Stay the course, Fight the good fight…

I Tim 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith…”

Stay the course….A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into
the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule ‘braying’ — or –whatever
mules do when they fall into wells.

After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with
the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the
trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told
them what had happened…and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the
old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his
neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back…a thought
struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of
dirt landed on his back…HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP!

This he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up…shake it off
and step up…shake it off and step up!” he repeated to encourage himself.

No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed the
old mule fought “panic” and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING
UP!

You’re right! It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted,
STEPPED TRIUMPHANTLY OVER THE WALL OF THAT WELL! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him… All because of the manner in which he
handled his adversity. HEY THAT’S LIFE!

If we face our problems and respond to them positively and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity… THE ADVERSITIES THAT COME ALONG TO BURY US USUALLY HAVE WITHIN THEM THE POTENTIAL TO BENEFIT AND BLESS US! As our Lord states in Romans 8:28, all things truly can work together for good in our lives when we are focused on Him instead of ourselves.

Remember that FORGIVENESS–FAITH–PRAYER–PRAISE and HOPE all are
excellent ways to “SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP” out of the wells in which
we find ourselves!

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Simply put; Stay the Course and Fight the Fight for the Glory of Jesus Name!!!!!!

Jesus is coming to Earth again…

Jesus is Coming to Earth Again!!!

Jesus came the first time as the Lamb of God to be sacrificed for the sins of mankind. Anyone trusting in Him and His sacrifice for their sins will spend eternity with Him. Most expected Him to come the first time as a ruling King and rescue the Jewish nation from the slavery and control of Rome. His first coming was recorded in…

Mat 2:1, 2, 11 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down AND WORSHIPPED HIM.”

Did you know that Jesus is coming AGAIN as a Lion from the tribe of Judah|||||?

Dan 12:2-4 “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine, like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

All of mankind must choose between Jesus and eternity with Him or… Some to everlasting death (hell) and some to everlasting life with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. So, how do I make sure that I am with Jesus for eternity and not doomed to everlasting punishment?

Acts 16:31 “So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Note scripture does not say to add any trust in your Church, your good deeds, your wealth or any other work you do to be saved and spend eternity with Jesus. So, which Judgment Seat will you be at when Jesus returns? If you are not 100% sure of where you will spend eternity now is the time to find out.

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 should boast.”

Titus 3:5 “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit”

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

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.”

Everyone placing their faith for where they will spend eternity into something. How about your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers……..? What are you placing your faith in? 

Romans 10:14 “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?

And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?

And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”

Showing Compassion…

Proverbs 15:1a “A soft answer turns away wrath…”

Prov 14:29 He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.

Showing Compassion…

Carl was a quiet man. He didn’t talk much. He would always greet
you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our
neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him
very well.

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The
lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight
limp from a bullet wound received in W.W.II. Watching him, we worried
that although he had survived W.W.II, he may not make it through our
changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence,
gangs, and drug activity.

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers
for caring for the gardens behind the minister’s residence, Carl responded
in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always
feared finally happened. He was just finishing his watering for the
day when three gang members approached him. Ignoring their attempt to
intimidate him, he simply asked, “Would you like a drink from the
hose?” The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, “Yeah,
sure,” with a malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to
him, the other two grabbed Carl’s arm, throwing him down. As the hose
snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl’s
assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.

Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his
bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came
running to help him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack
from his window, he couldn’t get there fast enough to stop it. “Carl,
are you okay? Are you hurt?” the minister kept asking as he helped
Carl to his feet. Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed,
shaking his head.

“Just some kids. I hope they’ll wise-up someday.” His wet
clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted
the nozzle again and started to water. Confused and a little
concerned, the minister asked, “Carl, what are you doing?” “I’ve got
to finish my watering. It’s been very dry lately,” came the calm
reply. Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister
could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their
threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. This time
they didn’t rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched
him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their
humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing
catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the
hilarity of what they had just done.

Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving
sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering. The summer was
quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he was
startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him.

He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he
struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer
tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack.

“Don’t worry old man, I’m not gonna hurt you this time.” The
young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl.

As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket
and handed it to Carl.

“What’s this?” Carl asked. “It’s your stuff,” the man explained.
“It’s your stuff back.  Even the money in your wallet.” “I don’t understand,”
Carl said. “Why would you help me now?”

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease.
“I learned something from you,” he said. “I ran with that gang and hurt
people like you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we
could do it. But every time we came and did something to you, instead
of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn’t
hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate.” He
stopped for a moment. “I couldn’t sleep after we stole your stuff, so
here it is back.” He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing
what more there was to say. “That bag’s my way of saying thanks for
straightening me out, I guess.” And with that, he walked off down the street.

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened
it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening
his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at
the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people
attended his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular the minister
noticed a tall young man that he didn’t know sitting quietly in a
distant corner of the church. The minister spoke of Carl’s garden as a
lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, “Do your

best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget

Carl and his garden.”

