Thought for today

I’ve been studying for our adult Sunday school class from Philippians Chapter 1, where Paul imprisoned, wrote about the gospel being preached, and his desire to leave and be with Christ.  It is a lesson in personal conflict.

Paul’s ministry had an amazing impact on those believers. They were bold for Christ and the message was yielding fruit.  Paul’s joyful attitude made them eager to share Christ with the world.  The purity and sincerity of Christ’s love broke down the walls, and despite his tremendous joy at the spreading of the gospel, we see Paul’s desire to be with the Lord [Phil 1:21-23].  While he remained, the gospel was being preached, and the church was encouraged, but if he died he would be with the Lord, a thing which he desired.    Paul’s attitude was resolute – ” Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. [Phil 1:24]”  Paul stated that no matter what he had to endure, he would not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ[Phil 1:20]. His purpose was to honor and glorify Christ at all costs.  So it didn’t matter if he was imprisoned, his spirit, his attitude was not.  Paul was freed from the snares, the temptations, and his own flesh to do the will of Christ.  He did not sit in a corner moaning his misfortune, instead Paul reflected Christ.  Paul’s total message was so captivating that Christ’s message of love and grace won the hearts and minds of those desperately seeking the Messiah.  And they discovered Christ-the hope of glory through Paul despite of his chains.   The thought for today is, does our attitude reflect and honor Christ despite our situations, challenges, and personal imprisonments?  

Faith asks us neither to destroy nor to exalt human desire but to gather it into an even greater desire; the thirst for God.

Author Unknown

Dear friends, let your entire being like Paul, reflect the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Share Christ and let the joy of your salvation bring forth the light and love.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17  Amen. 

January 1st

January 1st with its Rose Parade and football games grabbing for our attention. Chicken wings, nachos, or traditional meal spread out ready to satisfy our waiting appetites. January 1st when text messages, phone calls go out to those near and far wishing them a prosperous new year. January 1st, the first day of a new beginning, when we reflect about what did and did not happen last year. Thoughts about losing weight, getting better, going back to school, finishing the book, or taking the leap of faith intersect with New Year’s Day rituals and activities.  And yet January 1st is a gift – another chance “to become“. I would hasten to say with conviction, no other day on the calendar tends to move more people to ponder how to begin again.  It is our “In the beginning“, when the tug of divine fulfillment and purpose prompts many to make resolutions, set goals, and start on the path to becoming.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (
Genesis 1:1), and during the process He created us in His image, to be stewards, caretakers, builders, worshippers, architects, and co-heirs.   January 1st is not just another day on the calendar.  It is a day of unification with the Creator, and not with a bowl game or bowl of chili.

Take a moment to unite with God, and seek your new beginning through Him this January 1st.  There’s still time.

Yea, thou I walk

The events of December 14th have touched the hearts and souls of the world.  Sorrow, anguish, horror, sadness and pain for those lost, and for those left behind to cope with their journey through the valley of the shadow of death.

Lord, paint our souls with a picture of you, so Your divine light can be seen in this dark world. Paint our hearts with your love to enable us to show what real love really is. Paint our spirits with your peace so we become vessels of calm in troubled waters.  Paint our minds with your wisdom, and our bodies with your strength and mercy, so that we show your amazing grace to the world.

Help us Lord, to walk with these families and others through this time.  Their journey through these dark days are beyond comprehension.  And like others before them, remind us all that our personal journeys intersect with theirs right now, and as your servants we have a work to do them.

Lord, let them know they are not alone, for you are with them.  Your rod and staff will comfort them, and the table you’ve prepared is anointed with your healing oil.  Remind them You are filling their cups with your loving comfort, like the gates of heaven.

Lord, be with these families whose children, and loved ones are gone and with those who are providing care, comfort, support, aid.  Give us the strength and courage as a nation to help, really help those who need it.  Amen

Is There A Church In Your House?

“The church in thy house.”  Philemon 2

C.H. Spurgeon

Is there a church in this [your] house? Are parents, children, friends, servants, all members of it? or are some still unconverted?

