Rejoice

 

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Philippians 4:4-10 KJV

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Daring Greatly

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat. ”  Theodore Roosevelt

This day dare greatly for the King of kings.  Get into the arena of life with gratitude, love and a passion to make a difference.

Kingdom Questions

Last evening, our pastor gave us 11 questions to answer focusing on the Kingdom. This morning I am sharing them with you.  Devoting time to see exactly where I am in the Kingdom is what I call “spiritual re-alignment“.  Just as our tires need regular realignment after miles and miles of travelling, so our spirits, minds and souls need a “spiritual re-alignment” to stay steady and straight on the road(s) of life.  I pray this exercise will be a blessing to you as you re-align yourself closer to Almighty God.

1. What is the Kingdom [of God]?
2. Are you in the Kingdom of God?
3. How long have you been in the Kingdom?
4. Do you work for the Kingdom?
5. What do you do in the Kingdom?
6. How many people have you recruited into the Kingdom?
7. How do you effect the Kingdom?
8. Will you support the Kingdom?
9. Will you work harder for the Kingdom?
10. Will you spread the word about the Kingdom?
11. Will you pray for the Kingdom?

A Ode to Meekness

” O, you who search for the Heavenly life! Strive for meekness; increase your patience and mercy day by day; bid your tongue cease from all harsh words; withdraw your mind from selfish arguments, and refuse to brood upon your wrongs: so living, you shall carefully tend and cultivate the pure and delicate flower of meekness in your heart, until at last, its divine sweetness and purity and beauteous perfection shall be revealed to you, and you shall become gentle, joyful, and strong.

Repine not that you are surrounded by irritable and selfish people; but rather rejoice that you are so favored as to have your own imperfections revealed to you, and that you are so placed as to necessitate within you a constant struggle for self-mastery and attainment, of perfection.  The more there is of harshness and selfishness around you the greater is the need of your Meekness and love.  If others seek to wrong you, all the more is it needful that you should cease for all wrong, and live in love; if others preach Meekness, humility, and love and do not practice these, trouble not, nor be annoyed; but do, in the silence of your heart, and in your contact with others, practice these things, and they shall preach themselves.

And though you utter no melodramatic word, and stand before no gathered audience, you shall teach the whole world.  As you become meek, you shall learn the deepest secrets of the universe.  Nothing is hidden from him who overcomes himself.  Into the cause of causes shall you penetrate, and lifting, one after another, every veil of illusion, shall reach at last the inmost heart of being.

Canopied with gentleness [meekness], you shall bless where others curse; love where others hate; forgive where others condemn; yield where others strive; give up where other grasp; lose where others gain, and in their strength they shall be weak and your weakness you shall be strong; yes, you shall mightily prevail.”   James Allen

Psalm 37:11 “But the meek shall inherit the earth..” Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.”

1 Peter 3:4, “…rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle (meek) and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

 

Listening To God

Listening to God requires that we first listen for God, Robert Benson once said.  We have to be in a position to want to hear from God, by being still and knowing God is God.

“Has God trusted you with silence-a silence that is big with meaning?  God’s silences are His answers. Think of those days of absolute silence in the home of Bethany! Is there anything analogous to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking for a visible answer? God will give you the blessings you ask if you will not go any further without them; but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into a marvelous understanding of Himself.” Oswald Chambers   Are you satisfied with the silence?  Make no mistake that silence is also God speaking.

We are to listen for Him, and not be concerned about the manner or method He chooses to speak to us. Remember that burning bush. God spoke to Moses on the backside of a mountain in a bush. Scripture is filled with different ways God spoke to His people.  Our responsibility is to be attentive when He speaks, and obey. His voice is unmistakable. It is like the dawning of the sun. It fills the soul and spirit with hope, joy, love and warms your heart.  He is probably speaking to you right now.  Telling you don’t worry about this day; He has everything under control.
St.Teresa of Avila said, “We should accept with simplicity whatever understanding the Lord gives us; and what He doesn’t we shouldn’t tire ourselves over. For one word of God’s will contain within itself a thousand mysteries.” The value of listening to God is that we will finally hear him as He is – God. All those questions are answered, we cease from struggling over the mundane and trivial.  We seek Him knowing all is well with our souls.  Peace, Power, Presence.  Are you listening to God?
Listening to God provides our way home.

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.

