Category Archives: Chrisitan Posts

Posts related to my Christian belief and things I wanted to share from God’s word.

Spiritual Blessings

So, here it is a couple of days into February and the sun is out and my outlook on life is getting somewhat better. January has to be the longest month of the year as it seems to last 31 months and not 31 days. It may just be me but January seems to be nothing but cold and gray. There is very little blue sky above and not much to see or do. Just gray everywhere.

In an effort to move away from the gray gloom and doom from the opening paragraph, I will now attempt to move forward. I have been threatening to (get ready, and be still my heart) take my camera out and try to challenge myself to find a photo somewhere that would be worthy of taking. That may not seem like much to you, but for whatever reason, (in other words I’m not entirely sure why) I have been neglecting the Nikon for a long time.  I have seen several from other photographers so I know that the photos are still out there, I just need to find one that I can take. So, that’s one thing that’s on my list of things to do.

The other thing I have been working on is trying to focus on spiritual blessings that God has given me. Sometimes if we aren’t careful, we start looking at material blessings which leads us to comparing our “blessings”  with other peoples” blessings” which then makes us feel that because our “blessings”  and possessions aren’t as good or as much as someone else’s possessions, we haven’t been blessed as much as they have.  And then we start wondering why God isn’t blessing us. We wonder what we have done wrong. We think God doesn’t hear our prayers, doesn’t care about us and lots of other thoughts that only feed our very mixed up and wrong feelings. And our feelings then continue to make us feel worse. 

During the last few days I have been reading and studying the first chapter of Ephesians. I felt that God was drawing me to read this book and it didn’t take long to see where I was headed. In fact, verse three got right to the point.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ ~ Ephesians 1:3

There it was. SPIRITUAL BLESSING! And then it hit me. I was making the mistake of looking at worldly things when I need to focus on spiritual things. So for the last few days I have been reading and rereading this chapter.  Looking for those spiritual blessings  and I have been finding them. I was reminded that I was chosen in HIM before the foundation of this world, that I was adopted by HIM into HIS family, that I was redeemed by HIS blood and had forgiveness of my sin by HIS grace that he freely lavished on me. I was reminded that I have been sealed in HIM with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is given as a pledge of my inheritance with a view to the redemption of  God’s own possession to the praise of HIS glory. (Verse 14) Then verse 19 – 23 Paul summed it up talking about the power of God as he raised Christ from the dead and seated HIM at His right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and every name, not only in this age but in the age to come. All things are in subjection to HIM and under HIS feet and HE is HEAD over all things to the church. WOW

Notice how that all the blessings mentioned are what GOD has done for us, not connected to how good we are but directly connected to the work of Christ on the cross, HIS grace, HIS work. The last few days took me back to things that I knew, but that had gotten lost on the battlefield of life. I thank God for reminding me that HIS blessings for me are just that. HIS! As I think on all this, the problems of this life have been placed back in their proper place. Make no mistake, they are still there and still real, but they are not going to last forever. This week God took me back to the basics, and that’s a good thing. When this life gets us down, there is nothing better we can do than to set our mind of what God has done. Focus on God and HIS work, and thank Him for all that HE is doing. HE IS WORTHY!

Have a great day and know that God loves you!    

Hannah’s Prayer

This week in Sunday School, we took a look at Hannah’s prayer. Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah and we find her story in the first chapter of 1 Samuel. Peninnah was the other wife and part of the source of Hannah’s problem. Hannah had no children and Peninnah had given children to Elkanah. The fact that she had no children was making Hannah depressed and as the scriptures tell us, she had a bitterness of her soul. She was hurt very deeply. Verses 3 through 8 tell us how that Elkanah would go once a year to Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts, and he would give meat to Peninnah for her sons and daughters and he would give a double portion to Hannah, even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. Peninnah would taunt her because the Lord had kept her from conceiving. So, each year, Hannah would be reminded how she was barren and be taunted so much that she all she could do was cry and she would not eat. She had a husband who loved her but her life was incomplete without children.

As I was preparing to teach this lesson, I was reading the Bible and something stood out to me that I thought was a little odd. First in verse 9 we read that Hannah got up after they had eaten and then immediately we are told that the priest Eli was sitting in a chair by the doorpost of the Lords temple. My first thought was what does the priest sitting in a chair have to do with Hannah getting up? Verses 10 and 11 record her prayer and the vow that she made to God. Then in verse 12, I found this. Eli the priest was watching her pray, specifically watching her mouth. Her lips were moving but she made no sound. This looked so weird to Eli that he thought she was drunk and told her to get rid of her wine. Now I was hooked. Sometimes I have to stop and ask God why he included certain pieces of information in the scriptures. This is one of those times. Why mention the priest, where he was sitting, and even the part about him watching Hannah pray? Seemed weird to me to include that.