Let us pause here and let the question go round–Am I a member of the Church in this house?  How would father’s heart leap for joy, and mother’s eyes fill with holy tears if from the eldest to the youngest all were saved!  Let us pray for this great mercy until the Lord shall grant it to us. Probably it head been the dearest object of Philemon’s desires to have all his household saved; but it was not at first granted him in its fulness. He had a wicked servant, Onesimus, who, having wronged him, ran away from his service. HIs master’s prayers followed him, and at last, as God would have it, Onesimus was led to hear Paul preached; his heart was touched, and he returned to Philemon, not only to be a faithful servant, but a brother beloved, adding another member to the Church in Philemon’s house.  Is there an unconverted servant or child absent this morning? Make special supplication that such may, on their return to their home, gladden all hearts with good news of what grace has done! Is there one present? Let him partake in this same earnest entreaty.

If there be such a Church in our house, let us order it well, and let all act as in the sight of God.  Let us move in the common affairs of life with studied holiness, diligence, kindness, and integrity.  More is expected of a Church than of an ordinary household; family worship must, in such a case, be more devout and hearty; internal love must be more warm and unbroken, and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christlike. We need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out of the list of Churches, for the Holy Spirit has enrolled a family-church in the inspired book of remembrance.  As a Church let us now draw night to the great head of the one Church universal, and let us beseech him to give us grace to shine before men to the glory of his name.

[Is there a church in your house?]

Where is the Love?

Let me tell you a story.  Once upon a time there was a little girl whose baby brother was very ill.  The little girl watched as her mother and father cared for the little boy.  They wanted so desperately for the boy to get well. But all their attempts at healing failed.  They tried everything, but no one had the answer.   The little girl loved her baby brother.  She thought she must do something to help.  She remembered a story her grandmother told her about a magical bird, a little blue bird with powers to grant wishes to anyone brave enough to find it.  So off the little girl went in search of the mystical creature.

Where is the love?   The little girl in our story went off to find an object, a mythical creature who she hoped would see heart’s desire, and grant her request to cure her baby brother.   When we arrive on this planet, we are also in search of something, or someone who will see our desires, and grant our wishes, and love us.  We struggle with the not only the object, but along the journey.    We go off looking for it, whatever it is, but our internal GPS is off.  We look for love in all the wrong places.  Our vision is distorted, and convoluted. We’ve gotten lost in the jungle, in the desert, in the wilderness; blinded by illusions, lies, legacies, false dreams, images, hurts, pain, disappointments, and those blinded eyes cannot see the truth. We don’t know where is the love, nor what love really is. 

So, where is the love?

Scripture says love comes from God. 1 John 4: 7.  Love is also everlasting.  Love is divine, heavenly, it never fails.  Love is patient, kind; it is not proud or boastful.  Love is wonderous, miraculous, and we were born out of love, so we are both beloved and love.  Now, when I say we are love, and beloved, many of you were probably immediately turned off.  No, not me.  I’m not lovely, I’m not lovable,  I have never really, really been loved.  My father, mother, sisters, brothers, husband, wife; they didn’t love me.  Oh, they said they did, but they didn’t.  If they had loved, they would have___.  If they had, they would have shown me that I was beloved.  Or how can I be beloved when I_______?  Just look at me!  I’ve done so many horrible things.  I don’t know who I am.  I’m all messed up.  No one really loves me.

Beloved is a powerful word.  The mere speaking of it does something to our heart, mind, and soul.  When we first experience what we feel is love, our whole being changes.  Our soul hungers for it.  It becomes a drug.  Once we’ve tasted it, we want more.  But that kind of love is not love as God defines it.    So, where is the love?

“The Lord appeared to us in the past saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

Love is a song of life, hope and deliverance.  It is a clear, sweet heart song like none other. And it is special and different to each of us.  We received it at the moment of conception.  God told the angels look at this one, look how marvelous he is, she is.  They will bring something the world has never known.   How beautiful they are?  Look at them, my son, my daughter.  Look at the love.  See how they shine, sparkle;  My children; My crowning achievement.  I made them in my image;  My beloved.   We heard the voice of love right in the very heart of our DNA.  It was a song that said yes to Him who is love.   It is one of recognition, and angels rejoiced at our new birth, because another song of love filled the earth, another soul bringing glory to Father.  Our yes becomes His symphony, and our combined voices fill the atmosphere with love songs to Him, and those needing to find their love songs.

It is love that creates and heals.  It is love that builds, restores, and gives. It is love which endures all things, and demonstrates courage in the midst of the storms.  It is love that makes a home, and a community. It corrects injustice, and sacrifices.  It is a  song one hears that the soul longs for; it is the melody of life – a sweet harmony experienced when we embrace Him.  When we remember He is love, and His very essence, character is divine love, we are complete.  It is astonishing, magnificent, majestic, saving love.  Beloved, when we get the message of Jesus, that He (God) so loved the whole world that He gave us love wrapped up in Christ, then we see, feel and know we are beloved.  And God’s eyes sparkle, and He smiles when we discovered we are loved by Him.  Fully loved.

