The Cold Sin within….

Isaiah 64:6 “For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of
us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

Sin comes in many attitudes and forms.

The Cold Sin Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance.
In black and bitter cold,
each one possessed a stick of wood,
or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs.
The first man held his back,
for seeing the faces around the fire,
he noticed one was black.

The next man looking across the way,
saw one not of his church,
and couldn’t bring himself to give,
the fire his stick of birch.

The third man sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch,
why should he put his log to use,
to warm the idle rich.

The rich man just sat back,
and thought of wealth he had in store,
and how to keep what he had earned,
from the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge.
As the dim fire passed from sight;
for all he saw in his stick of wood,
was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group,
did nothing without gain,
give only to those who give to you,
was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight,
in death’s still hands,
was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without;
they died from the cold within.

James 2:1-4 “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious
Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if
a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in
fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,
and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine
clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to
the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,”
have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become
judges with evil motives?

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Choose you this day….

Choose you this day!

So, if I were to ask you what is your main priority or focus today what would you say? Knowingly or unknowingly each day we all present ourselves to serve something or someone. Our priorities for the day are shown by our actions which represent our inner thoughts and priorities. The old saying that actions speak louder than words is very true.

Take a minute to look back at your actions and ask yourself. What or Who is number one in my life yesterday or for the past year? What was your focus or your priorities? Much of your focus may appear to be good but cannot be your number one priority. So, what should be my number one focus?

 “Mat 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Have you ever presented yourself as a servant to the King of Kings??

To do so you must first know Jesus as your personal Savior. We need Jesus because we lost our relationship with God as the penalty of sin. And nothing we are able to perform by our own achievement can restore that relationship.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

 

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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 would boast.”

Remember;

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”

 

Romans 10:13 “For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”[

When you have accepted Jesus as the Lord of your life then He wants you to…

Rom 12:1,2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

Do you remember when you said, Lord I want to do what you what me to do? You can be saved and on the side lines or not serving. He wants us to serve Him. If you are ready to start then the following steps will help you to do so.

Luke 9:23=25 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,[a] and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”

Go for it, Jesus awaits our move….!

Retirement (Yes or No)…

Psalm 92:12, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will
grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they
will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in
old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is
upright; He is my Rock …”

Retirement (Yes or No)

Is there such a thing as Spiritual retirement? Have you ever
heard someone say, “Well, I’ve served my time …I’ve done my part.
Now I’ll just sit here and rest.  My kids are no longer in that program so
I will let someone else cover it.  Or if it has not been stated verbally the
attitude is along those lines. What a waste of a valuable person that the
Holy Spirit developed to be a servant.   A servant to the Church and not
just the family activities.

People can be spiritually productive in the later years of their
lives, not just playing shuffleboard or sitting in the rocking chair or
watching TV. You can still make a difference.  Our lives are meant to
praise our faithful Lord every chance we get and until He takes us home.

It is God’s will that we “still bear fruit” in our “old age” and
that we stay fresh and productive, not stale and on the sidelines.  We
can retire from a secular career but our spiritual career is not the
same. Jesus wants to be our life and not just our 30 some year part time
priority. We retire from a company but you never retire from the service
of Jesus Christ!

The valuable experiences we have had should cause us to speak as
only those who have walked with God a long time can speak of Him! To not
pass on those experiences can spell tears for our loved ones learning
the same lessons or those needing to hear the gospel but no one will tell them.

When you love the Lord Jesus, when you’ve surrendered your life
to His leadership, you don’t look for an opportunity to quit.
He may change where and how you minister, but He will never put you on
the shelf. If you live to be a hundred, you will always be needed!  God
wants all of us, yes for all of our life span. What a huge comfort and
responsibility.

Your body will slow down. Your health may not be what it used to
be.  But you still have so much to give.  Actually you have more to give
based on the valuable lessons we hopefully have learned. He still has
lives for you to touch. All things will still work together for His good
in your life, so, don’t go off duty!

