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Pray For Those In Authority Over You

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment

1 Timothy 2:1-6

Go to any of the main-line or even lesser known news websites or magazines and you’ll find a plethora of unbiased and biased writing about our currently political situation…election year.  Not only is this considered a historic election cycle, but one that has the attention of most all the nation and world.  I’m not only talking about the presidency…but also congress and state and local elections.  To most of us living in the states, this is huge!  It’s mammoth no matter what side you stand on.

I’m trying to gain perspective.  Each commercial and advertisement and billboard vies for our attention and commitment.  But that’s because to me, right now in 2012, it’s very personal.  I am living in the here and now.  My kids are growing up in the here and now.  The parents and students I work with are living in the here and now.  I’m thinking about the rest of my life as well as the 70+/- years of all those I work with.  Sure, I’m thinking of my future and theirs as well.  I want the best and safest for all.

But….yes, here comes the big but…if I pulled back 6000+ years of human history, this is nothing new.  Parents like me worried about their kids growing up in the culture and political environment at all points along the big timeline.  My fears are not new.  My hopes are not new.  But they are very personal to me.

What does God think about our present day worries?  Well, for one, worry is a sin.  Just saying.  Jesus said in Matthew not to do it because it causes fractures in our relationship with the Father.  Jesus didn’t worry…he had hope that overcame worry.  So I have to say, I’m trying really hard not to worry about this election cycle.  I’ll do my part.  I’ll study the situations at hand and the philosophies of those wanting to be elected.  But, no matter what, my hope in an eternity will not be taken away.  On the extreme side of things, a communistic/atheistic regime could overthrow the USA and my hope in an eternity still could not be taken away.  In the end Jesus wins…no matter who sits on an earthly throne locally, statewide, nationally or globally.

Here’s where the main verse comes into play.  Paul writes to Timothy, instructing him how to teach leaders to pray.  Paul encourages Timothy to pray and lead others in prayer for “all men, for kings and all who are in authority.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)  Why?  I mean, Paul could have encouraged people to fight for their rights and picket and vote (all good things when done with the right spirit), but he didn’t.  In this day and time, Rome was without a doubt pressing its own culture and philosophy of life as well as its religion.  Christianity was not thought of highly and even held under thumb.  So…politically, there have been people and currently are people in rougher situations than us…but God’s plan for man still isn’t thwarted and narrowed.  We see this in verse 3.  Paul instructs people to pray for ALL those in authority…for their best!  Verse three says, “…it is good and acceptable in God’s sight” that we do this.  Again…why?  Because, as God’s plan holds, He wants ALL men to be saved.  It’s not about us.  It’s all about eternity.

Can you imagine what might happen if we all put aside our political sway, and put away the prayers that ask God to save us from those opposite of our political philosophies, and simply prayed for our leaders to see God…so they could have the hope we have…so they could see Jesus crucified and risen…no politics involved?  I’d call that a continuation of the Movement Jesus started when He sent the disciples out to start the Church.  Are you all in?

Let’s pray for those we oppose.  Let’s pray for those that we agree with.  Let’s pray for our current situations, but let’s pray for God’s will…that those men and women would be saved.  Who knows, in Heaven you may very well be surprised who accepted Jesus and now stands beside you worshiping the Lamb.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

Ed

Picturesque Examples:  (…this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior)

  • Student prays for Teacher
  • Jailed prays for Jailer
  • Player prays Coach
  • Worker prays for Boss
  • Slave prays for Owner
  • Child prays for Parent
  • Ticketed prays for Officer
  • Citizen prays for President
  • Homeowner prays for Township Trustee

“God’s man in God’s place, doing God’s will to God’s glory, will never lack God’s support.” ~Hudson Taylor

A Father’s Real Goal


Happy Father’s Day to all dad’s out there including my own.  I’m a dad myself, so the constant struggles and stresses of being a dad are constantly battling in my soul as well.  But there are lots of joys too.  This year I get to run with my son early on this Sunday morning.  Micah and I are going to be involved in the Canton Marathon.  We are both participating in the 10K.  Hopefully the rest of my family will be at the finish line to carry me off after I collapse.  Haha!

