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?”

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.”

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.”

Freedom is Never Free…

Freedom is Never Free – The aftermath of July 4, 1776

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated.

But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty could be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire.

The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying.  Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution.

These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War.

We didn’t just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government!

Some of us take these liberties so much for granted…We shouldn’t.

So, take a couple of minutes and silently thank our Lord for faithful patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid. ..

LET’S ALL REMEMBER THAT FREEDOM IS “NEVER FREE”!!!!

Author unknown.

Beyond national freedom we can all have spiritual freedom from eternal punishment the wages of our sins by receiving the gift that was truly free!!

John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

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 life everlasting.”

Worry is a Fog…

II Tim 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Worry is a Fog…

According to the National Bureau of Standards, a dense fog covering seven city blocks to a depth of 100 feet is composed of something less than one glass of water. That is, all the fog covering seven city blocks 100 feet deep could be, if it were gotten all together, held in a single drinking glass; it would not quite fill it.

This can be compared to the things we worry about. If we could see into the future and if we could see our problems in their true light, they wouldn’t blind us to the world — to living itself — but instead could be relegated to their true size and place.

And if all the things most people worry about were reduced to their true size, you could probably stick them all into a water glass, too.

Like Thomas the choice is ours. Walk by faith or walk by sight? Of course to walk by faith you must first know the One you have faith in. How is your faith this morning or does fear and anxiety rule?

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

There is one exception. If you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior you do have something to worry about.

Rev 20:14-15 “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Matthew 6:27-34 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not [l]arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Heart is…

Serving Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords requires that we check out the priorities of our hearts and ask whether they are the same as those Jesus would set.

Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

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

Heart Check

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We spend too recklessly,

Laugh too little,

Drive too fast,

Get too angry too quickly,

Stay up too late,

Get up too tired,

Read scripture too seldom if at all,

Pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom and lie too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve tried to add years to life, not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.

We’ve conquered outer space, but not our inner space; We’ve done larger things, but not better things;

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice; We write more, but learn less;

Plan more, but accomplish less.

We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait;

We have higher incomes; but lower morals;

More food but less appeasement;

We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication;

We’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; Tall men, and short character; Steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure and less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips,

Disposable diapers,

Throwaway morality,

One-night stands,

Overweight bodies and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom.

The solution is one you will not hear very often in this world.

The solution is a personal relationship with Jesus and allowing Him to direct and control our lives!!!!

You can never get too much of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!!

The percentage of how much of our life Jesus controls is directly proportionate to our level of commitment.

Rom 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

Treating others as you would be Treated…

Matthew 25:40 “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”

Treating others as you would be Treated…

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night’s dinner. Well, as such things go, one thing led to another. The sales manager went longer than anticipated and the meeting ran overtime. Their flights were scheduled to leave out of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, and they had to race to the airport. With tickets in hand, they barged through the terminal to catch their flight back home. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of baskets of apples. Apples flew everywhere.  Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding. All but one.

He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved goodbye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor. He was glad he did.

The 16 year old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping, and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them into the baskets, and helped set the display up once more. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket. When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, “Here, please take this $20 for the damage we did. Are you okay?”

She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, “I hope we didn’t spoil your day too badly.” As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, “Mister….” He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued,

“Are you Jesus?”

He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul:”

Are you Jesus?”

Do people mistake you for Jesus? That’s our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It’s actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.

You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.

Let’s start living like we are worth the price He paid.

John 13:35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye
have love one to another.”