Monday, March 26, 2007

Halle, her first two months

Halle Lynn is now two months old. We are certainly blessed with our wonderful Grandaughter. This is a great picture of Marcie and Halle together.

Halle and Mom talking to each other. Well we call it talking anyway. Halle has such a cute smile and she gets tickled and just laughs outloud often. What fun she is.

Uncle Ryan, my youngest son is holding Halle. He's a proud Uncle.

Halle loves to be outdoors. This is Halle in her Easter dress.

I love this picture of Halle. It won't be long and I won't be able to hold her up like this anymore. She's at such a fun age right now.

Grandma, my wife Brenda, enjoys rocking Halle outside on the front porch. Our dog "Clyde" is curious about the new addition to our family.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Living Word of God

The living Word of God! I'm amazed at how this works. The bible truly is alive, and each time we read it, depending on where we are in our walk with the Lord will greatly depend on how we discern and apply what we read. That's why it's alive, even though the words are the same the application can be different each time we read it. How is it alive? I mean after all it's just words is it not? It's a book like any other, right? NO, it is not! There is no other book like it. This book is different , because it was written by men inspired and filled with the Holy Spirit of God. God said it, and they wrote it. They experienced God and then God had them write what they experienced. They were inspired and lead by the Holy Spirit and it's by the Holy Spirit that this book is even understood or interpreted. So this is no ordinary book.

Hebrews 4:12 says... "For the word of God is living and active..... NIV
Hebrews 4:12 says... "For the word of God is living and powerful..... NKJ

The bible teaches us that much of what is read in the bible will seem foolish to those that do not have the Holy Spirit indwelling in them. They can't discern or understand God's word. His word is for God's people to know and follow and this is only done by the Leading of the Holy Spirit as we read and comprehend what we read with the help of the Spirit. Without the Spirit's help, it's just great stories, but with the Spirits help, it's alive, active and powerful!

Today as I was reading my bible I was studying in Luke Chapter 8. If you've ever read this chapter in Luke you know it's about the "Parable of the Sower." Jesus tells a parable about a farmer that sows seed and the seed falls upon four different kinds of soil. Depending upon which soil the seed falls, determines the outcome of growth of each seed. Keep in mind that Jesus often taught in parables. He'd take something known or familiar to the people in the form of a short story or description and give it a whole new twist. By taking something known and sharing it with the unknown this would force people to listen and think. Jesus's parables would most always have a Spiritual truth hidden within them and the listener would be required to think for themselves and discover the truth in the message. It's the same today as we read the bible for ourselves. If we truly want to see the bible alive and active as it's intended to be, then we must read it for ourselves and discover it's truths. What's amazing to me is that as I read a familiar passage of scripture like this one for example (The parable of the Sower) Each time I do God speaks to me a little differently each time. It's like He reveals more truth and understanding each time I read it. It's alive! It's always fresh and new! Unlike a movie or a novel that I've read before and I know what's coming next... with the bible as I read it through again and again, I see things that I didn't before. I understand things differently than I did before.

Last time I read these verses in Luke chapter 8, The Holy Spirit revealed to me that I needed to be a sower. That no matter if the seed fell on poor soil or good soil, I was to throw out the seeds. (preach the good news, tell others about Jesus). I was to know and understand that some seed would not take. Some people won't listen to or accept the word of God, but that some would. We have to be faithful and do the work and God will reap the harvest and get the increase. Basically this was what I felt the holy Spirit telling was me to do the last time I read this.

Today as I read this, the Holy Spirit revealed something different to me. This time I was challenged as a follower of Christ to be more productive and obedient with what God has entrusted me with. This time the 4 different soils had a different meaning, or better said, application for me as I read.

Luke 8:15 says... "But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who will hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."

What God was telling me is that I need to be more obedient and fruitful. I need to listen carefully to what the Holy Spirit is telling me and retain, remember what I've heard, and through perseverance and staying the course, I'll be more fruitful and hopefully help produce a crop that God can harvest.

All week long I've been challenged over and over again as I read my bible to practice more and more memorization of scripture. Several times throughout the week I've thought I've needed to memorize my scripture better than I am. As I woud study I'd be convicted of this. I even had a discussion this week with a pastor at the store and he brought up the subject of scripture memorization and how it has helped him so much to be effective when speaking to others and preaching God's word. I'm not even sure how this all got started, but one thing for sure, I felt God telling me again I needed to memorize more scripture. All week long God has been telling me in more ways than one to learn and memorize more scripture. (I better get with it!)