Too Much

In between watching the 2012 Olympics games, I watched an episode of Top Chef-Just Desserts where the chefs were asked to make a  “savor” dessert inspired by another country.  One chef prepare a dish resembling a Cuban Sandwich.  The beautiful plated dessert looked just like a sandwich with chips and potato salad.  The “Potato Salad” was actually diced Asian pears sprinkled with vanilla beans to resemble pepper.  It was so creative.   As the judges bit into the sandwich, the creme topping that looked like mayonnaise oozed out the sides and became very messy.  The filling overpowered the other components. The chef put too much in the sandwich.  It looked good on the outside, but when the “test” the sandwich did not hold.

Isn’t that just like us?  We spend time and energy creating our “exterior self” so it appears like a beautiful plate of good food.  But there is a problem.  Our execution is faulty.   We add too much of this world so when the “test” comes, our beautiful but poorly designed selves starts oozing out.  We overdo it; add too much, or add the wrong things trying to look good.

There needs to be the right balance of ingredients so lives not only appear beautiful, but beautifully reflect Him.   That right balance is more of Jesus and less of me and you.  He is the potter, we are the clay.  He knows just what to do, and say.  He knows our beginnings, our middle, and our ends.  He understand how much we can handle, and prompts us to let Him handle our lives.  Jesus said, “Come all of you who are heavy burden, and I will give you rest.”   As we make our way through this life, our first order of business is to go to Christ first, and obtain instructions on how to prepare and manage for this life.  Christ will provide the right ingredients in the proper proportions, and then show us how to prepare and utilize them.  So when our “test” comes, and it will come, we will have just the right stuff in the right proportions for any test.

Staying the Course

“You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.

You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him.” Psalm 119: 1-2 [MSG]

It is easy to get distracted by challenges, situations, circumstances, interruptions, or just life in general.  It can be downright difficult.  Staying the course results in reward.  If you desire the reward, you must understand what staying the course means.  First, it means discovering the road God revealed, not your road, but His.  Second, understand why you are on the road.  It is to discover the word, which is the ultimate expression of God’s mind and reasoning.   The word keep you steady in spite of all those distractions. It also point you in the direction of the one who created the road.   Third, follow His directions.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are Gods’ workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”   God already prepared the way for us.  He already revealed the course, the instructions, and the roadmap.   If we stay on the course, understand the process, and follow His direction, then we are the recipients of the blessing.  Ultimately, we get to do what He prepared us to do.  Wow!  As we stay on the course, we discover purpose, receive blessings, and find God.  What could be more wonderful?

Breaking Bad

After my prayer and meditation I began writing in my journal about a family whose father’s health is declining rapidly, and the situation did not appear hopeful.  I wrote, “This is a hard time.”  Then I was struck almost immediately by the word “hard,” and I thought how often  we label something bad, or look at painful images.  “It’s a bad day;  This is a bad report; I got up on the wrong side of the bed; I’m having a bad hair day.”  Or we watch shows like, “Breaking Bad, Desperate Housewives (I know it’s been cancelled), Basketball Wives, Revenge, Scandal, Hell’s kitchen, I Hate My Teenage Daughter”.  Our language is sprinkled with words that pull us down, and not lift us up.  We say, “This is horrible!!” with exaggerated gestures and raised voices.  It is no wonder our attitudes and behaviors reflect the current culture.   We are like that double minded man who is unstable in all his ways, because he is being tossed around by everything around him.

I’m not saying we should not define tragedies.  I am saying our daily language needs some refinement.  Philippians 4:8-9 asks us to meditate on the things which are of good report, and the God of peace will be with you.  Peace of mind will evade us, if we constantly bombard our minds and speak language that does not reflect the God of peace.

I challenge you to avoid using those words that do not reflect the God of peace, and only use words that lift up the name and character of our Lord Jesus Christ for one day.  Let’s go for “Breaking Good, instead of Breaking Bad.”

Bring the Light

Keep the altar of private prayer burning.” C. H. Spurgeon

Is it quiet where you are?  Your home peaceful and secure?  Does your mind, body and spirit reflect the light and presence of God?

If not, then perhaps your sanctuary and private altars has not touched the throne of God.  It is easy for our minds to become confused, our thoughts twisted, our passions aflame with wrong desires and emotions.  Our thoughts, desires, passions must not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing our of minds daily with prayer.  The flame of prayer purifies our thoughts, and as it does the mind is clear, and we can hear from God.

It’s a beautiful day.  Enjoy it, but don’t forget to go to the altar and pray.  The light of your prayers will cast a heavenly glow for someone desperately searching for the it.