Say yes to His love, for he created us; you and me out of heavenly love. Remember our love song, our true song, and refuse to allow yourself to become dull, blurred and seared by the world anymore. No more running around to and fro. Cease the frenzy pace.  Stop, because we are no longer seeking the answer to the question where’s the love. The answer was given to each of us; a prime directive from the God Creator of all.   The real question is, does the world see it?   Does it see the love of Christ in you and me?  When you look at me, and I look at me, do we see love?   Are we reflecting the answer to the question, where is the love? Our lives must reflect the love.  Fully aware, transmit love to the world as He did, and does.   Tell the world, He loves with an everlasting love.  Tell them, we are from God, and whoever knows God must hear the voice of love, because we have been born of God’s love.   Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4: 6, 11 [paraphrased].  The world needs to hear the strings of God’s love.  They desperately need to see your belief that you are love, and beloved of God.  It is through us they hear their own love song –  the divine plan of salvation.

So, the answer to the question,where is the love is inside of each of us. It is you.  It is me.  It’s Christ.  Together, we are the answer to question.

O, the little girl in the story, did she ever find the little blue bird?  She discovered, as we all do it where it was.  Right within her.

Today, before another thought of what I have to do; before you begin that internal self talk about this is nothing, or it is not for me, before another moment passes and you say no, come and say yes to love.  Answer the question, where is the love?

 

 

Wait for the Lord

Wait patiently for the Lord.

On the anniversary of the attacks at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and the loss of Flight 93, there is a silent cry for the Lord from the families, and communities who lost loved ones.  The horror of that dreadful day as we stood in disbelief as thousands were viciously killed still brings pain and sorrow.  Let us pause for a moment, and ask for healing for our world, and comfort for those who lives were forever changed.

Oh Lord, we still need you.  Help us, Lord to learn the lessons of that day.  May we reach out to one another in love and peace.  May we show how to live, really live as you want us to.  Help us to show the love of YOU today.  May we extend hands of comfort, hearts of compassion, and arms filled with the joy of you.    In Jesus’ name.  Amen

 

Worn Out

Feeling worn out?  Tired, exhausted, depleted?  Lots of time and effort goes into our ministries, communities activities, along all those personal and professional obligations.  We feel scattered from jumping from one thing to the next.  It seems like the more we have to do, the less we strength we have.  More is going out than is coming in, and we are enjoying our lives less.  Several friends have shared with me, they just want to sit down or lay down somewhere and sleep for days.  Hoping, of course that when they awake, they will be refreshed, ready to tackle the next items on the proverbial “things to do list”.

But take courage.  God is saying to us, don’t give up in doing well.  He knows you want to please him, and live in the fullness of His presence.  God knows you want to experience Him at higher heights.  He knows the enemy is trying to wear you down. But take courage.  Our God will never, ever forsake us.  You will be victorious. Seek Him during this time and be prepared for a miracle.

A new season is upon us.  On the Jewish Calendar it is Elul [August 19 – September, 16, 2012].  “As the last month of the Jewish year, Elul is  traditionally a time of introspection and stocktaking—a time to review one’s  deeds and spiritual progress over the past year, and prepare for the upcoming “Days of Awe” of Rosh  Hashanah and Yom  Kippur.   As the month of divine  mercy and forgiveness, Elul is a most opportune time for teshuvah (“return” to God), prayer, charity, and increased ahavat Yisrael (love for a fellow Jew and [others]), in the quest for  self-improvement and coming closer to God.”

I encourage you to seek God with intentionality.  Draw strength from His inexhaustible power.  Lean on Him more for guidance and directions for all those things, you feel you must do.  Just as Jesus did, so should we.  Jesus went to the Father for strength, as well as rest as He went about His earthly ministry.  The source of power never diminished.  Jesus tapped into the Almighty Source, and was able to do all things exceedingly well.

So stop walking around drained, tired, exhausted, worn out.  Plug up your holes (mind, body and spirit) with the strength of the Holy Spirit.  No more being worn out, and you will experience His joy, His grace, His mercy and His strength.

