Tuesday, August 21, 2007

As little Children

In these next few verses Jesus teaches us a lot about ourselves.

Mat 18:1
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Mat 18:2
He called a little child and had him stand among them.
Mat 18:3
And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

First of all we need to understand the audience that Jesus is speaking to. He's speaking to his disciples, he's speaking to adults, he's speaking to adults that are more concerned about who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven and their motive was to understand and know how to achieve a place of greatness themselves. Jesus immediately teaches them and us a very important lesson. Jesus calls a little boy over to come stand in among them, Jesus uses a little boy to make a point with his self-centered disciples. Here's all these men standing around and suddenly Jesus has this little boy stand there among them and as a comparison he must have looked quite small. I don't think he called the boy over just to make his verbal statement in verse 3 of Matt 18., he brought the boy over to make a visual statement as well. In comparison the disciples would have looked superior to the little child. They were smarter, more intelligent. They had skills and abilities that the child wouldn't have yet. They were stronger, this boy was weak in comparison. They were wiser because they had lived longer and experienced more. Yet Jesus makes a statement that must have floored the men.

Matt 18:3 "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Here they go from wondering how to be the greatest to suddenly realizing that unless they become like children they will never enter the kingdom of heaven, much less having a place of greatness. So what is the lesson? What is it that Jesus expected these men to learn from this?

1. We are not to be childish (like the disciples, arguing over petty issues) but childlike with humble and sincere hearts.
2. Children are trusting by nature. They trust adults and through that trust their capacity to trust God grows. We need to pt our faith and trust in God with Childlike faith.
3. Children just want to be loved. Adults want status or recognition, but children just want love.
4. Children are weak and dependent on adults and parents. They have little or no status or influence as a child.

Jesus was telling us that to enter the Kingdom of God we must become like little children. Putting our faith and trust in Him. Seeking to serve rather than seeking positions of advantage. We need to be dependent on the Lord for everything in our lives. If we tell a child we're going to do something then they believe it with all their heart. We should be the same way with God. His word has all kinds of promises for us and we believe it with all our heart because we are His children and He is our Father. As adults we want to always understand intellectually what is going on, then we believe as we can understand, but a child is the opposite of this. They do not understand, they do not yet have the intellect to make decisions based off of facts or experiences. They simply trust and believe because as their parent we tell them it is so. That's all they need to believe, and that's all we need to believe.

The real message here was to the disciples though. Those that had lost their eternal perspective. It happens to us as well when we seek positions of greater recognition in the church for the wrong reasons. When we feel that we are better than others because we do more for God than say... the next person. We have to be careful not to become prideful in our service for fear that it is no longer service but instead, self gratification. How can we tell if we are doing what the disciples were doing?

Are we arguing over petty issues in the church with other believers? If so we've probably lost our focus on Jesus and it's now turned to ourselves and our own desires.
Are we seeking positions for our own agenda or are we willing to go where God leads us?
Are we critical of everyone else and what they do rather than looking for the blessing of God at work in others in whatever way that may be?

It's easy to become self centered... after all we were born that way. But Jesus warns us to be careful and always mindful of children and how they act. They trust and they love willingly and completely. Does this describe you?

It's the only way to Heaven.

God Bless You,

Monday, August 20, 2007

I never saw it coming

This last Wednesday I had a sudden attack of Appendicitis. The pain in my stomach awoke me at 4:00am. I wasn't sure what was happening to me, but I new it wasn't good that's for sure. I thought that maybe I was having some severe indigestion or something and I immediately went to the medicine cabinet and drank down some Malox and tried to go back to sleep, but this pain just wouldn't subside enough to allow me to fall back to sleep. After a few minutes of tossing and turning in bed I finally figured I might as well get up and go to work. After arriving at work even though the pain never went away I was able to at least to some degree tolerate it because I could focus on other things. As the morning went on though the pain got worse and I finally decided I better get to the doctor. I went to the emergency room and after an examination I found out that it was my appendix that were giving me all the trouble and that I would need surgery immediately to remove my appendix. By 3pm I was sitting in my hospital room recovering from my surgery and thinking to myself... I never saw this coming!

You see, this day was supposed to be a huge day for me. It was inventory day at work and we only inventory once a year. I had been working day in and day out in preparing for this day. Everything had to be just right. Weeks of preparation had now come to an end and this was the day that all our hard work and efforts would be measured. This was going to be a long day for me, and not just a long day, but a day with consequences. The results of our inventory would determine bonus outcomes for all my associates and if we have good inventory results, then their bonuses will be generous, but if the results are not good then their bonuses will be greatly affected and possibly even lost depending on the actual results. Much rides on this day for all of us. So when I awoke with this pain in my stomach I automatically associated it with nerves or anxiety. But as I later found out, that wasn't it at all.

