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Showing posts from February, 2012

But...they don't deserve it!

It seems parents are just not held in the same "honor" as they were in times past.  Look at an old episode of the Waltons, Leave it to Beaver, or Little House on the Prairie and compare the "honor" a parent received in the past with how a parent is treated today!  You may be saying, "Yeah, but come on, those shows depicted the ways families should be!"  Exactly!  the fact remains, we have been instructed to "honor" our parents. 12  “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you."  (Exodus 20:12 New Living Translation) It is a command with a promise - one of those "meet this" and "get this" kind of deals!  This is our fifth in a series of "rules" given to us - designed to keep us safe from pitfalls.  In this "rule" of living, God reminds us of the importance of honoring our parents - giving them respect, esteeming their "skill&quo

You are driving yourself crazy!

We rush and rush through life - wondering all the while if we will ever get caught up with all the commitments we have made, the deadlines imposed upon us by others, and the silly pursuits we carelessly call our "leisure time".  Sure enough, the demands of life are many!  Yet, in it all, we are reminded of the importance of keeping our perspective in the chaos! 8  “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."   (Exodus 20:8 New Living Translation) For most, we "celebrate" the Sabbath day each weekend.  I used quotations marks around the word CELEBRATE simply because most of us don't really treat the Sabbath day as anything all that special.  We call it our "Sabbath" day, but we don't treat it any differently than the day before or the day after - other than gathering at church for a short period of time. God's reminder to us to keep a day as "holy" was for one reason - rest.  He knows very well our tendency

Never devoid of substance!

We have much emphasis today on "name recognition".  In fact, there is a process in business referred to as "branding" in which an organization seeks to get its product or service identified with a particular name.  In contrast, the organization never wants its name to be associated with a BAD product or LOUSY service.  7  “You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name."  (Exodus 20:7) The most familiar passage for this verse is probably the King James:  "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."  Important to see within the structure of this verse is the fact God says it is "OUR" God whose name we are to uphold - to not use his name in vain. Simply put, God is reminding us of the power in his name.  In other words, whenever we speak his name it is to be with purpose.  His name is to be spoken to offer him praise, to give him thanks, and to seek him for

Pigeon-hole gods

Most of us live by some unwritten code which implies rules are for breaking, not for keeping.  There is just some inward "pull" to break a few rules once in a while.  Yesterday we began to look at the sensibility of "following the rules" God sets out for us.  His first "rule" was very clearly stated:  No other god but me.  His second is almost along the same line, but with a little different "twist": 4  “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea."   (Exodus 20:4 New Living Translation) No other god but me focused on any affection or attention we directed toward another person or pursuit which clearly took our affection and attention off God himself.  Today's "rule" deals with trying to pigeon-hole God into a box which fits our "image" of what he should be like. Let me elaborate a little.  God warned against creating some "g

Who's first?

There have been times in life when "rules" just seemed to aggravate me.  I wanted so desperately to just ignore them all and have a little "fun"!  I imagine I am not alone in this frustration - if you were totally honest, you sometimes wonder what value the rules played!  Well, even when we don't fully understand the rules, they play an important part in our safety.  For example, driving down an open highway at a straight stretch allows speeds of 75 miles per hour.  Why?  The road is straight, you can see oncoming traffic, and you have less chances of losing control of your vehicle when you are going in a straight line! Now, get on a winding road, tall trees all around, with the road barely built into the side of the mountain.  You may WANT to drive at 75 miles per hour so you'd get to your destination faster, but there are all kinds of barriers in your way.  There is the line of cars in front of you, "crawling" at a mere 50 miles per hour (the p

Dead idols - junk 'em!

What "dead idols" from our past do we need to finally let go of?  I think if we look hard enough, we will probably find a few lurking in the back of the recesses of our minds!   7-10   Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master's Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don't even have to say anything anymore—you're the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom. (I Thessalonians 1:7-10) A couple of things come to mind as I posted this passage today.  First, word gets around!  No matter how hard we try - people talk!  We can be doing ex

Original or Knock-Off?