So what is dad’s role?  Through the years I’ve had lots of assumptions.  I’ve looked at my own experience growing up as a kid.  I’ve listened to old family stories from before I was born about what dads and grandpas did.  I’ve watched other dad’s as they walked this sometimes curvy road.  I’ve heard speeches and conferences and seminars about it.  Read books about it.  I’ve talked with many kids through 23 years of ministry about personal struggles with their dads.  Some stories are similar, but never are two the same.  I’ve also read the Bible about fatherhood.  It actually has a lot to say.  But when you put God’s expectations against what “experts” in our modern times say a dad’s role is, you get very different opinions.

Today’s wisdom says to be there for your kids.  Take time with your kids.  Both very true…but the media takes it further to define what success for a dad should be.  They show guys going after the big job with big money for the family.  I sometimes get the feeling that if a dad can’t afford a Disneyland vacation then he hasn’t provided well.  Some commercials talk about doing the things for the family that they ‘deserve.’  I heard one network marketer say that a few years of hard long-hour work, sacrificing time with your family, might pay off in the end with reward (meaning $$$).  Ok…what happens if you have a heart attack at 1.5 years into that plan?

Now, don’t get me wrong or hear what I’m not saying.  Sometimes there is time for hard work and sacrifice to supply a family with the necessities of life.  The Bible says that work puts food on the table (Proverbs 12:11, 14:23).  And…some of that time will be away from family.  But the chasing after riches is another thing that our society and media claims good.  The Bible is pretty clear on this too.  Hard work will be rewarded.  Yet I see dad’s who still struggle even when they are providing for their kids.  Some do so well they are providing for the great-grandkids yet there isn’t peace in their soul.  So…does the absence of this “peace” have anything to do with what many of us dads miss?

Why are we like this?  There’s one thing in the Bible that many of us dad’s overlook.  It has to do with raising Godly kids.  The question that is always there isn’t, “Have we done enough to support our family?”  It is, “Will our kids be in Heaven with us?”  A second closely follows, “Will they be bringing people with them as well?”

Moses had to feel incredible dad-like pressure when he led his family, and his nation, out of Egypt.  He was leading them, at God’s command and with His power and authority, from slavery into freedom.  Moses was the man looked to for wisdom.  Moses was looked to as the man who knew God and talked with God.  Through this and the various struggles, Moses saw clearly what was and was not important as he led his family, and God’s family, towards the Promised Land.  Isn’t that kinda like us dad’s today too?  We are to lead our family towards Heaven…towards God himself.  God places us in this spot and gives us all the tools to do it.  We need to learn how to use some of the tools, but they’re all there waiting to be picked up.

Moses’ big warning is this though.  He warns us to never forget about God.  He asks us, as parents, to remind our kids all the time about God (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  He encourages us to talk about God all the time when we’re walking, working, eating breakfast or getting ready for bed.  Moses knew this one thing, if we slightly forget about God, we will start to search after things not of Him.  If we lose track of God and His goal of having everyone with Him in Heaven, then we start to form our own goals and strategies for “successful living.”  Moses saw how dangerous it is to forget about God. (Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:12, 8:11).

So what’s this mean for us dad’s today?  I see two goals.  One, we want to do what we can to set our kids up to make the choice to follow God.  The tough part here?  We can’t make the choice for them, but we don’t want to fail on our part of the equation.  Secondly, we want to disciple our kids so that they know how to lead others to Heaven as well.  In the end, it really won’t matter where we’ve worked or how much money we’ve made or spent or what our degree is.  It won’t matter if our kids went to the right college or won all the races or got all the trophies.  What will matter is, whatever we or they choose to do, that we all did it remembering God and His principles, followed His direction,  chose His son as our Savior and chose to share Jesus with others.  Here’s how I know this.  Our Heavenly Father’s goal is plain.  He wants us in Heaven with Him.  He’s wants this so much that He asked His own son to die to make the way.

Let’s all try to set our goal and change our approaches so that our biggest endeavor is to take our family and friends to Heaven.  Tough?  Yes.  Rewarding?  Eternally.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

Whatville and Whoville and 1000 Years

April 26, 2012 3 comments

Partial Reprint of a Previous Article I’ve Uploaded…

What is your church preference?

  • While filling out an application for employment, the applicant came to a query which asked, “What is your Church Preference?”  The man, not being a person of extraordinary intelligence thought through the question for some time because he really needed the job. He wanted to impress the employer and answered very confidently, “I prefer a red brick church.”

******

We’re in the middle of a fairly lengthy discussion of the book of Revelation.  All through the book we see references to the church.  The verses we are focusing on today, though one subject often causes controversy, talks about the church (the 1000 years).  But if we don’t have a correct definition of the church, we are likely to miss the importance of why this letter was written and how it speaks to our daily purpose/battles as well.

