Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What "Religion" Do You Belong To?

 Matthew 9:9-13(The Message)

Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, "Come along with me." Matthew stood up and followed him.
 Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riff–raff?"
 Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: I'm after mercy, not religion. 'I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."

How many of us have gone to a church where the "insiders" were in constant strife over some doctrine, rule, etc at church?  Been there, done that.  What outsider would want to be part of a church like that?  I am not one for titles concerning churches.  Catholic, Baptist, Methodist etc.  I want to be part of the church of "Mercy."  How many more people do you think would come to Christ if we were truly the church of Mercy?!

Matthew 10:5-15

Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
"Don't begin by traveling to some far–off place to convert unbelievers. And don't try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
" Don't think you have to put on a fund–raising campaign before you start. You don't need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.
 "When you enter a town or village, don't insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave.
" When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don't welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don't make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. You can be sure that on Judgment Day they'll be mighty sorry––but it's no concern of yours now."

We don't have to go to some far away land to do the work of the Lord. There are many lost in our own back yard.  The verse that says "Bring Health to the Sick" just struck me this morning.  We don't see a lot of "big" healing miracles this day.  God gave men the ability to invent ways to conquer disease.  Maybe it is time to look at this verse in a different light other than praying and seeing a "Healing Miracle." Maybe we need to take the poor to the Dr and pay for a Dr appointment so they can get what they need to get better?  Maybe more doctors need to do pro-bono work to help the poor.  Maybe the churches need to travel less to other countries and spend the cash on the medical needs of the poor in their community!  This is true Christianity.  True Christianity is all of us in the community pooling together to meet the needs of all.  I could do with one less computer and take someone to the doctors instead!!!  What could you do without and put the money aside to take someone to the doctors office when in need?  I am going to do some thinking about how to better serve my community.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why Am I Here??!!

Matthew 5:13-16

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt–seasoning that brings out the God–flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
" Here's another way to put it:You're here to be light, bringing out the God–colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light–bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand––shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

We are to make this earth more "palatable" by being salt on the earth. Being salt on the earth makes it a better place for all of us to live.  We are to bring out all of God's colors on this earth.  We are to shine brightly so these colors can be seen.  What do we want the world to taste and see? Our "generous" lives.

Matthew 5:42-48

No more tit–for–tat stuff. Live generously.
 "You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God–created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best––the sun to warm and the rain to nourish––to everyone, regardless:the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run–of–the–mill sinner does that.
" In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God–created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

Wow!!! How generous is God that he even gives good our enemies. What an example.  May we all give prayer for our enemies.  Enemies aren't people who are trying to kill you necessarily. Enemies are people who may treat you poorly or talk about you behind your back.  Whenever someone misuses you, pray for them.  Isn't the end result we all want is a restored relationship with God.  If we start restoring relationships with those we are out of sorts with, then the relationships with God will fall back not place.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Words to live by today from what I am reading

1 Peter 3:10-12

Whoever wants to embrace life

and see the day fill up with good,

Here's what you do:

Say nothing evil or hurtful;

 Snub evil and cultivate good;

run after peace for all you're worth.

 God looks on all this with approval,

listening and responding well to what he's asked;

But he turns his back

on those who do evil things.

Wow! Today we need to fill the day with good embracing the life God has given us!! Snub evil and cultivate good.  What a challenge some days!

1 Peter 3:13-15

If with heart and soul you're doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you're still better off. Don't give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.

Telling people why we live the way we live with the utmost courtesy!!  I remember the "old" days of witnessing. We were not courteous at all.  Too in your face. I must have sounded like a self righteous idiot,  Praise God he has brought me out from that!

1 Peter 3:16-18

Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath. It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That's what Christ did definitively:suffered because of others 'sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all––was put to death and then made alive––to bring us to God.

Bring on the mud!!!  I will just take a bath in Christ Jesus to clean me up!

1 Peter 4:1-2

Learn to Think Like Him

 Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

That we can all be free to pursue God without sin bogging us down. 

1 Peter 4:3-5

You've already put in your time in that God–ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it's time to be done with it for good. Of course, your old friends don't understand why you don't join in with the old gang anymore. But you don't have to give an account to them. They're the ones who will be called on the carpet––and before God himself.

We are held accountable to God and no one else.  Remember, people are not held accountable to you for their sins.  It is a matter between them and God. Do not judge. We have to remove the plank from our own eye first.  Removing that plank is a lifelong chore until Jesus returns.

