Friday, July 29, 2011

JULY 29 "SO MUCH DRAMA"

     You ever notice how some people have so much DRAMA in their life?! Do you feel bad for them? Do you feel like maybe there's something you could do? Do you ever wonder where God is in the midst of their drama? I do...or I have until today.  In our O.T. reading today we see such a dramatic change in atmosphere once Jehoiada dies.  Our reading goes from peaceful, happy times to more of a reading that's more like a Godfather Saga. There is murder, treason, chaos and revenge; this stuff makes the mob seem like kids play.  We see our story turn from peace to chaos, from no drama to nothing but Drama.  And the one difference is....Jehoiada has died.
     You will find that where there is plenty of drama, there is often an absence of God.  We can easily be sucked in to people's drama and begin to have sympathy for them and perhaps get an attitude with God, but often, the attraction of drama in one's life stems from an absence of God.  The moment the man who brought God's presence into their lives, dies, we see drama.  Next time you find yourself in the midst of drama or you find yourself getting sucked into other people's drama, take a breath, step back, and before you get all riled up,ask yourself, "where is God in all this?" Ask yourself, "why is their so much drama in my life?" And if you are honest, you will probably realize that God has faded from you life, he is in the distance now rather than the center of your life.
     The enemy is the author of confusion and Panamanian, so you can be sure where there is chaos and fighting , the devil's spirit is dominating and not God's. God we know is the author of peace, not confusion. Christian's lives that are filled with drama are Christian's lives that are void of God's presence and spirit. There is a drama for a reason.  You will find that they are Christians who have let their relationship with God really cool down.  You will find that they are Christians that have no spiritual disciplines.  Prayer is hit and miss, if ever.  Bible reading is none existent, and church is when they can make it.  If you were to run into them on the street, they would boldly and maybe even proudly profess.."born again, Christian I am, been a Christian since.........." but in all reality, their relationship with Jesus faded a long time ago, and now what is left is a hollow shell of what once used to be. The beliefs are still there, the creeds are still there, the bible still sits on the coffee table in the middle of the family room, but in the midst of that is chaos, drama, panamonia and confusion.
     How about your life?  Is it filled with drama, is the drama in your life what fuels you and pumps adrenaline into your veins and keeps you going?  Are people amazed at the amount of drama in your life?  Is this really the life God has called us to live? According to our text the answer is no.  According to our text when God's presence, his spirit is dominating the atmosphere there is little to no drama, but the moment his presence is gone (even though we continue to repeat the same mantras) chaos, fighting, drama & panomonia prevail, they are the rule, rather than the exception. Want the drama to go away?  Tired of the drama, the chaos and fighting?  Then put Christ back at the center of your life and see if the atmosphere does not at once begin to change!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

JULY 27 "MY CHRISTIAN LIFE IS PRIVATE II "