Then it hit me. Hannah was praying in an animated way. She was pouring out her heart to God and talking to God in a personal, this is me and I have a big problem kind of way. I was reminded of a day that I had experienced some bad stuff and I wanted so much for God to come and help me that I prayed with much emotion. So much that I was even using hand gestures. All this while driving down the road. I’m sure that if someone had seen me, they would have thought the same as Eli thought about Hannah, or probably worse. But I started to thinking about how  we pray. So often we are so worried about our outward look that it influences our inward praying. Like when we feel the need to go to the altar to pray but we refuse because we don’t want the rest of the people there to know I have a problem. We are more concerned about the world around us than we are the God above us. Hannah had gotten to the point that she no longer cared about ritual, habits, or whatever. She just wanted to reach God.  And here’s the most important part. She was praying to a God that she knew loved her, a God that would help her, and that she didn’t need to worry about how God would receive her prayer. So often we think that God’s response to us is determined by our lives. But it’s not. God has a plan for each of us. And that plan is to draw us closer to Him. There’s a gazillion ways that God uses circumstances in our lives to accomplish His plan in our lives. We just need to learn to pray to a heavenly Father that loves us and trust that His will is enough.  After Hannah prayed, she returned and ate and no longer looked despondent. She was trusting God to work things out. And later in the chapter, we read about the birth of Samuel, Hannah’s son.  Thanks to God for loving us and for hearing us when we pray. And I for one want my prayers to be like Hannah’s prayer. Filled with trust in God.

 

Be Perfect……..

WOW, what a thought. Be perfect. A while back,  my Sunday School class studied the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus preached and Matthew recorded in chapter 5 of his book. For sure Jesus laid down some pretty hard directions for us to follow. He took outward actions and placed them in our hearts. For instance it’s not enough just to follow the do not murder rule, Jesus said to not even entertain anger. Don’t commit adultery became don’t even look and lust about it. He was changing the way we understood what God wanted us to do and how he wanted us to act. His point was to go beyond outward obedience and change our hearts inside. When you think about it, all actions are a reflection of the condition of our hearts.

But then Jesus ended the sermon with these words. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I thought about that for a while. There was no way I could be perfect. But Jesus said for me to be just that. I believe that my heavenly Father is perfect in every way you can list. He has never made a mistake, never been wrong, never falsely accused anyone of anything, never missed an opportunity to help someone, never failed to love anyone. He is perfect. And I am not.

But here’s what Jesus wants us to know. Remember that he said early in the sermon that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, we would never enter the kingdom of heaven. The scribes and Pharisees had the actions down pat. But they only applied them to outward expressions. He was telling us that we need to train our hearts and minds to be better than our actions.  And in doing so, our actions could move up to the next level and would become closer to what God wanted for us. He wanted us to understand that our hearts (mind) controls our actions. He wanted us to be intentional in our actions. Not reacting to what happens around us but reacting in a manner that would show God’s power and love to those around us. He wants us to be salt and light so that we can make a difference in this world.

I can’t explain God’s love for us. But I do know one thing for sure. God’s love towards me and you is intentional. He chose to love us. As much as I wish that I could point to something good inside of me and say “That’s why God loves ME!” I can’t.  I was un-loveable. Sinful. Selfish. Yet, God CHOSE to love me. And you.

And He wants us to be perfect. This isn’t possible for us in this world the way most would think of perfect.

But what if perfect meant to be mature and intentional in making our thoughts Godly?

Most of the time, without even thinking about it, we reflect our earthly parents. My granddaughter is her mother made over. She has her actions, her expressions, her attitude. She also has some of her father’s actions, expressions and attitudes. Some people claim they can see me when my granddaughter looks a certain way or does something in a particular way. And she’s only 5 years old so I am sure that she isn’t aware of all this. But she reflects her parents.

Jesus wanted us to learn to reflect our heavenly Father in the same way. When we are intentional in following Jesus’s teaching in the way we treat others, and we love as God commanded us to, I believe that we are approaching what Jesus meant when He said to be perfect. We reflect the love of our heavenly Father. We reflect the grace given to us. We let the world see Jesus through our actions and our intentions. This should be a Christian’s goal:  To accurately reflect the grace and love of our heavenly Father. Strive to be perfect in doing that and I believe we will be doing what Jesus said to do.

Old Fashioned Revival

We just finished holding an old fashioned revival at my church, Higher Ground Baptist in Kingsport, Tennessee. In addition to the prayers that God would send revival, there was a huge amount of work that went into the preparations for this revival.  First was setting up the tent, a stage had to be made, chairs placed, a generator set up to provide electricity for sound and lights and many other things. I guess that’s one thing that made it old fashioned. Several people were involved in the preparations and not just showing up to hear a preacher. It seems that today we are so rushed that we barely have time to go to church. But here is an event that has God’s people working together asking God to work in their lives and the life of our church family. Pastor Ronnie brought sermons that challenged our faith from the beginning point of salvation all the way through to living Godly lives. The weather was great and God truly blessed us with His presence. Some folks were saved, some were challenged and wanted to draw closer to God as they walk through life with Him. One answered a call to the ministry during this revival. All these are elements of what most remember as old fashioned revivals. God working and calling people into a relationship with Him. All in all, there’s a lot to be said for God’s people working together and seeking God’s presence in our lives.

 

Here’s a link to all the photos that I have of the revival. God Bless.