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: “Person
needed to care for Carl’s garden.” The flyer went unnoticed by the busy
parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister’s
office door. Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and
tattooed hands holding the flyer. “I believe this is my job, if you’ll
have me,” the young man said.

The minister recognized him as the same young man who had
returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl’s kindness

had turned this man’s life around. As the minister handed him the keys to
the garden shed, he said, “Yes, go take care of Carl’s garden and honor him.”

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended
the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. In that time, he went to
college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community.
But he never forgot his promise to Carl’s memory and kept the garden
as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he
couldn’t care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy
smile, “My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she’s bringing him
home on Saturday.”

“Well, congratulations!” said the minister, as he was handed
the garden shed keys. “That’s wonderful! What’s the baby’s name?”

“Carl,” he replied.

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Are you Nervous or Anxious…

To worry or to give thanks which to choose?

Philippians 4:6 a “Be anxious for nothing …”

Are you Nervous or Anxious… 

It was spring but it was summer that I wanted, the warm day and the
great outdoors.

It was summer but it was fall that I wanted, the colorful leaves and the
cool dry air.

It was fall but it was winter that I wanted, the beautiful snow and the
joy of the holiday season.

It was winter but it was spring that I wanted, the warmth and the
blossoming of nature.

I was a child but it was adulthood that I wanted, the freedom and the
respect.

I was twenty but it was thirty that I wanted, to be mature and
sophisticated.

I was middle aged but it was twenty that I wanted, the youth and the
free spirit.

I was retired but it was middle age that I wanted, the presence of mind
without limitations.

Life was over and I never got what I wanted!

Very sad, especially when we hear the peace that is and was available to us if we had different priorities!

Philippians 4:6 “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 “

With Jesus as your Lord and Savior you can live a life with…

1 Tim. 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Sleeping when the Wind Blows…

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

Sleeping when the Wind Blows…

Years ago a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.

As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a young man approached the farmer.

“Are you a good farmhand?” the farmer asked him. “Well, I can sleep when wind blows,” answered the boy.

Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The boy worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with his work.

Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer rushed upstairs to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. He shook the boy and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!”

The boy rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”

Enraged by his response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot.

Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarps. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured.

Everything was tied down.

Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

MORAL:

When you’re prepared, you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we secure ourselves against the storms of life
by grounding ourselves firmly in the Word of God. Since the Lord is directing our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the way?

2 Tim. 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Proverbs 20:24 – “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How can anyone understand his own way?”

The Golden Phone that reaches to Heaven…

Truth and humor for your day.

Psalm 66:19,20 “But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the
voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer,
nor His mercy from me.”

The Golden Phone that reaches to Heaven…

A man in Topeka, Kansas, decided to write a book about churches
around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco, and started
working east from there. Going to a very large church, he began taking
photographs and making notes. He spotted a golden telephone on the
vestibule wall and was intrigued with a sign which read “$10,000 a
minute.”

Seeking out the pastor he asked about the phone and the sign. The
Pastor answered that this golden phone is, in fact, a direct line to
Heaven and if he pays the price he can talk directly to God. The man
thanked the pastor and continued on his way.

As he continued to visit churches in Seattle, Austin, Greensboro,
Chicago, Milwaukee, and all around the United States, he found more
phones, with the same sign, and the same answer from each pastor.

Finally, he arrived in Iowa. Upon entering a church in Marshalltown,
Iowa, behold, he saw the usual golden telephone. But THIS time, the sign
read, “calls: 35 cents.” Fascinated, he asked to talk to the pastor.
“Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country and in each
church I have found this golden telephone and have been told it is a
direct line to Heaven and that I could talk to God, but, in the other
churches the cost was $10,000 a minute. Your sign reads 35 cents a call.
Why?”

The pastor, smiling benignly, replied,
“Son, you’re in Iowa now………………it’s a local call.”

If you are reading this and live outside of Iowa please do not be offended and miss what the real message is……

Change Iowa to your state and all is well. The key is that our Lord
loves to communicate with us!!!!!!!!! How fortunate we are.

And most importantly we are saved by grace through faith with no additives required!

I Peter 5:7 “Casting all of your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Problem solving in a Marriage…

Prov 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh answer stirs up wrath.”

A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were
giving each other the silent treatment. The next week, the man realized that he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight to Chicago. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (AND LOSE), he wrote on a piece of paper, “Please wake me at 5:00 AM.”

The next morning the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and that he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn’t woken him when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed.

The paper said, “It is 5:00 AM. Wake up.”

(MEN JUST AREN’T EQUIPPED FOR THESE SORT OF CONTESTS)

Actually with the silent treatment both lose!!!!!!!!

Listen to how God would have us to handle it.

Eph 4:26, 27 “Be angry, and sin not; do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”

The Clock and Worry…

Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

The Clock and Worry…

The clock had ticked for many years. Two ticks per second every day, 120 ticks a minute, 7,200 ticks an hour, 172,000 ticks per day, 1,209,600 ticks per week and 62,000,000 ticks a year.

One day the clock started to worry about its responsibilities. All those ticks it had to tick. The clock started to cry and promptly had a nervous breakdown.