Later that evening while sitting there alone in my room, I thought about how little it mattered what I had planned for the day, this thing with my appendix's took over my life! At least for this moment nothing else really mattered. All my planning for the day, the importance of the day, none of it could stop this course of action that took place today. I use this story to remind each of us that we never know what tomorrow brings. It could have been a heart attack that took my life, or a stroke, or an auto accident, or any other tragedy for that matter. The bottom line is... when the time comes, and it does for all of us, will we be ready. I'm talking of course about our salvation. What if I'd been awakened by something else other than appendix and the attack ended with my death? It's now judgement day for me, and as I stand before Jesus, I see how important it is that I'm a child of God. Because only God's children are allowed into Heaven, those that do not know the Lord Jesus as their Savior will be cast into the lake of fire (Hell) forever!

What would happen to you if you awoke tomorrow morning and your plans were suddenly changed without warning? What would happen to you if find yourself suddenly standing before Jesus? If you have not made Jesus Lord of your life and called on him to save you before now... it's too late.

I remember when I first gave my life to Christ, I had thought about doing it for weeks prior to actually praying to the Lord to Save me. Why did I delay? Why did I wait? We'll there were several reasons I can remember. One was I thought I just wasn't good enough to be a Christian, for some reason in my mind I thought that Christians had it all together and well in some way were different than me. Another thought was that after I become a Christian, well, I'd have to clean up my life and live differently so I better start changing now before I ... you know, "Went all In." There were several different thoughts that went through my head, but it wasn't until I finally understood, and this understanding came form the Holy Spirit as I read the Gospel alone in my bedroom late one night. When I finally realized that I was a sinner, and that Jesus died on the Cross and rose three days later to provide a way for me to be made righteous with God, When I understood what Jesus did for me, I cried out to him to save me and give me eternal life. All those silly things I was thinking about before now didn't matter at all. Why? Because those reasons were all misunderstandings of what the love of God is all about. When a person finally knows and understands that they are lost and condemned to go to Hell unless they give their life over to Jesus and ask Him to be their Savior... There's no waiting anymore!

If you find yourself waiting, saying things like... "We'll maybe I'll give my life to Jesus next week." Or, "I'm just not ready to commit yet." You do not understand what God's love is all about. His love for you is this...

John 3:16 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.

Now is the time! Today, this very minute! Without Jesus, you are lost. Call on the name of the Lord and be saved! None of us knows what tomorrow brings, but eternal life comes only by way of God's Son... Jesus. Give your life to Jesus, and live without fear of tomorrow and all that comes with it.

God bless you,


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Don't lose Heart

I have a couple of dear friends that are getting up in age and unfortunately they are getting very frail and weak with each passing day. Both are retired associates of mine from work and I pray for both of them often. Each one has their own set of problems with their health. One is suffering from her heart. It's just simply worn out because she has lived for 90 years now and her body is just getting weaker and weaker as each day passes. She is now bed ridden and she's frustrated with the fact that she has to depend on others for her every need, even to be fed and she has always been so independent all her life. My other friend has had several bouts with brain tumors. He's now at a place in his life where it's just not going to get better. He's had all the surgeries he can have and basically he's just trying to stay comfortable for his last remaining days. He's too weak to walk now and his hearing is almost gone. Please keep Alba and Chester in your prayers if you would.

The good news... they both belong to Christ. So someday soon they will be in their new bodies and in their new home where there is no pain or suffering. I'm reminded of a couple of verses that really comfort me as I see my good friends getting weaker and weaker day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
(16) Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
(17) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
(18) So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I take comfort in knowing that as I get older and maybe even get to the point in my life where my outward body is wasting away and deteriorating, I can know that inside I'm being renewed day by day. As I watch my friends and I see them both get weaker and weaker I know that God is renewing them on the inside day by day. It's comforting to know that in our last days as our body starts to breakdown and eventually die, as this is happening we are growing stronger and being prepared for our eternal life. These momentary troubles and suffering is only temporary and the glory of eternal life far outweighs the momentary suffering we're experiencing.

We have to fix our eyes on what's unseen (our eternal home), because if we focus on what is seen, it's only temporary and we'll lose heart. Just remember, this life is only temporary, don't lose heart as your health gets worse, On the inside, God is renewing you day by day and as we get weaker in our flesh, Our Spirit is being renewed so that when we do pass, we pass into eternal life made whole and new.

As I watch my friends get older and weaker each day, I praise God for the inward work He's doing in their lives. What an awesome God we serve. Thank you Lord.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

There's Something About That Name

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; There's just something about that name!
Master, Savior, Jesus, Like the fragrance after the rain;
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Let all heaven and earth proclaim:
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,

But there's something about that name!
The words and music to this song were written by Bill Gather in 1936.

