Sunday, June 30, 2013

Are you in Awe?


   One of my many wrestling matches with scripture and God is about who God is and what He wants from me. I’m sure we all think about this in our quiet time and when we do our devotions. We come to the comfort of his sanctuary week, after week, after week. We find our favorite chair to sit on, (although they all look the same to me), OK some have bigger stains than others but well…you know. We come here to do what? Sing some songs (if they are the ones we like). See what other people are wearing (I know some of you are looking at the preacher and thinking “if he was going to preach how come he didn’t wear a tie). Sometimes we come with the hope of hearing some non-confrontational message that makes us feel good (been there, done that).
   This day we are going to wrestle with some scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us in what He is trying to tell us here today wherever you are. We’re going to do this old school. We will read a little talk a little, read some more and talk some more. And by the time the Scriptures are done with us someone will get save or convicted today ...amen? Amen! Let’s pray; Father we love You and we praise your glorious name. We come before you with open hearts and minds and we ask you that you fill them with your Word. Use us Lord and help us to hear only what you need to tell us as a people of God. Use us today to speak of your love to anyone who is searching for you in our daily walk in life. Let those who are on the verge of a breakthrough get their breakthrough today through your Word Father. May your words change lives here today, in Jesus name…Amen!
        So let’s talk about who this God we worship is. This is the passage that God put in my heart when I started to wrestle with him. Scripture says this; I am not making this stuff up let’s just look it up…if you have a Bible or turn to it with me to Psalm 68 and verses 34 and 35:

Psalm 68:34-35; Ascribe power to God. His majesty is over Israel, His power among the clouds. God, You are awe-inspiring in Your sanctuaries. The God of Israel gives power and strength to His people. May God be praised!” HCSB

     Oh WOW!! Did you hear that or was I the only one that noticed it. His power and majesty are everywhere; with his people, in the clouds. He is awe-inspiring in his sanctuaries. Oh Man wow...I want to go to there! Let me ask you, Is God awe-inspiring to you today? The word sanctuary in the Hebrew is miqdash (mik-dawsh) which describes a consecrated place or temple or sanctuary which was the place where God dwelt in Old Testament days. How awe-inspiring is God to you? What make us say “Wow, God did that!” Here, go with me to the beginning;

Gen 1:1-4;In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.” NIV 
         Are you kidding me?..Did you just hear that, what the word of God Just did?...He spoke it into reality. He said; light and whoops there it is!! The rest of the chapter He goes on to speak and whoops there it is again, trees, animals, birds you name it he spoke it, and it came to be…I can’t do that here let’s try it just for fun…let there be a cat…ok …any minute now, hmm nothing…ok maybe cat’s are hard ‘cause they’re finicky and all…let’s try dog…DOG !!! hmmm nothing? My point is this, I can’t do that. I can’t create by just speaking it into reality, that is something that is awe-inspiring and only God can do.

Go to Genesis 2 and verse 7 and 22; the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Gen 2:22; “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”  NIV