1 Peter 4:7-11

Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide–awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless––cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything––encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

1 Peter 4:19

So if you find life difficult because you're doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what he's doing, and he'll keep on doing it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Overcoming Sin

1 Peter 1:13-16
A Future in God
 So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives. Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn't know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, "I am holy; you be holy."

That happened to be the first verse I came to this evening when I decided to devote some time to God.  What really struck me was the quote, "Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing."  Wow!!!!!!  I must confess, today I lazily slipped back into a "way of the past."  Why is it we do so well for so long then "whack," there it is again creeping back into your life?  It immediately came to my mind, "You have triggers! Learn to recognize them and avoid them."

What triggers you to fall back into a sin of the past?  Whatever it is, steer clear of that trigger.  Run as far as you can from it.  If you are having trouble get a "trigger" buddy; someone you can call on when you feel weak.  

1 Peter 1:17-24
You call out to God for help and he helps––he's a good Father that way. But don't forget, he's also a responsible Father, and won't let you get by with sloppy living.
Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead–end, empty–headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ's sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately––at the end of the ages––become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It's because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.
 Now that you've cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God's living Word. Just think:a life conceived by God himself! That's why the prophet said,
The old life is a grass life,
its beauty as short–lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers droop,
1 Peter 1:25
God's Word goes on and on forever.
This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.

Wow, have I had some sloppy living lately!!!  I need to journey through my life with a more deep consciousness of God and what he has done for me!  I know better than to let sin try and get a grip on me.  Sometimes it seems like we take one step forward, then sin creeps in and it is 10 steps backwards.  I am tired of trying to recover from my falls!  I need to remember that I reap what I sow.  Sin gives birth to more sin!! I need to take it more seriously. 

1 Peter 2:1-5
So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You've had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God's pure kindness. Then you'll grow up mature and whole in God.
The Stone
 Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you'll serve as holy priests offering Christ–approved lives up to God.

So I guess it is time to clean house again!!!  Only this time I need to clean my spiritual house!  Time to put the cornerstone at my front door!!!  I need Jesus on the mantle of my door!!

1 Peter 2:11-17
Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.
 Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God's emissaries for keeping order. It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you're a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.

This world is not my home.  I am just passing trough on my way to eternity to live with my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. When that day comes I will be totally healed of all sin and sickness and will stand before him in all righteousness and I will see Him as He is.  It is time to stop being cozy and time to jump back on the train to all eternity.  God did so much for me through Jesus Christ and I need to do more for Him!! Come along with me on our journey through life on our way to Glory!!!

(Quotes from the Bible are from "The Message")

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thoughts From Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31 is the section that talks of The Virtuous Woman.  Here are some things that stand out for me today.

Proverbs 31:8-9
"Speak up for the people who have no voice,
for the rights of all the down–and–outers.
 Speak out for justice!
Stand up for the poor and destitute!"

Proverbs 31:20
She's quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.

“In Matthew 25, Jesus describes Judgment Day. Many will stand there and call him “Lord,” but Jesus says, stunningly, that if they had not been serving the hungry, the refugee, the sick, and the prisoner, then they hadn’t been serving him (Matthew 25:34-40)

Proverbs 31:25
......she always faces tomorrow with a smile.

Proverbs 31:26
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.

Proverbs 31:30
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear–of– God. (Lives in extreme respect, awe, and admiration)

I have been reading in several places lately about taking care of the down and out, the sick, the poor, the needy, the widows, the parentless children.  Here is a verse from James that sums it all up.

James 1:27
Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this:Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

I have a good friend that has been preparing herself the Resurrection Season by looking inward to see what she needs forgiveness for. I decided to be a bit more deliberate about my confessions to God also.  I do it to see what I could be a better person at.  One of the things God has been showing me is that I need to be more compassionate to the plight of the needy and unwanted.  Especially at work.  There are a ton of needy and unwanted people at work.  My goal is to say a prayer over each one of them as they pass through my room for care.  I have always thought of myself as a giver, monetarily etc, but I need to be more giving with my prayers and compassion.  Work is stressful some days and sometimes I can be a bit dismissive with the very "needy" at work.  It is not my job to judge why they are being so gosh darn needy(attention etc) it is my job to be compassionate.  This can be a major challenge some days, as many come through our doors that just demand so much attention. My goal is to see them as God truly sees us all, as his wonderful creation, that he loves, even with all our warts.  

So I have presented myself a great challenge for my work week starting tomorrow.   God bless and I challenge you to examine yourselves for whatever area you need to improve. Thank you Gretchen for reminding me to examine more intently during this Holy season!