Archive for May, 2011

The Green Eyed Monster

05/31/2011

Thursday’s post about David was “coincidentally” a perfect example of what has recently happened to a friend of mine in the workplace. If you missed that post you can view it HERE. For those that did, a quick recap: King Saul becomes jealous of the admiration that his people had for one of his soldiers: David. Saul sends soldiers, formerly David’s comrades, to kill him. David cried out to God for help, and received deliverance, going on to become one of the greatest kings of all time.

This story reminds me of another recent post about Jonah. God gave Jonah instructions on witnessing to the archenemies of the Jews, the people of Nineveh. Jonah however, didn’t want to share his people’s blessings with the gentiles. Calling someone a “hater” is not something I generally do, but it is a modern term for people who dislike you, and take every chance they get to run you down. Being a “hater” is an act of jealousy. Those people don’t hate you, they hate the blessings, the “good stuff” that you have, simply because they don’t have it.

So early in his story, Jonah would have been a hater. Saul, also was a hater. You have haters, everyone does even if they don’t know it. The Bible is an endless tale of haters. Jesus certainly had them, they killed him. The prophets of old had them, they were killed by them. For a more recent example, think about someone like Dr/Rev Martin Luther King Jr. King was assassinated by a man who did not want to share the same freedoms with black people that he and his “people” had. You can read up on “apartheid” in South Africa too.

My friend, at his job, was once a normal employee like 90% of the work force there. Once he earned himself a better position, a couple of his friends, who he had been friends with years, became jealous because he did not necessarily have to “go with the flow” like they do. He was on a different playing field with regards to management. I could list several from what he has told me, and I have seen or heard first hand. God instructs us to “love our neighbors” regardless of the covetous feelings that we have in our hearts. God also instructs us to do whatever it takes to avoid having and allowing those same feelings to influence us.

David cried out to God. He cried out that he had done nothing wrong yet his former brothers were out to harm him. In today’s world, rarely to people put a prize on somebody’s head like they did back then. Instead it turns to gossip, rudeness, ignoring one another, being envious to the point of real hatred even. Have we as a people not learned anything from King Saul, Jonah, and the Pharisees? Jealousy will bury you. It is a cancer that can literally eat you alive. Today I encourage you to think hard about who you are a little jealous of, what relationships you may still be able to salvage over your own feelings or those of others toward you. We are called to be a people of GRACE, not ENVY.

I don’t really see myself as a jealous person. There are a few blessings that others have that, yes, I wish I did. But I know that I serve a mighty God who has me where he wants me, and is making all things work together for my good.

God Bless,

Chris

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Deborah (conclusion)

05/27/2011
Gustave Dore's interpretation of the prophetes...

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(Today’s Bible study is brought to you by my dear friend Amy. It is on one of the most influential women in the history of all creation, and very well written I might add. For you men that may fear this post wouldn’t apply to your lives being that it is by and about a woman, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is a great tale of how God can use anyone from any background at any time to suit His purposes…..Enjoy & God bless,    Chris)

 Deborah was also very righteous, she was known for her sound mindedness, her sense of Decency, order, and justice. Notice when she held court it was under a palm tree out in the open. Back in those days a women did not sit alone in a house with a man that wasn’t her husband, father or brother. Another thing to take note of, the people came to her; She had to be anointed by God, back in those times, because women only had the rights their men folk gave them and in the Jewish laws they had very little rights as well. Her husband, “Lappidoth,” was only mentioned once. Most great women in the bible are related to great men, Deborah stood on her own merits or virtues, because she was very careful to only voice God’s will, and not her own. 
                      
Deborah was a woman of great faith. She had to be, to take the vision God gave her to General Barak. When she did as instructed she fully expected Barak to assemble his troops and head out. Shockingly he said to Deborah, not without you. Obediently she said ok, but God wants you to know HE will use a woman (Deborah) to defeat Sisera.  There should be no doubt that God will use us in big ways if we stand in total faith & obedience, in spite of what godly men wish or think. He did it then; I have no doubt, God will do it now.
 