As silly as the joke above might be, it very well might be nearer a truth in our American church society today.  If you listen close to the way we talk about our churches, we mention things associated with places, street addresses, programs, target groups, worship music and, of course, buildings.

Let’s speak frankly for a moment.  The Bible talks specifically that we, who claim Christ as Lord, are members of His body (Ephesians 5:30).  The Bible only separates church families by place names, or more specifically the city where they meet (Writings of Paul and Revelation).  The Church has two focuses…Love God and Love people (Matthew 22:37-39).  The church has one purpose.  It is to help people cross over from their life of sin into a life in relationship with the Forgiver of Sins (Matthew 28:19-20).  The Bible does not separate church families by philosophy, style of music, size of building, number in attendance, or length of Sunday morning services.  We are to be one body acting together in focus and purpose throughout the world.

Author and speaker Reggie McNeal said it this way, “Its moving from ‘Whatville’ to ‘Whoville.”  It’s moving from a place called the church to being the church wherever we are.  Moving from building to person.  Wherever you are, the church is.

Ok, I’m sure I got some of your buttons pushed from the comments above.  But we really can’t argue with Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 5.   Jesus has us praying for God’s will to be done through us, His church, here on this planet, as it is in Heaven.  This reminds me of His prayer in John 17:19-23 right before He goes to the cross…

  • I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the Disciples’] message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

We are here, on earth, to be a real and tangible presence of Heaven…though not completely perfect.  So how are we doing in this area?  How are we doing in our local communities?  How are we doing through the week in our workplaces and schools?  Are we a fresh vision of Heaven to all who see us?  Are we a constant 24/7 representative of Heaven?

Some questions for evaluation for yourself or your church family:

  • When people see me do they see God?
  • When people hear me do they hear God?
  • When I make decisions, do people see the decisions that God would make?
  • Do people see God’s forgiveness when I forgive?  Do I forgive?
  • Do people see God’s care when I care for them?
  • Do people see God’s unconditional love when I am around?

….or

  • Do they see me instead of God?
  • Do they hear my attitudes and selfishness instead of God?
  • Do they see decisions that are for ‘my good’ rather than ‘my neighbor’s?’
  • Do they see me holding a list of their sins?
  • Do they see me caring more for my personal stuff than theirs?
  • Do they see love when they deserve it, and love withheld when they don’t?

As Steve Kimbrel has aptly said, we are ‘outposts of Heaven’ in the place we live…in the place we work…in the places we spend our time…for the people we are around.

  • “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

It is my understanding that we are within that 1000 years that John wrote of.  We are the Army chapter 19 talks about as we march forward taking people from the grip of Satan and presenting them with the truth of Jesus.

love-serve-spread the Word,

ed

Parenting 101 Part 4

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment

By: Alejandro Colucci

Parenting as a Christian.  It’s often rewarding but also heart wrenching.  We worry and hope.  We wonder if what we’re doing is right.  We second guess.   Through the last few months we’ve covered the basics from we read in the Bible.  We’ve discussed how God first asks us to be committed to Him.  We’ve read how we’re supposed to be committed to Jesus.  We’ve read how Moses encouraged us to ‘remember’ God.  He even gave us suggestions about writing the words of our God all over and to talk about them all the time so we don’t forget.  We read how he gave us a warning not to forget (Deuteronomy 6,8).

We’re going to continue this week with some other simple items, but I hope they are encouraging.  If Moses calls us to remember God’s commands, I would say He also calls us to remember God’s goodness and promises.  Remember, the goal is for us to be with Him forever in Heaven.  So then, if that’s His goal for us, our top and first and highest and most precious goal for our kids should be the same as our Father.  Get them to Heaven.  However, if that’s the goal, guess what?  There’s an opposite goal.  Satan has a goal of doing everything in his power to help us to lose track of Jesus’ goal and forget about it.

I’ve been watching a lot of knight type movies and tv shows lately.  Over the years I’ve loved these type of epic movies as well (Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Merlin – TV).  They show the honor of battling for the King.  They portray the connection that the warriors have for each other.  In one Merlin episode, the Dragon speaks wisdom into the young Merlin by saying, “All great struggles demand sacrifice.”  When I think of these battles, I see knights and warriors who sacrifice with glad hearts.  They’re not sad with chin down when they walk into battle.  It’s like they know exactly what they’re fighting for and why.  I love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Here is an epic battle when one who was thought lost returns in a white robe to save his friends in battle.  Click here to see it.

