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Don’t Worry Be Happy

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I don’t own this video, but found that you can watch it through Youtube.  Maybe it will be a needed theme song for you today.  🙂

Be sure and check out my next post about worry.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

Seeing Well

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Doctor, doctor my eyesight is getting worse!

You are certainly right,
this is the post office.

 

 

 

 

Can you normally see things around you?  I mean some of us have to raise
our head a little or lower our head a little to adjust the line of
sight through the lenses resting on our nose.  Some of us need to
squint to focus.  Some of us need to lean in or lean away from
something.  But most of us can see around us.  Some people are blind,
but even in their lack of eyesight, they can very much sense what is
around them through familiarity or through enhancement of their other senses.

The two verses that Steve has chosen for us to focus on this week about
about…well…focus.  What are we focused on?  What are we choosing
to see around us?  What, or better yet who, determines what we see
around us?

All of us see things in life through a filter.  We choose the filter.  Let
me explain.  Just as some of us put on glasses to change the way we
see things, all of us choose a way to see the world around us.  Some
of us choose to see the world negatively.  Some see the world
positively.  Some see people as bad.  Some see people as good.  Some
are more focused on other people’s mistakes.  Some are more focused
on other people’s gifts.  Some are focused on serving.  Some are
focused on getting.  Some have the focus that everyone’s against
them.  Some see themselves as unique creation of God.  I think you
get the picture now.

Jesus brings this up in very simple form…and I love it.  There are two
worlds in Jesus Kingdom.  There is the world of evil and the world of
righteousness.  He is from the world of righteousness.  We choose
every day what world we see…or focus on…or live in.  We choose to
see Satan’s lies as truth and live accordingly.  We choose to see
God’s truths as perfect and from Him and live accordingly.  It’s our
choice what we see.

The tough part here is that many of us feel stuck with glasses that we’ve
had on for awhile.  It’s hard for us to see the goodness and mercy
and love in the world around us.  We’re in the habit of being
negative, carrying burdens, seeing the worst in people and the world
around us.  But it is a choice.  On some levels this may seem like
“new age” talk…but it is our reality. 

Jesus said if our eyesight is healthy, we will see righteousness…and act
accordingly…thus, our body will be full of light.  In other words,
God will shine through us.  If our eyes are unhealthy, meaning that
we’re not seeing things as God sees, then we stray away from Godlike
things and actions and thoughts and God’s light does not shine.
Darkness is in us.  As Yoda says, “
The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see the light…”

So…what do we do if we realize that
God’s light isn’t beaming through us?  We make a decision to change a
couple things.  We need to change the way we think and act.  Here is
where Peter, John and Paul simply amaze me in the book of Acts.
Peter and John simply know, see, the world through God’s eyes.  They
know God is with them.  They know that everyone around them are loved
unconditionally by God.  They know that God has a plan for their
lives.  They know that Jesus came back to life…they saw Him with
their own eyes…and because of that they know that nothing is going
to keep them away from Heaven.  They know and see this world as
temporary…not necessarily their home.  It doesn’t matter what the
world or Satan (darkness) does to them…their destiny is determined.
Therefore their actions show it.  They do things God would do.  They
love people like God loves.  They speak as though they are directed
with the very thoughts of God.  They are seeing through God’s eyes.

Do you want that type of life?  No fear
but the fear of God?  A life full of hope rather than negativity?
Reasons to smile and shine rather than reasons to frown and cast a
shadow wherever you go?  Peter and John and Paul…and others through
the Bible…when they truly saw God’s goodness, wanted it.  They
prayed more, listened more, obeyed more and just being closer to God
in these ways became more like Him.  He shined through them.

Philippians 4:8-9 says this, “Finally,
brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever
is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is
admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about
such things. Whatever
you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it
into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Doesn’t that fit really
great with what Jesus said?  Paul knows this because he lived it,
experienced it and is giving us his testimony.  God’s peace will be
with you.  The more he lived it, the more he  experienced that peace.
The more he experienced it, the more he realized the truth of
it…and the more he wanted to pass it on to others.

The question is…do
you want that peace…that light?  Do you want to pass it on?  My
guess is that you do.  Dig into His word, ask others who show His
light, and pray for Him to show you how to get better “eyesight.”

Love, Serve, Spread the
Word,

Ed

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Who He is. Who we are not.

August 4, 2011 Leave a comment

****

A man went on a nature
walk. A bear began to chase him, so he climbed a tree.

As he was climbing he
slipped down into the bear’s arms.

He prayed “Lord let
this be a Christian bear.”

The bear said “Lord
thank you for this food.”

****

The last message that we’ll focus on is
on a part of Jesus’ model prayer that many of us have memorized.
However, if you read a translation other than the KJV, you’ll find
that its not there.  Our focus is on Matthew 6:13B.  It’s often
referred to as a doxology.  Simply put, most scholars agree that this
ending verse was not spoken by Jesus as He ended this prayer of
example.

