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Showing posts from March, 2012

Armloads of Nothing!

We all love a bargain!  Whenever we come across the item marked down to 90% of its original price - don't we squeal with delight?  Oh come on...if you don't do it outwardly, you are dancing on the inside!!!  Bargains are awesome.  The problem is - some "bargains" are merely "made up" to appear as bargains!


17-18 Don't for a minute envy careless rebels; soak yourself in the Fear-of-God — that's where your future lies. Then you won't be left with an armload of nothing.(Proverbs 23:17-18 The Message)


A "bargain" which is really not a "bargain" is like loading ourselves up with "armloads of nothing". We find we have been "sucked into" the frenzy of believing the "false claims" of the things we loaded ourselves down with.  Don't miss it - we load ourselves up with all kinds of supposedly "good things" in our lives - but we do it without truly thinking (in a frenzy).


We have a natural "…

Rebooted!

Do you ever feel like the enemy of your soul is just strutting his stuff?  It seems like he has repeatedly dealt blow after blow until you are low and beaten down.  I wonder how many times we find ourselves experiencing this "beaten down" state simply because of the subtle, but consistent, compromises we have made.  


9She played fast and loose with life, she never considered tomorrow, and now she's crashed royally, with no one to hold her hand: "Look at my pain, O God! And how the enemy cruelly struts."  (Lamentations 1:9 The Message)


I know this passage speaks of the condition of heart and soul Judah experienced when taken into exile.  Yet, I also believe all scripture is given "by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16 The Message).  So, if God took the time to leave us these words, we should take the time to consider how they might apply to our lives.  I would…

A tangled mess

At times, we are presented with individuals who seem to have an "ulterior motive" in their actions.  In other words, what is presented is really a "mask" for something being done to deceive the individual on the receiving end of the action.  One thing is said, another is meant.  One thing is done, but the intention behind it is completely contrary to the "appearance".  This is dangerous ground for us - simply because we really don't know what to expect, or when to trust. 


8 Mixed motives twist life into tangles; pure motives take you straight down the road. (Proverbs 21:8 The Message)


We would probably call an "ulterior" motive a "second motive" - one which is usually a little selfish in nature.  The end result is a life in tangles!  Not my idea of where I want to be living!  In fact, when I am faced with these kind of individuals, I tend to pull back from relationship with them - simply because I cannot trust their intentions and th…

Glossed over truths

Sometimes we miss the "little things" in life.  I guess I am as guilty of "glossing over" stuff as the next person.  I wonder how much I really miss out on because I never stop long enough, listen close enough, or draw close enough to really "catch" what is happening?  I was re-reading a passage from John 17 this morning, and the words of Jesus (which I have read many times) just seemed to come alive.  Isn't it awesome how God does that?!?  


6-11 I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me.    They were yours in the first place; then you gave them to me, and they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you, for the message you gave me, I gave them; and they took it, and were convinced that I came from you.  They believed that you sent me.  I pray for them.  I'm not praying for the God-rejecting world but for those you gave me, for they are yo…

Apply another layer of truth!

There are times we "blame" God for the ignorant stuff we do.  We venture into stuff without clearly thinking - just plunge right ahead and never consider the end before we begin.  In the end, we look back, wondering where God let us down!  The writer of Proverbs reminds us people ruin their own lives by their own foolishness (Proverbs 19:3).  Ouch!  As we examine our passage today, let us keep in mind God is seldom to "blame" for our mis-steps.  In fact, when we come right down to it, the steps were miscalculated on our part.


8 Grow a wise heart—you'll do yourself a favor; keep a clear head—you'll find a good life.  (Proverbs 19:8  The Message)


Grow a wise heart - look closely - there is no implication of a wise heart being given to us on a silver platter!  Wisdom is something which comes over time - with consistent application of truth as it is revealed to us.  It is like icing a cake.  You begin with a full bowl of icing - perfectly prepared for the cake.  …

Curlers and All!

