CHRISTians look Strange to our World…Why is that…

In our world today if you are a true Christian you will be seen as a strange bird and even viewed as hateful and narrow minded. First we must understand that the worlds definition of a Christian and God’s definition as recorded in His word the Bible differ greatly.

The world sees a Christian as anyone attending a church with the name of Jesus in its teachings. Many do not proclaim the whole word of God. The bible says a Christian does not involve the denomination you attend. Check it out for yourself by doing a word search of the Bible and you find not one of the denominations of the world. God’s definition is anyone from any country or race who is ‘born again’. For help in understanding what it means to be ‘born again’ check out the following;

  • The Gospel of John where Jesus tells a religious leader what it means
  • Ephians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, Galatians 2:16-21 where God tells us how many of our good deeds are requird to ‘born again’. Just of few of God’s thoughts on our lives and our deeds needed to be ‘born again’.
  • So, why are CHRISTians seen as strange to this world?
    • Rom 1:21-23 “…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
    • John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
  • What is the ministry of Biblical Christainity while on this earth?
    • Matt 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”
    • Matt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
      • Salt seasons and points out sin. Darkness does not like to be exposed.
    • We are to be different understanding the vast majority of our world will choose the ways of the world in an attempt to restore the broken relationship with God that sin causes;
    • Matt 7:13-14 “”Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
  • Our world will consider Christians ‘Strange’ if we point out sin for what it is and do not do the same.
    • 2 Tim 3:12 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
    • Prov 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of ”

So, do not feel bad this morning if our world hates or persecutes you when you stand up for Jesus and His truths. It very well may mean you are a true ‘born again’ disciple of Jesus and suffering because of it. Be of good courage because;

Romans 5:3 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;”

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.”

Then comes eternity……

John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also”

HE IS RISEN……..

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God looks at the Heart…

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.”

 God looks at the Heart….

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 our 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.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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.”

Keep your Fork, the Best is yet to come…

I Tim 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called…

Keep Your Fork – the Best is yet to come…
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal
illness and had been given three months to live. So, as
she was getting her things “in order”, she contacted her
pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain
aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs
she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would
like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.
The woman also requested to be buried with her favorite
Bible.

Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to
leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very
important to her.

”There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.
” What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply.
” This is very important,” the woman continued . . .
”I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing
quite what to say . . .

”That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the woman asked.
”Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,”
said the pastor.

The woman explained. “In all my years of attending
church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember
that when the dishes of the main course were being
cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,
’keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I
knew that something better was coming . . . like
velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.
Something wonderful, and with substance!

”So, I just want people to see me there in that casket
with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder
’What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them:
’Keep your fork. The best is yet to come!’”

The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he
hugged the woman goodbye. He knew this would be one
of the last times he would see her before her death.

But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of
heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was
coming. At the funeral people were walking by the
woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was
wearing and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in
her right hand.

Over and over the pastor heard the question “What’s with
the fork?” And over and over he smiled. During his
message, the pastor told the people of the conversation
he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also
told them about the fork and about what it symbolized
to her.

The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking
about the fork and he told them that they probably would
not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.
So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it
remind you oh so gently, that the best is yet to come . . .!

Rev 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Of anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

What Church should I attend…

What Church should I attend…..

Most Religious organizations are man made. Did you know that none of the denominations you hear of today are ever mentioned by name in the Bible? The early CHRISTian Church is called “The Way” but the current major denominations you and I know of are not mentioned in scripture.

Having said that I do want to say that Jesus does mention His worldwide Church and the importance of placing yourself and your family under a doctrinally sound local church. The structure of the church is actually designed by God in the Bible. Sadly the reasons that many use to choose a local church have nothing or very little at best to do with sound doctrine from the Bible. Many times people choose a church based on the size of the congregation or newness of the church building or the programs it has available to every member of the family or where their family has traditionally attended. While those items offer value they are not the reason Jesus wants to place you and your family in a local church.

Doctrine very seldom receives much or enough value in the decision making process of where should I and my family fellowship. Nor does the decision take into account that maybe the reason a program is missing is because I have not yet started to serve using my spiritual gift(s). Maybe that church that is missing something is exactly where I am to be…………so that it is not lacking that ministry. What a change of thought in the decision making process. As God reminds us in Isaiah 55:8, His ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts so we dare not depend on what we think is best while not seeking God’s wisdom.

We are by nature a selfish people and it carries over into our decision making as to where we fellowship. What matters to Jesus is that the decision must be based on where He wants us to serve not where am I most comfortable. And of course that first means you must have Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

First and foremost in our local church selection process is what doctrine a church practices. The cornerstone of doctrine is “what must I do to be saved?”. False and manmade religions teach a doctrine of works plus Jesus for salvation. Check out  (Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”) on that one.  The name is Jesus. Many have the name of Jesus in their church but attach works such as Church Membership, Attendance, Giving, Baptism, etc to the Gospel to be saved or  ‘born again’ (John 3:3). While those are all good things and spoken of in the Bible none are ever added to the doctrine of salvation in the Bible. Attaching anything or any activity to Jesus sacrifice for our salvation means His death was not sufficient and as scripture says is, “another Jesus and another Gospel”. It is not of God.

Gal 2:21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

For where I will spend eternity is not about the church I attend but about who is my Lord and Savior.  Eternity with God and not satan comes down to what do I believe about Jesus and what He said. Jesus made one Church. To be a member you must…

John 3:3 “For truly I say unto you, unless a man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

 John 14:6 “And Jesus said unto them, I am THE WAY, the truth and the life, no one can come to the Father, BUT BY ME.”