You know this is very much a battle.  So what I’m going to do for the rest of this article is cut/paste some verses that are encouraging and power giving.  Now, here’s your job.  Cut these out or write these down and paste them around your house, car, office, etc.  J  Then, when you’re randomly or regularly noticing them as they ‘hang’ around your places, REMEMBER that God entrusted children to you and he wants all of you to be with Him forever.  Remember to battle well.

  • Psalm 144:12 …deliver me…Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.
  • Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
  • Proverbs 14:26 He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.
  • 3 John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:13 …as for you… never tire of doing what is right.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

PART 1

PART 2

Part 3 –

Categories: Bible, Christianity

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

A pirate captain was on the look out for buried treasure.

After months of hard sailing, his ship caught sight of land, the land to which his treasure map had been leading.

He and his first mate disembarked on the island to search out the buried treasure, which was supposed to lie hidden deep within a swamp at the center of the island.

Sure enough, at the center of the island was a swamp, and the Captain and his first mate bravely entered the swamp.

Soon the swamp began to get deeper, and the pirate’s feet, then ankles, and finally entire leg below the knees was covered in swamp.

It was at that time that the Captain banged his shin against something hard. He reached down, searched around, and pulled up a treasure chest.

Prying the lock open, the chest revealed gold and jewels beyond imagination!

The Captain turned to his first mate and said, “Arrrr, matey, that just goes to show ye, that booty is only shin deep!”

One of my favorite books of the Bible is the book of Ecclesiastes.  In 9:1 of Ecclesiastes it says this, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  This was written by the one who asked for God’s wisdom and received it…Solomon.  Solomon realized something very true.  There’s nothing new in relation to human nature.  Today’s verse focuses on something that is as true today as it was when Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 6:19-21.  In fact, they were also as true for Jesus’ followers as they were for the people in Solomon’s time as well.

We like to have things.  We like stuff.  We like gadgets.  We not only like having stuff…but we like having the best stuff.  We like our cars and dresses and tv’s and radios and music and IPods and tablets and game systems and awards and certificates.  We like good smelling things and things that make our house look nice.  We like nice things to sit in and nice things to walk on.  We like cash in our wallets and we like to go buy something when we want it.

Jesus talks straight about this to the people who are listening.  He’s just covered how to give to the needy, how to pray and how to fast.  Those things all seem well intentioned because they look like things done for and with God.  This one’s personal though.  He talks about our personal treasure.

When I was a kid, mom would take my sister and me to the library on a regular basis.  One subject I loved to read about was “treasure hunters.”  I would day dream about being a “hunter” one day and finding a sunken treasure ship that no one had found before.  I remember when we would go on vacation to Florida.  We’d go out to eat somewhere and sometimes the placemat would be a “map” of sunken ships that no one had ever found.  I kept those placemats, thinking one day I just might go and use that map to find treasure.

Well, you don’t see me on TV scuba diving in the Caribbean searching for lost treasure in the sea.  But that doesn’t mean I still don’t search for treasure.  I like my stuff…my treasure…and as Jesus hinted to, it gets in the way of the True Treasure God has for us each and every day.

John Maxwell, speaker and author, says that he can basically tell most things about a person by doing a few things…and in about 5 minutes.  He said let me see your calendar, the books you are reading, and your check book.  From those three things he can get a good picture of what you go after…what your main focuses are in life.  Think about that for a minute.  If he can do that, and I’m confident that he can, what would he see if you opened up your books to him?  What would your checkbook show is important to you?  What would your calendar show is important to you?  What do you focus on in down time and what’s it say is important to you?

Jesus said that the stuff we collect here on earth is not meaningful.  This stuff is not going to last and it can be taken from you.  He said that there is treasure that will not rot away and no one can steal.  The last line of this short passage of scripture is the kicker.  Wherever your treasure is…your heart’s there too, and if it’s not with God it’s somewhere else.

Solomon got to this wisdom late and after many mistakes.  He had used most of his wealth to buy treasure on earth.  Later in life he realized what was really important.  Here’s what he said after talking about his abundance of stuff, “…when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”  He realized that not one of these things got him closer to God.  Luckily, we have his story and testimony and the books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs to help us see a little clearer what’s really important in life.

So where’s your treasure?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • How are you a treasure hunter?
  • How does your treasure interfere with your relationship with God?
  • How does your treasure, or treasure hunting, interfere with your ministry as a Christian…a priest of God?
  • What steps will you take today or tomorrow to change your patterns of behavior?