     I was looking over my blog stats and to my surprise one of the most read blogs this year was titled "My Christian Life is Private".  And I know, or have experienced over time, that often, the title of the blog is what draws people to read. And I am alarmed that the title "My Christian Life is Private" drew so many readers.  Is this the crowd that I am catering too, I wonder? That TITLE "caught" your eye, didn't it. Unfortunately, as you read the blog it probably ended up being the complete opposite of what you thought. Readers probably thought it would confirm their delusion that their Christian Life was "private".  Instead, the blog was meant to blow that theory apart. I wonder if this title "My Christian Life is Private II" will draw another slew of readers. It discourages me that there are so many Christians out there that are off track, looking to confirm and console themselves in their decision to withdraw and become spiritual recluses. I've heard it all, the mantra goes somewhat like this, "I'd rather just stay home and believe in God than have to deal with all the drama and hypocrites and politics of the church."  Well, was there not drama, hypocrites and politics through out the early church. I find it interesting that the drama (of the church) would even be mentioned in God's Holy Bible, rather than be left out intentionally. However God does the opposite, God doesn't intentionally leave it out, He intentionally puts it in! God chose to put "the drama" of the church in his Holy Book for our sakes. The drama and hypocrisy of people in the church is laid bare before us to see, but nowhere does Paul or any other writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit admonish us to just withdraw from the church and become spiritual recluses.
     Your Christian life is not private, if it is private than it is ineffective. Jesus said, "what good is salt if it loses it's flavor but to be thrown out and trampled upon".  A "Private" Christian life is an OXI-MORON.  Jesus' "private" Christian life was at 4:30am in the morning, after that, his life was anything but private. You want your Christian life to be private, than find it in the wee hours of the morning or the late hours of the night, but after that, God says your life belongs to him and if he wants to throw you out amongst the throngs of people, amongst the wolves, than he has the right to do so. (or does he?) So many Christians on the Internet today are Christians who once, wholeheartedly surrendered their lives to Jesus, and than at some point decided to "take their lives back".  Proverbs says, "he who isolates himself, seeks his own desires and rages against all sound judgement".  This is really what is at the heart of  this facade of "the private Christian life". In all reality and honesty, it's simply a guise for "yes I'm a Christian, but  I want to do what I want to do".  "I want to go to church when I feel like it, I want to date who I want, I want to give what I want and if people are going to try to tell me what to do, then I will just serve God by myself," so we say.We say.
      " The Church tries to control me, convict me, the Pastor tries to tell me what to do, the leaders in the church try to tell me what to do, I'm judged if I do this, I'm judged if I do that, I am made to feel guilty if I miss church 2,3,4, or 5 times a month and I don't like it!  I don't want anybody to hold me accountable, I don't want anybody trying to tell me how to live, this is between me and Jesus".   Yes, Preachers can be over opinionated, yes people can try to push their standards on you, but for the most part, God is the one that is guilty of trying to regulate your life, It is normally God's word that is simply being regurgitated right back to you and in the end, it is God's word dictating whom you should date, how much you should give and how faithful you should be to church, not a man. Don't hate the messenger but claim to love the message, that is a delusion. The reality is you hate both.
     Ironically, when you ask this type of  Pseudo Christian, "what is it that JESUS tells you to do, that you don't want to, what is it that Jesus holds you accountable for, that irritates you, what is it that Jesus convicts you of that makes you angry" you will always get a pause and of course after a long pause, the answer is "nothing" or something vague. The reality of the "Private Christian Life" is that not only can the church not infringe upon their "privacy" but in all reality neither can Jesus himself.  Their Jesus thinks like they do, approves what they approve and in the end what they have done is down-graded their God and fashioned him to be a reflection of them. It's a love affair with a Jesus they've created but has no scriptural backing and/or support.  To conclude, a "Private Christian Life" is one of the greatest OXI-MORON's in our modern vernacular.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

JULY 26 "DON'T BE STUPID"

     I was quite encouraged to finally read about a King who is doing well and serving God. "Jehoshaphat, you are the man", I thought....until....until out of nowhere we read, "1 Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage."  You must be kidding?! Out of nowhere....isn't this how it normally happens. We see people doing "seemingly" so well and then "out of nowhere" they make a blundererous, stupid, ungodly decision.  And we think, "where did that come from?".  It proves that any one of us, can tomorrow make a decision that will totally throw us of course if we are not honest with ourselves, with others and foremost, with God.  The story gets worse as Ahab eventually convinces Jehoshaphat to go to war against Ramoth Gilead, even though, the very prophet Jehoshaphat requested, prophesied against it.  And on top of that, Jehoshaphat also lets Ahab to convince him to dress up as King of Israel.  We don't know if Jehoshaphat is enamored with the King of Ahab and his daughter or what is at work here, but Ahab seems to have more influence over Jehoshaphat, than God does, at this point. For all the good that we have read about Jehoshaphat, we begin to see him take a turn for the worse.
     Thank God that we have an opportunity to have a relationship with God in lieu of just some impotent religion because nothing supersedes a relationship with God.  Although Jehoshaphat is in the midst of some kind of stupid, spiritual fog, he knows one thing and that is to cry out to his God. I'm sure he knows he's gone of course, I'm sure he knows he's made some decisions without seeking God or even wanting God's opinion, we've all been there and done this!!! Jehoshaphat's motives in this series of bad decisions are even known to God, but never revealed to us, but yet when he cries out, God rescues him nonetheless. Verse 31 "So they turned to attack him, but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him. God drew them away from him" .  By all means, they should have killed Jehoshaphat right there, but for no other reason than God, they do not. Again, nothing can take the place of a relationship with God. We see in this story, that even though this man is very kinked and screwed up, God continues to have a relationship with this man and vice-versa and when he cries out God........God answers him and saves him
     There's no excuse for all these bad decisions Jehoshaphat makes, he wanted to do what he wanted to do, whether he was obsessed with Ahab's daughter or infatuated by her and the family dynasty, is all unknown to us and irrelevant, in the end he did wrong. We will all have our day "in the fog" and in wanting to do our own thing, but the key in all of this is never give up your relationship with God, never give up on God, he will always be there to help you, rescue you and save you when you come to the revelation that you have royally messed up and cry out to him for help. I don't believe God would have automatically intervened and saved Jehoshaphat had he not cried out.
     And last, ....nothing comes out of nowhere. Christians who seem to be doing well and then all of a sudden begin to make a series of "off the wall" decisions, as Jehoshaphat does, had issues lurking in their heart that they were not being honest about.  They were not honest with God nor were they honest with their spiritual mentors or headship about the issues.  Always be honest with God and your spiritual mentors and headship about the struggles in your heart, this is the first step, in the right direction, in getting help. God knows your heart whether you confess to Him or not, so why not just be honest with him and then let a trusted friend know also, that will pray for you and help keep you in check until you get these issues resolved through a process of time, prayer and accountability.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

