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    Monday, December 5, 2011, 12:25 PM [General]

    I asked my Lord, "Why is it that you bestow such a gift on me?  I am not a great man who has done great things, nor even a good man who always obeys."

    "My child, it is because I AM a great God!"

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Focus Part 1

    Sunday, November 13, 2011, 3:19 PM [General]

    Sometimes I love to hear God's voice speak to me, other times, less so.  When I am in pain, I want relief and MY answer to my prayers.  Instead, He gives me what is best.  Lately, that has been a reminder about what my focus should be.

    Last night it was a call to focus, not on what God is not doing, but on what He IS doing, and has done.  The lesson was from Joshua 4, where the Israelites are crossing the Jordan into the Promise Land.  They are instructed by God to take twelve stones from the river and place them as a memorial on the other side to God for all He had done for them.  He had led them from Egypt, kept them safe in the desert for 40 years, fed them, gave them water, made sure their clothes did not wear out, made them victorious in battle (when they were obedient), and more.  They were commanded to remember God's goodness and teach it to the generations to come.

    How easy it is to forget God's goodness.  When things go well, we forget Him, thinking that our blessings are a product of our hard work.  This usually leads us to a place where we must be humbled and reminded who our true provider is.

    Or things are hard and we forget what He has done because we are consumed by our own pain.  In either case, God's prescription to our lack of balance is to focus on God's blessings and remember that He has not left us.  He is still with us and will come through for us again, although not necessarily as we wish or expect.

    The sermon went on to share two events in Peter's life.  The first was when a storm came up when they were crossing a lake.  As the storm raged and the disciples freaked out, Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples woke Him and actually accused Him of not caring about their safety. Jesus calmed the storm with a word and gently rebuked them as having little faith.

    Years later, Peter was in prison, chained between two guards.  James had been executed, and Peter was to be tried the next day.  How did Peter pass his last night?  He was sleeping.  Maybe he was even dreaming of that time in the storm when Jesus slept.  We do not know.  We do know two things. Peter was resting in Jesus, and Peter was miraculously freed from prison by an angel.  Peter was martyred later on in life, so God does not always keep us from pain and death.  He does however give us the strength and peace to handle ALL of life's struggles when we remember that HE holds us.

    God, remind us that we must always seek your provision for our needs.  Even our jobs and the health to do them are gifts from you.  Remind us that you will never leave or forsake us, regardless of what the storms in our life may suggest.  Thank you Father.

    In Jesus Name, Amen

    The full sermon I listened to is "The Power of Remember" and can be found at:

    media.baysidecommunity.org/index.php/arc...

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Sin without consequences?

    Saturday, November 12, 2011, 10:01 AM [General]

    Life has not been good lately. Actually, it has downright sucked. Yesterday, I really wanted a drink. If I could just get drunk this once with no consequences, it would have been tempting. Not a good thought, especially for someone on recovery from alcohol!

    For a few reasons, I didn't. One, because that is not what God says is best for me. Two, because at best that would put me back at square one in my recovery. At worst, it would send me back to drinking for God knows how long. Most importantly, because I KNOW this is no such thing as sin without consequence.

    I do not mean so much the physical consequence. I could have found a safe place to get drunk. I could have made sure my car keys were out of play and I was home for the evening. I could have even hidden my phone to avoid drunk-dialing anyone. The truth is, it would have damaged my relationship with God. When I choose to openly rebel against God, there are always consequences.

    Hebrews 3:12-13 warns us that sin hardens our heart to God.

    "12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. "

    Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us that sin can give The Devil more freedom to assault us.

    "26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold."

    Ephesians goes on in verse 30 to tells us that our sin actually grieves God. Imagine, God gives us that kind of power in free will!

    "30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

    In truth, our sin never harms just us. It always spills over into the lives of others. If you question that, remind yourself of one simple act of sin that rippled through all of time. A man and a woman both decided to take a bite from a piece of fruit that God said not to ....

    3.2 (1 Ratings)

    Better To Give Than To Receive?

    Thursday, November 3, 2011, 7:57 PM [General]

         Why is it easier to give help than to accept it?  Instinctively, at least as Christians, we understand that it is better to give than to receive.  And it does feel good to help others.  Then why is it hard to receive help.  After all, we are simply allowing others to receive that same good feeling.

         The problem for us is that in order to receive help, we must become vulnerable.  Admitting we need help it a very humbling thing and difficult for us all.  Not only that, but trusting someone else to give that help is risky.  They may say no.  They may simply not follow through after thay say yes.  They may even hold it over us after thay help.  All these and other unknowns make us balk at asking for help.  

