Monday, April 23, 2012

Forgiving Others Sets Us Free!

Forgiveness was the word of the day at United Wesleyan on Sunday morning. I really believe that God did His work as several released their "Judas" to the Lord and walked away without the burden of bitterness and un-forgiveness. It was awesome to see and to hear even later in the day how releasing their "Judas" to God has given victory and peace.

We explored the fact that Judas betrayed Jesus in such as way that it eventually put Him on the cross. Even on the cross, it was Jesus that said: "Father, forgive them, because they don't know what they are doing."
Now, I will admit that many of our Judas' know exactly what they are doing at the moment, but perhaps they are deceived and even ignorant to what they are doing to themselves spiritually.

I really love what Buddy Hackett said about forgiveness: "I never hold grudges, because while I am stressing about what they did to me, they are out there somewhere dancing!"

I also love the story about the preacher asking his congregation "if you would like to forgive your enemies, please raise your hand"....everyone did except 86 year old Mr. Jones. The preacher asked Mr. Jones why he wasn't willing to forgive his enemies. Mr. Jones replied: "I don't have any." The preacher asked how that could be possible and Mr. Jones replied: "I outlived everyone of them!"

It is true that the only way we can be "enemy free" is to either outlive them or forgive them! We may have to turn our enemies over to the Lord and let God deal with them so we can go on living in God's will!

How do you deal with your "Judas"?...the one that has betrayed you, used you and harmed you in some way?
Please consider the words of Jesus this week:

Teaching about Love for Enemies

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,[t] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Changing Directions

Yesterday was a beautiful day and a great day for Easter worship. God continues to show us here at United Wesleyan that He is leading and blessing our congregation. A full parking lot is a good problem to have in the life of the church and that is what we were dealing with on Sunday. 

However, the highlight of the morning for me was when I asked the congregation a question: "What was the signature dance of your generation?"

Wow, you should have heard the answers! Carolina shag, Funky chicken, Duggie, Wobble, Macarena just to name a few! I threw in the only dance that I knew, The Hokey Pokey! 
We realized that all these dances have something in common: The participant must constantly change directions!

Do you realize this is what Peter said during the first sermon after the Day of Pentecost? When asked what they must do, Peter said: "Repent (change directions) in the Name of Jesus Christ!"
I am praying that many people at worship services all around the world changed directions! 

Here are some good signs that God is still using people in the right places to bring the gospel to the world. 
Hopefully these two guys will help a great group of people to change directions: Tim Tebow and Bubba Watson!
Both of these guys are winners! They win on and off the field and golf course. They are also unashamed of the gospel of Jesus:

Here is Tim Tebow on Easter Sunday:

Here is Bubba Watson on Twitter on Saturday evening:
"Thanks everyone for the support! 3 reasons tomorrow will be awesome, 1. Jesus has risen 2. See my new baby boy & my wife 3. Masters Sunday." 

Here is Bubba Watson after winning the Masters: One of the greatest quotes I've heard by an athlete, "I never made it this far in my dreams"
As many of you know, Bubba crushed an unbelievable shot that hooked about 35 feet to the right to land close enough to the pin to win the Masters! 

So, Easter is over for the year. 
Do you think we as a nation are heading in the right direction?
Is the Christian church heading in the right direction?
Are you going in the right direction?

Here are some notes of the message from You Version:

Until next time, let us keep changing directions until we are walking the same way as the resurrected Christ!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gambling Jesus Away

John 19:23–24: When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four
shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment
was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they
said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the
scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.

My question this morning is what in the world made these soldiers do what they did at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ?
At the time when Jesus was giving up his life so that normal people like you and I can have a way for the forgiveness of our sins and eventually spend eternity in heaven, these men were gambling to see who would walk away with a prize: The seamless garment that Jesus was wearing.

Perhaps these soldiers were so familiar with crucifixions that it no longer moved them. They certainly saw and participated in their share of deaths by crucifixions. 
Could this be why so many in our world turn away from Jesus even today? We are so familiar with the religious lingo, the holidays, the songs and prayers that we no longer pay enough attention to what really went on when Jesus died?

The Jewish people and the Roman people hated each other. They couldn't stand to see the other prosper. As a matter of fact, they would plan and plot for each others destruction.
The Romans were turned off by God's people. 
I have known many over the years that do not attend worship, claim Christianity as their faith because of someone that turned them off because of some words or actions that may have even been taken the wrong way.
Prejudice can make us do some strange and even awful things. Do you know someone who is prejudiced against the church, Christians or even God Himself?

Obviously, these soldiers were focused on the seamless garment. They were oblivious to the cross because of their focus.
What is your seamless garment? Is it your career, your investments, your family or current situation? People, places and things can take our focus off of Jesus Christ, who died on Calvary so that we might have a blessed life here and an awesome eternity!

I heard this story recently: A number of years ago I heard the testimony of a missionary named Glenn. He and his family were in China for a number of years. In their last years there they had been
put under house arrest by the Chinese government and were waiting to hear when they
could go back to America.
One day a Chinese soldier came and knocked on the door and told them they could
go back to America and that he would be back later to pick them up and take them to
the airport. They could only take two hundred pounds with them. Well, think about this.
If it was your family, a wife, a husband, and two kids—two hundred pounds isn’t much.
They decided to try the best they could to decide what was most important and what
really needed to go.
The wife thought vases and the sewing machine were most important, Glenn
thought his computer and books were most important, and the children were concerned
about their toys, games, and clothes. They had much more than two hundred pounds.
They got out the scales and the family arguments began. They argued a little while
and took something off, argued some more and took something else off and finally,
though they didn’t agree that they had what was most important, they did have two
hundred pounds on the dot.
Later that day the Chinese soldier came and said, “Are you ready to go?”
Glenn said, “We are ready.”
“Did you weigh everything?”
“We weighed everything.”
“Did you weigh the kids?”
“We didn’t weigh the kids.”
“Weigh the kids.”
In a moment everyone agreed. The sewing machine, vases, computer, books, toys,
games, and clothes weren’t even worth discussing. 

***The value of putting our attention on what is of first importance is that it focuses us on what really matters and keeps us from being distracted or preoccupied with what does not.

Be blessed today! God is on your side...