Pride goes before Destruction…

Pride goes before Destruction…

When is the last time you said to yourself, “Wow, look what I’ve done”?

Pride is something our world says is very good for us. Listen to how God would have us to view pride.

Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 25:6,7 “Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of great men; For it is better that he say to you, ‘Come up here’, than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen.”

Fill in the blank. I can do all things through _________ who strengthens me.

The answer from scripture is, Christ. The answer from our flesh within and our world is my inner strength.

It’s a very tough thing to recognize your unworthiness while a very easy thing to see yourself as worthy of all things. It requires we be honest with the evaluation of ourselves. And most important it requires us to view ourselves as God views us. So that must be based on God’s standards and not our own or we will feel ok about self and world strengths and motives. Humility is not natural to us. Unfortunately neither is honesty.

So, be very honest with yourself. The first step in change is recognition. Recognize you are a sinner and that to have ‘eternal’ worth you must place yourself unto another person’s control. That person is Jesus. To be lifted up by our Lord and Savior is the ultimate compliment and encouragement. Our God is the only source of strength we need. God never forces us to accept His empowerment. The choice is mine.

I Pet5:6, 7 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”

By now many are saying you have got to be kidding me. How am I to have confidence in myself and live accordingly? According to our God who can never lie nor be wrong in and of ourselves we are wicked and will make wrong choices. So we must bit our tongues so to speak and choose the only way that can be absolutely correct.  Remember you are special because of Jesus and not because of you! That attitude changes all of our priorities. It’s ok to feel special when Jesus is the reason you are! The evidence of Jesus love for us is Calvary! Here are just of few of God’s truths

on this topic to meditate on.

Prov 14:12 “There is a way which seems right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah.”

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

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God’s eye is on the Sparrow and me…

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

The SPARROW at STARBUCKS – The song that silenced the cappuccino machine.

It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it’s enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth. For a musician, it’s the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I’m told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right.

Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing. It was a fun, low-pressure gig – I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the ’40s to the ’90s with a few original tunes thrown in during our emotional rendition of the classic, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.

After the tune was over, she approached me. “I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?” she asked.

“No,” I replied. “We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?” To my delight, she accepted my invitation. “You choose,” I said. “What are you in the mood to sing?”

“Well. … do you know any hymns?” Hymns? This woman didn’t know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. “Name one.”

“Oh, I don’t know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.”

“Okay,” I replied. “How about ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’?”

My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, “Yeah. Let’s do that one.” She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing, “Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?”

The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.

“I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”

When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, “Oh, y’all go back to your coffee! I didn’t come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get something’ to drink, just like you!”

But the ovation continued. I embraced my new friend. “You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!”

“Well, it’s funny that you picked that particular hymn,” she said.

” Why is that?”

“Well,” she hesitated again, “that was my daughter’s favorite song.” Really!” I exclaimed.

“Yes,” she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual… “She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week.”

I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence. “Are you going to be okay?”

She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. “I’m gonna be okay. I’ve just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything’s gonna be just fine.” She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.

Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it.

God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it’s no stretch for me to imagine that he could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting him and singing his songs, everything’s gonna be okay.

The next time you feel like GOD can’t use you, remember, Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Isaac was a daydreamer, Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was abused, Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was afraid, Samson had long hair and was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, Jeremiah and Timothy were too young, David had an affair and was a murderer, Elijah was suicidal, Isaiah preached naked, Jonah ran from God, Peter denied Christ, The Disciples fell asleep while praying, And Lazarus was dead!

No more excuses now!! God can use you to your full potential. Besides you aren’t the message, you are just the messenger.

Mat 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I did it my way, the I Disease…

I did it my way, the I Disease!!!

We tend to think that our ways will lead to happiness in this world and some think that doing it our way may even lead to eternal happiness. Listen to what God says about our ways versus His ways.

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

That being the case we need to be extremely careful about thinking of doing it our way and not listening our seeking to understand God’s ways and thoughts. An eternally foolish perspective is being controlled by the ” I ” disease. The following is an example of doing it, ” my way “, and the result!

Jer 16:12,13 “You too have done evil, even-more than your forefathers;
for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of
his own evil heart, without listening to Me. So I will hurl you out of
this land into the land which you have not known, neither you nor your
fathers; and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will
grant you no favor.”

The first example we have of, ‘I will do it my way….’ is;

Isaiah 14:13-15 “For you have said in your heart; I will ascend into
heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit
on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the North; I
will ascend above the height of the clouds; I will be like the Most
High. Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of
the Pit.”

Our ways are always visible to God and sooner or later we reap what we sow.  And sadly, those around us are affected by our selfishness or as God calls it, sin.

Gal 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Jer 16:17,18,21 “For My eyes are on all your ways; they are not hidden
from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes. I will first
– doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, therefore behold, I am
going to make them know — This time I will make them know My power and
My might; And they shall know that My name is the Lord.”

Exodus 34:7 “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and
transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty;
visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the
children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Do it God’s way and reap the blessings today!

Luke 9:23 “If anyone will come after Me, let them deny themselves, take
up their cross daily, and follow Me.”

It is never too late to confess and forsake our sin and start a new course in life!

Have a great day serving the King of Kings!!

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?

Sin, does it still exist…

Sin, does it still exist!

Do you believe that sin is still alive and active today? A good way to tell is to ask yourself when is the last time you recognized a sinful habit in your life.

The ugly truth is that sin is as active as it has ever been and that makes release from its bondage a must if we are to have peace! Woe, did I say bondage?

Yes, that is what sin does to us whether a ‘born again’ believer or not it can control our lives.

Mal 3:6a “For I am the Lord, I do not change;

Our world has tried to avoid this topic starting with Adam and Eve who tried to run from God. The truth is that God and His truths do not change over time.

And we are never able to run from God. He is all knowing and everywhere all at once.

There can be no hiding from His eyes.

Sin today is the same as sin of the past and the wages of our sin is death both physical and spiritual.

Heb 2:14, 15 “… He Himself likewise shared in the same that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Are you in bondage or in release? How about your family and/or friends?

The solution to the problem!

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Take them to the Savior! There is no one else who can help and there is only One Who can be our Mediator with God the Father.

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I Tim 2:5 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”