Posts tagged “Ephesians

Mercy

All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! – Eph. 2:3-5

God paints some pretty awesome pictures for us in life. Some are viewed only as childish finger paintings that are stuck to the refrigerator and never again even noticed only to be discarded as meaningless. I believe that they are masterpieces. They are like DaVinci that cause us to “Ohhhh” and “Ahhh” as we marvel at the wonder of each stroke of the brush and wonder just what was going through the mind of the Creator.

One such painting that I had the humble privilege to observe was a picture of God’s great mercy? Our children occasionally leave things in our home where they are NOT supposed to be. Very simple, right? On this particular night it was something very simple and easily handled – an orange plastic cup. I had just returned from a bible study and was in the living room eating a Subway sandwich with lots of black olives and jalapenos. One of the children left it in the living roomhealth-care floor and was asked to pick it up and you would have thought that they were asked to walk on hot coals and before I knew it the tension in the room was thick coupled with some sassing and a confession that my child didn’t leave the cup in the floor and furthermore their cup was already in the sink. I had heard enough. I said, “Go look in the sink and tell me if you cup is in the sink.” My child ignored me, so I said it again. Again I am ignored. I am thinking, Wow, This child doesn’t know me very well.” NOW I said, “Get up and go look in the sink and come back and tell me if your cup is in the sink….NOW!” That go someone moving but the sassing continued as I was told that my request was “pointless.”

The next words to come from my mouth were “You are grounded”. This meant that the plans that my child had for the weekend were OUT! Now you are probably thinking, “OK, where is this amazing painting of God’s?” After this dreaded moment that no parent like happened and the room was still and silent and returned to try to choke down the rest of my dinner, our God began. I noticed a little boy sitting in the floor fidgeting – looking at me and the cup; then back to me and then the cup. He then jumped up, grabbed the cup himself, took it to the kitchen sink, came back back to the living room and sat down with a big smile on his face. I was shocked! Barely able to so much as raise my head much less swallow the bite that I had in my mouth. I had witnessed mercy. It was as though he was crying out “Mercy!” In the movie Braveheart as William Wallace is being tortured, the people began to cry out MERCY on his behalf. My 8 year old son wanted peace in our home. He wanted his father to show mercy to his sibling even if it meant that it was going to cost him. Is this a stretch? I don’t think so. Jesus used many real life lessons to teach us about the Father, Godliness and Holiness. He used everyday things like fishing, sheep and money to paint some pretty vivid pictures about God’s love, grace and yes, His mercy.

The scriptures teach us that God is RICH in His MERCY; abounding, filled with, overflowing with plenty to spare with mercy and He relentlessly seeks to reconcile with us. He is patient and wants to bridge the gap. That bridge is Jesus! Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Love is one of God’s intrinsic attributes but when love is related to the sinner, it becomes grace and mercy”. Punishment and correction should never be confused in administering discipline to those that we love. Punishment is for criminals for crimes that they have committed. Correction is restoring to a state of uprightness. In God’s mercy we don’t receive what we deserve. His grace affords us what we don’t deserve. So I was inclined to show mercy; I wanted to show mercy my child and to correct the behavior while attempting to preserve peace. God is God!

 


A Healthy Walk with God part 1

It has been a little while so i wanted to take some time to put up a few words on Walking with God. i hope that it will be a blessing.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them – Eph. 2:10

A good while back I had to correct the behavior of one of my children and thought that a good idea to help her keep things in the front of her mind was to have her write on a piece of paper “I will not ________”. She didn’t like this at all but as she wrote down one column of the paper and began on the other side she said to me, “Pawpaw, I figured an easier way to do this”. She wrote the first letter all the way down, and then wrote the next letter all the way down etc, etc. She found a shortcut. I explained to her that that was not what I had in mind and upon close examination the quality of her printing suffered drast-a-matically and by the end, it could not be read. Shortcuts often lead to undesired results.