Our first requirement is to align with a local church that is professing the Gospel with sound doctrine and then to let the Holy Spirit use us with the spiritual gift(s) He has given us in that setting. Once again the local church must be doctrinally sound. We must use the correct motive for serving there and that motive is to serve Jesus.

Luke 22:26,27 “ But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”

So, what is the doctrine of your church and more importantly what are you and your family trusting in and being taught? And is your focus on where you fellowship to be entertained or to serve? If you are not sure ask those leading your church one question and listen for the answer.

The question is; WHAT MUST I DO TO SPEND ETERNITY WITH JESUS.

The answer should be;

John 3:3 “For truly I say unto you, unless a man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

 John 14:6 “And Jesus said unto them, I am THE WAY, the truth and the life, no one can come to the Father, BUT BY ME.”

NOTHING MORE AND NOTHING LESS!!!!!

We all need Help…

1 Samuel 16:7a “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; …”

We all need Help…

One evening I was parked in front of the mall wiping off my car.
I had just come from the car wash and was waiting for my wife to get out
of work. Coming my way from across the parking lot was what society
would consider a bum. From the looks of him, he had no car, no home, no
clean clothes, and no money. There are times when you feel generous but
there are other times that you just don’t want to be bothered. This was
one of the “Don’t want to be bothered” times.

“I hope he doesn’t ask me for money,” I thought. He didn’t. He
came and sat on the curb in front of the bus stop and he didn’t look
like he could have enough money to even ride the bus. After a few
minutes he spoke. “That’s a very nice car,” he said. He was ragged but
had an air of dignity around him.

I said, “Thanks,” and continued wiping off my car.

He sat there quietly as I worked. The expected plea for money
never came. As the silence between us widened something inside said,
‘ask him if he needs any help.’ I was sure that he would say yes, but I
held true to the inner voice.

“Do you need any help?” I asked. He answered in three simple but
profound words that I shall never forget. We often look for wisdom in
great men and women. We expect it from those of higher learning and
accomplishments. I expected nothing but an outstretched grimy hand. He
spoke three words that shook me.

“Don’t we all?” he said.

I needed help. Maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but I
needed help. I reached in my wallet and gave him not only enough for bus
fare but enough to get a warm meal and shelter for the day. Those three
little words still ring true. No matter how much you have, no matter how
much you have accomplished, you need help too. No matter how little you
have, no matter how loaded you are with problems, even without money or
a place to sleep, you can give help. Even if it’s just a compliment, you
can give that.

You never know when you may see someone that appears to have it
all. They are waiting on you to give them what they don’t have. A
different perspective on life, a glimpse at something beautiful, a
respite from daily chaos, that only you through a torn world can see.

Maybe the man was just a homeless stranger wandering the
streets. Maybe he was more than that. Maybe he was sent by a power that is great and wise to minister to a soul too comfortable in themselves.

Maybe God looked down, called an Angel, dressed him like a bum,
then said, “Go minister to that man cleaning the car, that man needs help.”

AND, “Don’t We All?”

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Hebrews 13:2 “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Growing Old and Priorities…

II Pet 3:18 “But grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ, to Him be the glory both now and forever, amen.”

Growing Old and Priorities!

The first day of class our professor introduced himself and
challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up
to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around
to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that
lit up her entire being. She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m
eighty-seven years old.  Can I give you a hug?” I laughed and
enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” And she gave me a giant
squeeze. “Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I
asked.  She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get
married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel.” “No
seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be
taking on this challenge at her age. “I always dreamed of having a
college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared
a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the
next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was
always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her
wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she
easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she
reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She
was living it up. At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at
our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was
introduced and stepped up to the podium.

As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped all of
her 3 x 5 note cards. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned
into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery.  I gave
up beer and this whiskey is killing me!  I’ll never get my speech back
in order, so let me just tell you what I know.”

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop
playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. “There
are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving
success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You’ve got to have
a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people
walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!  There is a huge
difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen
years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive
thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old
and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn
eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or
ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in
change. Have no regrets. The elderly rarely have regrets for the things
we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear
death are those with regrets.”

She concluded her speech by courageously singing , “The Rose.” She
challenged each of us to study the lyrics.

At the years end Rose finished the college degree she had begun
all those years ago. One week after graduation, Rose died peacefully in
her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to
the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to
be all you can possibly be.

REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY,

GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL.

A cute story but may be misleading if you are not careful. Did you notice the very first priority that we must have in life was missing. To know, love and serve Jesus is what life for the believer is all about. And fortunately for us there is no retirement from that privilege and responsibility.

Mat 6:33 “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and its righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you!

I don’t know if the story is real but I do know that when I leave this
world and stand in front of Jesus that I would like to have no regrets and to hear;

Mat 25:23a “His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant;”

How about you?

Do you Need Help….

Do you want stability and success in your life? Do you need someone to provide you with counseling on how to do so? Do you want a counselor who can never advise you incorrectly? Most Counselors in our world treat symptoms vs the root cause. Why is that?

Do you want help in time of trouble?

Where do I go when I need Counsel…

Psalm 1:1-6 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

So, God says that we cannot go to Counselors who do not know Jesus as their Savior. Why is it that the unsaved cannot counsel the hurting with advice that is in line with what God gives us?

I Cor 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. “

We also must understand that

God’s Counsel is the only Counsel that never changes and offers hope, lasting hope.

So here is the quiz.

1. Where do you get your counsel from?
2. How much time do you allocate daily to reading God’s truths from His word to us (Bible)?
3. Is your tree (life) firmly planted on the Rock (Jesus)?

If you need counsel this morning seek out someone who will use God’s truths as his or her guide.

Without that basis for truth you will never get to the root cause of your problems.