JULY 19 "IS YOUR WALK BLAMELESS?"

     I was just speaking with a brother (a Christian) the other day who has willful sin, but yet seems to continue in it. I wonder if God would find him blameless, I wonder if God would find you blameless? In our text we read, "1 LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?  2 The one whose walk is blameless," We can try to worm around this if we want, but why would you want to risk eternity on trying to squirm around a clear call from God.  Question you might ask then is "so do we have to be perfect to get to heaven? No, of course not, but we do have to repent and turn away from "what we know" to be sin in our lives. Paul writes to "the Saints" at Corinth and says, "don't be deceived.....the  ________ will not inherit the Kingdom of God". And he goes on to list a whole plethora of "willful" "knowledgeable" sins that people in the church are indulging in. Be blameless, in what you know.  James writes in his epistle, "if we know what to do and do it not, it is sin". The sin that we are currently engaging in, the sin that we are constantly convicted of, the sin that we know is wrong, that is the sin that we will be judged on and that is where God expects us to be blameless, not perfect, but blameless. How will we be blameless on sins that God dealt with us every day about?  Answer is...we won't be held blameless. Again, we don't have to be perfect, God will not judge us for losing our temper perhaps at work when we were pushed to our limits and exploded in an impromptu situation. This was not premeditated, this was not something that God dealt with us not to do, we had no knowledge that at such and such a time we would be pushed or vexed and not respond in a Christian manner,  we were weak, we fell, we ask forgiveness and move on, we are not perfect, there is Grace, not to worry. However being blameless is not about being perfect it's about God not being able to come to us and blaming us for not responding to his dealings with us about our wilful, constant sin that we are committing and involved in. You would be amazed at some of the sin that God's people are involved in, they know it, admit to it, feel God's conviction but yet continue in that sin/behaviour. God is not only letting perfect people into heaven, but rather a people that sinned, but when they were dealt with repented and moved on. The question to ask yourself today is not..."am I perfect" but "am I blameless".  Yes I have sinned, yes I have fallen short, but when God convicted me, I repented and moved on.  Scripture plainly tells us we are sinful, we are imperfect but yet when we continue in willful sin and disobedience there is no covering.  1 John 1:8  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Are you blameless today? I know you're not perfect, none of us are, but the question is "are you blameless". If Jesus was to return for his church today, if you were to die today would you be found blameless or as you were standing in line (to be judged) would you immediately begin to think of your unrepentant sin and begin shaking in your boots because you know what sin God is going to bring up that you never dealt with even though He had been dealing with you to quit/repent or end. Are you blameless? And if you are not and know it, than that speaks volumes doesn't it. You are willingly admitting that there is a sin you just refuse to let go of.  "I can't" you say. "It's not that I won't, it's just that I can't", is your excuse. Well if this is true, than most of the bible is a lie, most of the stories we have read are a fraud, testimonies we have heard were just fabricated and God's power is simply not enough, Jesus' sacrifice was simply not enough and Christianity is just another religion to appease man's conscience. It is either all that or it is more so that "the power" to overcome is there (according to God) and you simply will not repent and therefore most certainly will not be found blameless before God; and that is not a good place to be! You are playing Russian Roulette with your soul. No we cannot be perfect before God, that's where Grace comes in, "1 John 2  1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins", but we can be blameless in the areas that we are aware of and the areas that Jesus deals with us and reveals to us through His Holy Spirit!  Who will dwell in God's tent on His Holy Mountain, those who's walk is blameless!