When we as take shortcuts in our walk with God the quality of our relationship with Him suffers greatly and we become UNHEALTHY.
A Healthy walk with God is one that fulfills its biblical purpose

A Duct tape walk – Many of you here are very familiar with duct tape. You have probably used it many times for many different purposes. Years ago, thousands of dollars went into research to develop this product.

Today, we use it on many things…to temporarily fix pipes…If you get a hole in your pants while you are out hunting, you can use it to tape up your pants…If your children get out of hand, you can always use it to tie ‘em up…it is even used in space travel to temporarily fix problems.

Duct tape was created with a purpose in mind – it is designed to be used in heating and air conditioning applications — to seal up the joints on metal duct work. Have you ever tried to use duct tape on duct work? This is the sorriest tape for duct work I have ever seen! You try to use it on the insulation around the duct and it sticks for about two minutes. It doesn’t really stick to the duct either.
It was created for a purpose but it does everything but what it was designed to do!

You were designed by God to be healthy – You are the church, the church is alive; a living thing that grows when it is healthy. But many times we take short cuts. We hurry through and do things not the way the Father planed so they miss out on what God is trying to do, what God is trying to teach and how God wants to bless.

Many of us are just like duct tape – They do everything under the sun, except the very thing which they were created to do. The question for us is this – Are we taking a duct tape walk? Are we fulfilling our God given purpose? Is my walk with God a healthy walk?
This is not for or about church leadership. It is for every born again believer because we are the church and what I see are unhealthy walks.

Some people think CHURCH IS A SPECTATOR SPORT

During football season the stands are filled with arm-chair quarterback and coaches, people are on the sidelines, players that are on the bench and the bulk of the people are spectators. My point is that most people never get in the game but spend a great deal of time telling others how the game should be played and what they would do IF they were playing.

To have a healthy walk with God we need to go to the Bible and not the opinions of man.

Point #1 – A Healthy walk with God is one that CELEBRATES THE LORD IN WORSHIP — (Mat. 22:37)
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment

Have you ever tried to describe to a friend worship – what is it? I encourage you to read through the Old Testament and see the heart of God unfold. I can’t imagine the vagueness of God experienced by Abraham and yet how the Lord revealed Himself to this man and many otherr as…

  • The Almighty – El Shaddai
  • Most High God – El Elyon
  • Master – Adonai
  • Lord – Jehovah
  • The Lord, my Miracle – Jehovah Nissi
  • The Lord that Heals – Jehovah Rapha
  • The Lord is Peace – Jehovah Shalom

Worship is a personal encounter with God where a person expresses their love for God, their thanks to God and surrender completely to Him – Not just a mental thing…love doesn’t flow from the mind – flows from the heart. WORTH-SHIP – the word for worship in the New Testament is the same word used to describe a dog licking the hand of his master. The dog LOVES his master and would do anything for him. You can kick him, beat him and he comes back and unconditionally loves his master.

Worship is part of a lifestyle of Honoring God and a Lifestyle of Worship – the 2 cannot be separated. Honor is showing value of God to us; Worship assigning worth and adoration.

It is not just the “worship hour” but 24/7. There are 168 hours in the week and we seem to want to reserve 1 hour for worship. We worship on Sunday and we come back for a Sunday or Wed. evening service, our attitudes are so different when it comes to the time we spend singing, praising, our attentiveness to the reading of God’s Word, the preaching – we become lax.

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 serviceRom. 12:1

If we don’t put a lot of emphasis on worship we should expect little of God because A Healthy walk with God is one that CELEBRATE THE LORD IN WORSHIP.

Lord help us to put you first in our lives and walk with you the way that you have called us to. Amen.


When God doesn’t make sense

  The birth of a child is supposed to be a happy time; a joyous to of celebration. Unfortunately that is not always the case. I will never forget the birth of Joshua and the emergency C-section due to his fading heart beat or the birth of Emma and the relief we felt when we saw 10 fingers and toes after the scare of possibly having Amniotic Band Syndrome. And while these 2 events in our life didn’t end in tragedy, for a belief time God didn’t make sense to us. I am certain that Job had similar feelings when he lost everything.