Deborah stood for courage in a time of fear. She stood for Godly wisdom in a time of human reasoning, when “every man(men & women) did what was right in his own eyes.” Deborah in the Bible is a wonderful inspiration to us. Because we are women, we are not a lesser person in the eyes of God. As Godly women we must rule the sphere that God puts us in with total trust in Him. We may be single, married, mothers, professionals, grandmothers, retirees, and much more, but first and foremost, we must be Godly women, totally trusting in Christ as our Lord and Savior. Our faithfulness should be evident in whatever we do. As we are faithful, God is most faithful to pave the way. I see this played out more and more as I am Faithful to minister where God takes me. Thank You My Heavenly Father, for paving the way. I say this to the ladies; we all have a purpose in God’s kingdom to fulfill, walk on water, answer the call, don’t look down or back, let JESUS be your standard of truth.
                                                     
May God bless you all with GREAT faith! 
                                                                                                                                                       Hope

Deborah

05/26/2011
Deborah was a prophetess and the fourth, and t...

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(Today’s Bible study is brought to you by my dear friend Amy. It is on one of the most influential women in the history of all creation, and very well written I might add. For you men that may fear this post wouldn’t apply to your lives being that it is by and about a woman, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is a great tale of how God can use anyone from any background at any time to suit His purposes…..Enjoy & God bless,    Chris)

Hello everyone, I ended up writing on Deborah this week because last Monday I taught the ladies bible study. This Godly woman really impressed & inspired me. The interesting thing to me about this is I didn’t choose to teach on Deborah. Funny enough she was chosen for me.  The reason I find this ironic is because, I was prophesized over twice, by two prophets. The first time I was told God is going to make me into a warrior (at the time, I had no idea what that meant), the second time, simply put, they started to pray, then stopped and in shock they stated, “You are a prayer warrior.” At this point I knew it, but at the same time I was still a little doubtful, yet God confirmed it. In learning and reading about Deborah, God confirmed I’m fulfilling the purpose HE has put before me.  Recently I & 2 others started an online prayer & spiritual guidance ministry. At first it was quite busy, and now it has slowed a little. I started thinking maybe I was wrong or that I needed to find a way to promote our ministry. I discovered through Deborah, if God places you somewhere to fulfill a purpose, HE is so good that He alone will promote you. So read on about how God truly will use a woman of GOD and pave the way.
                                     

The people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help. King Jabin had 900 chariots made of iron and had cruelly oppressed Israel for 20 years.  Deborah, wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet. She was the judge in Israel at that time.   She used to sit under the Palm Tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. The people of Israel would come to her for legal decisions.   Deborah summoned Barak, son of Abinoam, from Kedesh in Naphtali. She told him, “The LORD God of Israel has given you this order: ‘Gather troops on Mount Tabor. Take 10,000 men from Naphtali and Zebulun with you.   I will lead Sisera (the commander of Jabin’s army), his chariots, and troops to you at the Kishon River. I will hand him over to you.'” Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I’ll go. But if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”  Deborah replied, “Certainly, I’ll go with you. But you won’t win any honors for the way you’re going about this, because the LORD will use a woman to defeat Sisera.” So Deborah started out for Kedesh with Barak. JUDGES 4:3-9
 
Deborah lived around 1125 bc. Her name meant, “Bee (busy)” & “Spirited or fiery woman.” She was A judge, a prophet, a warrior, intercessor, a wife, a mom, & daughter.  She is the original Joan of arc. Judge (shaphat), in Hebrew means warrior & so much more. She was responsible for settling disputes, solving Problems, & in times of war they were responsible for rallying the troops & organizing any resistance. Basically a judge was a tribal leader. Deborah was also a prophet & a great “prayer warrior”, or “intercessor,” God used judges as deliverers (which meant to Deliver HIS people from affliction), and Judge also meant savior. Deborah was the only women in the bible who became A judge, and she was also the only judge to have complete jurisdiction over the entire nation Of Israel. WOW, and if that wasn’t enough she was also the only judge that was also a prophet.

*Tomorrow’s post will pick up immediately where today’s stopped.*

May God bless you all with GREAT faith!

Hope

Corpse on the seashore

05/25/2011
Statue of pharaoh Amenhotep II of the 18th dyn...

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“The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.”  Psalm 58:10

If you feel put-off by the above verse, you don’t understand the concept of a God that gets even with those who harm or intend to harm His children. We all know that Pharoah (Amenhotep II) personally, with the better part of his army chased Moses and the Israelites in the book of Exodus in order to enslave them once again, and possibly even kill them all out of vengeance. But we know from the book of Romans that “Vengeance is mine,….says the Lord”. But this is what happened once the Israelites reached the Red Sea and the Egyptians tried to pursue them through the parted waters, which God had provided for Moses’ escape.

