Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SATISFACTION





Back in the 60's one of the big hit songs was, "I can’t get no satisfaction," by the group called "The Rolling Stones". It spoke to the constant battle and failure in life to find satisfaction by doing what society expects you to do. Many of us "baby boomers" grew up listening to this music. Many embraced the philosophy of rejecting social norms or socially accepted concepts of right behavior. Today we live in a world where the accepted thing is to just "do your own thing," or "just do whatever makes you happy".

Sadly, this idea has penetrated the minds of many of those who are trying to "find God" or "worship God in their own way". The problem is that though our society may have been bent enough to allow folks to do pretty much whatever they want and still be accepted, God doesn't.

You might be inclined to ask, "What gives you the right to make such a statement?" "Who made you the judge of the world?" My answer is that no one made me the judge of you, it always has been and always will be God that judges. Jesus himself said, (if you accept Jesus as authority in religious matters), in John 12:47-52, "If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." (NIV)

You see somewhere in life many have been convinced that "as long as you love God, you can pretty much do whatever you want and still be acceptable to him". Yet, Jesus said, "If you don't do what I have said you will be condemned". The apostle John shared these words with us in 1 John 5:3, "Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome".


So, are you looking for satisfaction? Have you tried looking more closely at what God asks of you? Read the Psalms and see what the writers equate with joy and happiness. You'll find it is having a real relationship with God, not just a nodding acquaintance.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What About The Future?


I don't know about you, but I sometimes get concerned about the future. I don't know if I actually worry about it, but sometimes it is close to that. I am concerned about the state of our world; I am concerned about the financial condition of our country; I am concerned about what the government will or won't do to the stability of our country; I am concerned about what kind of world our children and grandchildren will have to live in; I am concerned with how things will turn out in our lives as we grow older.

Again, I am concerned, but don't worry about it. Every day, just as perhaps you do, I strive to turn my future over to God. Sometimes I successful, sometimes I'm not.

I recently read a quote from Corrie Ten Boom that said, "Never be afraid to trust the future you don't know, to a God you do know". I don't know about you, but from time to time I need to be reminded of that fact! Don't most of the issues in our lives have a direct relationship to our reliance upon God or our relationship to him? Who is it we turn to in times of trouble, is it our friends and family, our co-workers, or do we first think of God. Your answer to that question may explain your success or failure in some of your struggles.

I am endeavoring every day to rely more upon God regarding my future. Shouldn't we really be able to trust the future to our God we know? In the scripture we read: "God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5) So, if we know this promise and know the one who made the promise, how can we not trust our future to his hands? David said of God in Psalm 31:15, "My future is in Your hands".


We have read the words, we know the promise; we know the one who made the promise, now it is time for us to live like we believe the promise. Stop worrying about that which you can't change or can't direct yourself and turn it over to God.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Politics and Religion


(Houston, TX, October 2014) "The battle over a controversial equal rights ordinance is heating up in Houston, Texas, with revelations that the city has subpoenaed church sermons, among other documentation, from five local faith leaders.

Officials have requested that these preachers deliver communications that have focused on homosexuality or the contentious equal rights ordinance, which these individuals have fervently opposed.

The subpoenas, which were issued last month, seek, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession,” according to the Houston Chronicle." (Theblaze.com)

This is Satan continuing to chip away at our Christian Freedoms. Just a couple of years ago I urged the members of our church to contact the leaders in government regarding the "Hate Speech" bill that was being proposed. This bill was passed and can be used against ministers who choose to speak out against the sins of our nation practiced by many. Sadly; many in world and our churches ridiculed the idea as foolish to think that the government would try to hinder what teaching takes place in our churches. They were wrong! I believe the following quote describes the problem well:

"Our society is still trying to answer the question, do politics and religion mix? The first amendment of the United States Constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof." What the first amendment is saying is that government should stay out of religion, but religious people can exercise their faith in the influence of public policy.

Over the past fifty years, lawmakers have misinterpreted the Constitution. We've majored in the first part of the amendment while abandoning the second part, and in doing so, we have disenfranchised the gospel, politically, socially, judicially, and culturally. Like a sponge with the water squeezed out, ours is a society with Jesus squeezed out, and we are living in a fifty-year experiment of building a nation without God. No prayer. No Ten Commandments. No sermon at graduation. No Sabbath. No respect for marriage.