I say all this to show just how alive the word of God is. If we'll just allow the Spirit to speak to us as we read, He'll teach us great and unsearchable things we do not know. He'll reveal more and more truth to us as we mature in our walk. Even though the words never change, the Holy Spirit is always at work in our lives, changing us, teaching us, and shaping us into His likeness through the reading and application of His word.

I love the fact that the meaning of the parable never changes, even though God may speak to us differently about issues as individuals. I also love the fact that only the Spirit discerns for us the things of the Spirit (the word of God). Without the Spirit there is no meaning or real understanding.

Read these verses for yourself and ask yourself... "God, what is it you are telling me through these verses?" Then act upon it! Allow God to use you and change you and then you need to apply His word for His service in your life.

Luke 8:11-15

Luk 8:11
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.
Luk 8:12
Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
Luk 8:13
Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.
Luk 8:14
The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
Luk 8:15
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Which type of soil are you?

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I pray that we would all strive to be the soil you mentioned in Luke 8:15. I thank you for this parable and I pray that wherever we are within these verses that we recognize where we are and where we need to be. May Your Spirit convict our hearts and motivate us to perservere and bear fruit for You! We ask this in Your name, Amen.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The House of the Lord

Have you ever gone to church to worship and come away just not feeling the Holy Spirit at all. For some reason while you were there or during the course of the worship service you just didn't experience God like you had hoped or thought you would?

Going to God's house can be either a chore or a delight. It can be a burden or a refreshing rewarding experience. The determining factor for the way we experience worship is in direct relation to our attitude toward God.

Psalm 122:1 says... I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the Lord."

The psalmist was delighted to go into the house of the Lord. He was thankful for the opportunity to worship. He rejoiced to worship with God's people in God's house. For him there was no other place he would rather be. So what is it that can prevent us from having this same delight in worship?

Going to church can be a chore if we have unconfessed sin that we haven't addressed with God. maybe we lost our focus and we've drifted away from God and his holy living. Our relationship with our Heavenly father has cooled and become distant. When we get this way we really do find it a chore to go to church and much of this burden comes from the Holy Spirit convicting our heart of our sin. It's tough to sit in church and worship with God's people when we have issues that we need to be leaving at the feet of Jesus. If you find yourself struggling to worship then pray and ask God to reveal to you where you need to change. What behaviors do you need to crucify? What relationships to you need to restore? Whatever the issue or issues, you most likely already know what they are, if not ask God to reveal to you what they are then confess and repent.

When we are close to God and we're living for Him as we should, we will be eager and excited to go to the house of the Lord. Going to church will be a joy! Experiencing God through worship in His house with His people will be a wonderful thing. Remember... our attitude towards God determines our view of worship.

I think it's important to always remember that God's Holy Spirit is always present. If I fail to feel Him or see Him it's not because He's not there. It's always been because of where I am in my relationship with Christ. If I'm sinning and not living like I know God expects me to, then I begin to feel ashamed or less interested in Church or worship. I begin to pray less and I begin to read my bible less. I begin to make excuses to somehow justify why I do what I do. All this does is take me further and further away from God. I begin to distance myself from Him and it's very difficult to worship God when I know I'm not clean. Thank the Lord though that when I recognize what's happening I repent, I run back to Him and ask for His forgiveness. He always forgives me and once again I'm eager to go to the house of the Lord to worship. I also enjoy being with God's people and being in His house. It's a wonderful experience.

My challenge however is to remain faithful. I need to stop being tossed about like the waves of the ocean. I know better and I do desire to live for Him. I believe that a man who keeps sinning over and over again with the same issues hasn't realized that he has the power to be victorious over his sin through Christ. It's an excuse we use to convince ourselves that we're ok. But by the Holy Spirit's conviction we know we're not ok. God's word (the bible) teaches us how we need to live. The bible is our instruction manual for life, yet we don't read it as if our life depended upon following it. We don't live it and we're hypocritical in our actions. We need to recommit our lives to Him. We need to make a commitment to live for Him. It's a decision that WE make. God helps us, after we make that decision. Until we make a decision to live for Him, we won't live for Him because we're not committed.

God committed His life to us when He sacrificed His Son Jesus to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sinfulness. Aren't you thankful that God is committed to you?

