Breakfast anyone – Real Love….

I John 4:10a “This is love: not that we loved God, but that…

Breakfast anyone!

Six year old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his
parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair
to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour
canister, spilling it on the floor. He scooped some of the flour
into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and
added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now
had a few tracks left by his kitten.

Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He
wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was
getting very bad.

He didn’t know what to do next, whether to put it all into the
oven or on the stove (and he didn’t know how the stove worked!).
Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and
reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor.

Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but
slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky.
And just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big crocodile
tears welled up in Brandon’s eyes. All he’d wanted to do was
something good, but he’d made a terrible mess. He was sure a
scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking.

But his father just watched him. Then, walking through the
mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him,
getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process.
That’s how God deals with us. We try to do something good
in life, but it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky
or we insult a friend or we can’t stand our job or our health
goes sour. Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we
can’t think of anything else to do. That’s when God picks us
up and loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess
gets all over Him. But just because we might mess up, we can’t
stop trying to “make pancakes,” for God or for others.

I John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He
loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

A New Song…..

A New Song!

I don’t know about you but waiting and trusting God for the outcome of events in my life requires faith. As the song says our faith is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness…we therefore can…

Psalms 27:14 “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

Psalms 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”

1 Cor. 10:4 “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”

Psalm 96:1 “O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.”

The new song of faith.

Eph 2:8, 9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Heb 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Are you planted firmly on the Rock this morning?
Do you feel like a New Song today????
Have a great day serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus!

Trails vs the Temptation to sin

James 1:13, 14 “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”

Temptation and Trials, Why and When….

Temptation and Trials are topics not often studied by Christians. Why is that? Well, that can involve a number of reasons. One may be that many Christians are not into the actual study of the scriptures which is sad. Yes, they read a little but actual study involves much more than reading. It involves research and most importantly application to your life. We many times allow the desires of the flesh and the busyness demanded by our world to keep us from allocating time to the spiritually important matters like studying to show ourselves approved unto God (II Tim 2:15).

Let’s ask a couple of basic questions about temptation and trials this morning and of course look for the answers in the one place we find truth without error, that being the Word of God. Keep in mind a couple of very important truths. First as the opening verse notes God will NEVER tempt us with sin. A Holy God can have no part with sin. Second is that the temptation in and of itself is not the sin. What we do with the temptation determines whether or not it turns into sin. Do we flee it or do we develop it?

The temptation to sin can also come from multiple places. The world with its god who is satan according to scripture (II Cor 4:3, 4) will throw temptations up in front of us without our permission or our flesh can put them up in front of us with the intent of developing them. Evil thoughts can be developed into sin if we allow them to. Like a snowball rolling down a hill sin grows more destructive the more we let it have its way. The best time to stop a temptation is before it is too strong or moving too fast and is out of control.

II Tim 2:22 “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

As we study temptation we also need to keep in mind that there are temptations to sin and there are trials in our lives that God leads us into so that we can develop spiritually. Temptation to sin and the Trials found in our lives are two different topics. That understanding is vital to our understanding both of them. Many versions use the word temptation in both contexts. Which is OK when we keep in mind that studying requires understanding that scripture never contradicts itself.

So if God reveals one truth in one book or verse He will never contradict it in another. The verses need to be taken together and not by themselves to be understood. Maybe the best example is faith versus works. An example is found in the book of James and the verse on faith without works is dead which cannot possibly mean that works are required for salvation because others passages in scripture note that no work can save us apart from Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Just like an athlete needs to progressively move along in their training and levels of competition we need to do the same spiritually for our development. So God as any good Coach and Spiritual Father does bring trials to our lives for our spiritual development. But as scripture notes He does not tempt us with sin.

So, it is important to not get the temptation to sin mixed up with the trials of life. God cannot and does not temp us with temptations that can lead to sin but He does bring trials our way so that we develop spiritually. The trials spoken of in James 1:2, 3 are not sinful temptations. They are spiritual trials brought our way by God for our development. How do we know that? Because scripture tells us that God can have nothing to do with sinful temptations. He is Holy and sin cannot enter His presence or be designed by Him.

Remember, God’s word never contradicts itself so you must take all the themes before understanding important topics like this. Trials that continue our spiritual development should be looked at in a much different manner than our flesh would view them. Because they are necessary for our development we should be joyful that come our way. It’s the ‘thank you’ we are to express for the trials in our lives that like God’s peace passes worldly understanding. Note that scripture does not say if we go through trials but WHEN we go through trials.

James 1:2, 3 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

So, let’s take a look at how to handle the temptation to sin. We find our best example as we study Jesus’ life on this earth. Remember that Jesus was tempted as we are so His example truly provides us with hope and the knowledge of how to battle temptation and sin.

