Tag Archives: cold

An Open Door

An Open Door

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;  I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.  Revelation 3:7-8

Today as I type this post, the temperature is negative 8.  That is right -8.  Frigid!  Opening the doors for people as they came in today, I opened and shut the door very fast in an attempt to keep some cold air out and some warm air in!

I don’t think I was too successful.

The Lord Jesus is speaking of an open door He gave to the church in the Greek city of Philadelphia in the verses above.   Chapters 2-3 of Revelation are describing the “church age” in which we live.  Each of the 7 churches listed were real places with real people and are also “types” of churches that are found in the church age.  In other words, every Biblical church today is in some way like one of these 7 churches.

As Jesus gives His message to the church of brotherly love, he tells them that He is giving them an open door.  Jesus is holding a door open for them to freely move in and out of and to freely bring other people through as well.  With the Philadelphia church being very weak, they are not able to hold the door open.  It is only a door that Jesus can open.  They do not have political clout or economic power, but they have a responsibility to go through the door and take others with them.

Many Bible students believe this is an open door through which to deliver the Gospel to this lost and dying world.  God is giving His church the opportunity to freely distribute the Word of God and Gospel message.  While the church is diminished in society today and even with the political climate growing in angst against anything Christian, it is the Lord Who is holding open the door for Gospel witness.

Have you noticed how spiritually cold our society has become?  Even this week, the Governor of Virginia is talking about delivering a newborn and then killing it as “OK” in his book.  This following the Governor of New York pushing his love of abortion right up until birth.  We live in a cold, cold climate, not just in atmospheric temperature, but in spiritual temperature.  We cannot hold the door open for people, but thank the Lord, Jesus is holding it open for us!  In addition, as fast as many non-Christians would be to close the door, slamming it shut, it is something that they cannot do.  Only God can open or close it.  That is good news.  We have as much time to witness as God will give to us, but we don’t know how much time that is. Historically in the Bible, the Lord opens and closes doors based on the people’s response to Him.

Today, take a moment and pray for a friend that you can bring to church this Sunday.

Would you invite them to sit with you at church this Sunday?

The door may not be open much longer.

Go through the door with another person while you can.

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The Many Benefits of SNOW!

“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”  Wow, with another blizzard type storm pouring snowflakes all around us, I thought it would be fitting to highlight some of the many benefits of snow.

We love the snow.  If is is going to be cold, we might as well have snow!  Here is a short list of the physical benefits of snow:

  1. Snow helps with lessening the amount of molds and pollen in the air.  Our allergy doctor is faithful to assess the amount of snow and how it has impacted seasonal allergies each year.  The more snow, the less seasonal allergic reactions for many people in the Spring.
  2. Snow helps insulate the ground.  Have you ever built an igloo?  One of my favorite things to do as a boy was to build snow forts and “igloos.”  The snow packed structures I built were always warmer inside than outside.  In fact, without snow on the ground, when the temperatures reach below zero, your water pipes are more likely to freeze.  The snow acts as insulation for the ground.  We let our plants and bushes get covered in snow (as long as it is not too heavy to break the plant) because it shields the plant or bush from the extreme cold and wind.
  3. Snow helps the water table.  People who use wells for water understand this.  A good snow fall will slowly be matriculated into the reservoirs of water under the ground.  In Winter seasons where there is not much snow and more rain, the water tables are not restored as effectively because rain in the Winter runs off the cold ground too fast and is not soaked up into the ground soil as well.
  4. Snow changes the pace of life.  Getting “snowed in” causes everyone slow down their pace of life and even stop for a moment or two.  “Pace” is an area I hope to share in another post one day.  With normal schedules adjusted or canceled for snow, it creates a new, temporary space of quiet time and rest that many do not normally factor into their hectic schedule.
  5. Snow is beautiful to watch fall.  We enjoy looking out of windows and seeing the beauty of the snowflakes falling to earth.  In addition, with the right temperatures some snows cling to the trees in such a spectacular fashion creating a “winter wonderland.”
  6. Snow can be utilized to develop a good work ethic in your kids.  When I was a teen and the snow fell, dad sent us out to shovel driveways and sidewalks for our neighbors.  We did not ask if they needed help, we just did it.  This work developed character, made friends of neighbors in the community, and was good exercise.
  7. Snow can be lots of fun.  Snow tubing, sledding, skiing and other winter sports are terrific fun and good exercise.  We normally make some time to go sledding with the kids.  The Wilton Baptist Church front hillside offers a terrific sledding slope.