Lead Us Not Into Temptation 1 – Video


The Plan of Forgiveness


Toward the end of the service, the Minister asked, “How many of you have forgiven your enemies?” 80% held up their hands.

The Minister then repeated his question. All responded this time, except one small elderly lady.

“Mrs. Jones? Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?” “I don’t have any,” she replied, smiling sweetly.

“Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?”

“Ninety-eight,” she replied.

“Oh, Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years & not have an enemy in the world?”

The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said: “I outlived the old hags.”

********

Some people ask where I get these.  I really have no idea….and if I did, I woudn’t say.  Haha

Link for this week: It takes 2 minutes to watch.

This week’s focus is just as difficult for me as last week’s was. This week we focus on forgiveness. Most of us have a problem with forgiveness. We think we deserve forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong, but we have a hard time handing it out when someone has done something wrong towards us. So what we need here is a good working understanding of ‘forgiveness.’

As we’re still working through Matthew 6, Jesus speaks this next request in the model prayer in a different way than we might expect. The way He words this prayer to the Father puts weight on us. The question isn’t only for God to forgive us. We are asking Him to do so in the process of us forgiving those who have sinned against us too. Action required. This isn’t just a “gimmee” request. Jesus knows that would be too easy…and against the true purpose of forgiveness.

Here’s how I look at this. Forgiveness is conditional, but handed out freely. We have to ask for it. We have to be at a point where we believe with our whole heart that Jesus died and rose as the Son of God to bear the punishment for our personal sins…as well as the sins of our neighbor, family member or enemy. Thus, if He can forgive them, we need to do the same.

My guess is that everyone has gathered in close to Jesus as He’s speaking this to the crowd in this section of Scripture. Heads are nodding in agreement with the short statements. “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name,” has been spoken and the “Amens” go up. Jesus says, “Your will be done, here on Earth like it is in Heaven,” and those around Him speak out “Yes Lord” in agreement with the statement of prayer. Jesus then talks about asking for our daily needs. I can hear the people responding again in agreement. Most of them are not pulling down a million five per year. They get it. Then comes the next statement. I can hear Jesus speak, “And forgive us our debts…” and the people’s copy cat response…”Yes please Lord.” Then Christ drops the next line…”as we forgive our debtors.” This is where I can see faces drop to the ground. People look at each other with “uh oh” written on their face. There might even be a few who begin to walk away.

Ok, let’s ask the hard question. What if God forgave us like we forgive other people? How would your eternal salvation look based on your grace and mercy towards others who have wronged you? “Uh Oh!” Don’t walk away!

What is our purpose as a Christian? Jesus asked us to forgive like the Father…in a very dramatic way non-the-less…so this has to fit into this Christian living thing we’ve signed up for. God wants people back with Him like it was in the beginning (Genesis). We, as believers in Jesus, are called the church. The church is called the body of Christ. Therefore the body, you and I, are suppose to look and act and think and behave as Christ would. Christ is forgiving. We are asked to be forgiving in the same way.

What’s the purpose of forgiveness? Why do we need to forgive? Why do we need forgiven? When we see the true purpose I’m sure we will find the reason Jesus wants us to forgive like His Father does. Forgiveness is the only way to fix the problem between us and God. We’ve sinned. He’s perfect. It may seem like we’re completely stuck in a different place than the original plan…by our choice. God’s forgiveness makes a way for us to be back with Him. Forgiveness between people does the same thing. It makes a way for healing to begin. It gets junk out of the way. Satan hates forgiveness, because it messes up everything in his strategy to keep us away from God. When you forgive someone as God forgives, whether you think they deserve it or not, you put handcuffs on Satan. You are acting like God. God loves to see us act like Him…it brings glory to His name (Hallowed be your name). When you forgive, its like you’re turning to God and saying, “Ok, it’s not about me…it’s all about you.” People will see this attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and God promises that through you taking the humble position, others will not see you, but God himself (Matthew 5:16). Purpose defined.

Here’s the specific question. Do people, even our enemies, see God through our acts, words and attitude of forgiveness?

Questions for growth:

  • What do you think is a good way to get better at forgiving?
  • Who do you need to forgive?
  • Do you need to do it vocally or publicly?
  • Have you forgiven yourself like God has through His son’s death?
  • Are you willing to forgive even if you feel it will get you nowhere with a certain person?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

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