Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Used By God?

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Acts 3:4-7 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

The day is a typical day, there is really nothing out of the ordinary going on, the time is 3:00p.m. and Peter and John are headed to the Temple to pray. Their day is just as busy as ours, and they probably have a to-do a mile long on their ‘I-Scroll.’ It’s on this normal day, that the spectacular happens; and I believe that Peter and John made a few choices that allowed God to use them in tremendous ways.

They Chose To Be At The Right Place.

Peter and John were headed to the Temple to pray. I wonder if it could have been that Peter just did not really want to go to the temple on this particular day. Could have been that John had so many obligations in his life that it just didn’t seem necessary to make the journey just to pray? I wonder if Peter thought about calling John up to cancel their little outing for the afternoon. We may not know the answer to these questions, all we know is that at the ‘Time of Prayer,’ Peter and John were going to be found in the Temple. They were at the place that the Lord desired them to be. They were not too busy, or too important, or too obligated to follow the will of the Lord. It very well could be that the first step in us being used by God is to be at the right place. Stop calling all the shots in your life, and allow God to use you! Most people are so busy that they are running around like a chicken with their head cut off, and they leave no time for the Lord.

They Expected God to Use Them!


Peter and John are going to the Temple to pray, and they notice a man that is begging for money. This is nothing new, this man is always at the temple, and he is always begging for money. This man is really a nuisance to many of the ‘religious’ folks who are trying to go and pray. As this beggar always does, when he sees Peter and John he begins to beg for money; we have all had a situation like this happen to us before haven’t we? Most people just ignore the beggar and keep going, some will fish out a small amount to give to the beggar so they can feel better, but Peter and John do neither of these. The Bible says, But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Now that was unexpected, but do you know what it shows us? Peter was expecting God to do something great that day. Peter was at the right place at the right time, and he was looking for God to use him in a great way; and when the opportunity presented itself he did not waste it. What would have happened if Peter would have just walked by the beggar? I wonder how many opportunities we are wasting every day because we do not expect God to do anything in our lives.  I wonder how many ‘crippled beggars’ are still crippled and are still begging because we walk right by without a thought?



They Trusted God.

Image result for lame healedIt’s one thing to talk a good talk, and many ‘religious’ folks can do that well, but Peter put his money where his mouth was so to speak. And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Peter reached down and grabbed the crippled man by the hand and pulled him up to his feet. This man was lame from birth, he had never walked before, and yet Peter is yanking him up to his feet. Peter, this could go bad! Peter you are going to look like a fool if this man falls back to the ground. Peter had confidence in his Lord and Savior that this man was healed. Peter wasn’t worried about how he might be perceived, Peter was not tip toeing around, he knew what the Lord wanted and he acted on it. It’s a bold move on Peter’s part, but the Lord blessed it greatly and the man stood on his feet for the first time in his life.And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

What happens next? The man  went into the Temple and began to jump up and down praising God. When the people saw this they realized that this was the same man they had seen outside the Temple begging day after day, this is the same man that has never walked before, and they were amazed.  After this Peter and John began to preach to these religious folks, and over a thousand were saved.
Do you want to be used by God today? Maye it’s pretty simple, be at the right place, expect God to use you, and trust Him.  


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Insane?


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Albert Einstein said that the definition of Insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ Now I don’t imagine many of us would consider ourselves insane, albeit many of us are certainly a bit peculiar.  Yet, I can’t help but think that in a Spiritual sense Insanity might be a good way to categorize our Spiritual Lives.

Follow me through this thought if you would, most Christians see areas in their life that need to change. It could be that there’s an addiction to a particular sin, it could be that there is a prideful spirit; it could be that there is some sort of idolatry in your life. Or maybe the change that needs to happen revolves more around the things that you should be doing, but you aren’t. You aren’t practicing evangelism, you aren’t spending time in God’s word on a regular basis, your prayer life is shallow, there are very few ways your serving the Lord, etc. We could continue for the examples are many, but hopefully the point is made that every one of see ways in our lives to that we need to change to make us the people that God has called us to be.