         This is so amazing. Here we have God who, up to this point, has spoken everything into existence until is time to create us. Suddenly he decides that he wants the more hands on approach. A more personal touch if you will. So He creates us with His own hand. Can you seeing how awe-inspiring God is, so far? And this goes on story after story, book after book all through the Bible. In chapter 6 of Genesis we read Noah’s story. Here is the only righteous guy and his family about to go on a 150 day cruise all expenses paid with several of their best animal friends.  That must have been a sight; Noah building the Ark, his neighbors pretending they didn’t see it in the driveway. The look on their faces when the parade of animals started must have been priceless. But of course, you remember why God had to do something so awe-inspiring like an ark right?… SIN. I know there are many stories of awe in the Scriptures but I am going to just share two more. In 1 Samuel 17 is the famous story of David and Goliath. This story has been talked about by everyone who teaches and preaches scripture, but here is my take. What strikes me about this story is the conversation he has with Goliath and how he goes on and tells Goliath how awe-inspiring is his God. David was so passionate about God that he didn’t see Goliath’s size, or his armor.  Such was his focus on God’s awe that he could see past Goliath to the victory that was going to happen. He was so focused on God’s power in his life that what looked like an impossible obstacle to everyone else; to him it wasn’t even there at all. He’s like; "you’re going down G, I’ve killed bears and lions, oh my! With my bare hands through God’s power, so my friend, you are toast." And here is what is so amazing about this story; get this, he runs right up to the guy and takes him down with one shot.
         After we read all these awesome stories we get to a point where we ask ourselves, what does a God that can do all those things want with me? There is something about us that God absolutely loves. We are made in God’s image, we are made for his pleasure, we are the one’s responsible of showing everyone how glorious God is. But instead what do we do?…we sin. We fight among each other, we complain about the music being too loud, not enough hymns, How come there is a music stand and no memorial pulpit. We don’t listen to the small still voice of the Holy Spirit and we sin and we separate ourselves from God because of our behavior. We listen instead to the voices…you know the ones I am talking about…the ones that tell us; “it will be OK if you bring it to the pastor's attention”, “that doesn’t hurt anyone”, “you’re a big tither you should have a say so”, or we’re not good enough, you’re too young, you’re too old… look at how messed up your life really is…God doesn’t want you to witness…If you get involved in the church you’ll never have free time to watch TV or movies or play videos or listen to your music, or hang out with friends or you’re family. On and on it goes and so we tell ourselves this “I have a plan I’ll just go to church often enough to check-in and save face.” And in your head this sounded really good, but as time goes by you drift away from your relationship with God.  You decide that you don’t want to be awe-inspiring for God anymore. What you don’t know is this; that is not your call, because if you remember at the beginning of this blog post we heard how God told us that He is awe-inspiring in his sanctuaries. If you have ever read a Bible you know that another word for sanctuary is temple. So my next logical question is this; where is God’s temple today? The Apostle Paul answers that question for us in scripture.

1Co 3:16 -17Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”

      Here is where it gets good. It turns out we, (Christians), are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. Who knew? God knew, all along, that’s who! Is it me or am I grasping at straws here when I say that this is the most incredible assignment ever? 

2Co 6:16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."

        Here is one of the most compelling reasons to say yes to God. He wants us! He wants to live with us, walk with us and be our God so we can be His people. This promise should give you comfort every day and night. This promise brings a peace that is hard to contain at times. This promise is bigger than any circumstances you have in your life right now. This is God asking you to open your heart, mind and soul to Him and let Him guide your life through prayer and surrender to His will for you.

   1 Corinthians 3:16-17 it says; “Don't you know that you are God's sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?  If anyone ruins God's sanctuary, God will ruin him; for God's sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.”

         If you are a Christian you are God’s sanctuary, repent and start behaving like you are that sanctuary. If you are not a Christian then there is good news for you because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection you too can be a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. All you need to do is ask him to be part of your life. Surrender to Jesus your life and watch as you will turn into a sanctuary of God. Let’s pray…Father you are awe-inspiring, and we have been neglecting your sanctuary. Forgive us and restore us to making You the priority in our lives. Those who are reading this today who do not know you Jesus, touch their hearts right now and open their minds and hearts to ask you into their lives and their circumstances. Bring those to you today that have been seeking you for so long in so many different places. … AMEN!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Time constrains

  Time Constrains

   Who among us has never had a timeline or deadline or just plain not enough time to do something? Our entire lives are based on how much we can accomplish in the allotted amount of time we are given. As a result many times we forget to take into account the quality of the product we are producing. The tendency is to get as much as we can in, in as little time possible and at the same time cutting out those things that have too much in them. The problem with this practice is that we apply it to everything in our lives.