 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.   And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. – Job 1:20-22

 We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, where tragedy strikes and loss is felt as commonly as the breeze. Just watch the news – murder, rape, child molestation, poverty, death. During these times it is difficult to seek God face. Why, we ask: is suffering allowed, pain, poverty, war, hunger, abuse…the list goes on and on. The fact of the matter is that sometimes God just doesn’t make sense to us. What do we do in those times? The first thing that we should do when God doesn’t make sense is… 

  • Understand that we live in a fallen world

In Genesis 1-2, God created the heavens and the earth, the planets and stars, animals and every plant and everything and the scriptures says that it was good, pleasant, and desirable. Then God created man from the dust of the ground and when He saw that man needed a companion, He created woman from one of Adam’s ribs.

 Let me point out that the rib was not taken from man’s head so that he could rule over her or be her task master; not from his foot that he could trample her under his feet but from man’s side, close to his heart so that he might love her and cherish her; from under his arm that he might protect her. Then in Genesis 3 sin is introduced to the world and it spread like a cancer. The curse of sin! We now live in a fallen world that is NOT the way that God intended it to be.

 Newspapers report what are known as “Natural disasters” – the Christmas Tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina, tornadoes. Experts say they are caused by El Nino, global warming but I say to you that the earth is sick with the curse of sin. These disasters plague the earth as we see in the book of Job…

While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” – Job 1:18-19

 Then we have 911 – Men hating men. The bible describes men with this kind of heart – “Their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths.” – Is. 59:7. We need to understand that we live in a fallen world. When God doesn’t make sense we need to… 

  • Rely on our faith in God

Scripture says that Job was a perfect man – not sinless but that he was righteous. In spite of his righteousness, in spite of his godly perfection in an instant Job lost everything – everything that meant anything to him. Yet Job responded to God in trust. I’m not saying that it would be easy because it never is but we learn from Job that fully relying on God, depending on Him is of paramount importance because when everything is gone all we have left is our faith.

 God is sovereign! That means that He has absolute authority. He never has to ask my permission for things to happen. Sovereign means that God has complete and absolute authority and control. He does what He wills for the sole purpose of His glory; for a purpose that we may never know on this side of heaven. But make no mistake that the One Sovereign of the universe is not a president or even a king but The King of Kings.

 We read in Exodus, “And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” – Ex. 33:19

 3500 years later our Lord says in the Sermon on the Mount…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’   But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”

 Both the Old and the New Testament speak of our sovereign Lord. When bad things happen to good people and when good things happen to bad people we need to remember that God is sovereign; in control and to remain faithful like Job.

 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. – Job 1:21-22

 Job knew that God has a plan. When God doesn’t make sense we need to rely on our faith in God and… 

  • Exercise Godly character

We have to ask ourselves, “What kind of character did Job have?”

  1. He Feared God – reverenced God, respected and honored God, He stood in awe of God
  2. He Shunned evil – Turned away from evil; He rejected evil.

 Character helps to guide the believer; it acts as a moral compass. When no one is looking, when you are all alone in the privacy of your own home, your car, your bedroom and no one is looking – someone is watching, someone CAN see you. That someone is Jehovah God. Realizing this will be the difference between a person with character and no character, integrity and no integrity. It just may be the difference between someone who knows the Lord God and one who doesn’t.

We need to continue to obey God. We need to continue to listen TO God’s voice, to listen FOR God’s voice. And whatever we aspire to do or be in this world we need to exercise Godly character.

 So when ever God doesn’t make sense to us we need to…

  • Understand that we live in a fallen world
  •  Rely on our faith in God
  • Exercise Godly character and we need to…
  • Worship

 In Job chapter 1 we have seen that Job suffered incredible loss.