Those things may be contributing to factors to some of today's problems: We have massive teen drug abuse, school shooting sprees, and an adolescent suicide rate up 350 percent since 1960. It's time to ask, cannot politics and religion mix?" (Stephen M. Crotts)

It's time that we understand the importance of God's Word once again. It's time for us to stand and be counted and call into account those who govern us. Jesus said this in John 12:47-50   "If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."





Wednesday, October 8, 2014

THE BLOOD MOON AND THE CURMUDGEON



 
Last night we had a total Lunar eclipse which is a wonderful event to behold, however in our area it was visible at 4 O'clock in the morning. There has been some discussion about the event being "a sign from God," which I think shows a great lack of understanding for biblical prophecy and events. So, No I definitely don't think it was a sign from God, other that to show how wonderful the universe he created works.

Now my wife is into those kinds of events and enjoys them more that I. She talked about getting up to watch the Lunar Eclipse and I told her, "Well, don't wake me; I'm going to be a bit of a Curmudgeon about it."

Now the dictionary defines "Curmudgeon," as a person (especially an old man) who is easily annoyed, sometimes easily angered and who often complains or grumbles." I don't know if I fit into all of those areas of description, but if you wake me up at 4 A.M. I do tend to be a bit annoyed and grumble about it. The funny thing is; that I'm often up at 4 A.M. working in my office, but if I happen to be asleep I like to stay that way.

As things would happen, I woke up at 3:50 A.M. and thought seriously about trying to go back to sleep. I know that once I wake up, it is very difficult for me to shut down my brain and go back to sleep. However, I also thought about how happy seeing these events makes my wife of 47 years (who just happened to be sound asleep). I thought you have a choice; you can be a curmudgeon or be a blessing to her. So, as gently as I could, woke her up and asked if she would like to go out and look at the moon with me.

We pulled on some warm clothes and went out and stood in our front yard watching the moon and as we watched we saw a shooting star flash across the sky in front of the moon (another one of her favorite things). We watched for a few minutes and went in, hugged and kissed and she went to bed and I went to my office.

OK, what's my point? It is that we have a choice in how we act and how we relate to other people. After 47 years we still do the things Newly Weds do. We hold hands, hug and kiss often, fix one another's tea and coffee, massage sore muscles, go shopping for cloths together and in general do the things that love demands… even getting up at 4 O'clock in the morning to watch the moon.

Notice this interesting modern translation of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, "Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride; Love's ways are ever fair, it takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no account of evil; It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true; Love has the power of undergoing all things, having faith in all things, hoping all things." (BBE)

How about you, have you been a bit of a curmudgeon lately? Maybe it's time to turn things around and remember what love is all about

Thursday, June 19, 2014

LIFE IS SOMETIMES DIFFICULT




 

How much do you trust God? I really mean this, how much do you trust God? Do you believe that he cares for you? Do you believe that no matter what happens in your life that he is right there beside you? Do you believe that if you live faithfully he will someday take you home to heaven? As Christians we must believe these things, because that is the hope we have in life; that is what our faith is about!

 

Philip Yancey, in his book REACHING FOR THE INVISIBLE GOD, tells of his father‑in‑law, a Bible teacher and committed Christian. The older man’s faith troubled him in his final years. A degenerative nerve disease confined him to bed, preventing him from sharing in most of the activities he enjoyed. In addition to his own illness, his daughter battled a debilitating form of diabetes.

 

During the most severe crisis, he composed a Christmas letter and mailed it to family members and friends. He expressed his uneasy feelings about many things he had once taught. What could he believe with certainty? The old Bible teacher staked his faith on three realities. Here is his list: “(1) Life is difficult, (2) God is merciful, (3) Heaven is sure.”

 

Is life difficult? Yes! It is rarely any other way, but God's word assures us that we have a loving God who is merciful to his children and that the promise of heaven is sure. We believe it, because he said.

 

Jesus encouraged his disciples with these words found in John 14:1-3: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

 

Has that promise ever changed? No, God's promise to us remains the same no matter what difficulties come into our lives. The writer of Hebrews encourages us with these words. "Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Hebrews 6:17-19).