The next time you're going to church and it's a chore to do so or you are not experiencing God during the worship service, don't look at others and wonder why it's not happening, look inside and know that the problem is most likely there. Confessing our sin is the first step to being reconciled and restored in our faith. We should all be thankful and be able to say... I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the Lord."

I'll see you in church! God bless you.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A love that never fails

Romans 8:38,39 are a couple of my favorite verses.

(38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
(39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you catch the impact of those verses? Do you see what it really means? No matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter what you think, nothing can separate you from the love of God. NOTHING. (that is... if you belong to Him).

My oldest son has had his share of difficulties. His drug abuse lead him down a path of destruction and wild living. The consequences have been severe. He's currently serving in jail for a few years because of the results of his past. For the rest of his life he will be judged by others for his actions. His future will be forever tested and tried. No bed of roses for him down the road that's for sure. However his hope remains in God's love for him. Although his circumstances right now make it tough for him to feel like praying to God every day, he understands and knows that God still loves him and he's asked me to pray for him because he finds it difficult to pray. He's hurt and disappointed with life right now. His thoughts are if God loved him so much why did he allow him to get so far into this mess? I can understand his frustration, but just because God loves us doesn't mean we won't suffer because of our mistakes and choices we make. God's promise is that His love will always be there for us, even when we do the things that hurt us. His love can never be taken away. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Even when we fall into Satan's traps, God's love never fails us. He loves us unconditionally. Thank you Lord!

My hope is that if you too find yourself in a mess. A situation where you're paying the price for your mistakes and choices, I hope you always remember that your God loves you. One day, yes one day, this life will be over. And all the pain and suffering that goes along with it will be gone. What a day that will be when we will be able to rejoice in the presence of our Lord in heaven without any sin influencing or messing up our lives. A perfect, holy, place! I long for that day, I truly do. Don't misunderstand me here... I love life! I enjoy all that God has given me. But this life is filled with pain and hurts that I hate living with. I just hang onto the promise of a better day, that's all. Until that day arrives though, I have work to do. What is it I have to do? I believe that God wants me to encourage others as they struggle through life. To remind others that can't see hope anymore that's it's still there in Christ their Savior. To tell people to never give up on your Lord. Never! Because I tell you the truth, His love is forever and someday again you will be so thankful that you asked Him to be your Lord. Even if you have to wait till you pass from this world to the next... because of God's never ending love for you, you will receive a life in paradise one day. That's a promise... Hang onto that!

God bless you,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

God, Give me Strength!

I once heard a story about a little boy that was trying so hard to move a large log in the yard. His father stood by watching and no matter how hard the boy tried, he couldn't move the log. The dad says to the boy, "You're not using all your strength," at which the boy stated he was giving it all he had! The boys dad quietly says, "No you're not son, I'm standing right here and you haven't ask me for help."

I'm reminded of two verses when I hear this story. One verse reminds me of how important God is to my success and achievements in my life, and the other reminds me of how important good friends are to my success and achievements in my life.

Philippians 3:14 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"

You see the story above is a perfect example of how we go out head strong and with good intentions to accomplish a task, but unfortunately in our own strength we just can't get it done. It's amazing how hard we can work at something and struggle and struggle with it and still fail to ask for help from the One that has all the power and strength to accomplish all things. We should never forget that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Often my work can be overwhelming. Too much to do and not enough time to do it all. So often pressures of the day can catch up with me to the point I feel like throwing up my hands. When this happens, and it does sometimes, I simply ask God for His help. So often I try to move the logs on my agenda by myself, and just like the little boy, I forget to ask for help and my Father is always close by and patiently waiting for me to simply say... Help me, please! It's when we finally acknowledge our weakness and ask for His help that we resign to the fact that we must depend on God. We're saying... "God, I can't do it without You!" Then He will reach out and support us and help us through whatever we are going through.

The story also reminds me of how important my friends are to me. Whether it's friends we have at work, church, or even in our family, life is easier and much more rewarding when you have someone to help you through it. Basically this verse, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, reminds me that I don't have to do it all by myself. Two heads are better than one and the return on our work will be good. But the best part comes in verse 10. "If one falls down, his friend can help him up." When I read this verse I think about the terrible falls I've had. The falls we have can sometimes devastate us, the loss of loved ones, sicknesses and illnesses that change the course of our lives, divorce or damaged relationships and the hurt and pain that goes along with that, loss of jobs, and the list goes on and on.
God has given us friends to help us back up when life knocks us down. We need to be aware of how important our friends are and remember it's worth the effort to cultivate those relationships, because as the rest of the verse says... "But, pity the man who falls and has no one to pick him up!"