  • 7 sons – killed
  • 3 daughters – Killed
  • 7000 sheep – stolen
  • 3000 camels – stolen
  • 500 yoke of oxen – stolen
  • 500 – female donkey’s – stolen
  • Servants – killed – Job 1:2-3

 Let me just tell you what Job could have done…

  • He could have said, “The heck with God”
  • He could have went to bed and stayed there hoping that everything will be better if I just check out
  • He could have blamed God

 But he didn’t. Instead, “he got up”. As hard as it might have been “He got up”. He pulled himself together. I wonder if in all of heaven there was silence at this moment in time as they waited to see if Job would curse God, blame Him, turn his back on God. The heavens watched as Job tore his robe, shaved his head and falls to the ground….and worships God.

 In Job’s worship he truly shows the supremacy of the One True Living God by showing the Lord God’s worth; that God is worthy. And job says this…

 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”   22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong”

 Amazing isn’t it. He did not sin nor charge God with any wrong. Folks, Job understood something that most of us haven’t figured out yet. There is no darkness in God. There is no sin in God. There is no sin nature in God. He doesn’t sit up in heaven on His throne and fire away with His lightning bolts trying to wreck our lives.

 Sin and darkness is in us. In fact the book of Eph. 5:8 says this, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of Light.”

It doesn’t say that you were once IN darkness but that you WERE darkness. But in Christ all things are made NEW. In 1 Cor. 5:17 that “Any man that is in Christ is a new creation; old has gone, new has come”. The word new is where we get the word “Metamorphosis” Brand new, inside and out, a whole new thing not resembling the old in any way. The next time you look at a butterfly, remember this…it used to be a caterpillar and now it is a whole new creation.

This can only be experienced in Christ Jesus.

Lord, In a world that is filled with heart ache and struggles and our difficult attempts to weather each storm of life, I pray that You will strengthen us all; Give us courage and joy as we walk through the fire together. And when we get to the other side I pray that there will not even be a hint of smoke on us.

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear
(Lyrics by Laurie Klein)

Who am I

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them – Eph. 2:10

Some time ago I was given some “new” duties on my job at the newspaper. I gotta tell you that I was not real happy. But after stewing on it for a while, I began to think about what I had taught students in the past about why we are here on this earth and really got a smack in the face about my attitude –  The Lord, by the way, QUICKLY corrected me. I am thankful to have a job.

Why on earth am I here on earth? What am I here for? This question is asked a lot by students and adults. Some of the answers are, “I don’t know”…”I’m an accident”….”I never even think about it.”

Our purpose is to bring glory and honor to God. No matter what vocation we choose, we must see it as an opportunity to fulfill a greater calling.  Our passage of scripture says that we are His “workmanship” stating that we were created by God, carved out of nothing and that should send a chill of excitement over our bodies. God Himself took the time to fearfully and wonderfully create…YOU. He took the time and care to make you just as you are and here it is – for His glory; to bring Him honor.

Everyone dreams about what they might want to be when they grow up; a doctor, lawyer, a professional athlete or maybe a super hero. I wanted to be Superman but that didn’t work out. My cape kept getting hung in the spokes of my bike.

Anyway, society tries it’s best to define peoples lives. It tries to put us in categories by what we do, how much we make, what kind of car we drive and what kind of body we have. Even as a believer we get caught up in the pursuit of success. Our lives become broken down into sections…
• Personal life
• Professional life
• Spiritual life

The truth of the matter is that we were never created to climb the corporate ladder. We were not created to compete for power and riches and fame. Instead we were created to glorify God – PERIOD. Now there is nothing wrong with having a good, well paying job as long as it is kept in it perspective – we’ll get to that on another day.

Our identity in Christ is not a title on a resume or in having big or car. It’s not how much we have achieved in life.  It’s about honoring Him and what eternal impact you have on a desperate world that lacks hope. You are valuable because of who you are IN Christ not because of what you will do for a living.

I leave you with this thought from Psalm 8:4 – “what are mortals that you should think of us, mere humans that you should care for us?”

God delights in His children!