 

What is the anchor for your soul during difficult times, what is your hope? It must be the "unchangeable" promises of God, because those are the only ones that really last!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What do you do with Father's Day?


Father's Day is traditionally a day on which we recognize the efforts of our fathers to provide for and care for their families. Many make this a special day with a special breakfast, phone calls to those who are separated by miles or visits if you are near. Perhaps taking them out to eat and even gifts to recognize them. That's great and I am thrilled that so many are able to do that, it is as it should be. Deuteronomy 5:16  told the Israelites (and the example travels on to us) "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

 

There are inherent in this day some problems, the first of which is that there are those of us whose fathers have passed from this life and we can no longer let them know how much they were appreciated. That brings with it another set of problems, as we sometimes get buried under a load of guilt called, "I wish I had". "I wish I had been a better son/daughter". "I wish I had told them…" We can honor them by simply remembering them and living a life that would show honor in our own lives.

 

Then there are some whose fathers are abusive, non-caring, unloving or have even deserted their families. It's hard to show love to someone like that. How do you love the unlovable?

 

And then there are some who never knew their father at all, perhaps they died or departed or refused to accept the responsibility for them before they were ever born. That brings about a position of choosing in our lives. Choosing whether to love them (or at least not hate them). The Greek word used most in the scripture for love is "agape" which literally means to desire the best for someone. It doesn't have the meaning of embracing or even desiring to be with someone, but to truly hope that all things work out to their good, which of course would be for them to have their life right with God, no matter what their situation.

 

So, sometimes even our fathers are unlovable, they are not perfect, in fact sometimes they mess up big time and then what are we to do? Maybe we should ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?" You see, God loves the unlovable; ("But God has made clear his love to us, in that, when we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us." Romans 5:8  BBE) Would you think then that he would expect you and I to do anything less, not just on Father's Day, but all days.

 

Whatever your situation, I pray that you will honor your father while you have him with you. If you can't do that, then love them with a love that hopes for the best for them in their relationship to God.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dealing with stress




 

In 1999, 36 year old Akira Hareuya filed bankruptcy for his electrical contracting business. He immediately bought a pair of boxing gloves and went out on to the streets of Tokyo with a plan. He knew that there were lots of very stressed people on the streets of Tokyo so for $9 a minute he would allow people to punch him. To further deal with their stress they could yell at him as they punched him. The report said he made about $200 per day doing this.

 

Have you ever had to deal with stress? It's a reality of life isn't it, everyone has some kind of stress about something. How about you, how do you deal with your stress? Some folks seem to do just fine; they let the stress that enters their lives just roll over them, not seeming to affect them at all. But, then there is the rest of us who don't cope quite as well sometimes. Actually, I've found that how I deal with stress varies quite a bit and is sometimes even coupled with my physical condition. If I am not feeling well, then things seem to bother me that at other times would be no problem at all.

 

I think the same principle can be applied to us on a spiritual level also. If we are strong spiritually then we are not nearly as stressed as when we struggle spiritually. Have you ever been to a meeting of your church family or maybe a special meeting where lots of folks attended where you were especially uplifted? Maybe you came away feeling that you could handle almost anything that the world threw at you; depression wasn't an issue, because you were so high on spiritual adrenalin.

 

Now we know that God's word encourages us to meet with other Christians and that we are to encourage each other at all times. Why is it then, that when we are stressed, depressed and discouraged, that we stay away from church meetings and other Christians? In my experience it is because others seem so perfect, so godly; so spiritual, that it makes us feel even worse about ourselves. Now if that is true, then we have a real problem with our perceptions of others, because I have yet to meet anyone who is not struggling with something; we just are not aware of it. Paul writes in Romans 3:23, "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard."

 

What about getting rid of stress, how do we do it? Well, personally I'm still working on that, but I have a direction to go in my life. Paul writes in Philippians 4:6-7, "Don't worry about anything. Instead, tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to him. Then God's peace will watch over your hearts and your minds because you belong to Christ Jesus." (NIrV) I'm working on bringing more of God into my life all of the time through study, prayer and association with others of like mind. What about you, do you have a plan?