I could go into all the details, but
for the sake of keeping this a short article, I’ll just say the
following things.  The earliest (oldest) and most trusted documents
used to translate our present day Bible do not contain this part of
verse 13.  However, some old documents and texts…not as old but
still trusted as reliable…do contain it.  Therefore, most of our
Bible translations don’t contain it, but some have placed it in this
part of Matthew with a footnote saying something like “not
contained in earliest texts.”

Ok…what’s this mean for us?  Do we
forget about it or dig in?  I vote for the dig in.  You may remember
that when we first began this study on this prayer, I wrote about our
approach to God…and how a proper approach is explained by Jesus in
the first words of this prayer.  Jesus’ words give us a humble
approach, lifting up God’s holy name while signifying who His is and
what we are not.  He is holy and in heaven.  We are in need of
forgiveness and creatures needing forgiveness.

This doxology, as many call verse 13,
was probably an ending to prayer…any prayer, that Jews commonly
recited before saying the Amen.  That’s all.  Jesus, being a Jew
himself, had probably recited this doxology or something similar many
times as He prayed in the Temple.  One article I read stated that
Jesus probably didn’t say it hear because it was basically understood
among the Jewish people He was talking to.

So if this is the case, should we throw
it out?  I don’t think so.  This phrase is simply a reminder of what
is at the beginning of this model prayer.  It is also a phrase
similar to passages found in other parts of the Bible such as 1
Chronicles 29:11.

When we say it as we recite the prayer,
we are ending our prayer much like many Hebrews/Jewish people end any
prayer they are praying.  Good thing?  Here’s how I see it.  As Jesus
taugh us a proper approach to the Creator of all things, we here have
a proper ending.  We simply close the prayer restating who He is and
what is His and in doing so, our position in all things.  The Kingdom
is His.  All the power is His.  And all glory should be given to Him.
Why not say this as a closing reminder for us?

The final word is the common ‘Amen.’
Have you ever wondered where that came from?  Why do we always say
“amen” at the end of our prayers?  Well, it simply is a Hebrew
word that means ‘so be it.’  It isn’t just a period at the end of the
last sentence you speak.  It is a word of affirmation.  In this
prayer, it means…my paraphrase of course…All is yours Lord, and I
agree with that truth.

Friends, this is just another reminder
of who we talk to when we pray.  It’s another reminder of our
nature…sinful.  It is a reminder of what we’re a part of and our
purpose.  We are a part of the Kingdom and we we to give all the
glory to Him.

Repeated Questions for reflection:

  • How do you approach God in your
    prayers?
  • Do your words match your
    heart/soul language?  Meaning…is your heart as humble as the words
    you repeat from Jesus’ model?
  • If you don’t feel it yet, act it
    out as though you do…most times the feelings follow.

PS – If you’re familiar with the
Narnia movies, I’m reminded of the small Narnian who Lucy helps save
from drowning in one of the movies.  At first, all he knows of Aslan
the Lion (the character symbolizing God in the story) is from
stories.  As he gets to know the 4 kings and queens of Narnia,
representing us in many ways, he begins to understand that they have
seen and been with Aslan…but not yet trusting…still he likes them
and has given his duty to them.  By the end of the movie, he believes
and even comes face to face with the Creator and is bowing humbly as
he finally realizes the truth.  Act as though this is true, even
though you don’t feel it yet, and slowly God does reveal.  Now this
doesn’t mean that simply reciting this prayer is going to get you
closer to God.  What I mean is that God will know whether you are
truly searching for Him and reward you adequately and in His time.

love, serve, spread the Word,

ed

AIDS – Wait to Live – SRT


Lead Us Not Into Temptation 2


*********

A fly was buzzing along one morning when he saw a lawn mower someone had left out in their front yard. He flew over and sat on the handle, watching the children going down the sidewalk on their way to school.

One little boy tripped on a crack and fell, spilling his lunch on the sidewalk. He picked himself up, put his lunch back in the bag and went on. But he missed a piece of bologna. The fly had not eaten that morning and he sure was hungry. So he flew down and started eating the bologna. In fact he ate so much that he could not fly, so he waddled across the sidewalk, across the lawn, up the wheel of the lawn mower, up the handle, and sat there resting and watching the children.

There was still some bologna laying there on the sidewalk. He was really stuffed, but that bologna sure did look good.

Finally temptation got the best of him and he jumped off the handle of the lawn mower to fly over to the bologna.

But alas he was too full to fly and fell straight to the ground… splat!  The moral of this story is simple… don’t fly off the handle when you are full of bologna.

*********

The Bible says this in Matthew 4, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  The Father led His Son to be tempted.  The only thing I can gather from this is that Jesus knows temptation.  The other thing I know about this is that there is purpose in being led into temptation.  And again, we have a subject before us that will probably teach some hard truths.  Are you ready?  Let’s go.

The first question that comes to anyone’s mind when reading this short phrase in Jesus’ model prayer is this, “Why would God tempt us to sin?”  Guess what?  Wrong question.  God cannot tempt us to sin.  He can’t do that because it’s not in His nature to be anywhere near sin.  It also goes against the fact that His own Son died to forgive sin.  Let’s just look at what the verse says and go with it.  It says that Jesus asks “us” to ask the Father to “lead us not into temptation.”  That’s it.