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, help me to always be mindful that Your help is always available. All I have to do is ask and You will help me through whatever I'm going through. Thank you Lord for my good friends, I know that when I fall, I have people that love and care about me and they are always there to help me back up. Amen.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Ten Commandments

Many people struggle to recite the ten commandments. These commandments were given to the people of Israel. They were designed to lead the people of Israel to living a holy lifestyle. The ten commandments were intended to give the people directions or guidance in meeting the needs of each other in a loving and responsible manner. These commandments were God's laws of love for His people. If we strive to live by them we will be living the way that God would intend for us to live. My question is this... If they are so important to us as Christians why would we not know them or strive each day to live by them? Let's take a look at the ten commandments and see what they mean to us.

#1 Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before Me"Remember that the Israelites came from Egypt, a land with many gods and idols. It wasn't uncommon for people to worship many gods for different reasons. The more gods the more blessings was the mindset back then. So when God said to worship and believe in Him, that wasn't such a hard thing to accept. But to not worship any other gods before Me, was hard to accept. God wanted His people to trust in him alone. He was the one that lead them out of Egypt, and He could not be their God if they didn't put Him first. God made this His first commandment and we should live by it each and every day.

#2 Exodus 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image"
Today we are tempted with all kinds of things that can take the place of putting God first. Other gods that we might worship today could be, money, fame, work, or pleasure. We can make these things gods of our lives if we focus on them too much. When they begin to control us and everything we do, then we are at risk of making them idols or the "carved images" that take our focus away from God. I'm reminded of a mission trip I took to Brazil a few years ago. I was amazed at the crystals (pieces of rock) that many of the Brazilians would worship and pray to. God commands that His people worship Him and by keeping Him the center focus of our lives we can avoid making all these other things gods or idols.

#3 Exodus 20:7 You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain"
Today people use God's name without regard for His power and majesty. His name is His identity and we reveal a lot of how we feel about Him by the way we use His name. We should always respect His name and use it appropriately. Worship and praise of His name is an appropriate use of His name. Use His name in cursing or jest is an abuse of His name and God's 3rd commandment was that we not do this.

#4 Exodus 20:8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy"We are all so busy running around with a list of things to do. God knows we work, but he also knows we need rest. The sabbath day is one day out of seven that we rest, we reflect on what God did for us. To observe a day of rest and worship reveals just how important God is to us. I thank God that he wants us to rest after working hard all week long. It's just another example of God's love for us.

#5 Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother"
God wants people to live in peace for generation after generation. His plan was for the Israelites to have respect for authority and build strong families. We are to respect our parents, we should honor their position and listen to their teachings. God gave us parents to nurture and love us and guide us through our young years. He commands us to honor our parents.

#6 Exodus 20:13 "You shall not murder"Again God was setting down laws or commandments that would establish a better life for those people He loved. To commit murder would mean that hate and anger was at the heart of your motive. The problem with anger or rage, is that it reflects the opposite of what God is all about. God wanted the people of Israel to experience His love and peace and murder is preceded by hate, and God commands us not to murder.

#7 Exodus 20:14 "You shall not commit adultery"God has always placed value on the family. He created the family with the first two people He created "Adam and Eve." He expects us to love each other and to be faithful to each other as husbands and wives. When we join together in marriage we become one. To commit adultery damages the relationship between the husband and wife and has the possibility to destroy the union. Later Jesus would speak on this as well. Matthew 5:28 Jesus said... "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" Just like murder comes from the hatred in your heart, adultery comes form the lust in your heart. God commands us to not commit adultery. To lust after someone is the first step to the actual act. We need to recognize it when it happens and ask God for forgiveness and seek His help and strength to overcome the desire of the flesh.

#8 Exodus 20:15 "You shall not steal"Stealing is not being respectful of others and what they have or own. It's not ours and to steal it mean to take it without regard for the consent or knowledge of the other person. This shows a complete lack of respect. Even if we borrow something and forget to return it that's stealing. To maintain harmony in community we must value and respect each other and this was one of the reasons for God's commandment "not to steal."