My question is what are you going to do about it? 2017 brings many new opportunities, for you and for me and for this church, but if we are not careful 2017 will be just like 2016. If we aren’t careful we will live the same way in 2017 that we did in 2016, and therefore we will see no real growth in our lives. You may say we are caught in a rut, you may say we are being complacent, call it what you want; but until we get intentional about honoring God with our lives nothing is going to change.

I’m not talking about a new year’s resolution; I’m talking about a Spirit of fortitude and determination to make this year count. 365 days… you can waste them; or you can make the most out of them; the choice is yours!

Ephesians 4:22–24—“put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”


Monday, November 21, 2016

Dead Faith?

Faith… We hear about faith often; It is a crucial word to Christianity we talk about ‘having faith,’ ‘developing faith,’ and ‘growing in our faith.’ Usually when we talk in this way we are referring to our belief system and the way that we have trust or confidence in the Lord Jesus. In other words, we refer to faith as noun, let me remind you back to your school days a noun is a: person, place, or thing.
The problem is that in modern Christianity there are many times that faith is nothing more than a belief system. We have faith, we know the Word of God, we know the Bible stories, we know about ecclesiology and eschatology and all these other big words that make us feel like we are smart. We come to church often, we read books, and we attend conferences; but I want to present to you that if this is all our faith is then it is DEAD. I don’t want a DEAD faith, but what does it mean to have an LIVING faith?

A living faith is one that is proven by works. James 2:17 “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James gives us an example of a DEAD faith: James 2:15:17 “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” 

A brother is starving and comes to your door for help; but you go and grab your Bible and offer to lead him in a Bible study.
 • “My Bible tells me that there were 5,000 men plus women and children hungry and Jesus fed them.”
• “My Bible tells me the Lord provided Manna from Heaven for his hungry people.”
• “My Bible tells me that He is the Healer of the Sick, and the Feeder of the Hungry.”

“Let us pray together for your hunger brother.” Then you say; “My brother we have studied, we have prayed, may the Lord be with you. Go in peace!” James says that is USELESS. That man at that time didn’t need a sermon, he needed some food. That man didn’t need a Bible Study; he needed some bread and turkey. To give him a prayer meeting becomes irrelevant. The right information without the right action is a waste for everyone.

 Words—Sermons-Prayers-Confessions of faith-Wise Advice- Encouragement: These are all indispensable to true Christianity. But they are shown to have real meaning, James reminds us, when people can see actions that correspond to those words.

 In my life, I want my faith to be more than a noun; I want my faith to be an action. When I look in the Bible I see great men and women of faith who backed up their belief system with their lives. Let us be a people of action, not just a people who always have the right words to say. I pray that we will be known as people who will get our hands dirty because we love Jesus, We will give money away because we love Jesus, we will feed the hungry because we love Jesus. I pray that our faith will be a verb and not just a noun.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Passion or Idolatry...



In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren defines passion as the "bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections you have... What you love to do and what you care about most."

Our passions are unique gifts to us from God. We feel alive and fulfilled when we engage in them. They excite us, and they challenge us. 
But what about when we O.D. on our passions? It goes without saying that we are very prone in our culture to turning a hobby into a god. Idolatry means that we elevate something to the status of  God in our lives. Romans 1:25 says it like this: "they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen." The picture is very relevant, you take something that God has made for your enjoyment and you begin to worship the creation more than the God who created it in the first place. 
What could be the Idol in your life? What do you think about when you have free time? When you have free time on the internet what are you searching and studying about? Where do you go when you need comfort and encouragement? 
Idols can be anything, it can be a hobby that you love to take part in, it can be a job that feel your worth is defined by, it can be a relationship that you find your acceptance in. None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but they can easily usurp the supreme place in your life that only God deserves. The tricky part is walking the line between our passions and becoming idolatrous. 