The sick clock went to a clock physiatrist and explained its troubles.

“All those ticks”, he said, “I don’t see how I can stand it?”

The psychiatrist said, “Wait a minute, how many ticks must you tick at a time?”

“Oh, I just tick one tick at a time”, said the clock.

“Well”, the doctor said, “Just go home and think about ticking only one tick and until you have ticked that tick don’t think about ticking the next tick”

And so the clock went home and ticked its way into oblivion.

The element missing in this short story that is vital to our lives is the element of giving thanks as noted in Philippians 4:6. Praise overcomes worry when we develop its attitude in our lives. Think about what happens when your mind is occupied with giving thanks vs. worrying.

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Of course, to have this type of peace you must first have a relationship with the peace giver.

Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved.” Jesus, name above all names!!!!!!!!!!

This one becomes more relevant daily as our world picks up speed and not in a healthily spiritual direction!!!

Gen 2:1, 2 “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”

Please Slow Me Down, Lord…

Slow me down, Lord.
Ease the pounding in my heart by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amid the confusion of the day,
the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles
with the soothing music of the
singing streams that live in my memory.

Teach me the art of taking minute vacations –
of slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to smile at a child,
to read a few lines from the good book.

Slow me down, Lord,
and inspire me to send my roots deep
into the soil of your enduring values,
that I may grow closer to you.

Remind them each day that the race is not always to the swift;
that there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Let me look upward to the towering oak and know that it grew
great and strong because it grew slowly and well by your design.

Phil 4:6, 7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplications, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace that passes all understanding shall keep your heart and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Handling Suffering as a Christian…

James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 4:13-15 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 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. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Handling Suffering as a Christian

The title of today’s challenge sounds a bit strange. And if you are not a ‘born again’ Christian you have no chance of understanding and accepting it. We live in a world where many teach that health, wealth, prosperity and the total absence of suffering brings fulfillment. And of course, our human nature totally agrees with that thought. There are even teachers professing to be ‘born again’ that teach the same. They teach that to experience otherwise reflects a weak faith or sin. While it can be a result of sin the scriptures never proclaim that if we suffer for the gospels sake it is a lack of faith. Actually, it is just the opposite.

When we are drawn to Jesus as our Savior and we dig into His word to find meaning for our lives and we hear that, “”Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Wow, that stops us dead in our tracks. Many, who never study and never grow from the milk of God’s word to being able to handle the meat of God’s word never even address this question.

Can it really be true? If I am to live for my Savior who died for me can I expect some level of persecution? The answer from scripture is a loud yes. If the world disliked and even hated Jesus and we profess what He professed then the world will not like us either. That’s a tough one to swallow. Like you my flesh prefers that people would like me. And what if I am experiencing zero persecution. Does that mean my spiritual priorities are not correct? Yes, that could be the case. Ouch! We can only know that by asking God to answer that question and then we must do something contrary to our human will. We must truly be open to the answer. Remember the answers to prayer are yes, no and wait. Yes, is not the only option God has. When I hear no or wait it does not mean that God did not answer my prayer.

There are promises in the word of God that don’t seem much like promises to many believers. Persecution is one of them. Scripture proclaims that all whose purpose of heart is to live godly lives in this present world shall (certainly) suffer persecution, as did their Lord. Maybe we contemplate such verses and think they should say something like, “And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall be appreciated for their goodness and rewarded with approval, good health and fortune while in this world.”

The Holy Spirit through Paul said to the Philippians, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” We probably would be more comfortable if that were to read, “For unto you it is given…not only to believe on him, but also to be blessed with health, wealth and prosperity.” But it doesn’t say that. Reading and allowing the Word of God to change our lives are two entirely different things. Are you a reader only? Ouch, another convicting question.

So why would I want to be open to persecution??? As noted in James we are in this life but for a short time. Our lives are but a vapor that comes and disappears quickly. Our time to serve our Lord is short. This time on earth is but a grain of sand on the beach in comparison to eternity. And if you are a believer you will spend eternity with God. There is also a judgment seat or awards ceremony for believers. The judgment seat is not to judge our sins that Jesus took care of but to award us for services rendered while on this earth. I would rather hear, ‘well done’, than to hear how I missed the prize or to hear a silence because of lack of commitment on my part while on this earth.

We are to serve out of obedience. Disobedience is viewed by God as a tragic sin. Check it out over and over in scripture in both the OT and the NT. God never accepts disobedience. Our sins are washed away by Jesus blood so my salvation is secure. While works cannot save us they are very important after being ‘born again’. Serving Jesus while on this earth is now or should now be my focus! And when done correctly it will bring some level of persecution.

Remember persecution comes in many different ways including verbal, lost friendships, physical punishment, lost job opportunities, etc. In America at least for now the verbal, peer pressure and life style issues are the greatest persecution we see. So maybe all is not lost with that slap in the face that you just received, literal or figurative. Pray and think before you allow your fleshly frustration to take over. It may be that you are doing exactly what you should be for His glory!!!!!

Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”