“Resting Instead of rushing. Working instead of worrying. This is a key to the slow, constant, intentional life.”- JE Lillie
“Resting Instead of rushing. Working instead of worrying. This is a key to the slow, constant, intentional life.”- JE Lillie
“The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice. He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him…. In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the LORD. “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins,” Isa. 59:15,16,19,20 NLT
I have good news for you today! Your redeemer has come and He is with you today! His name is Jesus. He can help you through your situation. I’ve got good news for you! You can’t fix your problem. But if you will stop trying and start daily turning to Jesus He will fix it for you! The Bible calls him the redeemer, The Kinsman redeemer, the Ga’al. Do you know what a redeemer is? Listen to this:
The Boy Who Lost His Boat
Tom carried his new boat to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string. How smoothly the boat sailed! Tom sat in the warm sunshine, admiring the little boat that he had built. Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Tom tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. The little boat raced downstream.
Tom ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could. But his little boat soon slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for the boat. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tom sadly went home.
A few days later, on the way home from school, Tom spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see — sure enough — it was his!
Tom hurried to the store manager: “Sir, that’s my boat in your window! I made it!”
“Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you’ll have to buy it for one dollar.”
Tom ran home and counted all his money. Exactly one dollar! When he reached the store, he rushed to the counter. “Here’s the money for my boat.” As he left the store, Tom hugged his boat and said, “Now you’re twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you.”
Good News Publishers, Westchester, IL.
Your redeemer is the one who made you but your sin and the winds of this sinful world have blown you out of His hands. Your choices and the choices of others have whisked you right downstream into the darkest night you’ve ever known but that hasn’t put you beyond God’s reach. You’ve been captured in a net of circumstances and set aside to be sold to the highest bidder but that hasn’t taken away God’s power to help because He is your redeemer and HE has already paid the highest price for you. If you just stop trying to fix your life yourself and give it to Him He can fix the mess. As Herbert Cooper said “”God will take your mess and turn it into a message”
Oh what Good News!
“He restores my soul” Psalm 23:3
My soul is an “organ” with three parts: mind, will, and emotion. In order to be fully restored God must restore all three parts. It is not just my mind, my thinking, that is broken. My will, the decision-making part of me is also in disrepair.
I have to confess that when I converted to Christianity I didn’t suddenly turn into this total God-serving machine. Oh, there was a change. I began to serve God more than I ever did in my pre-Christian state. But I still struggled with my will… I still struggle with my will. There is still this piece of me that doesn’t want to do good. Label it however you want to, it’s a no-good piece of me that works hard to influence my decisions in life. Sometimes ,with my will, I listen to that piece of myself and…you know the end of that story. Yes, my will needs restoring to that place where my ears are tuned only to the commands of Christ. The tuning is a work He does through training and testing. Each time I listen to His voice, in the middle of a test, and choose for Him my will is restored and I am conformed more to His image. The more I am restored the more joyful obedience becomes.
Have you ever noticed that the more you obey, the more you want to obey?
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Ma. 28:18-20 NLT
Each of the flags along the back wall of our church represents a missionary we support somewhere in the world.
My sister is a missionary associate heading to the Netherlands. I have watched her walk the road of raising her funds. It is most definitely a faith walk. How beautiful that the church of Jesus Christ gets the opportunity to invest in the lives of men and women called of God to bring the last days harvest.
A wise man once said to me “show me your spending and I will tell you what you value.”
Honestly at the time if I had shown him my spending habits he would have said I valued restaurants and Wal-Mart more than the last days harvest.
God has been asking me to simplify my life over the last year. It’s a work in progress, but I do know that I am on track to meeting the giving goals God has spoken into my heart.
Tell me, what is God doing with your giving?
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. ” Ma. 28:18-20 KJV
Every year our church holds an annual missions convention. It’s as much a part of our calendar as Christmas and Easter; But as I sense Jesus’ return drawing near, these conventions have taken on a new urgency in my heart.
I live in a part of our country where something like 2% of the population believes that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. If the rapture should take place tonight 98% of New England would most likely be left behind.
This year as Missions Convention rolls along I am keenly aware that I have a job to do and I am running out of time to do it in! Our Pastor has asked us to look at the mission in three areas: PRAY, GIVE, AND GO.
I feel so overwhelmed as I look at the task ahead. Sometimes I sit in staff meeting and look at the job and just about crumble under the weight of what must be done. We are to reach how many? 98% of 11,000,000 people?!?!?!
This is why we must pray. Prayer is not wishful thinking. It is accessing the supernatural power of God and releasing it into the situations we are concerned with. The church cannot accomplish the task at hand…but God can. He will use the church to do it. But it begins and ends in prayer.
This year I am renewing my commitment to pray three times a week with our R.P.M. team. God has also called me to renew some private prayer commitments.
Tell me, how has God asked you to pray?
Today we are going to finish up our study in Ephesians Chapters 4 through 6. Paul writes:
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly placesTherefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
We discussed yesterday how living for God was only possible through trusting God. It is God who truly changes our behavior not us. But behavior, important as it is, is not the fix either. Good behavior doesn’t destroy storms. Only God can do that; But God will flow through our lives more and more as we begin to live right for Him, shutting down storms as He goes.
As we live for God we have to take one more step if we want to stand through our storms effectively. We have to put on His armor. We have to call forth the supernatural power of God into our lives. We have to ask him for miracles. When the answers of man will not make the grade then the miracles of God are needed. The miracles of divine truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and rhema word are needed in our situations today. They will be needed even more in the days ahead.
