Hope. Philemon 1:20 encourages, “Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.”

Paul anticipated, expected refreshing, and change for better when hearing about Onesimus and Philemon.  We can have the same confident expectation of the Lord.  God can change us!  If we are not willing to admit our sin, wrong thinking, or guilt, then hope for change is diminished.  That is the beauty of confession of sin.  Sin is something that can be repented of and then a change in life and action can take root.

Sin does not need to control you – you have hope for change following confession.   I no longer need to drown in the sea of temptations, the Lord will deliver me.  Revival brings about this hope for change.

Bible hope comes from God.  Observe 2 Thessalonians 2:16, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.”

Our hope is also in Christ.  Our hope is not money, personality, ability, or other men – our hope is found in Jesus Himself.   1 Timothy 1:1 says, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.”

Christians can lose hope from time to time.  We lose hope when we focus on now instead of tomorrow.   Problems can be BIG, but God is BIGGER.  Today may be terrible, but tomorrow is much better!  Don’t let fear, anxiety, and worry define your life.  Look to Jesus. Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

3. Your Help. Psalm 138:7 teaches, Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

God is our help in times of trouble. II Corinthians 4:8-10 says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”  Notice the contrast of terrible situations with the deliverance and helping hand of the Lord in those verses..

When it seems “all hope is lost” find help in Jesus.  Call out to Him.  Pray to God the Father in Jesus’ name.   Help is found in prayer.  Hebrews 4:16 emphatically states, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

4. Your Healing. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a common verse preached concerning revival. Please read it again: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Humility, praying, turning to God and turning from sin are all active parts of repentance and true revival.  We cannot be healed until the need for healing is admitted.  A relationship cannot be restored until a confession of the need of restoration is made.  A marriage cannot be mended until contrition of sin, bitterness, or resentment is expressed.  A renewal of commitment to Bible reading, prayer, church participation, and witnessing cannot be made until a confession of those things being lacking is made.  Simply put- you cannot fix what is not believed to be broken.

Let revival begin the healing process in every part of your life.

5. Your Honor. Romans 8:6-8 admonishes: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

It is possible for a Christian to live like a “dead man” for a short time.  To have a fleshly, or carnal mind is living against God and that brings about death.  Some Christians are decaying from the inside out because they have loved their sin more than Jesus.

In contrast, Life and peace come about from a life yielded to the Holy Spirit.  This is a person who is developing, and growing in the Lord and is “spiritually minded.”

If you find yourself struggling with your flesh, being quick to anger in your heart and mind, or are not able to overcome the temptation to live after your human nature, you need revival.  Come back to the first things that you learned when you were saved.  Determine with God’s help, that the renewed, refreshed life in Jesus is something that you will ask, seek, and find each day.  With all the honor of your being commit to glorify and honor the Lord.

The Wilton Baptist Church covenant is a good summary of the Christian life.  While these expectations are the goals we have committed to, there will be times that we sin, deviate from theses principles or do wrong.  It is not the letter of the law, but the spirit of the life that really counts.  I may not live up to these concepts perfectly, but “I am trying to.”  With God’s grace, have an attitude of “I will do the best I can and when I mess up, I will confess it, seek forgiveness, and keep moving forward for and with Jesus.”

“Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of our Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now, in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.”

“We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to give it a sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origin; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.”

“We also engage to maintain family and private devotions; to Biblically educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred, acquaintances, and all others; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful to our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from worldly amusements; to be free from all oath-bound secret societies and partnerships with unbelievers; to abstain from the use of tobacco in any form, narcotic drugs, or intoxicating drink as a beverage; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.”

“We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy of speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior, to secure reconciliation without delay.”

“We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.”

When the Revival Meetings comes, the tv and media players, and cell phones are turned off, the Bible is opened, and we ask the Spirit of God to work. We put ourselves in a place to allow the Lord to work in our lives.  Time is set aside and specified for a special working of God in our lives.

These are five good reasons to have a revival meeting.  I trust you will pray and plan to be here at Wilton Baptist for our revival meetings. Discover the HOPE and Christian life that God has for you at revival meeting.

Outside of the Apostle Paul and Jesus Himself, some preachers would say that C.H. Spurgeon was the greatest preacher who ever lived.  He said: “A genuine revival without joy in the Lord is as impossible as spring without flowers, or day-dawn without light.”

What a good thought.  Find the joy of your salvation.  Discover the hope that revival brings.  Develop the attitude and mind of Christ that spiritual renewal brings with it.

