Friday, September 29, 2006

I was listening to T. D. Jakes the other day and he said “what’s killing the church today is bad religion.” His point was that it wasn’t religion that saves you and gives you a life worth living; it is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Isaiah 58 (read the whole chapter, its short) God is telling the Israelites the same thing. They tell God,

3. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’

His response is,

“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. 4. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.

God then goes on to explain that freeing those that are wrongly imprisoned, sharing food with the hungry and giving shelter to the homeless is the type of “fasting” that pleases Him. In other words, thinking about other people more than ourselves.

Paul, in Philippians 2:3 (NASB) says something similar,

3. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

And the Lord promises that when our hearts are right…

8. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.

9a. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

10a. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…

Love God. Love each other

…and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ephesians 5:3 - 9 (NLT) 3. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7. Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9. For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

One of the reasons I maintain a presence in the cyber space world known as “myspace,” is to spread God’s Word in an atmosphere where not everyone knows the Lord. All of the people on my “friends” list have professed to be Christian and yet, from time to time, I am motivated to call some of them to remembrance of God’s desires for their lives and their witness. And that’s an OK thing because that’s God’s desire for each of us, that we would help each other to know His will for our lives.

Yesterday, I noticed some posts using the infamous “F” word. Today’s verse clearly points out that this is something that God doesn’t want His children doing.

Many of us have things that we may do from time to time that may fall into the categories mentioned in the scripture verse today. Maybe it’s that off-color joke you laughed at, or the greed that inspired you to take advantage of someone in a business deal. God says His kids shouldn't be even associated with that kind of thing, and definitely not the ones doing them.

The point is, we need to help each other if we notice that someone is “slipping.” We shouldn’t run around talking behind their backs saying, “Did you know that (insert name here!) cheated on the math test?” or “Did you hear that (insert another name here!) is having an affair with?”

Instead we are to help each other (Galatians 6:1), encourage each other, pray for each other. Someday you may be the person in need of help.

Keep it pure and filled with love! Have a blessed day…

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

1 Corinthians 11:1 - 3 (NASB) 1. Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 2. Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

Christ is my head, Paul says. He’s my leader, my boss, the One that is in control of my life. It’s great that you are following what I taught you, but the most important thing to me is that you understand that Christ is the One I look to for everything. Nothing I am saying is mine, but Christ’s. I want you to know Him well enough as your head, your leader; that you will always know when someone tells you something that doesn’t line up with His teaching.

Ephesians 5:1 - 2 (NASB)
1. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2. and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

There are 3 dead trees on my land. I noticed one dead last year, the other this past spring and the final one was dead towards the end of summer. Why haven’t I cut those trees down yet? There’s something in my, I guess, that must think they’ll come back to life or regain the vigor that they once had.

The problem is the bugs are having a hay day with these dead trees and if I don’t get them out soon, those pests will affect and infect my living trees.

Could that be the same kind of thinking behind us leaving “dead” things in our services and churches? We hold on to the choir that has only 5 people in it, because we remember how great it was when there were 50 people up there. We hold on to a particular way of doing things because it used to be effective and perhaps we think it will be again.

Could some of these things possibly have become the idols Paul was speaking about in 1 Corinthians 10:14 (NLT) when he said,

“So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.”

Rather, shouldn’t we be “pruning out” these things that are not as effective in this present generation and “planting” new things that will reach the lost souls of today?

Maybe it’s not our reluctance to prune out these dead things that hinders so much, maybe it’s our reluctance to turn things over to a “different gardener.” We like the feeling that came with our “successes” in the church.

But, there is a time when we have to look towards new things, new ideas, and even at times, new leadership. I’m not necessarily talking about the preacher or elders, but younger Christians that have ideas that will reach their contemporaries. After all, are they not the generation that will have the helm some day?

Paul said “I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:23 (NLT)

What could possibly be important enough to us that it should stand in the way of reaching people for the lost?

1 Corinthians 10:31 - 33 (NASB)
31. Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33. just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.

Trust God, not the past. Trust God, not your egos. Trust God. It is His Church.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mark 9:23 - 29 (NASB) 23. And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24. Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 25. When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” 26. After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27. But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. 28. When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” 29. And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”

Jesus had been approached by a man asking for help for his son. The man believed the boy was possessed by a spirit. He told Jesus that the spirit, “slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out.” He also told Jesus that the disciples had tried to cast out the spirit but were not successful.

Jesus’ response points out the man’s doubt when He says “If” you can. The man immediately felt convicted and his response is once that we should have…”I do believe; help my unbelief.” We all have doubts.

We’ve been praying that God would remove the demonic cloud overshadowing our town, with it’s accompanying drugs, satan worship and witchcraft. But deep down maybe we’re not sure God will do it. HELP MY UNBELIEF. God has already won the victory through His Son Jesus Christ. We need to cry out to Him, claiming that victory and, in humility, ask Him to HELP OUR UNBELIEF.

The second thing I want to point out is Jesus’ statement in verse 29, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” God is waiting for His people to unite in prayer against things like the demonic forces in our area. He will show His mighty power when we UNITE IN PRAYER, admitting we cannot do anything, only God can.