“And Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore.”  Exodus 14:30

Take a second, and just imagine the sight the children of God must have seen. Hundreds, maybe even thousand of soldiers that were on the brink of overtaking them, now laying lifeless on the shore behind them. We know that one of those bodies was that of Pharoah. This “pocket that death has turned inside out and emptied”. A jeweled hand lying to the side of a once great body. This was in fact the end of Pharoah Amenhotep II. Wiped out, along with his meanest soldiers by the very hand of God. How did the leader of the proudest nation in all of creation wind up this way? Take a look at this:

(God to Pharoah, through Moses) “I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  Exodus 9:16

Without proper context, we can only conclude that God created Amenhotep to destroy him for his own purposes. Or maybe not. Remember after all Jesus said “As my Father has sent me, even so I send you”. That would indicate that God determines everything right? Wrong. To believe that, would be to believe that God would intend that one of two brothers would become a “Judas” and the other would become a “John”. Or, in the case of today’s message that God would make one into Moses, and the other into Pharoah. If that were the case, then wouldn’t Judas be just as much a part of God’s plan, as John? If that were the case, then we Christians would be followers of a very cruel and uncaring God wouldn’t we? But that is not the case at all, as we know just from reading John 3:16. God loved Moses and Pharoah (read closely here) JUST THE SAME. Judas Iscariot, was just as dear and close to the heart of our Lord as the Apostle John. But Judas and Pharoah were evil men right? Yes they were, but it was by their own unwillingness to make the choice of believing and following God.

Now, back to the last vision of Pharoah, lying dead on the banks of the Red Sea. Pharoah lies here, NOT because of God’s purpose for him, this wasn’t at all what God originally intended for this man, or any other man. God is not willing “that ANY should perish”. But, like many of us, Pharoah resisted God. Perfect example: God told Jeremiah the prophet “Arise and go down to the Potter’s house and there I will cause you to hear my word”. So, being a man of God, he did. When Jeremiah got there he noticed three things immediately. The Potter, a man working. A pottery wheel, his tool of the trade. And finally, the clay that he used to make the pottery. He watched the Potter making a product, but something in the clay, some inconsistency would just not shape-up. So he started over. He made it all over again. In the mind of the Potter, when he began the piece, he planned on making it perfect, he envisioned the finished product. But the clay fought him, so he had to start over again and use that to make his finished product. Outside the Potter’s home was the Potter’s Field. This is where all of the products that simply would not mold correctly into perfection wound up. Jeremiah saw this field and noticed all of the shattered, crushed, broken, flawed pieces that would never be what the Potter wanted them to be to begin with. But we also know that for every single piece of pottery that messed up, he created it all over again.

Does that sound familiar? When we mess up our lives, God begins all over again. We can never be that perfect creation that God made in the beginning. Our ministry of half of a life can NEVER be what it was meant to be had we given the entire life. But, especially for the younger readers, God still has a big part of your life left to mold into his finished product. But the longer we wait to adhere to his way for our lives, the less he will have to mold. For every time we force God to start over with us, we lose less of that beauty he originally planned for us, until in some cases, we never become any form of finished product in God’s eyes. This was the case for Pharoah. At some point in his ultimate defiance of God’s words, Pharoah became a useless, hard-hearted piece of clay that was no longer workable. Back to the Potter’s Field, do you think that those pieces are out there because the Potter decided to sit down and make flawed pieces just to toss outside and let break and shatter to pieces….not at all. There was something in the clay that resisted the hands of the Potter, just like we do with God.

At the end of the day, in the event Pharoah’s cold, dead body could have spoken the story of his life as an example to those children of God that had just been delivered from his wrath, I believe Amenhotep’s corpse would have said this: “Look at me and see what a terrible thing it is to rebel against God. Behold me and see the tragic failure of a man who persistently threw himself in wickedness against the wishes of the Almighty God” Keep in mind, this man had the privilege of knowing arguably the greatest hero in the Old Testament, Moses. But he wouldn’t listen even to him.