         In that willingness to be vulnerable though, I believe we find freedom and a great source of strength.  When we seek God's help, He will supply it.  It will happen in His timing, His way and probably from a source that we least expect.  When we trust God, we are freed from our fears, and that is great freedom.  It will also fill us with God's strength, a strength that will allow us to trust Him more and more as we learn that we can rely on Him.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Speeding

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011, 5:54 PM [General]

         I remember reading a while back the scripture where Paul admonishes us to obey the laws of the land:

    Romans 13:1-5 (The Message)

    1-3Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it's God's order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you're irresponsible to the state, then you're irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you're trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.

     3-5Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you'll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you're breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren't there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That's why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it's the right way to live.

         I was particularly convicted aqbout speeding.  I know that we can usually get away with 5 over the limit, but is that really how God wants us to look at how we live.  Jesus said that if I look at a woman lustfully, I have already committed adultery in my heart.  Our attitude towards laws sometimes speak as much as how well we follow them.

         Well, I have gotten better with the speed limit, especially since a dear friend of mine has taught me that rarely is there a good reason to be in too much of a hurry.  Slow down, relax and enjoy life.  Where it is hard is a stretch on the way to work in the morning.  

         I have a new car, and the gas pedal is more sensitive.  It also does not have cruise control.  If I am not paying attention, I can end up driving way too fast.  The bad section is not where the speed goes from 45 to 35.  It is where it goes to 30.  I find it does not take much for the needle to climb above that.  With my old car, all I had to do was take my foot off the gas and I would slow down enough.  With this car, I have to actually aply the brake pedal a bit.

         It kind of reminds me of life.  When God starts working in us, it becomes easy to see the bad things that we should stop doing.  Often in our efforts to change, we simply want to take our foot off the gas and coast a bit till we are inline with the speed limit.  God is not content with that. 

         It is not enough to simply try to stop doing the bad things that we used to do.  Ephesians 2:10 says "10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  If we really want to honor and glorify  God (glorifying God is truly the reason we were created), let us show our love for God by seeking out those "good works" that He prepared us to do and do them.

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    Choices

    Monday, September 12, 2011, 10:01 PM [General]

    Genesis 13: 5-13

    5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

     8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

     10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.

         Why did Abram allow Lot to choose who got what land?  Bottom line?  Abram trusted God.  He had not always trusted God to this point but God had proved Himself trustworthy.  When he lied in Egypyt claiming Sarah was his sister, God intervened to protect Sarah from becoming taken by Pharoh as his wife.  He also trusted that God had caused him to prosper to this point.

         So when he and Lot needed to part ways, should he trust his own judgement on which place to choose, or simply trust God to bless him? Lets take a look at the consequences.

     14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

         And what of Lot?  The place he chose to dwell was destroyed by God for its wickedness.  Even though his family was allowed to flee for Abram's sake, Lot's sons-in-law refused to leave.  His wife disobeyed the warning and looked back as they were fleeing and she was destroyed.  Even after he and his daughters escaped, the consequences of his decision still follow him.  His daughters decide that the only way to have children to carry on the family name and provide for them is to get their father drunk and sleep with him, which they do two nights in a row, first the older one, then the younger one.

         So, how do we make the choices we do as to what we pursue in our lives?  Do we pick what the world sees as the best choice?  Or, do we seek after God's will and allow Him to bless and guide our life?

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Prayer

    Monday, September 5, 2011, 11:11 PM [General]

    This was a great table grace from the movie "Seven Days in Utopia".

     

    We pray for food for those who are hungry,

    For faith for those who live in fear,

    And for friends for those who walk alone.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Nine Lessons from the Move "Seven Days In Utopia"

    Monday, September 5, 2011, 10:11 PM [General]

    Go see Seven Days in Utopia!! Great movie. Here are 9 lessons I learned or had reinforced by it:

    1.) It has to start with knowing why we are doing what we do.
         Knowing the reasons for why you are doing something will help strengthen your 
    motivation and resolve.  It focuses your mind
    
    2.) Ignore the voices/distraction, so you can here the "true Voice"
         Ignore the voices of those telling you that you are doing it all wrong or do not 
    need to.  They do not really understand what you are pursuing anyway. Especially ignore 
    the voices of the "enemy", since he likes you right where you are, ineffective!
    
