Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Don't judge too quickly...

I came across this story and thought it was an excellent reminder that we can be very quick to judge...



There was an old man in a village, very poor, but even the kings were jealous of him because he had a beautiful white horse.  Kings offered fabulous prices for the horse, but the man would say, “This horse is not a horse to me, he is a person.  And how can you sell a person, a friend?”  The man was very poor, but he never sold the horse.  One morning, he found that the horse was not in the stable.  The whole village gathered and said, “You foolish old man!  We knew that someday the horse would be stolen.  It would have been better to sell it.  What a misfortune!”


The old man said, “Don’t go so far as to say that.  Simply say that the horse is not in the stable.  This is the fact; everything else is a judgment.  Whether it is a misfortune or a blessing I do not know, because this is just a fragment.  Who knows what is going to follow it?” 


People laughed at the old man.  They had always known that he was a little crazy.  But after fifteen days, suddenly one night the horse returned.  He had not been stolen, he had escaped into the wild.  And not only that, he brought a dozen wild horses back with him.  Again the people gathered and they said, “Old man, you were right.  This was not a misfortune, it has indeed proved to be a blessing.”  The old man said, “Again you are going to far.  Just say the horse is back, who knows whether it is a blessing or not?  It is only a fragment.  You read a single word in a sentence – how can you judge the whole book?”


This time the people did not say much, but inside they knew that he was wrong.  Twelve beautiful horses had come…  Of course it was a blessing!


The old man had an only son who started to train the wild horses.  Just a week later he fell from a horse and both his legs were broken.  The people gathered again and again they judged.  They said, “Again, you proved right!  It was a misfortune.  You only son has lost the use of his legs, and in your old age he was your only support.  Now you are poorer than ever.” 


The old man said, “You are obsessed with judgment.  Don’t go that far.  Say only that my son has broken his legs.  Nobody knows whether this is a misfortune or a blessing.  Life comes in fragments and more is never given to you.”


It happened that after a few weeks the country went to war, and all the young men of the town were forcibly taken for the military.  Only the old man’s son was left, because he was crippled.  The whole town was crying and weeping, because it was a losing fight, and they knew most of the young people would never come back.  They came to the old man and they said, “You were right, old man, this has proved to be a blessing.  Maybe your son is crippled, but he is still with you.  Our sons are gone forever.”


The man said again, “You go on and on judging.  Nobody knows!  Only say this, that your sons have been forced to enter into the army, and my son has not been forced.  But only God knows whether it is a blessing or a misfortune.”


“Judge ye not” – otherwise you will never become one with God.  With fragments you will be obsessed, with small things you jump to conclusions.  Once you judge you have stopped growing. 


Judgment means a stale state of mind.  And mind always wants judgment, because to be in process is always hazardous and uncomfortable.  In fact, the journey never ends.  One path ends, another begins.  One door closes, another opens.  You reach a peak, a higher peak is always there.  God is an endless journey.  Only those who are so courageous that they don’t bother about the goal but are content with the journey, content just to live the moment and grow into it, only those are able to walk with God.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's really important?

But whatever was my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Philippians 3:7-8

We often have trouble prioritizing the things in our life. Most people I talk to have more things to do than they have time to do them, so prioritizing is necessary so you know what to do first. The problem is, everything seems important! How do know what is most important?

For the Apostle Paul, that was easy. The things that led him to knowing Jesus better were the most important! He was convinced that Jesus was more important than anything else in his life, and that anything that drew him to Jesus was of ultimate importance.

We might object today, saying that we need to provide for our families so our work is our highest priority. Paul would tell you that God can and will provide any need you have.

We might object that we will be with our families for the rest of our lives, certainly families are the most important thing. Paul would tell you that you that your family relationships would be infinitely better if Jesus were included, if devotions were shared, if Christ were honored in your family.

We might object saying that we’re getting older, our health is certainly what we should be placing importance on. Paul would tell you that Jesus can heal you just as healed so many before you.

We might have lots of important things in our lives, but until we place Jesus in that top position of importance, we will be missing out on all that He has to offer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

ASAP

I think we all know that ASAP means “As soon as possible.”  It means that whatever the subject is, is very important.  We need to do it right away.  Or we need to contact someone about it right away. 
Sometimes, it refers to an invitation, we want others to let us know if they can come, but we need to know soon.  Sometimes it can refer to a sales offer, it might be a great deal, but time is limited, they have to act fast.
But sometimes ASAP is used for an emergency.  We need to do something ASAP or something terrible will happen.  The health care profession uses the term “stat” which is an abbreviation of the Latin term “statim”.    Perhaps that doesn’t sound so alarming.
There is another acronym that we should remember when things are urgent.  Still using the ASAP initials, remember to “Always Say A Prayer.”  Whatever we do when an emergency comes along, prayer is a very important step.
So the next time you hear the word ASAP, remember to “always say a prayer.”

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The fruit of our lips...

From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.
Proverbs 12:4

I remember hearing a story about a little girl who wanted to build a new dollhouse. Her father was going to help her, and they decided that they could use some of the wood from an old fence that he had taken down earlier that year.

The little girl was a little bothered by the old nail holes in the wood, but instead of offering to fill them, or let her know that when they were painted they might not show quite as much, he decided to use them as a teaching lesson.

He knew that sometimes she said things about others that was very unkind, and he was concerned that quite often, they weren’t even true things. So he told her that every unkind word we speak is a little like one of those nail holes.