Today you have a choice. It is the same choice that Pharoah had, that Judas had, that John had, and that Moses had. The choice is are you going to rebel against God’s wishes and become just another casualty of the pottery wheel? Or will you submit to yourself and to God that you are simply clay that wishes to be molded by his hands. 

I hope we all chose correctly. If you have not made any choice at all as to where your faith lies. If you wish to seek God, to give him your life and make the most important decision of your life, I encourage you to click HERE. I have outlined just how to do that in a simple way. There is a transaction that must be made. If you have left God before and want to come home, you have to ask all over again. It isn’t a one-and-done decision. It isn’t something you can just pick up when it suits your needs, ask Pharoah, who only conceded to the will of God to suit his own purposes on occasion.

God Bless,

Chris

A Good Man (conclusion)

05/24/2011

Barnabas

Quick recap from yesterday. We learned together that Barnabas was called a “good man”. We learned that the word “good” has much more meaning than modern speech implies, it’s one of the highest compliments or titles that can be given. I even venture to say that the word good, carries a similar connotation to the word “perfect”. You will recall the numerous times in scripture we read that “And God saw that it was good”. We always see that phrase when God has finished doing something major and is moving on to the next task at hand. God doesn’t doing anything half-way. When he finished something it’s a complete work of art, a perfect work. Then, we finished with learning the first two, of four, character traits that Barnabas possessed that made him eligible for the title “a good man”. Those two were:

1.) Barnabas was a great SERVANT.

and

2.) Barnabas had a strong FAITH, not just in God, but he believed in his brothers.

Moving on to today’s message. The first of the final two character traits that make someone a good man are:

3.) Barnabas shared his faith in God with others.

Barnabas grew to be one of the most known missionaries of his time. Right up there with Paul. As a matter of fact, Paul and Barnabas had so much to offer in ministry that God himself separated them at one point, to preach to two different areas at the same time. Barnabas was happy to be sharing his faith, not only was he happy but he threw himself into it. He jumped head-first into the pool. He went to foreign cities with no doubt of what God would do through him to the non-believers.  At one point, I presume Paul had taken a break from his travels and returned to Tarsus. It was during this break, that Barnabas went over and brought Paul back with him to where he had been speaking to involve him there. He brought his friends along for the ride whenever possible. Barnabas shared his faith with the masses, while involving his friends in his ministry and helping to ensure that he was providing them with support wherever needed. Barnabas may not have been the most intelligent or gifted ministry worker, but he had one thing really working for him. He provided people with a sense of authenticity. He carried himself in a way that showed everyone he was a genuine man of faith, who truly wanted to share that faith with all who would listen.

4.) Barnabas was a spiritual man.

Luke wrote that Barnabas was “full of the Holy Spirit”. The purpose of the Holy Spirit, may I remind you, is NOT that we feel good and empowered at the end of services. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is NOT that everyone who believes in Jesus walk around speaking tongues, etc. It is to lead. To be a helper, as Jesus said. The Holy Spirit is an extension of God that lives inside us, and leads us in the direction that God is wanting for our lives. Barnabas was “full” of the Holy Spirit. It was evident in his everyday life.

In conclusion, the one solid concrete thing that we know about Barnabas, is that he was a good man. I can tell you personally that I agree with an old pastor when he said “I had rather my son (in my case Christian) would be able to say that I was a good man when he stands by my grave, sunken and grass-grown, than to say anything else in all the world”.

God bless, and go be good!

Chris

A good man

05/23/2011
Ícone de São Barnabé.

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‘Barnabas was a good man’ Acts 11:24

I want today’s message to be focussed on the word “good”. If I told you today that I thought you were dating a “good guy/girl”, or if I told you that you had done a “good job”. You would consider the word good, to simply mean acceptable. So,when Luke sat down to write Acts chapter 11, do you think that God impressed on his heart to call Barnabas “a good man” simply because there was nothing else he could think of? On progress reports and report cards around the country, the word “good” means “good enough to be considered acceptable”. To God though, the word good is something way different. Good is one of the greatest titles something or someone can have.

Barnabas was an evangelist at the same time Paul was. And we know so much about Paul’s life and travels but so little about Barnabas’. So, why did God chose to give those words to Luke? If this is such a magnificent title, what are the character traits that you and I must possess in order to be considered “good men or women” in the sight of the Lord? The stories that we do have of Barnabas give us the four traits that prove someone a good man. Four areas of Christian life that Barnabas excelled in.

