Jump into the Water…You must be ‘Born Again’

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.”

Jump into the water…You must be ‘Born Again’

A young man who had been raised as an atheist was training to be
an Olympic diver. The only religious influence in his life came from
his outspoken Christian friend. The young diver never really paid much
attention to his friend’s sermons, but he heard them often.

One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he
attended. The lights were all off, but as the pool had big skylights and
the moon was bright, there was plenty of light to practice by.

The young man climbed up to the highest diving board and as he
turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board and extended his
arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall. The shadow of his body, was in
the shape of a cross. Instead of diving, he knelt down and finally
asked God to save him from his sins and come into his life.

As the young man stood, a maintenance man walked in and turned
the lights on. The pool had been drained for repairs.

How faithful are you in telling your friends about the most
important Person in your life? Remember your witness will take place
through His strength and not yours. But it must start on our end with a
submissive heart.

Mat 4:19 “And He said to them, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

 Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

 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.”

 

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Worthless…How much are you worth…

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son

that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Worthless….How much are you worth…

A man was on the side of the road with a large birdcage.
A boy noticed that the cage was full of birds of many kinds.

“Where did you get those birds?” he asked.

“Oh, all over the place,” the man replied. “I lure them with crumbs,
pretend I’m their friend then when they are close, I net them and shove
them into my cage.”

“And what are you going to do with them now?”

The man grinned, “I’m going to prod them with sticks, and get them
really mad so they fight and kill each other.

Those that survive, I will kill. None will escape.”

The boy looked steadily at the man. What made him do such things? He
looked into the cruel, hard eyes. Then he looked at the birds,
defenseless, without hope. “Can I buy those birds?” the boy asked.

The man hid a smile, aware that he could be on to a good thing if he
played his cards right. “Well,” he said hesitantly, “the cage is pretty
expensive, and I spent a lot of time collecting these birds, I’ll tell
you what I’ll do, I’ll let you have the lot, birds, cage and all,…..
for ten pounds and that jacket you’re wearing.”

The boy paused, ten pounds was all he had, and the jacket was new and
very special, in fact it was his prized possession. Slowly, he took out
the ten pounds and handed it over, then even more slowly he took off his
jacket, gave it one last look then handed that over too.

And then (well, you’ve guessed it) he opened the door and let the birds
go free.

Moral of the Story…The Enemy of the world, Satan, was on the side of
life’s road with a very large cage. The man coming towards him noticed
that it was crammed full of people of every kind, young, old, from every
race and nation.

“Where did you get these people?” the man asked.

“Oh, from all over the world,” Satan replied. “I lure them with drink,
drugs, lust, lies, anger, hate, love of money and all manner of things.
I pretend I’m their friend, out to give them a good time, then when I’ve
hooked them, into the cage they go.”

“And what are you going to do with them now?” asked the man. Satan
grinned. “I’m going to prod them, provoke them, get them to hate and
destroy each other; I’ll stir up racial hatred, defiance of law and
order; I’ll make people bored, lonely, dissatisfied, confused and
restless. It’s easy. People will always listen to what I offer them and
(what’s better) they, blame God for the outcome!”

“And then what?” the man asked.

“Those who do not destroy themselves, I will destroy.
None will escape me.”

The man stepped forward. “Can I buy these people from you?” he asked.

Satan snarled, “Yes, but it will cost you your life.”

So Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paid for your release, your freedom
from Satan’s trap, with His own life, on the cross at Calvary.

The door is open, and anyone, whom Satan has deceived and caged, can be
set free.

Rom 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Where to find, Phone Information Please….

Proverbs 18:24 “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

WHERE TO FIND, PHONE INFORMATION PLEASE…

When my parents were young they actually had a person who helped direct their phone calls. Yes, hard to believe but you can look it up on the world wide net.for a complete description.  My father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember well the polished old case fastened to the wall and the shiny receiver on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother would talk to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person and her name was “Information Please” and there was nothing she did not know.
“Information Please” could supply anybody’s number and the correct time.
My first personal experience with this genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement. I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible but, there didn’t seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give me sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and held it to my ear. “Information Please” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.
“Information.” “I hurt my finger” I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience. “Isn’t your mother home?” came the question. “Nobody’s home but me,” I blubbered. “Are you bleeding?” the voice asked. “No,” I replied. “I hit my finger with a hammer and it hurts.” “Can you open your icebox?” she asked. I said I could. “Then chip off a piece of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice.