    3.) Pursue focus. (God guided)
         Turn neither left nor right, unless God leads that way.
    
    4.) Pursue balance.(God guided)
         Even good thing to excess can be bad.  Always ask God to help find balance.
    
    5.) Be patient/control your emotions (esp. anger)
         Our emotions will lead us poorly, if they are not held in check by God.  Love can 
    easily become lust and "righteous indignation" becomes anger at people if not 
    filtered through God.
    
    6.) "I have respect for tradition, but I have a passion for the truth!"
         Change just for the sake of change is not the best way, but we should seek to reach 
    people in a way that is relevant to their life.
    
    7.) Confidence comes from being prepared.
         God promises us that the Holy Spirit will bring God's words to our lips to speak, 
    but how can he bring words to our lips that we never cared enough to read?  I am not 
    saying that it is our memory doing the work, but a lack of spending time in God's word 
    reveals a lack of trusting Him to do what He promises in the first place.
    
    
    8.) Lightning bugs trapped in a jar makes their lights go out.  Freedom is a powerful 
    thing!
         Only when God releases us from what has chained us will we know true power.  True 
    power only comes when we experience freedom in Christ.  Not freedom to do whatever we 
    want, the freedom to live the way we are meant to live, but never had the power to live 
    by our own strength!
    
    9.) See His face, feel His presence, and trust His love.
         See His face - the face of love that led Him to choose death on a cross so we could 
    know His love for us!
         Feel His presence - NEVER will I leave you and NEVER will I forsake you!  And this 
    does not depend on if you "feel" Him, it depends on HIS promise!
         Trust His love - "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 
    may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and 
    high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses 
    knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." 
    Ephesians 3:17-19

     

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Lean Not On Your Own Understanding

    Saturday, September 3, 2011, 1:06 PM [General]

     5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
       and lean not on your own understanding; 
    6 in all your ways submit to him, 
       and he will make your paths straight.

     

         I love Proverbs 3:5-6.  It is a great reminder to trust God when the circumstances of your life make no sense, and it is also the source of one of my favorite "Sixpence None The Richer songs "Trust."  I have written about it before and it always blesses me.  

         This morning, I was going for a walk and singing the song, when something new struck me.  I love to study and read the Bible and other Christian books to gain insight and understand God more.  Unfortunately, that can lead to ego and a relying on my ability to figure it out.  I am not saying it is bad to study God's word, not at all!  But when I start to believe that I have become so smart that I can unravel the mysteries of God and His word through my cleverness or diligent study of His word, I am in trouble!

         When Jesus asks Peter "who do you say that I am" and Peter replies that Jesus is the Christ, does Jesus tell Peter how smart he is or how hard he must have worked to figure that out? He simply replied  “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. Matt16:17"

         In spite of how well you understand God's word, ALWAYS ask the Spirit (But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. John 16:13) to speak to you and help you understand.  You will often find yourself blessed with understanding that you never expected!

     

    Dan

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Take out the trash!

    Saturday, September 3, 2011, 12:45 PM [General]

         I live in an appartment with a room mate.  We have a communal trash can in the kitchen, but I have a small one by my desk in my room.  I have a bad habit of waiting till it is almost overflowing before I empty it.  Sometimes it is laziness. "Why bother now, it isn't full?"  Or maybe I am too busy.  "No time now, I will get it later."  Either way the garbage piles up, and fast.

         How often is this reflected in my spiritual life?  "God, I am not that bad right now.  Sure, I have problems, but I can handle them.  I will get back with you when they get too much"  Or how about "Sorry God, but I just so busy right now.  I have so much going on.  I will try to spend time with you later."  All the while, the garbage in our lives piles up, and fast!

         I am reminded of the words of a beautiful old hymn, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus."

    Oh what peace we often forfeit,
    oh what needless pain we're to bear,
    all because we do not carry
    everything to God in prayer.

         Is it foolish pride? Laziness? Or is it just that we have not yet grasped the amazing love and mercy that our Father wants to lavish on us that holds us back?  I love the word lavish when describing God's love and mercy for us.  It conjures up an almost wasteful and rich pouring out of something, and yet God has NO limit to the capacity of His grace and love for us, so drink EVERY LAST DROP of it up!!  Then pour it out to your fellow human.  You will still find yourself overflowing, He promisies it:

    13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

         Go to God regularly and often.  When you just don't think you have time is when you NEED to make time the most.  And remember to take out the trash more often.  It piles up quick, and it smells.

     

    Dan

     

    0 (0 Ratings)

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