He’s has young people He wants you to encourage and teach the
lessons you learned from the Holy Spirit’s work in your life.  He’s still
has battles for you to fight, other people’s burdens for you to carry,
situations that need the wisdom He provided you with and people who
need you for them to have a chance to go to heaven.

How can we ever entertain spiritual retirement?  Yes, you may
retire from a ministry position, or a secular occupation, but you don’t
ever retire from serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Portions from a Ron Hutchcraft ministry article.

Titus 2:2-4 “That the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in
faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be
reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers
of good things.”

How to be a Real Friend…

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

 How to be a Real Friend

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle.  It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.”

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friend tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes.

My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.  As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.”

He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived.

As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before.  He said he had gone to a private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books.

He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. And my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends.

When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem.  He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation.  I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

Graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great.  He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school.  He filled out and actually looked good in glasses.  He had more dates than me and all the girls loved him! Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!”  He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began.  “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years.  Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly your friends.  I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them.  I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met.  He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home.  He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved.  My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.  I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile.  Not until that moment did I realize its depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life.  For better or for worse.  God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way.  Look for God in others.

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

Five Actions that Please God….

Five actions that please God……

This morning’s challenge starts with the knowledge that the nation of Israel, having the same selfish sinful tendencies as we have, had been rescued from slavery in Egypt. Yet they turned against the God who rescued them by losing the focus He required of them.

Deut 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Here is the question for you this morning. First you need to put the anxious moments of the morning and the thoughts of today’s schedule aside. What would God challenge you with if you had strayed from having your love for God as your #1 focus? Then ask yourself what are five reasons that God gives us that should be on our minds as we start the day. Typically we start the day thinking about the things we need to accomplish today. Many times those things have little to do with what the God who created us, sent His Son to die for our sins and sent His Holy Spirit to guide our lives would have us set our priorities as. Israel had lost that vital focus and so can we.

In the book of Deuteronomy we are reminded of five things God directed the Israelites to focus on daily. Before you say to yourself that was for Israel, listen to why our Lord recorded the OT for NT believers and how He would have us approach its truths.

Romans 15:4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

I Cor 10:1-4, 11 “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

            Now for the five priorities that we can compare against those we noted above;

Deut 10:12, 13 ““And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”

  1. Fear God (have reverence for Him) (The only good fear recorded in the Bible II Tim 1:7 and is designed to draw us back to what should be our #1 focus which is ?????)
  2. Walk in all His ways. (Pattern your life after Jesus’ life)
  3. Love Him (with all your being Deut 6:5 again designed to draw us back)
  4. Serve Him with all your heart and soul (Making our worldly priorities small)
  5. Observe His commands. (Obedience is vital to restoration)

We so many times maintain a worldly focus because the world we live in seems to demand it. While God also demands our priorities, He does not force them upon us. His desire is for us to choose Him this day as Joshua said in Joshua 24:15 and not for us to be robots. Our God takes pleasure in willing servants. This morning concentrate on what God wants you to do today and find real and lasting peace in this world.

Phil 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

 One final question. Did you allow the Holy Spirit to change your priorities for today??????

The Pillbox.

Galatians 1:10 – “… do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

The Pillbox Hat
Author unknown

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I
encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, and made me laugh and weep. But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.

I responded to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partiers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory in the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at 2:30 A.M., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needed my assistance, I reasoned to myself.

So I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, and then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. “It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.” “Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said.

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?” “It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly. “Oh, I don’t mind,” she said.  “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a nursing home and hospice care “. I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. “I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were
newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.” We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said. “You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded. Almost without thinking,

I bent and gave her a hug.  She held onto me tightly. “You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.” I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done very many more important things in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider small ones.

Of course if we are not open to our Lord Jesus using us we will miss those moments. Stay alert and more importantly stay or start to open yourself to being used by the Master!!!!!!!!!!!

Our frail and sinful bodies will one day give way to….
——————————————————————————
Rev 21:4,5a “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new…”