The “Sinner’s Prayer”

Here’s a link to an interesting article by David Platt and a sermon that he presented on the “Sinner’s Prayer”. This should give all of us something to think about as we share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The quote below is from the article and the link below  is to Christianity Today.

My concerns are not about prayer or election, but about authentic conversion and regenerate church membership.

Source: David Platt: What I Really Think About the ‘Sinner’s Prayer,’ Conversion, Mission, and Deception | Christianity Today

So much has happened and yet nothing happened. That makes sense to me but probably not to you. So here goes. Back in late January we started talking to Gary, a real estate guy that attends our church, about the possibility of selling our home and moving closer to church and family. All told, this move would be around 30 mile closer to Kingsport, Tn. which would accomplish the goal of being closer to church and family. We had discussed this move for years and decided that the time was right to try this. So we put the house on the market and in just two weeks we had a contract.  Not just an offer, but a contract.

We rented a storage building and started to move out. Then we got the phone call that our sale was off. The  buyers couldn’t get their loan. Still ain’t sure how they came to us pre-approved and then changed to un-approved, but it happened. So that’s what I mean when I say so much has happened but yet nothing happened.

Now we don’t know whether to move our stuff back in and then have to move out again when/if our house sells, or just move it back in and forget the whole thing. Really weird but it seems par for the course for me.

There’s another point in time when the phrase “so much has happened and yet nothing happened” could have been uttered by people concerning the life and death of Jesus. The crowds seen Him heal the sick, bring sight to the blind and restore walking to the lame, yet when the time came, they all turned their back on Him and cried “Crucify Him'”. Even his disciples who had followed his every move lost sight of who He truly was and is today. I wonder if maybe one of them, possibly Thomas, could have looked at the cross that day and uttered those words “so much has happened and yet nothing happened” as he thought back over the weeks and months of following Jesus, seeing all the miracles and then watching as Jesus was beaten, and then crucified. I wonder if Thomas was left trying to figure out how Jesus seemed to have so much power, yet was subject to death. No doubt he walked away from the cross that day with his life having been changed by what he had seen both of the miracles and the death of Jesus. He had to have been trying to piece it all together. So much power, and yet they crucified Him on a cross.

For Thomas the wondering ended when Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection. According to John chapter 20, the disciples were inside with the doors locked when Jesus appeared to them and said “Peace to you” and He showed them his hands and the wound in his side. But Thomas wasn’t with them. They told him about this but he said he would not believe unless he seen it him self. So the next day Jesus appeared to them again. Same way because they were inside, doors locked and Jesus appeared to them. But this time Thomas was there. And Jesus invited Him to “put your finger here and observe my hands, put your hand in my side.”  Thomas knew then that he was the one that was wrong. So much had happened, including the greatest victory that the world had ever seen. Jesus had defeated death. HE alone had wiped out the strong hold that sin had placed on this world.

Many people today do and think the same thing. They don’t know how to balance the power of God with the death of  Jesus on the cross. If only they would look into the purpose and the power of Jesus’ death. They know that Jesus was crucified. They’ve heard all about that. It’s not that big a deal. But can you imagine how Thomas felt when he got the invitation to put his finger here and to place his hand inside Jesus’ side and he experienced the sudden realization that Jesus had defeated death? The invitation is still there today. Seek Him and ask Him and experience Him. It’s your choice.

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:9-10

Which Came First…..

Friday, February 24, 2012. 6:45 am and it’s 65 degrees outside. That wouldn’t sound too farfetched fo someone living way down south in the tropics. But here in Tennessee that’s a little strange. Especially the mountains of East Tennessee. As I look out at the back yard it won’t be long till it’s going to need mowing. This isn’t a real problem and I’m not really complaining, but it’s different. Usually in February we have to hunker down and get through some cold weather. But not this year. This year has been a short sleeve winter. It’s been cold for a while and then just warms right back up. The last two days we have seen strong winds, lightening and lots of thunder. Actually we didn’t see the thunder, but we heard it. And the lightening was the all the way to the ground type. I remember when I was growing up that according to all the old wives tales, if it stormed during the winter months, it meant something would happen in the next 30 days. Can’t remember what, but as I recall, it’s not good. I think it means that there will be a big snow or frost or cold spell, which with it being winter, is not really that bad of a bet. It’s kind of like predicting that the wind will blow strong during the hurricane season in the Gulf region. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

I hope everyone is having a good winter and has been safe and warm or cool if you live where it’s warm. One blessing for us during this mild winter is that this is the winter that the heat pump decided to break. So that was a blessing for us, not because it broke, but because it broke during a warm season in a mild winter. Sometimes God works in small ways to bless us. We just need to look. For those who may think that  a heat pump breaking is not a blessing, remember that heat pumps break from time to time. They are mechanical and as such will break down and need repairs. The fact that it happened during a warm spell is the blessing.

Now, here’s a which came first type question. Did God make the heat pump run till the weather warmed up or did he warm the weather up when the heat pump broke? I honestly don’t know, but somehow He worked it out and it broke at a good time and now it’s repaired ready for cold weather again. I just choose to look for the little blessings that God provides.

Have a great day and God bless you!