Monday, July 18, 2011

JULY 18 "KIND TO THE POOR"

     In our reading today we are admonished by God to be "kind to the poor". I believe Christians today are confused on this whole issue of "the poor". Perhaps it stems from Jesus condoning the breaking of the alabaster jar on himself and when the disciples criticize this act and say, "what a waste, the bottle of perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor", Jesus rebukes them and says, "the poor you will always have with you, what she has done is a good thing".  We almost see a disregard for the poor being reflected in Jesus' statement. Sometimes the Church can project an anti-sympathy for the poor, "the poor are like that because they refuse to serve God, or they deserve it or they are just lazy people that want to collect welfare, they don't want to work....blah...blah..." and what this can create in Christians is a lack of empathy for the poor. Christians may be insensitive to the needs of the poor and we are wrong in trying to justify are callousness thru Jesus. Jesus is not showing a disregard for the poor, nobody cared more about the poor than Jesus, He gave his life to the poor. The poor we will always have amongst us, is for sure, even within God's house. We are apt to think that a Christian should have money and always be prosperous, but the poor we will always have amongst us. Even in the Old Testament, God had different sacrificial provisions for the poor amongst the Israelites. Were these not "God's Children", were these not Jews..., yet not all were prosperous. Some God required to sacrifice a bull, a ram,  a sheep, others simply a pigeon or dove because God knew, that's all they could afford. Not all who are poor are lazy and trying to exploit the system. God will one day judge us for our stinginess and ignoring the needs of the poor amongst us.  "Amongst us" is the key word. It may seem like a noble act to give money to some poor man on the street that you do not know and somehow think that that will glorify God, but I don't beleive this is what scripture teaches. Do we ignore the needs of the poor outside the church? No not necessarily, but scripture does command us to give preference to those amongst us. Who are the poor "in the church"? Are they suffering unduly?  Is their financial hardship really more than God would have them to bear? Is the church responding properly to the poor amongst them or are we spending "our blessings" all on ourselves and dismissing their needs as "their own fault?".   God's promise that we have read today is 17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done".  Nobody understands human nature more than God, you don't have to try to convince God that some are poor because of their own doing, but yet God acknowledges this is not the case with all and God is watching to see what we do with the resources that come into the hands of those of us that "are not poor". Will you be found a worthy steward? "Well I give to my church, I give to this and that", you may say. Well that is great, but that is "not enough" we still must set aside a portion for the poor amongst us, whenever it is possible. God knows whether or not we have done our best, or if we have at least responded when prompted to give, to bless or to let go. Can you say with a clear conscience that you have helped, when you could, the poor amongst you?

Friday, July 8, 2011

JULY 7 "BLESS ME LORD!"

     THERE is allot of stats about sons and tribes that might just cause you to doze off in our text today, but you can miss a great nugget of truth and revy (revelation) in the midst of it.  Verse 10 "Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!  I would say that request is a number of things ....#1, it's pretty gutsy, #2, it's pretty self-serving, #3 it's pretty honest, maybe to honest or maybe not!  Because surprisingly, God doesn't rebuke him for being so self centered and audacious to ask that God bless him and his family. What about the rest of the world, there's people starving all over the world and all your concerned about is that God bless you and your family, c'mon!  So what is God's response...."And God granted his request!" What are you serious?!  God granted him his request......well why don't I pray that then, why can he ask that and I can't?  Who said you couldn't??? Why are we so afraid to ask God to bless us and enlarge our territory? Jabez was given a piece of land, property and he has the nerve to ask him to enlarge it.  But yet God does.
     By and large, most Christians I know are struggling financially, have very little money and practically none to bless others with.  Just recently I was approached by a brother who had brought someone out to church, knew the individual was looking for fellowship, rather than just be driven home, but yet, in the end, he drove him home because he had no money to take himself out to eat, not to mention having to pay for another person. Is it just the group or sphere of Christians I run with or is this the norm? Are many Christians broke and impoverished? I  don't think it's fair for me to speak on behalf of Christians all over the world (and I will not) but I can speak for Christians in my neck of the woods. I once worked with a Real Estate Mortgage Professional who told me often Christians were his worse clients, with the least money and often the worse credit.  Should that be? Now there can be many factors contributing to this, it could have been traumatic circumstances that brought them to Christ in the first place and now they are having to deal with baggage from the past, so I do acknowledge, often we don't have or see the whole picture, so I understand that, BUT, that does not write off, or explain for the many, many Christians who serve Christ (supposedly) and yet are impoverished. Are we called to be rich? Not necessarily, at least not monetarily...BUT (there's lots of "buts" today) is it a shame for us to ask that God would bless us and enlarge our territory? If you are serving God truthfully and faithfully why not ask God to bless you and in so doing make you a blessing to others? There are Christians that are in such impoverishment that they do not get involved in helping others, do not entertain in their homes, cannot give people rides, cannot bless others, cannot take someone out to eat or help them out and they cannot even imagine or conceive being involved in helping others, surely this is not the way it's supposed to be.  Some Christians beleive it spiritual to make a vow of poverty (thought I've never found that principle in the Word of God) and Jabez did the opposite. Does poverty glorify God? Does it glorify God for new Christians or the world to see that we are in financial distress, impoverished, begging, having are lights turned off, empty fridges, credit agencies calling, bankruptcy filings, not able to pick others up, not able to bless, not able to take someone out to eat, not able to put some money in someone's hand, not able to by groceries for a struggling single mom.....is this really spiritual, is poverty really something God relishes in? Our text today is not a one time incident, it is available to all who would DARE to ask, it is available to all that would be trusted with blessing, it is available to all that are serving God truthfully and faithfully, it is available to all that God knows would pass the blessing on. Now....do you DARE to ask, I double dog DARE YOU!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