Sometimes what we say can cause hurts in others that leave scars, not unlike the holes in the wood from the old fence. And once said, our words can’t be taken back. We can apologize, and we certainly should apologize, and even when we are forgiven, those hurtful things can be difficult to forget.

On the other side, saying good things that help others and encourage others to get through their struggles, and strengthen them on their Spiritual Journey, can do a world of good. In fact, the verse above indicates that what we say can bring as many rewards as what we do. Feeding those who are hungry, clothing the poor, visiting the sick, providing transportation to someone without a car, are all great things, and Scripture promises a reward for those who do them.

Our words will also bring spiritual rewards, if we use them wisely!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Songs of praise...


Shout with joy to God, all the earth!  Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!  Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!  So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.  All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.”
Psalm 66:1-4

What a great song of praise!  As I was reading this for my devotion the other day, I couldn’t help but think how great it would be to start everyday singing songs of praise like this.  To start everyday with God’s praise on your lips!

In our daily devotions, everyday should contain a time of praise, very much like this.  Including a time like this let God know that you acknowledge His greatness and His power in your life.  It keeps you in awe of the things of God.  And it helps keep you from thinking too much of yourself, humble, reciting daily God’s great power and might.

So every day, remember God’s greatness, and praise Him!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Justified by Faith

What do we really have to do to be right with God?

That's a question I hear fairly often, and it's surprisingly a question that people argue about. There isn't a lot of agreement on exactly what God expects.

The Sermon Message this week looks at that subject, and my answer to that question.

In the churches in Galatia, Paul had visited in an early missionary trip and help organize and strengthen the believers that were there. But then, after he left, others came in and told them that they needed to follow the Jewish Law, essentially becoming Jews before they could become Christians. Do we have to follow the Jewish commands? How do we become Christians? How are we made right with God (Justified)? These are the questions we try to answer this week. If you would like to read the message, click the title below. There should be an audio link by Monday afternoon.

June 13, 2010 - Justified by Faith

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Are we basically good people?


When I have opportunities to share my faith, one objection I often hear is that a loving God would never sentence a good person to an eternity in Hell. And it might sound a little harsh on the surface.  But I think that reasoning is flawed.  Here’s why:
First, thinking that we are basically good people and that we should get into heaven suggests that we can save ourselves by our good deeds.  But the Apostle Paul is very clear that we are “saved by faith, not by works.”  We are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ - nothing else.
Second, it isn’t really God that is sentencing us to Hell.  He has done everything he could to keep us out.  Again and again, He has responded in grace when we have wandered away, doing our thing.  If we wind up in Hell, it’s because we didn’t accept the grace poured out on us.
And finally, how good do you suppose you would have to be to be “good”?  Would “basically good” be enough to offset a lifetime of disobedience to God?  Probably not.  I suppose the standard would have to be set pretty high, if in fact you could be good enough on your own. 
In fact, to get an idea how high, in Mark 10:17-18, a rich young man runs up to Jesus and asks, “‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’  ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered.  ‘No one is good – except God alone.’”  Is Jesus saying that he is not good?  That perhaps not even Jesus is good enough on His own to inherit eternal life?  Is the standard so high that even the One that never sinned still wasn’t good enough?  Would any of us measure up? 
That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote, in Romans 3:23, “for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  But Paul doesn’t stop there, he continues, “and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Many think that we are born good, and it is life’s experiences that harden us.  But then why would we call that early stage in the development of our children the “terrible twos”?  Shouldn’t that be the best time in their development?  They are starting to freely interact with others, and they haven’t had any of the life experiences that would harden them yet.  They haven’t learned evil yet, having been sheltered by their parents up to this point.  The fact that almost every child goes through this stage might suggest that perhaps we aren’t born good.  Rather, we learn good from the rules established at home, beginning in this stage, but lasting throughout our lives.  Not that any of our kids are terrors, but perhaps they suffer the effects of sin from a very young age.
In our Bible Study yesterday, we looked at Deuteronomy, and in chapter 11, we studied the freedom to choose either a blessing or a curse.  In verse 11:26 we read, “I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey”.  The choice is ours.  We can follow God, obey His commands, trust Him in all things, or we can walk away and do our own thing. 
What we can’t do is blame Him for the consequences if we disobey.  He warned us long ago.  He even sent His Son to open the door for us.  We have to believe.
God is not evil or hard toward us.  Just the opposite.  God loves us so much he sent his own Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  God didn’t just meet us half way, He came the entire way, He did it all.  All we have to do is believe!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It doesn't matter who you were...

In our message last Sunday, we looked at a passage in Galatians, looking at chapter 1, verses 11-25.

In this passage, the Apostle Paul is telling us briefly about his conversion on the road to Damascus.  He was a very devout Jew, higher in the ranks than many of his peers.  He thought he knew what God wanted, and was very zealous in his faith.  But it turns out, he didn't know what God really wanted.  He had it wrong.  And it took a miraculous vision to straighten him out.

Sometimes, we think we understand our faith.  We think we know what it takes to please God.  We think we've got it right.  But sometimes, we can be wrong...

If you would like to read the message, click on the title below.  There is also a link to listen to the audio recording of the message.

June 6, 2010 - It Doesn't Matter Who You Were

Thanks for reading...

Is Lax Christianity still Christianity?

I am always worried about the almost lax attitude that some people have about their faith. I remember reading a devotion in  Indeed  (Walk ...