Hebrews 4:15 “For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

So how did Jesus respond to temptations to sin and battle them? In Luke 4:1 we see that God the Holy Spirit was with Jesus and He is with us as believers also. As believers we never walk alone although the Holy Spirit as He did with Jesus may lead us into a time of testing. We sometimes think at times we walk alone without God but if we are ‘born again’ then we have the Holy Spirit in us (Romans 8:9) and He never leaves us. So how did Jesus combat satan’s temptations to sin? “It is written…” Knowing and obeying God’s Word is an effective weapon against temptation.

It is important to remember that during temptation satan misinterpreted scripture to try and make it fit his plans. Which again is why it is so important to be a student rather than just a reader. The enemy will attack us in the same manner and must see us as push over’s vs. attacking the Son of God with misinterpretation of scripture. If you are not sure what some passage means talk with your Pastor or Elders within your church or other believers you know to be students of the Word. Jesus reminded satan not to test God.

Additional scripture helps for fighting temptations to sin. The Holy Spirit in II Timothy 2:22 reminds us to flee the Temptation to sin. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN. Remember to replace the temptation with an activity that pleases God. An example would be a TV program or music. The concept to flee is biblically correct. To help win the battle replace the tempting one with one that you know is God honoring. I.e. Christian music vs. secular music.

I Cor 10:13 reminds us that God is always with us and He makes a way for us to escape. The key is that we are the one to make the choice to use the way of escape.

CHRISTian Accountability….

James 4:14 “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

Many have a misinterpretation of how long life lasts. The reality according to God is that all of us will live for eternity in one of two locations. The Biblical example of Lazarus and the rich man reminds us of the same. The fact that he was rich did not condemn him it was the fact of his rejection of God that did.

Luke 16:19-23 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom.”

For some ‘born again’ believers there may be an attitude of no longer being accountable so let’s live life to please ourselves. That is a dangerous way of thinking. For you see when we were saved, born again, our Lord placed the Holy Spirit within us and gave us Spiritual Gifts so that we could be about His purpose in our lost and dying world. We are to be as bond slaves or willing servants who now have a purpose in life that is much greater than when we were unsaved and living solely for our personal gain.

While born again believers will not stand at the Great White Throne Judgment and give account of themselves for their sins they will stand at the Judgment Seat of Believers and give account of what they did for Jesus after being saved.

Romans 14:12 “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”

Mat 16:24-27 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

We tend to think that we have a right to make our own decisions as to what our focus on life should be and what our plans for the future should be. Is that really the case?

I Cor 6:19,20 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

The beauty of this new focus or purpose in life is that it lasts for eternity and not just for the few years we live on this earth. The things I obtain for me on this earth will pass away. The things I obtain for God’s glory achieved by my life live for eternity.

Mat 6:19,20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So, am I accountable as a believer and the answer is a loud yes? But it is not for sin but for how I served my Savior after being born again.

How are you doing this morning and what will you be accountable for today?

How much do you Care for Others….

Ecc 4:10b “…But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”

How much do you Care for Others!

A few years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win.

All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back……every one of them.

One girl with Down’s syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story.

Why?

Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course.

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”

I’m not sure of the authenticity of this article but I am sure of its lesson.

Ecc 4:9, 10 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”

Mat 25:40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'”

The Old Fisherman…..

I Sam 16:7b “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

THE OLD FISHERMAN

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out patients at the clinic.

One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. “Why, he’s hardly taller than my eight-year-old,” I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face — lopsided from swelling, red and raw.

Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, “Good evening. I’ve come to see if you’ve a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there’s no bus ’til morning.”

He told me he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success, no one seemed to have a room. “I guess it’s my face…I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments…”

For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: “I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning.”

I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. “No thank you. I have plenty.” And he held up a brown paper bag.

When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn’t take long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury.

He didn’t tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was preface with thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going.

At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children’s room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, “Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won’t put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair.” He paused a moment and then added, “Your children made me feel at home.

Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don’t seem to mind.” I told him he was welcome to come again. And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they’d be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.

In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious.

When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning. “Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!” Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear.

I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.

Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse, as she showed me her flowers; we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, “If this were my plant, I’d put it in the loveliest container I had!”

My friend changed my mind. “I ran short of pots,” she explained, “and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting out in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden.”

She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. “He won’t mind starting in this small body.” All this happened long ago — and now, in God’s garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand.
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I Sam 16:7b “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Life with Purpose…..

Life with Purpose!

We’ve all heard the following sayings;
‘Grab all the gusto you can because you only go around once’
‘I did it my way’

There is a huge danger in following the ways or the purpose in life
as defined by worldly scholars. According to God this philosophy of taking care of self leads to;

There is a way that seems right to a man,

Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’

And sin leads to;

Romans 6:23a “For the wages of sin is death…”

There is an alternative using Solomon’s life as our example. God the Holy Spirit used him to write the book of Ecclesiastes. In it God tells us how our lives can have purpose.

Ecc12:1 “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw new whey you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them”

Ecc12:13, 14 ” Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

So, what priority or life purpose are you running with this morning? A good way to know is to ask yourself how you started the day. Was it by inviting God to develop and use you today or was it to serve yourself and get what you can today?

Mat 6:33a “But seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…”