A Call to Ministry is a Big Deal

A Call to Ministry is a Big Deal

“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?  And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”  1 Kings 19:19-21

Have you ever been to an ordination council?  Have you observed the questions that season pastors and preachers asked the candidate for ordination in the “interrogation?”  It is fascinating and I love being on the ordination councils for these men.  It is a good challenge to read the doctrinal statements and attempt to encourage and add insight to the candidate that will help him in future ministry.  What an honor it is to recognize the calling of God on a man for the ministry.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah runs away to a cave from the hateful Queen Jezebel.  After the Lord meets with Elijah, God encourages him that he is not alone that there are many others who are faithful to serve the Lord.  God then gives Elijah an “assistant prophet” named Elisha.

Elisha comes from a wealthy family with many oxen.  He is a hard worker, plowing in the family fields when Elijah meets him the first time.  From there – Elisha follows and helps Elijah everywhere, “ministering” to him.  I am thankful for the assistants the Lord has given me over the years.  I need help in ministry!

When Elisha is called by God to assist Elijah, he asks if he could go home and explain it to his family.  There are many men in ministry today whose families do not understand.  “How could he leave the business world, his hometown, or the family farm?” are common questions.  Elisha kisses his mother and father goodbye but then he throws a celebration.

Elisha takes 2 oxen, butchers them, then has a gigantic cookout.  I love barbecuing on a grill or over an open flame!  That is what he does.  He cooks the beef and throws a celebration to mark the day he answered the call and entered into ministry.

Whenever a man enters ministry – it is a thing to be commended and celebrated.  I hope that when ordination events are held at your church that you do everything possible to be there and to participate because it is a big deal.

  • It is a big deal to God because a man has willingly answered the call to vocational ministry.
  • It is a big deal to family because a son and a husband is entering into the ministry.
  • It is a big deal for the church because they are ordaining and commissioning a man to the gospel ministry.

It is hard to imagine, but Elisha went on to do even greater things than Elijah. (2 Kings 2:9). It all began when a man answered a call to ministry.  It was recognized by all around him and a feast to mark the special occasion was celebrated by all.

We may have cake and a chicken dinner today.  Whatever is used to mark the occasion – know that it is an occasion worthy of respect, honor, and recognition.

 

 

 

How I Prepare for Attending Church

How I Prepare for Attending Sunday Church

“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” Acts 20:7

It became an every week event.  God’s people would gather in a designated area to hear preaching, pray together, sing to the Lord, and to enjoy encouraging fellowship.  It was every Sunday.

Depending on the church, there would be a pastor such as James preaching. Sometimes it was Paul as he traveled through.  Others rose up as pastors, missionaries and evangelists to declare God’s Word to those who gathered as the “Church.”

Church attendance is something that should be on each Christians weekly agenda.  For Sunday worship to be truly a “day given to the Lord” then a plan of action would help.  Sunday church should be greatly anticipated in our households with pleurae and expectations for God to work in our lives.

The following are methods that I use to prepare and get ready for attending Sunday church services.  They are not “rocket science” but proper preparation does require personal and family discipline.

Here goes:

  1. I do not start major home improvement projects Saturday if they have no definitive stopping point. If in planning it looks like a project will take a lot more time than I hoped or if it would leave the house in conditions that would distract or even prevent the family from being able to easily go to church I will save that part of the project for another day.  If it can be started and finished, or even “paused” by around 2:00 PM then it is a project I may try to tackle.  Projects may take more time, but our children will be less likely to misunderstand our priorities.
  2. I leave a “margin” for time and distance when traveling so that we would arrive home in time on Saturday to set everything back in its place so that Sunday morning preparation is a breeze. Late Saturday night arrives home from long or short trips are avoided.
  3. I check the “weather” ahead of time. Forecasts are educated guesses, but I like an idea as to how I will need to dress.  Hot or cold, rainy or snowy?  It makes a difference in how you prepare for a day.  Check Saturday night if you can.   This helps with planning what to wear.  Selecting the cloths you plan to wear the night before can also be a help. Some people will set them “out” to be easy to find.
  4. I go to sleep early on Saturday night. 9:00 PM is a good time for me.  Perhaps because I am the one preaching.  A low energy guy like me needs good rest to preach.  You and I have both noticed Sunday School teachers that could use more energy Sunday morning.  Even those not preaching or teaching would do well to be well rested so they can be more engaged with the events of the church services. Our children go to sleep earlier than I do.
  5. I like to eat a breakfast with protein, get some “prayer” walking (about a mile) in, and read a chapter or two out of the Bible in addition to a few moments of prayer. Message preparation is at a different time for me.  These are things I do if I am preaching or not preaching in the church services.
  6. I know where my Bible is. Have your Bible ready to go. Your Bible and the Bibles of each family member should have a regular place it is set when not in use.  For me it is on the corner of a kitchen counter top.  Every time.
  7. I leave the TV off. Some of our senior saints enjoy some of the Bible teachers on TV, and that can be good.  I would encourage you to avoid watching cartoons, turning on a movie, or being absorbed by the “news.”  I glance at the major headlines online to ensure I know of any major attacks, events, or trouble that people may ask me about – but Sunday morning is not the time to study the problems of the world on the TV.  There are many online radio stations that offer encouraging, conservative, and worshipful music that may help.  Please see the page of this site about “Christian Radio.”
  8. I do not play video games on Sunday morning. Many teenagers today are “glued” to their phones playing video games.  I encourage each parent to take the phones away or have them turned off.  Some teens play during the ride to church, all during Sunday School, and even the church service.  Sometimes when greeting teens in the pre-service, it is difficult to get their attention to say “hi” because they are so focused on their game.  That is not a good way to be “prepared for meeting with God.”  Parents and adults are just as prone to “zone out” on Facebook.  A distracted heart is not as inclined to “hear” God’s message or as engaged in the church service.
  9. I avoid the rush. That rushed feeling can be avoided if you leave the house at a reasonable time.  If it takes you 20 minutes to drive to church, then leave 30 minutes before.  Even if you live close to the church like I do, add time or “margin” so that you are not rushed.  Kids who are “rushed” to Sunday School and church and still show up late do not receive as much from the lessons because their hearts are racing, they have probably been yelled at by a parent to “move faster” and their mind is not as engaged as it would be if they got there early.  “On time” is really 15 minutes before the service or class begins.  Try that for a while and see how it calms your spirit.
  10. I enjoy a nap Sunday afternoon following our family meal. Sometimes we go out to eat.  We avoid major projects, yard work, and big outdoor activities that could cause a person to not be ready for the Sunday Evening Church services.  We have found it best not to get on a boat or take a hike Sunday afternoon.  Choirs, fellowships and the church services come fast.  Being involved is terrific but it does take effort.

There are so many distractions from giving a day of worship to the Lord.  With a little discipline, we can be ready with hearts prepared to worship Jesus.  With better planning than you do for school and work, you can plan and prepare for making it to church services on time and ready to learn, worship, connect to others and grow. I hope these ideas that have helped me and my family are a blessing to you as you get ready for church this Sunday.

 

Snow Day Scriptures

Snow Day Scripture Verses

Here are all the direct references to “Snow” in the Bible.  You could have your own “Snow Day” Bible Study with this…

Exodus 4:6 And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand [was] leprous as snow.
Numbers 12:10 ¶ And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam [became leprous], [white] as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, [she was] leprous.
2 Samuel 23:20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:
2 Kings 5:27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper [as white] as snow.
Job 6:16 Which are blackish by reason of the ice, [and] wherein the snow is hid:
Job 9:30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
Job 24:19 Drought and heat consume the snow waters: [so doth] the grave [those which] have sinned.
Job 37:6 ¶ For he saith to the snow, Be thou [on] the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.
Job 38:22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,
Psalm 51:7 ¶ Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 68:14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was [white] as snow in Salmon.
Psalm 147:16 He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.
Psalm 148:8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
Proverbs 25:13 ¶ As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, [so is] a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
Proverbs 26:1 ¶ As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
Proverb 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household [are] clothed with scarlet.
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
Jeremiah 18:14 Will [a man] leave the snow of Lebanon [which cometh] from the rock of the field? [or] shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? {the snow…: or, my fields for a rock, or for the snow of Lebanon? shall the running waters be forsaken for the strange cold waters?}
Lamentations 4:7 Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing [was] of sapphire:
Daniel 7:9 ¶ I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment [was] white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne [was like] the fiery flame, [and] his wheels [as] burning fire.

Matthew 28:3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
Mark 9:3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.
Revelation 1:14 His head and [his] hairs [were] white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes [were] as a flame of fire;

Remember when it snows outside:

  1. Each snow flake is unique and you too are unique and special to God.
  2. Snow is cleansing and causes the air to be clear of many allergens and molds.  Snow should remind us of the cleansing blood of Jesus and how a person who is saved by Jesus is washed “Wither than snow” cleansed from his sin.

Stay safe in the snow today!

 

 

 

 

Be Like Zach

Be Like Zach

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Remember the days when people would say: “Be like Mike.”  On the basketball court, winning and work ethic could be found in Michael Jordan.  Kids would wear his shoes, shoot the ball like him, dress like him, and even walk like him.  I still like to see the shoulder shrug a player emulates on the basketball court after a made shot.

