Monday, July 23, 2012

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, July 16, 2012

Get Rid of GUILT Psalm 32

Ogden Nash once wrote this little couplet:
There’s only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball,
And that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all.

If you would do a GOOGLE search for the word GUILT, the first articles and links that you will find are about Jerry Sandusky being found guilty of child molestation from Penn State University.
The fact is that Mr. Sandusky was found guilty because he is guilty. However, will he feel the guilt of his crimes? Some folks do a great job of getting rid of guilt by covering their lives in deceit. 
If Mr. Sandusky does feel the shame and pain of guilt, what can he do about that? 

Here is what our friend, Mr. Wikipedia says about guilt: 

King David was a man in the Bible that was guilty of some hellish sins. David was brought to the place that he needed relief from his sins and the only way to find this relief was to come to God and confess his faults and actions. Here is the account of David getting rid of guilt in the 32nd Psalm:

1 Oh, what joy for those
    whose disobedience is forgiven,
    whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those
    whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
    whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
3 When I refused to confess my sin,
    my body wasted away,
    and I groaned all day long.
4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
    My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.  
5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
    and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
6 I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
    And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

At United on Sunday we discussed that fact that all of us have felt guilt and some are even controlled by it. We are filled with guilt by at least two different ways:

1. Unconfessed sin (v 3...when I refused to confess my sins)
2. Not accepting God's forgiveness (v6...And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone!)

I love the story about the man that sent the letter to the IRS saying: "After sending in my tax form, I couldn't sleep because of the guilt of putting false information on my return. Here is $150 and if I still can't sleep I will send the rest!"

I guess the entire goal of the day was to let each of us have an opportunity to get rid of guilt by either confessing our sins to God or by accepting the forgiveness that God has already given us. 

Here is one last nugget concerning guilt and forgiveness: 
"Satan will ACCUSE us of sins that God has already forgiven us of-The Holy Spirit will CONVICT us of sins that we have yet to confess to God."

I really believe that God wants each of us to look ourselves in the eyes today and see freedom through the forgiveness that Jesus Christ gives us!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

NO FEAR: The Fear of Failure

LIST OF PHOBIAS: There are so many phobias in America today there is even a website - that lists more than 500 human fears that people actually experience.
In fact, it is estimated that there are about 50 million people in the United States who actually suffer from some type of phobia in their lifetime.

You won't believe some of the fears that I have found. Some of them you will recognize.
Claustrophobia - The fear of confined spaces.
Dentophobia - The fear of dentists
Pentheraphobia - The fear of your mother-in-law (several men confessed to this one!)
Homilophobia - The fear of sermons
Arachibutyrophobia - The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
Luposlipaphobia - The fear of being pursued by timber wolves around a kitchen table while wearing socks on a freshly waxed floor.
WOW! I never knew there were so many phobias.

However, even thought Wikipedia lists all the phobias that we either have or could acquire, the Word of God still states: "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7.

Fear is real to most of us in one way or another. Here are the main points that we  discussed on July 1:

2 Corinthians 4: 8-9 "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

Did you know that The Fear of FAILURE is a FACT!

We all have failed, will fail and will continue to fail. As a matter of fact, even superstars fail. Check out these amazing statistics:

-The best basketball players in the NBA miss on the average 50% of their shots. 
-The best hitters in professional baseball fail 7 out of 10 times when they go to bat. Babe Ruth hit 714 homeruns, but he also struck out 1330 times. He struck out almost twice as many times as he hit home runs. 
-George Washington lost 2 out of every 3 battles he fought. 
-R. P. Macy, who founded Macy's department store, started 7 businesses and had 7 bankruptcies, before he finally started Macy's. Everybody fails.

Did you know you can REJECT the Fear of FAILURE

The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is not that successful people never fail - the difference is - successful people never quit.

Illust: Did you know that entrepreneurs almost never get their first business off the ground? Or their second? Or their third? According to Tulane University business professor, Lisa Amos, the average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business.

Michael Jordan became the greatest basketball player who ever played and one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports for one reason - he rejected the fear of failure, even though he took the winning shot 26 times and missed. At the end of the game he kept saying, "Give me the ball", because he understood that the highway of success often travels through the tunnel of failure.

Did you know that YOU can REJOICE in FAILURE!

The apostle Paul said that even thought he is getting knocked down continuously, he keeps getting up! King David even mentioned that his failure was good for him:

Psalm 119:71 "My troubles turned out all for the best - they forced me to learn from your textbook." (Psalm 119:71, MSG) 


I think FORD MOTOR COMPANY is glad that they got back up from failure and tried it again!!!
You and I can do the same thing!
Failure is only temporary.....