#9 Exodus 20:16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor"Bearing false witness means lying in court. We should always tell the truth. We should always be honest. We also can bear false witness by leaving out a part of the story, or only telling half truths. If we don't stick to the facts or we twist the story to deceive someone then we bear false witness. God warns us against deception and even though deception is abundant in our world today... it's something we as God's people must not participate in. God commands us to tell the truth and not bear false witness against others.

#10 Exodus 20:17 "You shall not covet"To covet is to desire for or wish for the possessions that others have. To lust after, to desire to own it or have it even though it's not ours to have. To covet is more than thinking, "I'd like to have one of those." It's resenting the other person because you don't have it. It's about envy and greed. We need to put our trust in God to provide for our needs. True contentment comes only from God. We live in a world today where everyone wants to keep up with the Jones. The sad thing is that we feel we will be happy and content if we only had his job, or her career, or their house, car, etc. etc. etc. God commands us not to covet.

One last thought about the ten commandments...
The ten commandments also reveal to us our shortcomings and they convict us of our sin and our need for a Savior. Many people think that if they can live by the ten commandments then they will somehow be good enough to be allowed into heaven. Kind of like, earning my way to heaven. The ten commandments are not a list of things to do to get into heaven, they are a list of how God's people should live and to obey God's commandments will allow God's love to flow from His people to others and creating a life of holiness.

If you are one that thinks you are a good person and that God will let you go to heaven because you keep the commandments, then lets look at just three of the ten commandments and see how good we really are.

Have you ever looked at someone with lust? In all your years, has that ever happened to you? If it has, then God says that you have already committed adultery in your heart and that makes you an adulterer.

Have you ever taken anything that didn't belong to you? Borrowed something and didn't ever return it, taken a pen or supply from work? If this has ever happened to you then you have stolen that item. And that makes you a thief.

Have you ever lied. Have you just twisted the truth or even left out a part of the story. have you ever deceived someone by not stating the exact facts but rather stretched the truth some. If you have then that makes you a liar. And God command us not to bear false witness.

Just these three commandments alone I believe everyone has disobeyed at one time or the other in the course of our lives. That of course makes each of us, Lying, thieving, adulterers! Now tell me were good enough to be allowed into God's wonderful perfect sinless place called heaven? Of course we're not. We can not earn our way into heaven. The ten commandments were never intended to be a legalistic set of rules to obey to earn favor with God. They were intended to guide us to a life of what God would want and expect for us as His children. They reflect His love for us and as we strive to obey them, we show His love.

Note: How do I get to heaven?
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Because of our sin, we are condemned to go to hell unless we realize our need for a Savior. Jesus died to pay the debt for our sins. He took our place and died on the cross so that we are not guilty anymore. He makes us righteous. Our sins are forgiven and forgotten. But it's nothing that we did to earn this, God offers us the free gift of salvation if we'll just believe in Jesus and live for Him. You see we have to realize just how pathetic we are. We are lying, thieving, adulterers and we deserve to go to hell because of it.

Romans 10:9 says... "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

Romans 10:13 says... For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

I thank God that I don't have to obey a list of commandments to be saved. When I call on Him as my savior I can be saved from hell and live with Him eternally. I do thank God for loving us so much that He has given us the "Ten Commandments." They help us to live the way God has always wanted His people to live, as loving compassionate people, and they reveal to us our sinfulness and our need for a Savior.

Stay focused on Christ, and live for Him!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Being lead by God

I recieved this story on the internet today. I thought I'd post it because it's a story that shows how God works in the lives of those that are willing to follow and obey Him. We really never see the whole picture, but God does. Each of us are just a small part of His plan. My prayer is that the next time you sence God leading you... be sure you follow through. Someone may be praying for God's help in a tough situation in their life, and God may be using you to meet their need. Ask God to reveal His will for you today, and then be ready because my experience has been that when we open our heart to be sensitive to His leading we see things and sence His leading when we would not have otherwise. May this story open your heart for His service.

A young man had been to Wednesday Night Bible Study. The Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice. The young man couldn't help but wonder, "Does God still speak to people?" After service, he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways.