JULY 6 "I ADMIT....I'M ONE OF THEM"

     Paul's main problem is not that he believes in God, most people do.  Paul's main problem is that he is attached to a certain group of people that beleives in God, "followers of The Way" he calls it and then goes on to say that is is also known as "a cult".  Who in the world, who in their right mind, wants to be associated with a cult?! People who are enticed into cults are more often than not, people with issues, people who are mentally & emotionally weak, naive and in short..., stupid. The hardest thing in the world for a person who is none of the above, ..is to  "admit" that they are in a group of religious people that are known as a cult. Many will not "admit" to this, many are not willing to die a social death and end up walking away. I never wanted to be perceived as a individual that was mentally and emotionally weak, naive, vulnerable and stupid, but when I "admitted" that I was a "Born Again" that was what everyone thought of me. I immediately lost all respect by my peers and friends when I "admitted" I was a "Born Again" or a "Follower of The Way". Paul is before some very important people and if they are going to listen to a word he says, he'd better have some respect from them. Why not just talk about God and leave out "what group" he is part of. The moment he mentions he's part of that crazy following, the moment he mentions he's part of the group that actually beleives they have a personnel relationship with God, the moment he mentions he's a follower of "The Way" also beleived to be a cult, they're going to dismiss him as a loser & lunatic. But yet even with all that, Paul in the middle of his sentence, interjected by the Holy Spirit who knows, but out comes..."I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect"  "Oopps, how did that come out of my mouth? This is not good", Paul could have thought.
     You can have talks about God all day long, at work, at lunch, around the water cooler, but the moment you admit, that the point of view you are coming from is one of a "Born Again" then people walk away because now they know they are not talking with a rational person, but someone, that for some reason, has gotten sucked into some cult.  Who better to write later on that God has chosen the foolishness of Preaching to save souls. Paul also goes on to say that "to those that are perishing it is foolishness, but to those that are getting saved, it is the power of God unto Salvation". THE POINT is that salvation does come from us looking like fools. Paul goes on to refer in one of his epistles about how interesting that some Christians seem to look so wise and dignified, while he and his disciples look like fools. How interesting that some feel that they are called to be the ones that look wise and dignified for God while others are called to look like fools for God.  There was no greater audience that Paul ever witnessed to that he did not want to be regarded as a fool, than in this audience that he is standing before, but Paul does the right thing and "admits" he is a "follower of The Way" also known as a cult.
     We have to watch our hearts, that over the years we do not find ourselves less and less inclined to be identified with a group that brings us reproach.  We have to be careful that over the years of our salvation we don't begin to think that God is now calling us to be the wise & dignified Christian. Jesus looked the fool from the start of his ministry all the way up until the end of his ministry. Never did Jesus look more the fool than hanging on that cross as others jeered and mocked at him saying, "he saved others but yet he cannnot save himself". Do you want to just join nominal Christianity and get-a-way from the stench that associates itself with being called Born Again? Of course you do, but it's not right! I ADMIT....remember those words that Paul spoke in front of far more important people that we will ever stand before and so much more to loose too.
      And last, Paul realized that if he was going to convince this crowd he needed far more than just his intellect & respect from his audience; he needed God's anointing and that certainly would not come by disassociating himself from Jesus Christ. And in associating himself with "The Way" with this supposed "cult" he gets the anointing so much so that in the text we read,  ".... As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now" .   You will find that wise & dignified Christians have no fruit. Very rarely will there be anybody in the church they can point to and say, "that's my fruit". Associate yourself with Christ, endure persecution, endure looking like a "fool for Christ" and you will find that God anoints your words, your witness and you will realize that God has chosen the foolishness of preaching Christ, to save souls, and that to those to whom you seem foolsih, they are simply the perising, but to the others, (your eventual fruit) it is the power of God unto salvation.