Mom and I went to the local Sam's Club yesterday.  It was an unplanned trip, but we needed things for the house, so we took advantage of the time.  The only drawback - we had put mom's hair up in rollers earlier and they were not ready to come out!  So, as creatively as possible, we tied a silk scarf around those prickly things and off we went!  We chuckled all the way to the store!  Mom commented about not running into anyone she knew and I just laughed!  Ninety-three years young and she still worries about her appearance!  You go girl!  Mom had always taught me to leave the house "presentable".  This does not mean I always dress up, but I don't go out in my PJs or with hair askew!  Silly, isn't it, how much we focus on the external as our "view" of being presentable?


19-21So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest bef…

A tear or two

There is a saying which goes something like, "If I didn't laugh, I'd cry!"  Golda Meir said, "Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either."  One of the most popular columns in the Reader's Digest is the "Laughter is the Best Medicine" feature.  Why is it we enjoy laughter more than tears?  Maybe our answer is found in our passage today.


22 A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.  (Proverbs 17:22 The Message)

A cheerful disposition is good for our health!  Sadness leaves us feeling like we have been wrung out and left to dry out like a washrag.  Ever see a dried washrag?  It is brittle, stinky, and pretty inflexible!  No wonder we enjoy the laughter so much!


There is an old Jewish proverb which goes, "What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul."  Think on this one for a moment.  Tears have a real "cathartic" effect, don't the…

Stay on your toes!

Staying on your toes is a term used to describe being prepared for whatever could happen.  In simplest terms, it means to be ready for action - ready to jump in and to take action.  In another sense, we can describe this as alertness or awareness of what is going on around you.  Either way, there is attentiveness, preparedness, and an investment which is spoken of when this term is used to describe someone.


So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it's still God's Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we're in this with Christ for the long haul.  (Hebrews 3:12-14 The Message)
As this chapter opens, we are called to take a good, hard look at Jesus.  This is suggestive of more than just merely "entertaining" a fleeting acqu…

Gaining Focus

Have you ever just chased your tail?  The harder you seem to work at something, the more difficult it seems to become.  You never seem to "catch up", never seem to fully "grasp" the goal.  In the end, you just stand there in total frustration, more in a muddle than you were when you first began.  Just as quickly as we started, we find ourselves out of energy to continue to journey!  We stop short of the goal - never really crossing the finish line.  What a waste.


Paul writes to the Philippian church, reminding them of the importance of staying focused.  His honesty in the first part of this chapter just thrills my heart.  He recounts the various degrees he has obtained, lists the various "things" the world looks upon as measures of success, and reminds us of the senselessness of relying on any of these to give us prominence or importance in the Kingdom of God.  


His honesty is recounted in these words:  "I'm not saying that I have this all together…

Are you listening to me?

One day, Paul was writing a letter to the Roman church.   He is quite clear about his intention in writing – he wants only the best for the nation of Israel.   He goes one step further in explaining his intention – he wants their salvation.  His real “heart feelings” are summed up in the words of Romans 10:3 when he says, “After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it.” (The Message)  He goes on to outline the receiving of grace by faith - not a system of "works" - in the believing we are saved, not in the doing.  Then he asks a question he says has been asked for years by almost every prophet or preacher along the way, "Is what I am saying really making any difference?"  I think there are times we all ask this question - especially when it comes to sharing our faith.  They very next thing he said caught my attention this morning:
Before you trust, you have to listen.  …

Crammed packed full!

I enjoy watching the re-runs of the TV series, "The Waltons".  The simpler times have their intrigue.  The struggles to remain true to their convictions when times are quickly changing around them is a reminder to me of the speed of change demanding our attention today.  What touches me the most is their simple trust - in their neighbors, in their family, and in their God.  One of the characters on the show, Ike Godsey, is the store owner and local postmaster.  His store is never really what we'd call "impressive" by today's standards, but it always seemed he could get his hands on whatever anyone was looking to obtain - even if he had to special order it.  Today's passage reminds us of the "general store" available to all of us.


52  He said, "Then you see how every student well-trained in God's kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it."  (Matthew…

Hard evidence

We have begun a new series of sermons at our church entitled "Life Apps".  The gist of the entire series is the concept of taking what we know and applying it to our lives.  Application being the basis of all change - without application, there is no advantage to knowledge.  It is only when knowledge is applied that we can say we are truly developing "wisdom".  As we explore our verses today, I think this may be what Jesus was trying to tell these religious leaders.


