Friday, January 2, 2015

Let's Break Down Some Walls in 2015

NOTE: This is a reprint of a previous blog in my archives-I just felt it so important to think about again this year..TJ

Breaking Down the Walls

We can have friends and relationships with those that are different from us! God takes great interest in breaking down walls that separate groups and people from one another. That is one reason He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to our world. God wants us to be ONE, especially in the church that Jesus died for:

Ephesians 2:14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

The aforementioned scripture is mainly written about the relationship between the Jews and the Gentiles.
They were so different in their traditions and their upbringing. Now the situation is that both groups were turning to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins but their differences from their past was causing a wall of separation to be set up between them.
God went to great lengths to see that people get along. He will do the same for us because loving relationships are important.
Here is a story I shared with the United congregation on Sunday:

Sometime back we are told the American Red Cross was gathering supplies medicine, clothing, food, and the like for the suffering people of an African drought and civil war. Inside one of the boxes that showed up at the collection depot one day was a letter. It said, “We have recently been converted and because of our conversion we want to try to help. We won’t ever need these again. Can you use them for something?” Inside the box were several Ku Klux Klan sheets.
This particular group had come to know the love of Christ and had disbanded, and they sent their robes, their white sheets, to the Red Cross. Quite significantly, the Red Cross cut the white sheets into strips and eventually used them to bandage wounds of suffering black people in Africa. (5) Now that is a conversion that would thrill the heart of God.

So my question today is: Who is it that you are at odds with? Why does this kind of relationship exist? God can give you the strength and power to forgive someone or a group of people. God will help you knock down walls.
In closing, here is a fabulous story of how one man made friends with his enemies:

Wallace Hamilton once told the story of a Christian farmer who raised sheep. But he had a serious problem. His neighbor’s dogs would, from time to time, get into his sheep pen and injure or even kill one of the sheep. The farmer went to talk with his neighbor but his neighbor didn’t do anything about it. So the farmer thought, the next dog that attacks my sheep will be a dead dog. But he knew that was wrong. His next thought was to sue the man. But Paul makes it clear in the 6th chapter of 1st Corinthians that Christians don’t sue Christians. “I’ll build a wall,” he thought, but that would have been expensive. He didn’t have that kind of money. And besides, walls are such ugly things.
Finally he prayed, “Lord, what should I do about my neighbor’s dogs?” Then that night the answer came to him. The next morning he went out to his sheep. He selected two baby lambs and he took those lambs to his neighbor’s house and gave them to his neighbor’s daughters as pets. The girls were thrilled (there is nothing cuter than a little lamb). His neighbor was thrilled because his daughters were happy, and since he now had sheep of his own to protect, he started controlling his dogs.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Turn to God? But I Have a Smart Phone...

My faith in humanity has been restored! I really thought that we didn't have a reasonable voice in the world anymore. I really thought that we were just going to float on into eternity and possibly this age has come to an end without anyone with some national clout stepping up to the plate and giving a divine prescription for a cure.

Here is some of what Dr. Alveda King said this weekend:

Dr. Alveda King appeared on Cavuto on the Fox network to promote her recent book, titled “King Rules.” She also discussed the lack of spirituality and devotion to God in our nation’s leadership. “I’m 64 years old and in America, ‘One Nation under God’ and ‘In God we trust,’ she said.  “Have we been perfect? No. Do we have our problems? Yes. But then to have the leader of our country at one point say, ‘We are no longer a Christian nation’… Where is the righteous indignation?”

King discussed the importance of devotion to God in handling not only terror groups like ISIS but in also dealing with the race riots in Ferguson, Missouri. “I believe if you have God-fearing leaders in place they are going to get the wisdom that’s required,” she commented.

“President Obama, call on the leaders of prayer in this nation. Bring us back to God,” she implored.

In a nutshell, she was saying that there are things that are STARTING to happen in our world that our technology cannot fix. A new app on our smart phone more than likely will not take care of a potential ebola crisis.

A new computer program may not take care of the all the ISIS terrorists that may or may not be crawling around on the streets of America....

That's just the way it is and that is just the way it has to be. There are some things that are left to God. Only God and His wisdom can fix or cure some things. Ms. King emphasized prayer. Talking to God. Pleading with Him to come and rain His presence on us again. I really think it is about time that God speaks in a very clear voice to this world as we know it. How much more can He stand of our waywardness? By the way, this is His world.
I want to do His will and be a team player for the Creator of heaven and earth. How will He do it? Your guess is as good as mine but I am praying that your faith will rest and trust in Him.
What Ms. King said may sound pretty simple but at least it is a start!