Walking with God

I have been in the ministry for over 12 years. I began as a volunteer, then moved into an transitional youth minister position twice at the same church. The Lord then called me and my family to a church in Kings Mountain where we have served for close to 4 years. Walking with God is hard. Walking with God requires change. The scripture says this…

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light – Eph. 5:8

Andrea, my daughter, were at church one afternoon preparing for the Wed. night bus trip to pick up students as we did every Wed. night. I noticed her walking out in front of me. You have to understand that at this time she was 4 years old. But as she got older instead of holding my hand, she wanted to walk ahead of me, not holding my hand which we always did for safety crossing the parking lot. She would look back every couple of step, making sure that I was still there but still wanted to be ahead of me. I would have to call her name and say, “Stop, Slow down”.

Believe it or not, to walk with God we have to start thinking like Him. Walking takes some steps.

Our walk is important. We are no longer darkness; we are light in the Lord. It doesn’t say that we were once IN darkness but that we WERE darkness. Many have no idea what I am talking about and are wondering about what does it means to “Walk with God? So I hope to convey to you clearly three steps to walking with God.

STEP 1 – Change your Mind

Romans 12:2 – 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

We are supposed to conform or fit into a pattern and we all do. Our pop culture that is in rebellion to God will try to convince you to conform into an un-godly pattern.

Not only are we not to be conformed to the pattern of this world but we are to be transformed which is to change into another form. It is like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly is completely different, completely! Our minds need to be renovated. The mind is used to perceive and understand and feeling, make judgments. Our minds need to change from what we think is acceptable, pure and good.

Lots of thoughts go through your mind in the course of the day. TV, Movies, Friends, Magazines, Video Games, Bible, Music, Parents, Internet.

These things are not always good. In fact many of the things that we watch, read, play and view are full of ungodly principles. How in the world does a person allow these things to fill their hearts and minds? The battleground between conforming and transformed is fought first in the mind – we must think differently!

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. – Phil. 4:8

Ever had your faith scrutinized? Ever had it tested? Someone ever been put through the wringer to see if your faith was genuine? Worthy? Miller says that they are the genuine draught beer. Coke says that they are the “Real Thing”. What about you? What about your faith? Want to be transformed? Change your mind – change the way you think.

STEP 2 – Change your Attitude

1 Tim. 4:12 – Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity

What kind of attitude do you have? What kind of conduct? What kind of love? What kind of spirit? Faith? Purity? Timothy was a young man. We don’t really know how young but scholars estimate that he was around 25 to 30. Because Timothy was young, he was vulnerable to the errors of youth which often bring the criticism of those who are older. To address this, Paul called him to live a life so that was so godly that no one could despise or “think little of” his youth. God has called us to “make an impression”, to “be an example”. Be an example by what you say, what you do, in love, in attitude, in faith and in purity.

STEP 3 – Change your Heart

Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51 is a prayer of repentance. David was agonizing in prayer after he was visited by the prophet Nathan. The first 6 verses are David’s confession and we read things like “Have mercy upon me, O God, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”

And because of the Lord’s kindness and His mercy David is restored.

David is asking God to shape or fashion his heart, to mold his heart with God as the subject or model. David is asking the same awesome God that created the heavens and the earth to create in fallen man a new heart – Not just a heart but a clean heart – clean, pure, without defects. David is asking God to repair his spirit and to make his spirit firm and fixed on Him.

This story really tells it like it is….

In the forests of northern Europe and Asia lives little animal called the ermine, known for his snow-white fur in winter. He instinctively protects his white coat against anything that would soil it. Fur hunters take advantage of this unusual trait of the ermine. They don’t set a snare to catch him, but instead they find his home, which is usually a cleft in a rock or a hollow in an old tree. They smear the entrance and interior with grime. Then the hunters set their dogs loose to find and chase the ermine. The frightened animal flees toward home but doesn’t enter because of the filth. Rather than soil his white coat, he is trapped by the dogs and captured while preserving his purity. For the ermine, purity is more precious than life.