I have found that guys struggle with having a hobby and it not turning into a god. Last week I went to a large IDPA match. IDPA is a competitive shooting sport which I compete in, and it is a hobby that I enjoy. While at the match I was talking to one of the other shooters and he asked me if I get the opportunity to shoot very many local matches each month. I told him that at most I get to shoot one local match every month; and I asked how often he shoots. He responded by telling me that he tries to shoot at least a match 3 times a week but usually 4; and once he retires he hopes to shoot even more. He told me that he shoots on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Wow, that is a lot of shooting, and no doubt takes a great deal of time. 
As I thought over our conversation, I can think of so many guys who fall into this trap. Something starts out a hobby, and then it begins to turn into a god that controls your life. I have seen it with fishing, with sports, with fitness, with jobs etc. and it is never worth the price that it costs. The Lord demands to be our only God (Exodus 10:3-6). I realize this means I may not be the most competitive at my hobby; but that's okay. It scares me to think that I could ever put a hobby over my Lord, or my wife, or my children... It is simply not worth it.
So my challenge is for each of us to look into our lives, and pay special attention to the things that could be manifesting a spot as a god. Decide now what your priorities are going to be; and who you are going to live for. I want to make choices now that I will not regret in the future. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Today...



Life goes by so quickly... I have heard people say this my whole life, but I am now experiencing it first hand. Mason and Maddox are now 6 years old... that is hard for me to believe; 6 years old! What is even more life-changing is that they have now started kindergarten.

It seems like good quality time is harder then ever to come by. There is always somewhere that we need to be: It's another school day, it's a church day, There's a special event that we need to attend, we have a baseball game, or a practice, we were invited to a Birthday party...   There is also always something we need to be doing: the house needs cleaned, the grass needs mowed, the oil needs changed, emails need responded to, supper needs to be cooked, and on and on and on... All of these things are good things, but they keep us so busy that there are times that I look over the span of a day and realize that I had very little quality time with my boys and my wife.

I guess I am writing this just to remind myself to make the most of today... 6 years have flown by so quickly, and if I had to guess I bet the next 6 will go by even faster. Today... We will never get today back... As a Dad and a Husband I want to make it count.

Put the phone down, get off Face-Book, the emails will wait... Go spend time with your family. Make your kids laugh until they start to cry, be silly and goofy with them. Play the games that they want to play. Hold your family close, and reassure them every day how much you love them. The other stuff can wait; but I'm learning that your kids growing up never slows down.

Today... What are you going to do today?

Ephesians 5:15-16 15 "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." 





Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton/ Donald Trump

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2016... Politically it is without a doubt the most unusual election I have ever experienced. The United States has a population of around 320 Million people and we must choose between Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump to be Commander in Chief of the most powerful nation in the World. I realize some will advocate a 3rd party candidate, but the reality as I see it is that this is throwing a vote away. 

Many have come out in support for the candidate that they feel will be the best for this country; what I find interesting is that the phrase 'the least of two evils' keeps coming up. I have not spoken to anyone recently who is legitimately excited over either of these candidates, rather they are simply choosing the one who lines up with their personal beliefs more-so than the other. 

With the Supreme Court Seats at stake this is bound to be one of the most important elections that plots the course of our nation for many years to come. 

What are we to do as Christians?

1) Pray

I know it goes without saying, but believers need to make this a matter of prayer. God is in control, and in God's sovereignty He is able to work through less then perfect situations, and in less then perfect people.  

1 Timothy 2:1-4 2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We need to pray for a leader who will allow us to live a 'peaceful and quiet life,' we need to pray for a leader who is 'godly and dignified in every way.' because this is 'pleasing in the sight of God.' You say well we know that neither of these candidates are godly or dignified... I agree, but I believe in the power of God and I believe that He can change hearts. What a testimony for one of these candidates to have a redemption story that shows an incredible transformation by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

2) Trust God

We need to Trust God, the future is uncertain... the economy could soar in the coming years; or the economy could crash. The employment rate could go up, but it could also go down. Terror and attacks from our enemies could decrease, but they could also increase. Life as we know it could improve, but it could also get worse. But no matter what happens as Children of God we trust Him!

We trust him because we do not find our joy, our hope, or our peace from our political leaders, we don't find it from our government, we don't find it from our country, we don't find it from our wealth, we find our Joy in the Lord.

At Times, God uses evil rulers to bring Judgment upon his people and bring them back to a right relationship with Him. God raised up Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to punish Judah for their idolatry (2 Kings 20:17-18). After Babylon fulfilled its purpose it was judged for its own wickedness. God did the same with Assyria (Isaiah 10).