1.) Barnabas was a great SERVANT.

Barnabas was a great example of Christian Stewardship at work. A steward can also be called a servant, but a particular type of servant. A steward at your job for example, would be someone who sees something that needs to be done, and does it. End of story, no questions asked. Barnabas became part of the Early Church, not long after Jesus left Earth. The church at this point was flat broke. They were building and funding missionaries, prayer groups, music groups, and nearly every other thing a church would need to get going. What does this have to do with him you ask? Barnabas was a wealthy land owner who gave everything to the cause. He saw a need, and filled  the need. He did not hold back from God. He gave everything he owned for Jesus’ name. This doesn’t mean you have to call up your pastor and donate your house, and all of your vehicles. In his early stage of faith, he had nothing else to offer. He (at this time) was not a missionary, and had no other talents or services that we know of, that he could have donated. So he gave what he had. We have such an obscure view of ownership these days. We fail to realize that God owns everything. God owns your children, your spouses, you, your home, your vehicles and everything else under the sun! In the secular world view, ownership is you owning you and your belongings. In Christianity, if we are honest with ourselves here, God owns you and yours. A businessman in Dallas Texas once was quoted telling his pastor friend that he made more money that year than any other. Once this pastor asked him where he stood in his local church, and did not get the answer he had hoped for, the businessman informed the preacher that this, though not his lowest year, in retrospect, was his most unhappy. He had something (money, talent, whatever) and kept it to himself.

2.) Barnabas had a STRONG FAITH.

Not just a strong faith in God. Most Christians have that, and the ones that don’t should. Barnabas was also quick to put his faith in people, in essence; “Barnabas believed in his brothers”. Remember when Paul visits the home church, and Peter wants to cast him out because of all the bad things he had done while his name was still Saul? Who stood up for him? That’s right it was Barnabas, and largely we have Barnabas to thank for our faith even existing. Paul could have been down on himself after Peter’s words and never did all that he did for Christianity! Later, that same Paul needed to be reminded of how to believe in someone. Barnabas and Mark had been travelling and evangelizing with Paul. Mark found the missionary life harder than what he thought. Ever thought to yourself “this is NOT what I signed up for“, well, Mark did. But when Mark came to his senses later down the road and wanted to return to the sides of Paul and Barnabas (and probably Luke at this point), Paul didn’t want to let him, but Barnabas as always was there to believe in his friend. Lastly, when Paul found himself in prison for preaching the gospel, who did he ask for? Who did he desire to see? Again, Barnabas to the rescue to comfort his friend and remind him that someone believed in him. It’s also important to note that Paul also asked for Mark. By the way, in case you didn’t know, this is the same Mark who wrote the Gospel Of Mark in the Bible. That too may not have happened if Barnabas had not believed in his friend.

So far, we’ve learned two traits of a GOOD MAN. Tomorrow we’ll conclude this message on Barnabas, there is just so much good information on him that one day’s E-Message can’t do it justice.

Until tomorrow— God bless,

Chris

God’s Peace

05/18/2011

We live in a crazy world, where chaos seems to be part of everyday life. God says He will keep us in perfect peace if we keep our focus on Him. Let’s examine what peace means. The dictionary version: The absence of war or other hostilities.Freedom from quarrels and disagreement; harmonious relations.  Public security and order. Inner contentment; serenity.

The Hebrew world for Peace used in the Bible is “shalom”. It means: completeness, soundness, welfare, tranquility, contentment, and friendship. In particular, it also refers to peace with God through a covenant relationship. In the Old Covenant, God’s people found peace, through living by the Old Testament Laws of Moses. In the New Covenant, we have peace through Jesus Christ.
 
“Because we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:1

Faith means trusting without conditions. It also means believing when we petition God, He hears us, and will answer us. We have to trust or have FAITH that God loves and hears us. When we do this we’ll have peace. This doesn’t mean the world around us will be at peace, but it does mean that through extraordinary circumstances, there will be a supernatural peace, that can only come from God.
 