There is a man in the Bible named Zacchaeus, or Zach that can be a help to us today.  With many people searching for meaning and purpose, we can learn from his story the reality we are living in.

Zaccheus was loaded.  He had a large house.  He had the best the day in age he lived had to offer.  He was one of the richest people in his hometown.  His wealth was gotten through hard work, deceit, and a driven personality.

Throughout his whole life, he set out to prove his worth.  Being a man short in stature, he probably felt that if he became a big man in material things, then people would see him as a big man.

No- one likes to be the kid picked on because of size, weight, height, ability, smarts, or lack of athleticism.  Zaccheus was that boy who became an “overachiever” to try to make up for his being shorter than most of the other boys.  For him, he thought, becoming rich was the thing that could help him most.

Zaccheus lived in a place called Jericho.  Hundreds of years before, Jericho was a Canaanite stronghold.  If you read Joshua Chapter 6 you will discover how the Lord knocked the seemingly impenetrable walls down for His people to go in to possess their Promised Land.  During the time of Christ, the city of Jericho was built a short distance away from those ruins of Joshua’s day.

Zaccheus is a big man in Jericho.  He is known to be ruthless, rich, and even as a traitor.  “Publicans” in the Bible is not short for a political party – it is term for the Tax Collectors from the Roman Empire.  Most of the Jewish people saw Zaccheus as a traitor for he worked for the Roman government who controlled Israel.  In addition, the tax collectors were notorious for overcharging the tax rate.  For example, if 80 denari was due, they would charge 100 and keep the rest for themselves.  People did not like the tax collectors because of this. Zach was symbolic of the men who got rich off the backs of their own countrymen.

One day, a Person Who had a large following of people passed through Jericho.  Zaccheus was one to “keep his ears to the ground.”  As the “Chief” publican, he had many people working for him and he enjoyed hearing news of people’s successes so he would know when to increase their taxes.  It was Jesus who was passing through the city, teaching and helping people.

Zaccheus had a big problem however.  Like the Bible teaches, “worry” cannot add to our stature, or make us taller or healthier, riches cannot buy inches or good health either (Matthew 6:27).  Zach could not see.  He was too short and the large crowd was too tall.

Zach runs ahead in the direction he sees Jesus walking.  He climbs up a sycamore tree and peers down to Jesus as He walks in his direction.  Jesus looks up and tells Zaccheus to “Come down.”  Jesus then says he wants to “abide” or spend some time at Zaccheus’s house.

His house was probably one of the larger, nicer houses in Jericho.  The people however were upset that Jesus would sit down to eat dinner and spend some time in the house of a “sinner.”

The truth is – all humans are sinners – not just cheats and thiefs.  Romans 3:23 informs: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 continues, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  We need the gift of eternal life.

As Jesus talks with Zach, he explains the purpose of His mission.  Jesus lets everyone know the purpose for his trip to Earth and His reason for coming into this world.  “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Jesus came to earth to find people who were “lost” in their sin.  Zaccheus was rich and powerful, but he was spiritually lost.  There are others who are religious and educated, but lost.  There are others still who are poor or not healthy, and are lost too.

The human condition is a “lost” condition without Jesus.  The first and greatest missionary was Jesus.  He came to earth on a mission of mercy, love and grace.

  • Mercy so we do not get what we deserve – Hell.
  • Grace so we can get what we do not deserve – Heaven.
  • And Love because He values and cherishes us more than new could ever fully understand. Love is a choice. Romans 5:8 teaches, “But God commendeth (proved) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Our value as humans does not come from financial status, our last names, the location we live, the job or title we hold, or the abilities we have acquired.  Our value and worth comes from God.  God loves us.  He loves you!  God created you.  He made you and has given you life and opportunity.  Don’t be like Zach in trying to find value in all the wrong places.  Be like Zach when he invited Jesus into his heart and life.

Zaccheus was a changed man.  Jesus said “This day is salvation come to this house.”  When a person is “born again” he has a new life in Christ things are different than before. Love, purpose, and priorities all shift to more meaningful things. Zach paid back 4 times over the money he had stolen.  He started to conduct his life and work in a responsible, loving way. He had eternal life and he now knew that his value was found in God and his value was from God, not his money, stature, house, location, or the job he held.

Three truths to take away:

  1. Know your value comes from God – not your circumstances.
  2. Embrace Jesus, the only Way to Heaven. Trust His work on the Cross and believe in His resurrection.
  3. Serve in the ministry. Missions work and Gospel work is the work of the Christian.  Tell someone about Jesus.  Participate in your church missions program.  Pray for missionaries to go – then help them get there following the footsteps of Jesus.