It was about ten o'clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, "God...If you still speak to people, speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey." As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, "God is that you?" He didn't get a reply and started on toward home. But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk. The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn't recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. "Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk." It didn't seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home. As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, "Turn Down that street." This is crazy he thought, and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street. At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, "Okay, God, I will." He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi- commercial area of town. It wasn't the best but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either. The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed. Again, he sensed something, "Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street." The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. "Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid." Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door, "Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something, but if they don't answer right away, I am out of here." He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man's voice yelled out, "Who is it? What do you want?" Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep. "What is it?" The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, "Here, I brought this to you." The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face. The man began speaking and half crying, "We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk." His wife in the kitchen yelled out, "I ask him to send an Angel with some. Are you an Angel?" The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man's hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face. He knew that God still answers prayers.

The Blame Game

Genesis 2:16,17
(16) And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;
(17) but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

It's not my fault! I didn't do it! Have you ever heard or even said those words before? Sure you have, they've been around since, well since Adam and Eve to be exact. You see Adam and Eve started this whole thing of blaming each other, and since then we've all been doing it ever since. If you read Genesis Chapter 3, you'll read about the fall of man. After reading this chapter we can understand why we are separated from God. We can understand why life is so hard for us, and we can understand how this whole "blame game" got started.

After God created Adam and saw that he was alone, He knew this wasn't good for Adam so He created a helper for Adam, a woman. Adam was given only one rule to obey... God said he could eat from any tree in the garden except one, and that was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 3:6 (6) When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.
Well here we go! Enter sin into the lives of all mankind! Thanks Adam and Eve, thanks a lot! Those two messed it up for all of us! You see I'm blaming them already.
We know that God had told Adam he could eat from any tree but this one. we know from reading Genesis 3:1-5 that Eve was confused and tricked by the serpent (Satan).

Genesis 3:1-5
(1) Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden?"
(2) The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat from any tree in the garden,
(3) but God did say, "You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die."
(4) "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman.
(5) For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

I find it very interesting to see here that Eve knew the rules to obey. She had no misunderstanding of what God had told them to do. So why did she fall? Satan, the serpent, was good at making her think that God was hiding something from her. The thought of all that knowledge and wisdom tempted her. Wow, I can know all that God knows. The serpent is basically saying you can be just like God. So she fell for the lie and we're still paying the price to this date.

Eve's first mistake was to listen to someone other than God, especially when it comes to receiving advice that contradicts what God's word says. This happens to us every day doesn't it? We must be on guard for this kind of trap that eventually leads us deep in sin.
Eve's next mistake is that she went to the tree and looked at it! My experience has always been, if I know I have a weak area of sin in my life then i Need to "Stay Away from It." The bible says to flee from Satan, to run from him. We can learn from Eve here... Sin looks really pleasing to the eye. It's a lure for a trap! We have to be careful or we'll do what Eve did, we'll not be able to resit and we'll fall into sin and most likely we'll drag others along into it just like Eve did with her husband.

Another lesson for us is this... We need to learn to be responsible for our own actions. We need to quit blaming others for our circumstances in our life. No one is responsible for your life, but you. Yet it seems we are so quick to point the finger and blame our circumstances and problems on others. The perfect example of blaming others came from Adam and Eve. After they had eaten the fruit their eyes were opened and they saw themselves as naked and they wanted to cover themselves. Well, God comes walking through the garden and they're hiding from Him. God calls out to Adam, "where are you?" Adam says, "I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked." God asks, "Who told you that you were naked, have you eaten from the tree that I have commanded you not to eat from?" Now, here comes the "Blame Game"...

Genesis 3:12, The man said, "The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it. In other words, God you started this! You gave me this woman and look what happened! And if that wasn't enough, it's really her fault because she's the one that gave it to me, I never picked it, I knew better! It's all her fault Lord God.

Genesis 3:13, Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, so I ate it." In other words, "God, it's the serpents fault!" "I told him what you said but he confused and then I ate it." If it wasn't for that snake I would never had done this." "It's his fault Lord, not mine."

By reading the rest of the Chapter we see the terrible consequences of their sin and disobedience to God. My question for you today is this... Who are you blaming for the problems in your life today? Don't blame God, His instructions are very clear, He wants and expects obedience. Don't blame others. We are to put on the full armor of God and be aware of the devil and his tactics. Run from sin, stay away from it! I think sometimes we like to go right up to the edge of sin then think we can turn away at the last moment, but remember... sin looks real good. We have a desire for it, so stay away, and repent!