“Lord God, you will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the (our) eternal Rock.”  Isaiah 26:3-4     

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true,  honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”    (Paul speaking to the Philippians) Philippians 4:6-9

Be anxious (fretting, uneasiness in the mind,brooding fear) for nothing, but in every thing by prayer & supplication(ask for humbly and earnestly, we submit to His will and to His authority. We earnestly seek His help.) And the peace of God shall keep (garrison-to defend) our hearts and minds. In order to experience God’s Peace we have to trust that whatever happens, after we have prayed, in a humble manner, knowing that God Loves us He will answer us. That means waiting on God’s perfect timing and GRACE. This is where we seem to lose focus. Once we have prayed, we do what we know to do and
wait for God to bring the answer. We are at this point to think on other things, that are honest, true, just, pure,lovely, and of good report. So if what you are thinking doesn’t line up with this criteria, its time to focus on what does. Since God told us to pray, if you still struggle with the issue you prayed for, pray for God to give you peace about it, and help you to leave it in His capable hands. Finding God’s peace takes us standing in FAITH, that GOD will do what HE says HE will do. If for some reason your prayer doesn’t get answered in the manner you thought it should, remember God ALWAYS knows more than you do, He knows what you truly need. That is where our trust, peace and truth are. In the loving hands of our Heavenly Father.

I want to close in a brief prayer today.
 
Lord, thank you for this word of truth, help us all to trust that you hear us and answer us. Thank you for loving us so deeply, that you listen to and hear us. Only a loving God answers the cries of His children, bringing peace that will carry us through
extraordinary life situations. We will trust in you and find the peace your word promises. In Jesus Precious Name, Amen.
God Bless You All,

Hope

I want to thank Hope for again, giving us a wonderful word of encouragement and enlightenment. I also want all of you to know I appreciate your thoughts and prayers during the loss my family has suffered with the passing of my Grandmother. There will be no more posts until Monday. Have a great weekend and God bless.

Chris

“Goin’ Visitin'”

05/17/2011
"David and Jonathan," by Rembrandt. ...

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Today’s message title refers to what people here in the southern churches have always held as a highly regarded tradition. When a church member gets sick and is hospitalized, people visit them and do their best to encourage them. Many pastors and staff members of the church do this all the time, in some cases, churches even have visitation teams that do these things where the pastors can continue focussing on building the best church that they can for the glory of God. I will admit, when Jessica, my wife, was in the hospital, I became a little internally bitter over the “lack” of visitors she received. Then I thought back on the people who had visited, and wrote them off as family and friends instead of church family and church friends, or brothers and sisters in the family of Christ.

The truth is, two long time friends of the family are also my church’s visitation team leaders. Our old small group friends all showed up, for the most part. Some were friends, some where family. Even friends of ours from the past came out to show support for Jessica and Christian (my son). Our senior pastor visited once and prayed with my uncle over Jess. Our youth and family ministries pastor called me a few times, one of which was more help than he knows due to the timing. Our children’s pastor/administrative director came and prayed with the family, this visit was especially pleasant because whether she knows it or not I view her as one of my mentors. Our evangelism director contacted me on Facebook, and our then staff blogger did as well. All of these meant a ton, during this I was absent from our music department naturally, and a special prayer for all of us took place in the middle of a practice. My bitterness was not directed at any real thing or person, it was Satan trying to get the best of my mind in a troubling time.

I imagine David felt the same way those thousands of years ago when King Saul forced him into exile. This very David who was a living legend among his people for slaying the giant Goliath, for being a musical genius, and a genuine lover of his people and his God was cast out by the very King that he had worked so diligently to support on and off the battlefields. David received a visitor one day, and what was spoken, why it was spoken, and how it was spoken is not mentioned. Whether or not they said a prayer together is not known either. But Jonathan, the very crowned prince of the King who had exiled David, visited his friend to show his support in his time of deep despair.

One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.”  So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the Lord. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.  1 Samuel  23:15-18

Even while his father was on the prowl to murder David out of pride and jealousy, his son risked everything to comfort his friend and show his support. He risked his very crown for his friend’s well-being. I can think of someone else who surrendered his crown for a friend, well, friends and children. Jesus gave up everything, he gave up living in the luxuries of Heaven to come here to begin with! I envision Jesus taking off his crown, walking into the throne room of Heaven, and saying “Father, I know it is time. I am ready.” Once on Earth he made close and dear friends. He had a family consisting of multiple brothers and sisters. He had a following of thousands upon thousands of loyal and devoted disciples of Christ. He had his inner circle of his best friends, the twelve Apostles. Yet for you and me, long before we were born or our blood lines as we know them even were a figment of anyone’s imagination, as well as every other human being who would ever live on this Earth, living in lifestyle’s that he despises, living in the sins of the flesh that reject him, every single one.