It could be that there are rough times in the future of the USA, but it might take rough times to spark a revival in which we 'come to our senses' like the prodigal son and come home to the Lord. If corrupt leadership, or a failing economy sparks true revival it would certainly be worth it.

3) Act

No these two are not the best choices, but they are what we have. I believe that every one of us need to exercise our right to vote. As a Christian, I'm going to look at the two candidates and pick the one that is closest to my Christian values.

I know that some have taken the stance that they are going to abstain from voting all together. Some believe that the most God honoring thing to do is to not cast a vote for either of the candidates on the ballot. I am not sure what good that does?

I believe that abortion is murder. The leading cause of death in our country is not heart disease, and it is not cancer, it is abortion. Hillary Clinton is a proponent of abortion; she believes that a mother has the right to terminate the pregnancy if she wishes. Hundred of Thousands of babies die every year because of abortion. Donald Trump, although he has swayed on the issue throughout the years, He is running on the position of being Pro-Life. Can you imagine the babies that could be saved with a Pro-Life leader in the White-house vs. a Pro-Choice leader in the White-house?

Look at the issues item by item and see which candidate best honors your religious beliefs; and then go and vote for that individual.

It's going to be an interesting time to be alive, and no one of us know what the future holds; but I know who holds the future.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Keep Your Eye On The Ball!!



Mason and Maddox have been playing machine pitch baseball this fall, which has been a big step up from tee-ball. There is one thing that I keep telling the boys every time they go to the plate to bat and that is ‘Keep your eye on the ball!’ In order to hit the ball you have to first see the ball; you have to stay focused at all times.

I think the same could be said about our faith, in order to ‘hit the ball’ we have to stay focused. It is so easy for us to get distracted in life. We are all so busy, and we have so many things that are constantly pulling for our attention; that if we aren’t careful we will forget that we are in the ‘batter’s box’ and we have work to do.

Jesus reminds us in Luke 19:10 that we need to stay focused: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” This point is further acknowledged in Luke 15 when Jesus tells the Parable of the “Lost Sheep”, the “Lost Coin”, and the “Lost Son;” in each of these instances the point is made that Lord is seeking to save that which was lost, and when a lost person is found there is JOY in heaven. Luke 15:7 “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

I wonder if it could be that we have gotten distracted by the things of the world and we have forgotten that our purpose is to see people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Take the blinders off this morning, and realize what your purpose is. Don’t allow satan to distract you with the meaningless things in life, but let the Lord lead you and guide you to a life that will make an eternal difference for His Kingdom.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Deny Yourself- Take Up Your Cross- Follow Me

Sermon: Luke 9:23

Carry Your Cross...

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For some reason, we have bought into the lie that following Jesus will be easy; not only have we bought into the lie we are spreading this false gospel. 

Church's everywhere are modifying their message to make it more appealing to the masses. The consumer focused mindset has invaded Christianity, to the point that many water down the Biblical gospel in an attempt to make it more palatable and popular. But the reality is that it will never fill you up or satisfy because it is not the true saving gospel of Jesus Christ. 

In Luke 9 Peter makes a confession of who Jesus is:  Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

In this context Jesus tells Peter, and the Disciples, and all followers of him throughout the ages what it will actually look like to be a follower of Jesus.

Luke 9:23-26 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”
It’s pretty simple. Anyone who wants to come after Jesus into the kingdom of God—anyone who wants to be a Christian—has to face three commands: 1) deny him-self, 2) take up his cross daily, and 3) follow Him
So my question for myself as I start this day:
  • In what ways can I deny myself today? 
How can I show that my life is no longer about me? It's not about me or my happiness, or my wealth, or my kingdom, or my anything else. I wonder if people can see this when they look at my life?
  • In what ways can I take up my cross today?
A cross is a tool of death. To carry a cross means that you have counted the cost and have decided that Jesus is worth it. Jesus is worth whatever it might cost me.

Romans 12 reminds us to be a living sacrifice; we might be alive but our live is already spoken for!
  • In what ways an I following my Lord today?
To follow is the opposite of leading. Are there any tangible ways that I can show that I am following and I am not leading?

These things are not easy and they do not come naturally; but Jesus never said it would come easy.