Whoever said we could walk through this life without worries, difficulties, or unresolved issues was probably not a well person!  Choosing to serve Christ does not elevate an individual above the ebbs and flows of life.  In fact, it almost guarantees a few more hurdles!  If we really are living for Christ, we will face challenging people, circumstances, and moments of potential compromise which we may not have encountered otherwise. 5-6 You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.   (I Thessalonians 1:5-6) As Paul commends the Thessalonian church, he points out the fact of their increased troubles since entering into relationship with Christ.  The reader may balk a little at this revelation, but the important thing to see is thei

Steel in your convictions

Steel in your convictions - what does this mean?  Winston Churchill once said, "Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning."  C.S. Lewis echoed his words when he penned, "Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn't just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.  (I Thessalonians 1:3-5 The Message) God's hand is on us for something special.  We serve a God who is not only supernatural, he actually influences us to move beyond the natural into the abundance of all he is!  It is this very encouragement which gives us transforming power to live with courage in times of uncertainty. When God begins to pour into our lives, he is "pouring" the right stuff.  This is what Paul was r

Preparing for Tomorrow Today

The preparation of today makes us ready for tomorrow. Without the work of today, the events of today won't matter when tomorrow comes.    2-3  Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you're in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father.  (I Thessalonians 1:2-3 The Message) When others look at your life, do they see evidence of your faith?  Do they see us laboring in love, or resisting every move we make?  Do they see us patient in our waiting, or chafing in anticipation? Paul calls to mind three things about the believers at Thessalonica for which he thanks God.  These things are not arbitrary.  In fact, they speak volumes about the work which has begun in their lives. First, their have evidence of their faith.  In James 2, Paul reminds us of the important fact of faith and actions working together - our actions making our faith com

Amazing Grace! Robust Peace!

God's amazing grace and his robust peace go hand-in-hand.  The peace of God is really not totally understood, or experienced, until one has an encounter with the amazing grace of God.   1 I, Paul, together here with Silas and Timothy, send greetings to the church at Thessalonica, Christians assembled by God the Father and by the Master, Jesus Christ. God's amazing grace be with you! God's robust peace!  (I Thessalonians 1:1) Paul opens his writings to the church at Thessalonica with these two awesome reminders - God's amazing grace WITH us and his robust peace IN us.  He writes this letter to both encourage the believers there and to expound upon some doctrine in order for them to grow strong in their beliefs. The make-up of the church was mainly Gentiles - those who were worshiping other gods prior to their turning to the one true God.  Paul had only spent a short time with them on his way to Athens.  He basically gave the church a start, but did not have much ti

Who done it?

I love to read - my favorite venue being mystery.  I like the suspense of seeing the plot unfold until you discover the "who done it" at the end!  By definition, a mystery is anything (or anyone) which presents features or qualities so obscure as to arouse our curiosity.  The "fun" comes in unraveling the obscure features.  I think God likes mysteries, too! 5  Just as you'll never understand  the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman, s o you'll never understand  the mystery at work in all that God does. (Ecclesiastes 11:5 The Message) God is at work all around us - in today's moments - unveiling little by little the elements of his "mystery" in us and through us.   Did you ever wonder why God sometimes takes a great deal of time unveiling his mystery in us?  For one thing, we probably could not handle the whole thing if it was revealed in one great "dump of data" into our finite brains!  More importantly, I think God may

A Ton of Trouble

We all have times in life when we just feel like the harder we try, the farther behind we manage to get.  In looking forward, we see only those out ahead.  It comes as no surprise when someone even begins to describe their impression of God being somewhere, anywhere, but not in the moment of their need.  The trial gets hard and we often think we have lost touch with the very one who has the ability to help us get through it all.  Listen to these words: 1-2  Long enough, God— you've ignored me long enough.  I've looked at the back of your head  long enough. Long enough  I've carried this ton of trouble,  lived with a stomach full of pain.  Long enough my arrogant enemies  have looked down their noses at me.  3-4  Take a good look at me,  God , my God;  I want to look life in the eye, s o no enemy can get the best of me  or laugh when I fall on my face.  5-6  I've thrown myself headlong into your arms— I'm celebrating your rescue.  I'm singing at the top of my l