Jonathan risked it all for a friend, and Jesus himself gave all for his beloved. We know that David would go on to become arguably the greatest leader the world has ever known. A great, noble, warrior-king. Most of the music we sing and hear being sang every week in every church in the world is because of David in one way or another. Who knows if David would have stayed faithful to God during his worst days of this unjust exile if it were not for Jonathan goin’ visitin’. Today you may have a friend that could really use a word or two of encouragement. While an email, a text, or a phone call is only an inch away, maybe the need is greater, and like Jonathan, you feel like you should make the travel from A to B to see and support your friend. If that is the case, I encourage you to do so. You never know how much one tiny little visit, like the ones Jessica, Christian, & I received while they were in the hospital can mean to someone. How much it can encourage someone.

God Bless,

Chris

What happens when Jesus gets thirsty.

05/17/2011
Well

Image by echiner1 via Flickr

The text for today’s message comes to us from John 4:1-41 and the theme of the message is pretty varied. The main themes though are: Forgiveness, Salvation, Recognizing God in your life, and finally what happens when you recognize Him. We first see Jesus leaving Judea to avoid those who wanted him dead, returning to Galilee and stopping in Sychar, in Samaria along the way. John refers to Sychar as a “Samaritan village”, I find this curious FIRST, because Sychar, was also known as Schechem, and in the Old Testament was the first capital city of Israel! Funny how times change, in the Old Testament Schechem was a monumental kingdom in itself, but by this time, Jerusalem is so much of a metropolis by the first century standards that John only called it a village. Second, because John is notorious for altering details to make us focus on the more important things in the story. Jesus was tired from his travel and wanted some water, but he had bigger things in mind that just water. Those Samaritans were children of Jacob (Israel). And were waiting diligently on their Messiah, little did the woman walking to the well to get water that day know that this very Jew asking for water, was He.

Jesus said to her “Please give me a drink.”. She was caught off guard because Jews never associated with Samaritans. She then replied:  “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

Next is where Jesus calls her on the carpet about her past. Jesus asks her where her husband is, she then replied that she had no husband, honestly. Jesus then told her “You’re right! You don’t have a husband for you have had FIVE husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now! You certainly spoke the truth!” At this point the woman is all but speechless and she tells Him that He must be a prophet to know all these things.  The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!” In the next few seconds the disciples who Jesus sent into town returned to find Him speaking to a woman, alone. This must have been out of character, but none dared question Him. It is at this time that the woman takes off running into town to tell everyone about Jesus, I imagine her yelling as she ran “THE MESSIAH IS HERE! HE IS RIGHT HERE IN OUR VERY OWN TOWN AT THE WELL AS WE SPEAK! QUICK GET OFF YOUR REAR ENDS AND RUN TO MEET HIM!” That’s what I would have been doing anyway. This story concludes with the townsfolk meeting Jesus and becoming followers of His.

Where was the forgiveness? The forgiveness was essentially unspoken, Jesus offered her eternal life, if she would follow Him, I can only assume that since Jesus had yet died for the sins of the world that this was not on the table in His teaching as of yet. But the forgiveness was there just the same through the loving conviction He brought to the table talking about her many lovers. As I mentioned, teaching about being cleansed of sin was not on the table yet, but again by offering to them the very notion that He was the Messiah, was all the assurance of salvation that was needed! Then we see the woman finding Jesus in her life, granted He was sitting right in front of her and when we find Jesus in our lives it may not be quite the same experience, Jesus is right at every sinner’s door knocking if they will but let Him in, then He will be evident in their lives. But one of my favorite lessons from this story is what happens after the woman found Jesus. She did not hold onto her faith as if it were a prize to hide away from everyone, but spread the word to the whole town because Jesus Christ is a GIFT. Not a personal treasure just for us, but for everyone.

The question today is, have you been through those four steps? I strongly remember the multiple visits I have made to the well. I remember the visits where I ignored the words of the Lord too. For that matter I even remember the trips that I turned around before I even got to the well.