Jesus knew what it was to go through temptation.  I think this is simply a prayer for mercy.  If we are to grow stronger as Christians, God is going to guide us into situations where we will have choices & temptations to either do His will or not…Jesus knows how hard this is.  We will also be set up by Satan to fall along the way as we following God’s will “on Earth as it would be in Heaven.”  We are going to be tempted.  To live a life without temptation would mean that we are perfect and that’s not so.

This is a midpoint of a full verse with a “but” in the middle.  So next week we will add even more to this prayer.  Read ahead and make some guesses as to what this whole verse really means for you and for the church…Jesus’ body on the planet.

1 Corinthians 10:13 TNIV says this,

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

 

Jesus, as our Creator (John 1:1-3), knows our weaknesses.  We were created to be with Him and the Father.  Sin keeps us away.  We sin after being tempted.  It simply makes sense that Jesus would want us to pray this way…to be far from temptation.  The next part of this verse, next week’s focus, makes this point even more clear.

Do you personally address God and ask for Him to keep temptation away from you?  I’m guessing that if we all did this, we would be more attentive to the temptations around us.  I think we would get better at seeing Satan working around us to keep us from God and from doing His will.  I also think the world would see this group of people called the church making wise choices.  The world would see a people who understand what “freedom” really means.  I have a feeling they would see God through all of us more clearly.  Remember, it’s not about us…it’s about people seeing God through us.  Pray hard.

Questions for growth:

  • Have you ever thought through what your weaknesses are and prayed for God to keep those temptations away?
  • Have you prayed for God to give you great big eyes for the temptations that are around you?  In my experience, when you focus on something…it becomes bigger for you…easier to notice.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

PS – I do not claim to have all the answers.  I’m simply reading the verse and lining it up with other Scripture.  I trust that there is nothing that is contradictory in Scripture…so I simply keep moving forward trusting that there is a message of truth here…even if we need to dig, and even is it is hard to swallow.  We’re in this together.  We’re the church.  We move forward together knowing that the gates of Hell will not win us over.

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

What’s in a name? A lot!


Matthew 6:9 (Luke 11:2) records the first line in Jesus’ statement on prayer.  He first mentions that we have been invited to call our creator ‘Father,’ just like he does.  He then reminds us that we have been separated from our Father…because of sin.  Our Father is in Heaven and we are not.  We are not perfect, and He is.  The third line of the verse reminds why we are separated…because our Father is holy…His name is holy.  Below is a list of names that the Israelites used to name and describe God.  Below the list is a link to an article that describes our short passage for the week.  Please read through these names and take in how important our Father’s name was and is.

 

 

Names of God and their meaning:

ELOHIM……Genesis 1:1, Psalm 19:1

meaning “God”, a reference to God’s power and might.

ADONAI……Malachi 1:6

meaning “Lord”, a reference to the Lordship of God.

JEHOVAH–YAHWEH…..Genesis 2:4

a reference to God’s divine salvation.

JEHOVAH-MACCADDESHEM…….Exodus 31:13

meaning “The Lord thy sanctifier”

JEHOVAH-ROHI……Psalm 23:1

meaning “The Lord my shepherd”

JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH…….Ezekiel 48:35

meaning “The Lord who is present”

JEHOVAH-RAPHA………Exodus 15:26

meaning “The Lord our healer”

JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU……Jeremiah 23:6

meaning “The Lord our righteousness”

JEHOVAH-JIREH………Genesis 22:13-14

meaning “The Lord will provide”

JEHOVAH-NISSI………Exodus 17:15

meaning “The Lord our banner”

JEHOVAH-SHALOM……..Judges 6:24

meaning “The Lord is peace”

JEHOVAH-SABBAOTH……Isaiah 6:1-3

meaning “The Lord of Hosts”

JEHOVAH-GMOLAH……..Jeremiah 51:6

meaning “The God of Recompense”

EL-ELYON…………..Genesis 14:17-20,Isaiah 14:13-14

meaning “The most high God

EL-ROI…………….Genesis 16:13

meaning “The strong one who sees”

EL-SHADDAI…………Genesis 17:1,Psalm 91:1

meaning “The God of the mountains or God Almighty”

EL-OLAM……………Isaiah 40:28-31

meaning “The everlasting God”

 

Here is the link to a short and great article on “Hallowed be your name.” Click Here.

 

Questions for Growth

  • When you approach God, how do you address Him?  Jesus invites us to call Him Father, but right behind the name Father, Jesus asks us to verbally recognize the holiness of God’s name…and ultimately God himself.
  • When you say address God, do you use a phrase that has become simply habit?  The reason I ask this is because I have frequently addressed the Lord out of habit.
  • I think that Jesus wants us to really think about who we’re talking to when we begin our prayer time with God.  When you address God and come before Him, do you feel the weight of His holiness?

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

 

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