After that, I called “Information Please” for everything.  I asked her for help with my geography and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me that my pet chipmunk, which I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts. Then there was the time Petey, our pet canary died. I called “Information Please” and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said the usual thing grownups say to soothe a child. But, I was inconsolable. I asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?” She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, “Paul, you must remember that there are other worlds to sing in.” Somehow, I felt better. Another day I was on the telephone. “Information Please”, “Information,” said the now familiar voice. “How do you spell fix?” I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. “Information Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home and somehow I never thought of trying the tall, new shiny phone that sat on the table in the hall.

As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

 

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about half-an-hour or so between planes. I spent around 15 minutes on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then, without thinking about what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information Please.” Miraculously, I heard the small
clear voice I knew so well. “Information.” I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying, “Could you please tell me how to spell fix?” there was a long pause. Then came the soft-spoken answer, “I guess our finger must be healed by now.” I laughed, “So it’s really still you,” I said.
“I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?” “I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.” I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister. “Please do,” she said.
“Just ask for Sally.”

Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, “Information.” I asked for Sally. “Are you a friend?” she said. “Yes, a very old friend,” I answered. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said. Sally had been working part time in the last few years because she was sick.
She died five weeks ago.” Before I could hang up she said, “Wait a minute. Are you Paul?” “Yes.” “Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you.” The note said, “Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He’ll know what I mean.” I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you make on others.  Whose life have you touched today?

 

Author Unknown

 

As we make that impression hopefully they will see where our focus is…..

 

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

Run for your life…

Yes, we need to run for our spiritual life. How well do you do in fighting temptation? Remember the mind is as guilty of sin as is the flesh!

Mat 5:27, 28 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

The same applies to anger, jealousy, and envy and on and on. Temptation leads to sin when not dealt with as God instructs us to. Yes, while the word sin does not seem to be in our world’s current dictionary it is as real and painful as it always has been.

Of course, step one is acknowledging there is a battle going on.

Run for your life…..

Guard your mind as much as your body. Sin occurs in the mind as well as our actions.

 Mat 5:28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his mind.”

 Rom 12:2a “And be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

Choose your friends wisely.
I Cor 15:33 “Do not be deceived; ‘ Evil company corrupts good habits.’”

Choose what you view wisely.
Psalm 101:3a “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes…”

Flee temptation.
I 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.”

I Cor 6:18a “Flee sexual immorality…”

Practice wholesome (Holy) living.
Phil 4:8 “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”

Fully surrender to Christ.
Mat 16:24 “If anyone will come after Me, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Me.”

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

Col 2:6,7 “As you have therefore received Jesus Christ the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

By Jesus power and not your own strength you can be successful!!!!

1 Cor. 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Philip. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Forrest Gump and the Pearly Gates of Heaven…

I John 5:11-13a “And this is the record that God has given us eternal life and that life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life and he that has not the Son of God has not life.
These things I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God
that you may KNOW that you have eternal life…”

Forrest Gump at the Pearly Gates of Heaven

The day finally arrives: Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He is
at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself. The gates are closed,
however, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper. St. Peter says
“Well, Forrest, it’s certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot
about you. I must inform you that the place is filling up fast, and
we’ve been administering an entrance examination for everyone.
The test is fairly short, but you need to pass before you can get
into Heaven.

Forrest responds, “It shore is good to be here St. Peter. I was looking
forward to this. Nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. Sure hope
the test ain’t too hard; life was a big enough test as it was.”

St. Peter goes on, “Yes, I know Forrest but the test I have for you is
only three questions.

Here is the first: What days of the week begin with the letter T?
Second: How many seconds are there in a year?

Third: What is God’s first name?”

Forrest goes away to think the questions over. He returns the next
day and goes up to St. Peter to try to answer the exam questions. St.
Peter waves him up and says, “Now that you have had a chance to think
the questions over, tell me your answers.”

Forrest says, “Well, the first one-how many days in the week begin
with the letter “T”? Shucks, that one’s easy. That’d be Today and
Tomorrow.”

The Saint’s eyes open wide and he exclaims, “Forrest! That’s not what
I was thinking, but…..you do have a point, and I guess I didn’t
specify, so I give you credit for that answer.”

“How about the next one?” asks St. Peter. “How many seconds in a year?”

“Now that one’s harder,” says Forrest, “but I thunk and thunk about
that and I guess the only answer can be twelve.”

Astounded, St. Peter says, “Twelve! Twelve??! Forrest, how in Heaven’s
name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?”

Forest says “Shucks, there gotta be twelve: January second, February
second, March second……”

“Hold it,” interrupts St. Peter. “I see where you’re going with this,
and I guess I see your point, though that wasn’t quite what I had
in mind, but I’ll give you credit for that one, too. Let’s go on with
the next and final question: Can you tell me God’s first name?”