I want to close by giving every single virtual congregation member the chance to meet Jesus today. You can do that very easily, but very seriously by clicking HERE and following the steps after reading the brief summary of why it so vital that you have Jesus in your life. And as always, if you do that, I want to be the first to welcome you to the family and say God bless you brother or sister.

For those of you who already have a relationship with Christ, I want to thank you for reading, and if you take anything from today’s message I pray it is that our faith is not simply a nice piece of jewelry we got for Christmas, it is a gift to share with the world.

God Bless and thanks for reading,

Chris

Suffering for Christ

05/16/2011
Paul the Apostle, Russian icon from first quar...

Image via Wikipedia

The title may have caught some of you off guard. A current trend in the modern church is that we are all supposed to “feel good and be happy and have money in the bank”. The cold hard truth is that this is a rarity in most homes and churches. The pursuit of those things is wonderful, I support Dave Ramsey fans out there, before the emails begin. I can’t seem to read a blog, hear a sermon online, or read a Christian book without the message of “feeling good” tossed in there somewhere.

The apostle Paul, had never heard of this FG (feel good) teaching. As a matter of fact, Paul is quoted saying, “I want to suffer as Christ suffered”. Nowhere in there did Paul mention his brand new sports car, his wonderful business endeavour, or his brilliant children who received the best educations that money could buy outside of the public school system. If you are one of the parents who have been able to provide those things, then count yourselves blessed, and I praise God that you were blessed to that extent.

However, the televangelists would have you believe that as a Christian you are supposed to have life on a silver platter, and that’s just not accurate. Paul in his travels suffered. He suffered because he wanted to be as much like Jesus as possible, who we all know suffered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should flog ourselves and hop on a cross and be poked with a spear. My point is that things are not always peachy, and I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen leave their faith because life didn’t fulfill all of their dreams just because they were Christians. That’s simply not how it works. While not all televangelists share those talking points, many do.

We are to suffer. If we want to be like Christ, and remember you can’t spell Christian without Christ, we have to suffer. Not necessarily like Jesus did, but suffering will happen none the less. You will have Satan attack you when you are at a low point in your faith already, maybe after a tragedy in the family, or a financial crisis. You will find it easier just to walk away from God and do things by the world’s standards. But like the scripture says “Greater is he that is in me, than he that is in the world”. God’s way may be harder, it may take longer, it may cause some lost friendships, but look at what it offers. Take a look sometime at the “Fruits of the Spirit” and then compare them to the “Acts of the Flesh”. My friends, I pray you can understand today that suffering generates progress. Suffering is an early indicator of spiritual growth and getting closer to God.

My faith wavered more in the first half of last year than it ever has. Here I am though, doing my best to rise above the worldly lifestyle and move forward in my work in Jesus’ name instead of doing it for myself. So often I’ve heard Christians brag about the gifts God has given them, gifts of singing, of teaching, of whatever-ing, and so often I’ve caught myself wishing God would take that gift from them because it was becoming more important to them than their faith was! They ceased to acknowledge that the only reason they have the talent to begin with is because GOD allows them to.

Suffering.

What happened when Paul suffered for Christ? He led more men and women to God than anyone in history. Not for him to be able to brag about it, but for God to receive the glorious result of his actions. What happened when Jesus suffered? The world found salvation. The world once again had a choice between Heaven and Hell. You and I are examples of what happens when people suffer. Don’t think that whoever led you to Jesus did not suffer in trying to explain to you the importance of finding Jesus. I imagine most of the aunts, uncles, parents, school teachers, and people from all walks of life sitting around, neglecting their own responsibilities just to work with, on, and for you. Just to pray for you. Just to figure out how to talk to you about God. And here you are, saved by grace in Christ Jesus. You see the point today? The point is not about the suffering at all, it’s that the suffering is only the foreword of the novel that God is writing in your life, the fruits of your life-tree will be the reward for all of it.

Finding yourself in Heaven one day, will be the reward to end all rewards! The suffering is not the lifestyle, it is only the beginning of the lifestyle that a real Christian leads, it comes and goes your whole life through, but one thing that does not come and go is the outcome of the choice you made to live in Christ Jesus.

God bless you,

Chris