Hymnal

A hymnal is a collection of songs meant to worship or praise God, or express His relationship in human affairs.   Hymns growing up as a child were just songs we had to sing before the minister got up to preach.  “Jesus loves me this I know” was the first song I remember learning.  It was a cute, simple tune.  The congregation often smiled in approval, and an occasional “Amen” could be heard if we got it just right.  As I grew up I thought it was too cute to be sung by anyone.

As we grew older, we sung songs like “A Mighty Fortress“, “Rock of Ages” and “Blessed Assurance.”  I often thought why sing these old songs, doesn’t the preacher know anything modern?  Sunday after Sunday, we pulled out those hymn books, and turn to a page and begin singing as a church-one song-one voice.  Expressions on the faces were mixed. Some smiles, tears, blank or disinterested looks. I’m sure at times my face projected these same looks.  It was the words that struck me though.  Where did they come from, who wrote them and why?  It wasn’t until I got older and been through the storms of life, faced my fair share of challenges, gone down in defeat, battled the enemy, and felt the precious hand of Jesus did those old hymns become real to me.

Finally I understood.  Words to a song like “Amazing Grace” meant something.  These were expressions of love; of thanksgiving; of hope; of desperation; of grief and sorrow, frank and earnest conversations with Our Father which Art in Heaven.  And more importantly when sung now, within a community of believers, words such as “saved a wretch like me” are more profound.  Now when we sing them, we (the community of believers) become the hymnal.   We’re the praise, the thanksgiving, the love song to God.

Look at the pages of any current or past hymnal, and we are there, on every page and in every note praising God from whom all blessings flow with every song of tragedy, triumph, hope and redemption.  Yes, hymnal are a collection of songs, but as time passes they become so much more and so do we.

Man’s Image

God made man in His Image.[Genesis 1:26-27] Within man’s image, the essence of the divine resides, and man was originally designed to reflect that essence, and to carry out God’s plans.  Man was told to prosper, reproduce, and subdue the earth; be a steward – a reasonable manager in the administration of his duties on the earth.   Man’s image should mirror and be in alignment with our Heavenly Father.    What a glorious gift and inheritance!  And yet stories like the one involving the slain students near the campus of Auburn University, you can’t help but to grieve.   Our people perish for a lack of knowledge.  So many don’t know who they are and what is their purpose.

Made in the image of God, and yet we hate ourselves.  Our reflection has been damaged, distorted and diseased by the enemy.  We no longer reflect our original image, nor carry out the purpose and plans for which we were designed.

But there is good news!   Our image can be restored!   Christ, our Savior, the hope of glory is our master conduit through which we are remade into a new “creation.”   With His precious blood, He restores our divine image and set us on the path to our purpose.  Through Christ we prosper, reproduce, and fulfill our duties.     Through Christ the world learns the truth about – man’s image.    Reflect today!

The Game

Recently, I watched an old movie starring Hayley Mills “Pollyanna”, who came to live with her maiden aunt after the death of her missionary father.  Her aunt Polly was extremely wealthy and ran the town.  Its citizens followed a strict code of conduct and weren’t particularly happy. Pollyanna’s character, upon arrival introduced the philosophy of “The Game.”  Her father taught her to look at the bright side of things, even when disappointed in circumstances, or in people.  “If you look for the good in people, you are sure to find it” was the inscription on the necklace given to her by her father.  There are more than 800 happy texts in the Bible Pollyanna told the Pastor portrayed by the late actor Karl Malden.  He went and looked up every single one of these “happy texts” and it dramatically changed his ministry, and relationship with the townspeople.

Cynicism, malaise is creeping into our thoughts, actions, and deeds.   Are you looking for the good in people at the home, the supermarket, store, bank, school or on your job?  You might say, you don’t understand what I’m going through.  You don’t understand the news I just received.  My kids, my spouse, my job, my work, my life….there is nothing good here now.  You are so wrong.  Good is always present.  “Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from Heaven above, with wisdom, power and love, our God is an awesome God” are lyrics from a song sung by Helen Baylor.  Our awesome God has given abundant life.  He has given us the perfect planet in which to live.  He has given us his Only begotten Son Jesus to rescue us from the wages of sin and the grave.  He has given us family, opportunity to use our gifts and abilities, and so much more.   We are his beloved children, stewards and ambassadors who should be looking for the good in others.  The world needs us looking through the lens of good so they can have hope.  So go find a happy text in the Bible, and then play the Game.   Remember: When you look for the good, you will surely find it.

1 Corinthians 13