Playing the hand we are dealt

There are times when we feel like no one is "in charge" - the moments just seem to tick on and all the chaos of the moment keeps us bumping into all kinds of obstacles.  We all face these times - the times when life deals us a hand we just would rather not play!  When "dealt our hand", we can either throw it in, ante up and play, or bluff our way through.  Which way are you facing what life deals you today? 3-4  The day my enemies turned tail and ran,  they stumbled on you and fell on their faces.  You took over and set everything right;  when I needed you, you were there, taking charge.  (Psalm 9:3-4 The Message) If we throw in our hand right now, we may miss out on the reward which awaits us!  If we are bluffing our way through - faking it until we make it - we may not always be able to keep up the facade!  But...if we ante up, pick up our cards, and play like there is no tomorrow, no telling what we may end up with!   Take heart, my friends!  The very obs

Wrapped in Knots?

As pressures mount in life, we have two choices - either we embrace them head-on, or we run in fear as far away from them as possible.  I suppose there may be a third choice - we could just be paralyzed in our fear, neither moving nor being moved.  Many will venture into the "thick" of the unknown - facing the mounting pressures without timidity - sometimes merely looking for an adrenal rush of sorts.  Others will venture in, but with a much more timid, almost respectful apprehension of the unknown - movements calculated and determined, but based in fear nonetheless.   11-13  God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people. He said:   "Don't be like this people,   always afraid somebody is plotting against them.   Don't fear what they fear.    Don't take on their worries.  I f you're going to worry,   worry about The Holy. Fear God-of-the-Angel-Armies. (Isaiah 8:11-13 The Message) Ever been &quo

One Thing - The Real Thing

Sometimes we have a tendency to want to just give up.  We start out well, but then we "peter out" somewhere down the road.  There are times in life when we need a "pace setter" to keep us on track.  In moments of frustration, disillusionment, or anxiety, we need the steadiness and vision of one who sees more of the picture than we do.  It is refreshing to know we have such a "pace setter" in our lives - God himself! 7-9 Just think—you don't need a thing, you've got it al l! All God's gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.   (I Corinthians 1:7-9 The Message) Years ago, the Coca-Cola

Undeniable Evidence

I wonder what evidence Christ has verified in each of our lives - is it really apparent, so all can see?  If not, perhaps we might want to consider how evidence is actually revealed and what purpose evidence fulfills!   4-6 Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There's no end to what has happened in you—it's beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives. (I Corinthians 1:4-6 The Message) Paul speaks to the Corinthian believers of their free and open access to God - a gift provided through the sacrificial work of Christ.  In looking into their lives, he proclaims there is no limit to what Christ produces when a man or woman fully yields their lives to his control!  In fact, he says it goes beyond what words could describe and what the mind could comprehend!  Now, think on that one! Evidence either proves or disproves something.

Make vs. Give

Have you ever considered the difference between "giving" and "making"?  We can say, "I give you this item", or we can say, "I will make you take this item".  Each carries a totally different meaning.  One implies an extension of one's self, the other the imposing of one's self on another.  Yet, when we look at this in the terms of a great Creator "making" his people strong and "giving" his people peace, both words take on different meaning!   11   God  makes his people strong.  God  gives his people peace. (Psalm 29:11 The Message) God "makes" his people strong - he brings about strength.  It is in the arranging of the various elements of our lives that strength is understood.  In the times of the most significant weakness on our part, he comes through with the arranging of all things in such a manner so as to produce the ability to stand in his strength.  I was surprised to find the 45 definition ou