38Later a few religion scholars and Pharisees got on him. "Teacher, we want to see your credentials. Give us some hard evidence that God is in this. How about a miracle?"  39-40Jesus said, "You're looking for proof, but you're looking for the wrong kind. All you want is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles.  (Matthew 12:38-40 The Message)


Here, day after day, Jesus has been healing the sick, setting the demon-possessed free from their torturous exist…

Noticed by a lack of commotion

Do we expect God to "appear" one way (the way we imagine in our minds)?  Do we expect him to "perform" in a certain manner (the plans we have so carefully calculated)?  When he doesn't "appear" or "perform" as we imagined, how do we handle it?  For some of us, we get mad at God for a while - because he did not "fit" our "mold" of how he should act.  The Jewish Pharisees probably had this same kind of "mental argument" with Jesus as he walked this earth - simply because he didn't "fit the mold" of how they envisioned the arrival of their Messiah!  They missed out on so much of what Jesus wanted to do in and through them simply because they refused to believe Jesus could "operate" outside of their mind's conceived "box".



15-21 A lot of people followed him, and he healed them all. He also cautioned them to keep it quiet, following guidelines set down by Isaiah:  Look well at my …

R.S.V.P. required!

There are many forms of invitations - both spoken and written.  There are even "unspoken" invitations - simply expressed by a simple gesture, a simple look, or a nod of the head.  My daughter usually plans for the annual birthday bash for my grandson about six or eight months in advance of his birthday!  She picks a theme, begins to pick up things throughout the year, all the while working out a "theme" for the party.  She is much more creative than I am - making absolutely beautiful decorations, cleverly displayed snack items, and treasures for each child in attendance.  It amazes me.  One of the "tasks" is the custom invitations she prepares.  Yep, you read it right - custom!  She designs, prints, cuts, scraps, and the like - until she has the "look" she wants which matches the theme of the party.  There is a very important invitation we each receive - customized especially for us, as well.
28-30 "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on rel…

On mission with Jesus

Ever wonder if there is a particular way we should be acting in the face of those with the many needs we see around you?  Jesus chose twelve - sent them out - not to be observers, but to participate in the mission he was on.  We often find ourselves in the position of observer when we are called to act.  Often it is because we really don't know "how" to be on mission with Jesus - we complicate it so much!

He gave them power to kick out the evil spirits and to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives.  (Matthew 10:1 The Message)
Jesus chose twelve - none of them were the most stellar of citizens, the most educated, or the most "qualified" for their "calling".  Yet, each of them possessed something Jesus was looking for - obedience!  Willingness to do as instructed - even when they did not fully understand all which was involved in their calling.
Why did Jesus choose these twelve?  It was in response to the needs around him!  Look at what Matthew recor…

IN the fight of your life!

I have been asked many times why God allows a believer to die from their disease.  Just what was the purpose in his taking the person from those who cared so deeply for them?  In moments of silence and deep thought, I really could not come up with a good answer.  I just don't always understand how God moves, what he plans within the long fights with debilitating disease, or how the loss will affect the lives of those who have trusted him for the healing of a loved one.  One thing I can hold onto - God is NEVER untrue to his word!  His purposes may be far beyond my limited ability understand them, but he never "backs down" on his word!


16-17That evening a lot of demon-afflicted people were brought to him. He relieved the inwardly tormented. He cured the bodily ill. He fulfilled Isaiah's well-known sermon: He took our illnesses, He carried our diseases.  (Matthew 8:16-17 The Message)
After a long day of healing the sick, Jesus is faced with even more who petition for the…

Let's get personal!

Alertness is the ability to be keenly aware of your circumstances - so in tune with what is going on around you nothing misses your focus.  Rarely, if ever, do we enter into this realm of "alertness" - we almost always miss something despite our efforts to do otherwise!  In fact, we most often think of alertness as being awake!  God expects more, though.  He expects us to be aware!


God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next.   (Romans 15:4 The Message)

Paul is describing a condition of heart and mind which is fully aware and attentive to the move of God.  In the stillness of the moment, there is in awareness of his voice.  In the hubbub of a busy day, there is the attentiveness to his Spirit's nudges.  


Two "tools" are utilized to give us this ability to be both aware and attentive - the steadiness of God's calling and the totally per…