Philippians 2:9...
God ... gave him the name that is above every name.
We all know the power of the name of Jesus don't we? If we have a personal relationship with Christ we should know about the power of his name, but sometimes I think we forget or maybe we just don't have as close a relationship as we should and we have not really seen his power in days or even weeks so we forget that there's something about that name. What a shame our life becomes when we forget the power of Jesus name. After all... God gave him the name that is above all names. That name is JESUS our Lord.

When we call on Jesus we are calling on the name above all other names. We should call with anticipation and hope of an answer and results. That's how powerful the name of Jesus is. I want to take a look at the power of the name of Jesus. I think we need to see for ourselves just exactly what the power of Jesus name can do, and when we finally realize the power of Jesus name, and believe in it, that's when we can finally live our lives in victory over life's hassles and struggles that come our way.

1. The name of Jesus has the power to save us!

Romans 10:13...
for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
The sad reality is that if you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, well your lost, there is no hope for you. The only way to call on the name of Jesus is to realize your need for a Savior. The way this works is the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts of our sinfulness and we suddenly realize that because of our sin we are eternally separated from God unless we realize that Jesus died for us. That he paid the price for our sinfulness when he was sacrificed on the cross and then rose three days later to live forever more. Death had no hold on Jesus, and death has no hold on us either if we have called on the name of Jesus to save us. The name of Jesus is that powerful! So call on the name of the Lord and be saved!

2. The name of Jesus has the power to reward us!

Mark 9:41...
I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
This verse talks about living your life for Christ and if anyone gives you aid in the name of Jesus, that person will not lose his reward. It works the same way if you too give aid to someone in need, especially another believer, another saint serving in the ministry as one of God's children, God will reward that effort and you'll be blessed. We need to help those in need, whether they know Jesus or not because when we serve and come to the aid of others, then quite possibly this generosity might be the only Jesus that people will see. Hopefully they will see the love of Jesus through your actions and eventually come to know Christ as their Savior as well. But just as important, is to aid those in need that already belong to Christ. Jesus has the power to reward those that give or aid others in the name of Jesus. When we help another Christian in their time of need, they see Jesus as work in their life through you. It gives them the strength to carry on and keep on fighting the battle of spreading the Gospel in a world where Satan will stop at nothing to keep that message from getting out. When you help others, always do it in the name of Jesus and watch His power at work.

3. The name of Jesus has the power to give us what we ask for.

John 14:13,14...
(13)And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
(14)You may ask for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 16:24...
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
Sometimes we don't have because we never ask. I think it would be foolish of us to assume that these verses mean that we can just start asking for anything we want and expect God to give us everything we want just because we asked in the name of Jesus. If we are truly lead by the Spirit we will ask for things that the Spirit leads us to ask for. We should know that God knows what we need before we even ask. Be sensitive to your needs and ask for God to supply for your needs. God wants to provide for His children, just like you and I do for our children. It's no different. You see when we ask for God to provide, we're acknowledging that we're depending on God for the provision. We need his help. Just be sure when you ask, ask in the name of Jesus. There is power in his name and we sometimes forget that Jesus is the only one that can improve or change our situation. So often we try and fix things on our own when really what we should have done was ask for God to help us in the name of Jesus.

4. One day everyone will bow at the name of Jesus... Everyone!

Philippians 2:6-11...
Phl 2:6
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
Phl 2:7
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
Phl 2:8
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death–
even death on a cross!
Phl 2:9
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
Phl 2:10
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Phl 2:11
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Finally we see the ultimate power of The name of Jesus. God gave Jesus the name above all names. That means that no one has more authority or power over the name of Jesus. No one! One day...every person will bow at the name of Jesus. You'll either bow now and make him Lord of your life and a receive his free gift of eternal life, or you'll bow later when you finally realize that there is no other name in heaven or on earth or even under the earth that is above the name of Jesus. The sad thing though is if you wait, your life on earth ends and upon your death you are now facing judgement...(it's at this time you'll either go to heaven or to hell) It's also at this very moment that you will finally know without a shadow of doubt the power of the name of Jesus. You will bow and you will acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God. But sadly, because he never knew you, your name will not be written in the lambs book of life. He will tell you to depart from him and you will be cast into the lake of fire and you'll spend eternity separated from the love of God in a place called hell.

There's power in the name of Jesus. The power to save us from hell, the power to reward us when we give aid to others, the power to give us what we ask for, the power to make everyone know that He is Lord, that He has all authority, and He has the power to make everyone bow at his name.

There's just something about that name!