Prayer: Dear Lord God, I pray that I will be honest enough with You to admit my own mistakes and to not blame anyone other than myself for my own decisions and actions in my life. Forgive me! Amen

Sunday, March 4, 2007

I'm not coming off this Wall

Usually when I wake up in the morning and begin my day, I think of all the things that I need to get done today. I begin prioritizing my day with all the "To do" list of items that I have that need to get done, both personal and work related. Do you do that as well? And if it isn't bad enough that I already have a mountain of things to do and places to go, still things continue to "pop up," changing my agenda that I had set for myself for the day. Seems we can't plan on anything anymore and stick to it. Yet we know that to not make plans is foolish isn't it? Everybody knows that to stay on track or on task, you have to have a plan and execute the plan, or it just doesn't get done or worse we forget to do something that is real important because we didn't have it in our plan or agenda for the day.

Well, I hate to tell you this, but I'm not here today ready to give you the perfect list of how to have a plan that can and will work every time every day. Keep in mind I'm writing this because I know everyone can relate and everyone has this problem and it's frustrating. Saying this however... there is hope to make it better.

When you get the chance... READ Nehemiah Chapter 6. This chapter is about a conspiracy against Nehemiah and as we read this chapter we see how Nehemiah handles obstacles and distractions that come his way that have the potential to take him away from the work that God has him doing. As we look at Nehemiah, we can apply what we learn to our daily agendas or plans as well. This passage of Scripture was preached on this morning by our Pastor and the message impacted me and I felt lead to share some of it, along with my own thoughts, with you today.

Lesson one... God must be included in our plans, or better said, Our plans must be of God.
I know there have been days when I woke up and with all I had to do, I rushed into the day, headstrong and fired up and ready to tackle the day, then suddenly (mid morning) I realize nothing is going as planned and I'm not handling it very well. I'm frustrated, I'm discouraged and I feel like I'm being managed by the new stuff that has now changed my plans. Finally I realize that I didn't have my time with God today and I didn't even seek God's guidance or direction in my planning. Why is this important? Why is it important to make God the center of your plans for the day? Won't the new stuff still come? Won't we still have way too much to do with too little time to do it? Won't there be distractions and obstacles that still come up to take our focus off the list? The answer to each of these questions of course is YES. But with God as the center of our plans, we make plans according to His purpose. For our personal life and our work life. If God truly is at the heart of what we are doing then we can rest assured that we'll get it done and stay the course with God's strength, power and wisdom. I know in my own strength, I can't handle it! It's too much! But with God, anything is possible. I don't have to worry about it, I just need to allow God to work through me and execute.
Nehemiah was doing the work of God by rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. As he was building this wall he was distracted and even challenged to stop the work and come meet with his enemies to try and restore peace. It's not that peace wasn't a good thing to strive for, but Nehemiah would have to stop progress on the wall to go and meet with these men. So in verse 3 of Chapter 6 Nehemiah says... So, I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?
They sent this message to Nehemiah four times asking him to come to them, but he replied the same way each time. You see, Nehemiah knew he was doing a great work for God and to stop and go might have made sense and might have been a good result in resolving peace, but he didn't go for he felt that he was already doing exactly what God wanted him to do. This reminds each of us that our first priority is to know what God's will or work in our life is, if even for one day. If we don't know that our agenda or work is in accordance with God's plans, then we will fall for anything and everything and distractions like this might take our focus off the things we already have to do. If it is God's will for a changed agenda, with God you'll know it, without God you won't. We must go into our day and agenda with God's blessing and His Spirit's leading throughout the day, week, month and years.

Our Pastor spoke of three ways we can be distracted from what we are working on. (1) Opportunities, (2) Criticism, (3) Fear.

Opportunities... Just like the opportunity presented to Nehemiah, it looked good, might have been good, but it would have taken him off of what God already had him doing. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves, is the opportunity before me really the best thing and is it in accordance to what God wants me to do?

Criticism... Often when we do God's work, we're criticized. And if we are not careful then when others criticize us we may stop the work to avoid confrontation thinking we might be keeping the peace when in reality all we did was stop the work of God. We can not allow criticism to stop our progress when we know God's in our plans and we are following through with what we feel God would have us do.
Look at Nehemiah again... Chapter 6:5-9, After receiving Nehemiah's messages that he would not stop the work of rebuilding the wall, then his enemies started criticizing him, they told untruths, they said that he was building the wall to make his own kingdom. They said he had appointed prophets proclaiming him as king at Jerusalem. They threatened to report this to a king in Judah unless he would come and consult with them. In verse 8 Nehemiah responded saying... "No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your own heart. (9) For they are all trying to make us afraid, saying, "their hands will be weakened in the work and it will not be done." Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.
Nehemiah didn't stop the work... He would not come down off that wall. He simply responded that what you say is not true, your making it up, and think whatever you want, the work will continue, and he then asks for God to strengthen him in his work. You see, as opportunities and criticism come your way, ask God for His strength to help you see what to do, and also the the ability to accomplish the work.