There are also spiritual benefits of snow.  While the Bible uses the term “snow” 24 times, we will look at just a few here.  Besides with all the snow on the ground, I figured you would have a few extra minutes to read this.  So here are the spiritual benefits:

  • Snow reveals to us that God is in control.
    • The Lord stores up or treasures the snow:  Job 38:22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail…
    • The snow is part of God fulfilling His will on the earth. Psalm 148:8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word…
  • Snow reminds us of God’s deliverance.
    • When the nation of Israel conquered the Promise Land, it was not so much their ability and power, but the power of God.  He delivered them and the enemies were scattered like the wind blowing the snow in a snow storm. Psalm 68:14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon. 
    • In the next snowfall, let it remind you of how the Lord has delivered you.
  • Snow reasons to us God’s common sense.
    • It makes sense that when it snows, it is cold outside.  The snow refreshes the earth at the end of the ground season.  Just like the snow is refreshing, a faithful messenger is also refreshing.  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.
    • Snow is the summer does not make much sense.  That makes about as much sense as giving honor and prestige to a fool.  Just looking at the people who are famous today it is apparent this common sense has not been followed for a while.  Proverbs 26:1  As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
    • Let the snow encourage you to have God’s “common sense” for today.
  • Snow resounds God’s plan for you to “be prepared.”
    • The Proverbs 31 woman is not afraid of the snow.  She is prepared for it.  Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
    • She “readied” herself and her household – before the snow.  Having extra fuel, food, and water on hand are good ideas.  The snowblower, shovels, and salt should all be ready ahead of time.
    • The Lord does want us to be aware and prepared for the seasons.  This is also true of the everyday Christian life.  We need to be alert in every season of life.
  • Snow reiterates the forgiveness God has given you.   I love these two verses:
    • When David confessed his sin, God cleaned his life.  Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
    • Then the Lord reveals how that when He forgives, our lives are viewed by the Lord as being “white as snow.”  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.
    • If you are a Christian, the Lord has forgiven your sin and you have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  The purity and cleanness of fresh snow should reiterate in our hearts what God has done in cleansing the sin in our life.  He made you acceptable for Heaven.  Not by your own works but by the work of Jesus on the Cross.  Let the snow remind you of this amazing truth.

So, if you are “snowed in” today, stay warm, stay safe, and stay encouraged in the Lord.  Full disclosure: I really do not like traveling in the snow, especially long trips while it is still coming down.  It is a good time to stay home!  There are many benefits to snow.  Instead of complaining or having a bad attitude, be thankful.  Snow is a wonderful thing that God has given to you today.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

For the Minus 25 Days

For the Minus 25 Days

Today as we prepared for this work / school day, the temperature outside was well below 0.  In fact the “feel” temperature, factoring in the wind, was a brutal minus 25.  The Lord sends the seasons, and cold is included.  Some schools close because they do not want their students waiting outside for the school bus.  Going to school or work is not the issue; it is waiting outside that can be harmful.  No matter where you live, it is good to have a plan for dealing with the sub-zero temperatures.  At minus 25, exposed skin can become frostbitten in 20 to 30 minutes.  We must still go to work or school; and do not want to miss worshiping the Lord at church.

Peter was warming himself by a fire of coals in John 18:18 which says: “And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.”  He was trailing Jesus and following the Lord as He was being “tried” just before going to the cross.  Coals and building spontaneous fires may not work in our society today, but there are a few ways we can ensure warmth.  Even though Peter is about to deny Christ, he is following the Lord on a cold night.  We want to follow Jesus too.  Cold weather does not have to stop us.

Here are some ideas to help stay warm and safe on minus 25 days:

  1. Bundle up. 3 layers (tops and bottoms) can really help a person stay warm.  This is clothing that can remain on you, even while in the building at school or work.  The extra warm socks are great on days like this.
  2. Dry your hair.  Allow to “air dry” or use a hair dryer.  No one should go out with wet or even damp hair.
  3. Wear a winter coat.
  4. Wear gloves. There are many different levels of insulation available in gloves today.
  5. Wear a scarf. Scars are helpful for children too.  On days like this, we cover our faces(mouth and nose) with scarfs.
  6. Wear a hat. Much heat escapes through the top of the head.  A hat is a great way to keep the body temperature up.
  7. Wear earmuffs. Sometimes the ears need extra protection.  Scarfs can also be used for the ears.
  8. Plan ahead. Putting all of the above clothing on, and wearing the extra layers will take additional time in preparation, and even assimilation after you arrive at your destination.
  9. Warm up the car. Give at least 10 minutes head start to your car to warm before you venture out.
  10. Have “HotHands” hand warmers in your car. These are handy warmers in a small package that can really help.  We carry these in the event that our car is in an accident or will not start.
  11. Have blankets in the car. These would come in handy in the event of an accident or the car not starting while out.
  12. Stay hydrated. Be sure to have taken in plenty of fluids before venturing outdoors.  Keeping the “insides” of your body functioning can help you stay warm.
  13. Walk fast. Moving from the vehicle to the building you are entering should not take a lot of time.  Move fast, but safely, considering the possibility of ice or snow on the ground.
  14. Use lotion. Our hands can use the extra protection hand lotion provides.  Even face creams can help our faces and necks against the coldness.   If going to be out for an extended time (not recommended) use sunscreen.

Perhaps you know of other ways to plan for the bitterly cold days.  Always take into account your current state of health and the doctors’ orders if you are sick.  If you know your car will not start or is having battery issues, correct those issues before traveling.   In a normal circumstance, we should plan ahead and continue to serve the Lord in spite of the cold.  We can still follow Jesus.