So church what are we going to do? We’ve gotta stand!
Yesterday we concluded with a question. “How do we begin to live right for God?”
Practically: If I’m a thief how do I stop stealing? If I’m angry how do I calm down? If I lie every time I open my big yap how do I quit it?What if I’m a fornicator?A nag? Abusive? Frustrating? Lazy? A slave-driver? In short, how do I go about changing all the negative ca-ca that is in my life?
Some people would tell you that true change will only come by trying really, really hard. It’s the old Franklin philosophy, “God helps those who help themselves”.
Others will tell you. “You can’t do anything. It’s all God’s work. Just wait and one day you will magically be ‘poofed’ into goodness.”
So which is it? Neither answer is completely correct. They are both extremes; And extremes usually hold a smidgen of the truth and a whole lot of hot air.
Let’s skip out on the book of Ephesians for a post and turn to another of Paul’s writings, Galatians. The church at Galatia was a church Ben F. would have liked, a real work hard kind of church. They believed that salvation could only be achieved by accepting Jesus and then DOING everything the Jewish law required.
Paul writes, “Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? …. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? ” Gal 3:1-3 NLT
Paul indicates that not only is forgiveness of sins God’s work, so is making a person perfect. Does that mean we sit around and wait for God to ‘poof’ us? No! Just as God has a work in helping us to live for Him, the Christian has a part to play as well.
Paul continues to the Galatians, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. ” Gal: 5:16 NLT
To the church in Rome he writes the same thing another way, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ” Romans 12:1,2 NLT
If we are to stand in victory, our part is to trust God and give ourselves to Him. God’s part is to work the change.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
If you have been tracking with us through the “Gotta Stand” blogs, right now you are probably in one of three places:
You might be saying “Oh so that’s what I’m doing wrong! Hallelujah! I know what needs to be fixed!”
Maybe you are saying ” God wants me to do…What! I can’t do all that! This is crazy!”
If that’s you let me encourage you to take a deep breath and trust Christ to do the work for you. Bit by bit you will see the change. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a mature Christian. Remember our job in all this is to see what needs to be changed and to ask Jesus to change it. His job is to do the changing!
Finally someone out there might be saying, “I am doing this stuff pastor to the best of my ability and I am still falling down in the midst of this storm.”
It is to you Paul speaks when he says, ”
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6: 10-18 NLT
Sometimes I fall into the trap of believing behavior is the solution. I think “If I just act right everything will be all right. If I am good then life will straighten out.”
Anyone who has tried this approach to life knows it doesn’t work. Sometimes you can keep doing the right things and things just get worse. Why? Because we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies. we are fighting against devils who hate us and who want to ruin us. Being polite and proper does not impress them into being nice.
Christian behavior keeps us clean so that God can move into our lives and bring supernatural answers that push back against the devil’s supernatural attacks. Our behavior won’t fix the storm. Only God can do that. But God will flow through our lives more and more as we begin to live right for Him.
So how do we do that? More tomorrow!
“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church…. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean…. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself…. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. “ Ephesians 5:21-6:10 NLT
I suppose I hardly qualify as a relationship expert here. I’m divorced. I have one adopted son who doesn’t even speak to me. If you asked me where I went wrong I’m not even sure where I’d begin. My faults are many. That’s just being honest.
What I do know, though, is that Christians are supposed to relate differently than non-Christians. Our motto in every relationship is supposed to be love and submission, grace and sacrifice. Those concepts aren’t just fluffy theology; They are hard-nosed, practical applications. A lot of everyday life is stuffed into the middle of Eph.5:21 and Ephesians 6:10: dishes, carpools, date nights and daily devotionals, dead-lines, chore charts, discipline and double shifts. In all these relationship driven items we are called to act out of love and submission, grace and sacrifice.
If we are going to stand in the now we need to begin to live Christian in our relationships now. Our past can not be allowed to dictate how we relate in the present. Also, love and submission, grace and sacrifice have nothing to do with changing our relationships. Relating right is not about winning other people over; It’s about reverencing Christ. We don’t change our behavior to fix our lives. We change our behavior to please God. Then God fixes our lives to whatever degree He feels necessary.
We’ve gotta stand! What do you think is the greatest hindrance to Christian relationship?
Lights in the darkness! That’s what we are called to be!
“ Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God…. once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! … Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Eph. 5:1-20 NLT
Paul admonishes us that the time has come for the church to step up its atmosphere of sexual purity. If we want to stand through the storms of life God insists we be sexually pure.
We live in an oversexed culture and God calls us to come away from it. It’s time to shut off the bedroom scenes on the television, it’s time to stop listening to and telling off-color jokes. It’s time to shut down the internet porn. It’s time to make a covenant with our eyes that we will stop looking with lust at other people. It’s time to leave off sex outside of marriage.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians “every other sin a man sins is done outside himself but he who sins sexually sins against his own body” I Cor. Chapter 6.
When we sin sexually we weaken ourselves and our ability to stand through the storms.
I will tell you, victory is not going to be had in resisting temptation; Victory will only come when we learn to flee it! Too many of us end up trapped by sin because we try to resist sinful urges. The Bible tells us the key to overcoming sexual temptation is not fight but flight into the arms of Jesus; So when tempted don’t resist Praise!
“Sing songs hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and make music in your heart to the Lord and give thanks for everything to God.” Eph.5:20
Praise is powerful! We’ve Gotta stand!