I close this with a pretty heavy piece of scripture that explains what we have to look forward to when God is finished with this age:

A New Heaven and a New Earth

Revelation 21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Until next time, be blessed!


Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Not the World's Fault!

It is easy as Christians to become dismayed by cultural changes that seem to be rejecting God and infringing on our religious freedoms.

But in the past several weeks I have found encouragement and hope from a statement by present-day Jerusalem pastor Wayne Hilsden.
He said, “The early Christians did not say ‘Look what the world has come to.’ Rather they exclaimed ‘Look what has come to the world!’” 
In our case it is WHO has come to the world!

My question is, are we willing to proclaim the answer to most world problems to those that do not know WHO the answer is?

People are willing to listen IF we are willing to talk. Evangelism is another area where the church is in a slump. We are often willing 

At United yesterday I explained the situation like this:

  • Romans 3:23: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
  • 2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."
If we have all sinned and fallen short of God's expectation for us, and He is not wanting anyone to perish, to die without His grace, then WHY aren't people standing in lines to repent? Why are there so many empty seats in sanctuaries? 

I wonder if the problem lies at the feet of Christians, those that actually know Christ? Look at this verse from the Apostle Paul to the Romans:
  • Romans 10:14 "But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?"
Billy Graham has always kept evangelism pretty simple. Many people have called it "Napkin Evangelism." 

Here is a very simple worksheet if you are willing to be the one that God uses to "proclaim" Him and the salvation He offers:

Remember: It is not the world's fault if we aren't proclaiming His great salvation! Be blessed as you share Christ this week.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Some People Cannot Forgive and Here is Why

We are all in the same boat: We have people that mistreat us, disrespect us and are jealous of us in various ways. Many times, this translates into words and actions of meanness from those we see every day. Wow! Now we have to listen to the Apostle Paul in the Bible as he tells us how to deal with this:

Colossians 3:13 "Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."

Forgiveness is not minimizing the seriousness of the
offense against you. 
-It’s not an instant restoration of trust from someone who has wronged you.  
-It’s not resuming a relationship without any changes.  
-Forgiveness isn’t even forgetting what someone has done to you, because if you literally
forgot it and never remembered it, you’d also forget the lessons you were supposed to 

Forgiving others takes a type of love that says:
"You don't owe me anymore!"

To this, we may say: That doesn't seem fair, just to let someone off the hook for what they have done to me! 
You are exactly right! Unless, you have experienced forgiveness and let off the hook by God Himself through His Son Jesus Christ!

The more you have been forgiven, the more you
understand forgiveness.

In the Bible Jesus went to the house of a man named Simon.  The custom at that time was to greet your guests with a kiss, provide water so your guests could wash their feet, and anoint their head with oil as a blessing. 
But Simon didn’t do any of that for Jesus.  But a woman who was a prostitute did all of those things and more for Jesus. She didn’t wash his feet with just water.  She washed his feet with her tears.  She didn’t just greet Jesus with a kiss, she continually kissed his feet.  She didn’t just put oil on his head, she used the most expensive perfume made and poured it on his feet.  Why? Let us look at what Jesus said:

Luke 7:47  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.  (NIV)

Now I understand part of the reason why many cannot forgive others: Perhaps, he or she has not experienced the freedom of being totally forgiven by Jesus Christ. 

We can experience a complete forgiveness in Christ and that will give us power to forgive others!

Psalm 103:12  How far has the Lord taken our sins from us? Farther than the distance from east to west!  
Isaiah 1:18  …no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool! 

My friends, I really believe this is so huge in our walk with God. Jesus even takes it to another level when He said: 
Matthew 5:43-44  You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 

In closing, I leave you this story of our responsibility of forgiving and loving others, no matter what the circumstance:
ILLUST: There’s an old story that tells of a man who went to a Christian counsellor about his marriage. When it was emphasized to him that the Bible tells husbands to love their wives, the man replied that he and his wife hardly speak any longer or do anything together – it is like they are strangers. In response to that, the counsellor flipped in his Bible to the passage that says to love your neighbor. The man then responded that when he and his wife do talk, it usually takes the form of fighting. The counsellor flipped in his Bible again, and said “Now I understand, I have just the passage for such a situation.” He stopped flipping and read “Love your enemies.”