Fear... Fear is Satan's best tactic you know. If Satan can make us afraid, then most likely we will stop. Fear paralyzes us so that we can't think, move or execute. We become afraid when we don't understand everything, when we can't possibly see how the work can get done. We become afraid of conflict and so we avoid it and stop the work of God in our life, whether it's at home, work or church, fear is something that stops the work of God. Fear is not from God... it's from Satan. So when you are afraid, think for a minute as to why? What is it that is making me afraid? Example... If you felt the Holy Spirits leading you to witness to someone, but then suddenly you become afraid, maybe there are people around now that weren't there before, maybe you're not sure what to say and you are afraid you'll fail. Just remember that the fear you are feeling is not from God... It's Satan trying to stop you from doing God's work. How do we know? God of course would want you to witness. Satan of course would not want you to witness. Satan would try to stop you from witnessing, but we know that God of course would equip you to witness. So when faced with fear, ask God to reveal to you what to do. Fear is Satan's best form of distraction.


  • We have to know what God has planned for us, the big stuff and the little small details of our daily routines. Be sensitive to His leading and make His agenda our agenda for the day. You know He wants you to be successful at work, at home and in church so be sure that you meet with God when planning any area of your life, and you will be in step with His leading and have His Strength to accomplish the work.

  • Press on... Watch out for opportunities that take you away from what God already has you doing. Be aware that criticism could be Satan's way of diverting you or stopping you from continuing on with the work that God has you doing. Do not be afraid. Be bold in the Lord and press on.

My Testimony... Criticism and fear are the two things that distract me the most. I love my church, I love my Pastor, and I believe that God is blessing us and taking us to new places we've never been as a church. In years past I've served as a deacon in our church, but because of past experiences years ago, I have fear inside of me. I'm afraid to the point that the last two times I've been asked to serve as deacon in our church I have declined because of this fear. The sad thing thing is that I know that God would have wanted different from me. Too often people complain about issues in church that have no relevance to furthering God's Kingdom and sometimes people use the deacons as their sounding board. As a deacon, it gets very old real quick. Church should be a place of worship and fellowship, not whining or complaining. I'm happy to report that through all these trials over the years, we have grown and matured some in Christ. Issues that used to divide us somehow seem less important now. We've seen that style of worship is not such a big issue anymore, what we wear or how we dress is not such a big issue anymore. Music and differences between traditional and contemporary used to divide us, but now are not issues anymore as we sing both every Sunday in our services. These things really matter not. What matters... is are we as God's people living for Him? Do people see God's love in us while we're at work, at the store, at the doctor, or anywhere? Are we unified as a body of believers? Are we telling people about Jesus so they can have the opportunity to have eternal life?

Because of our wonderful Pastor and his leadership and our wonderful youth Pastor and his leadership, I again feel alive in Christ. My fear is subsiding as I see evidence of love and courage in their leadership. We are focusing on Christ and His plan for our church. It's exciting and refreshing! Are we changing... you bet! Is everyone happy (I'll say, most are) But one thing is for certain... We will not come off this wall. We've done that too often in the past. First sign of criticism and we back down, when we get afraid we quit. And sadly this happens everyday in each of our churches. It's time we make our plans with God's agenda, it's time we support our Pastors and when we do, it's time we follow through for a change. Pray for me as I seek God's direction in my life. Too often I run, too often I'm afraid. I don't trust God enough and I'm ashamed of it. I write devotions to encourage others because I know what I feel and experience and I know I'm not alone. Maybe someday in the future God will give me the strength and courage to say yes when asked to serve rather than give into my fears and my negative past experiences. Thank you Brother Tim for your message this morning.

You are invited to come to Northside Baptist Church. If you want a fresh new experience in worship and you want to experience God's love, His music, and Hear His word preached, then Northside is for you. Paster Tim is a great man of God and He has a passion for the people that God has charged him to Equip for the ministry. He's a strong leader and a great preacher. Come worship with us and may God's blessings be upon you.