Forrest replied, “Andy.”

“OK, OK,” said a frustrated St. Peter, “I can understand how you came
up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the
world did you come up with the name of ‘Andy’ as the first name of
God?”

“Shucks, that was the easiest one of all,” Forrest replied. “I learned
it from the song….”Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells
me I am His own…”

St. Peter opened the gate and said: “RUN FORREST, RUN!!”

That was the humor. For the truth side there is a heaven and there is a hell. We will all frequent one of them for eternity? And of course the exam to get in is based on what we did with following God’s truth while on this earth. There are no exceptions so be very sure you are passing the test…………….here it is.

John 14:6 “And Jesus said unto them, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes unto the Father, but by Me.”

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, except a man be born again he cannot see the
kingdom of God.”

Titus 3:5a “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but by His mercy He saved us….”

Ephesians 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.”

So, when you leave this life what will God say to you? Enter or I never knew you…………….

Finding the Real Problem in America…

Daniel 12:4 “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book,

even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

Finding the Real Problem in America

Progress and change. How would you define them? Do they apply to technology only or to God’s truths also? Does truth change down through the ages? Think about it. The answer drives a lot of our decisions.

The past few generations have been viewed as very progressive. While they have been on the technology side how have they stacked up on the spiritual side and do values and truths change in God’s eyes? Let’s look at some of the changes in values over just the past few years.

The 1960’s were the time everyone broke out of the family mold of “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” because those were “old fashioned” molds. For those of you too young to remember those were TV programs with zero obscenities or sexual innuendos. And they were wholesome and fun to watch.

The 60’s taught, “you are free to do whatever you want”, and, “if it feels good, do it”. Those years taught that nothing should stifle your creativity. After all, what you do only affects you. Right? We turned self needs and accomplishments and material things into our gods. And if you look down through history mankind has always done that, so it was not exclusive to the sixties. The battle cry of many is the fad of what to collect or keeping up with the neighbors because after all, I deserve it! What we forget is;

Ex 20:5 “you shall not bow down to your god, I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.”

The 1970’s was the decade of elevating self or the “me” generation. The most important
thing in the world is me and my situation and my self view. I wonder where this all started? Sounds like a natural progression. And again, it started way back roughly 4-6000 years ago with Adam and Eve. They first decided that their way was best for them and we have kept pace ever since.

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

There really is nothing new under the sun! Look where we first see this attitude!

Isa 14:12a, 13 “How are you fallen from heaven O Lucifer son of the morning! 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.”

The 1980’s was the escalation of all that was learned in the 6000 years preceding them. The cry was, “I am most important and I can do whatever I want. No need for commitment if I am happy. If I am not “happy” in marriage I can get out. If a church is convicting I will find one that meets my needs. I am most important and I can do whatever I want. My job and my career come first and I will run over anything and anyone that gets in the way, family included. Sounds terrible and it is.

Listen to God’s word describe it.

II Tim 3:1-4 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come; For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

So what did we see in the 1990’s and 2000? More and more kids are growing up in single parent families, with the family under heavy attack. 50% of both and Christian and non-Christian marriages ending in divorce. Our nation struggles with what is the makeup of a family and continues to murder millions annually. In the interest of making sure everything and every person’s thoughts are accepted our nation has legalized sin and has outlawed God from our education systems and government. Many children of the people who grew up in the 60’s-80’s feel there really are “no wrong answers”.
You can say anything you want, dress any way you want, pierce anything you want, just make sure you take care of you. Discipline of children was labeled as abuse. Yet a loving God continued to say if we do not love our children we do not discipline them.

With the concept of no absolutes people were taught that there were no authority figures to be accountable to. They turned to emotions, feelings and human teachings or philosophies as their source for direction. The doctrine of no absolutes and ever-changing truths was applied to self, family and religions. I wonder why business doesn’t buy into that? Children and adults were taught that there are no consequences for their actions beyond themselves. And of course, with no absolutes then everyone’s ideas are correct and every religion is heading in the same direction.

Can that possibly be true or is it a strategy to keep the creation from seeking the Creator?

Revealing passages not well received by our world are;

John 14:6 “And Jesus said unto them, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes unto the Father, but by Me.”

So much for all religions lead to one God.

II Cor 4:3,4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to those who are lost, in whom the god of this world (satan) has blinded the minds of those who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

That reveals the source of these errors.

Might this description fit the age?

Romans 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 beasts and creeping things.
Not a pretty picture! But, there is hope!

II Chron 7:14 “if My people (are you one of His?) who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn (revival) from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

And it starts with_______?

Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

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.”