  From errands to relationships we try to accommodate everyone and everything. We read in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for every activity under the heavens, and we want to prove it! It's like we are all from Missouri and we tell everyone "show me", how can I do everything! I have been searching in the depth of my soul for something to write about this month. After much thought and much prayer I have been thinking a lot about the word; worship. One of my pet peeves is how we manage corporate worship in church. The bulletin or program looks like a program from a theater play with start to finish sections and in some cases what to do at certain times. It looks as if we were trying to keep the Holy Spirit from making the service go longer than 1 hour and 15 minutes. "Here it is Lord we have this schedule for this Sunday see if you can fit in it, but remember the (game, BBQ,  yard work, etc.) starts at 12:30 so don't get too involved."  Maybe I am wrong, but I do not remember Jesus restraining worship to a time limit?  If that was the case he would have expedited the whole, suffering for our sins, crucifixion thing. As a matter of fact every time Jesus was in the middle of time with the Father in prayer, he was interrupted by the disciples with "Hey Jesus people are looking for you" excuse. Do you remember the Mary and Martha story? Luke 10:38-42...38 While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s[n] feet and was listening to what He said. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”41 The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.(HSCB) 
   What was Martha so preoccupied with that she missed the obvious; Jesus was hanging out at her house. Think about it for a moment, Jesus is in your house, shooting the breeze, just hanging out speaking wisdom to everyone in the house....(insert mind blowing sound in your brain here). Do you get busy trying to be a good hostess or host or do you sit and listen and wait for a more opportune time to start passing out the cheese and crackers? That's what we do with our Sunday worship time we turn it into "this is how we have always done it", instead of a worship experience. Mary just sat there and enjoyed her time with Jesus. That is what worship is; enjoying time in his presence in praise of what he has done for us. We complain that the songs are too loud or too long, we cut the third verse in most hymns. The third verse is where the holy spirit is mentioned in a lot of hymns. What does that say about us? When I go to church I am expecting Jesus to  show up, I mean rapture moment showing up! I try to think, as best I can, that I am not there to be filled or taught or whatever. I am there to just be in His presence and praise Him for all that He has done for me. I come to church praying and hoping that someone who has been searching for Jesus will surrender to Him that day! 

   Our biggest problem is our greatest gift, that we live in a country that allows everyone to be their own person. We have the right to choose how we worship, but worship is not about what is good for us; worship is about what is right in the light of who we worship. If we truly meditate on the God we worship and all that we know so far about Him, that alone is reason enough to be, on our knees and hands and face to the  ground, in awe of his glory!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fresh Start; New Perspective

   This is the New Year and I missed my deadline for the last post for the year 2012. The whole season was incredibly hectic and the month of December and the Christmas holidays flew by like they almost never happened. But it was interesting to notice all that went on around the Christmas season. In looking through Scripture the words gift or gifts is mentioned over 140 times. The Hebrew root word for gift is, nathan, pronounce “naw-than” it has connotations of a gift that is distilled with no strings attached. What an amazing concept. Gift giving without any strings attached. So how does the holiday season turns into the most competitive, stress filled, scavenger hunt like time of the year. In as much as we like to tell ourselves that we know what the reason for the season is, we constantly are looking for that one perfect gift. We drive to enormous lengths to find just things for one another. Don't get me wrong, some of these things are things that people have been waiting for, rewards or fulfillment of dreams that have been a long time in coming. I am not saying that it is wrong to give gifts. What I am asking is; what is our motivation for it?
 So if we're honest with ourselves, we ask ourselves what is the real reason for the season? Do we prepare our hearts in the way that Joseph and Mary prepared themselves? Do we prepare our hearts in the same way that the Angels prepared their hearts? How do we reconcile our obligation to God and our love for family? To be honest, I don't have an answer to that, I too have also fallen prey to the traditions of Christmas. It is hard to balance God, family and friends. How do we maintain this balance? The answer could be simple yet incredibly hard; maybe we should prioritize God first. We must look for ways in which we know we will be putting God first. If gift giving is important to you then find some worthy causes that you can provide needed financial support to. Help at your local men or women's shelter or soup kitchen. If none of those are available to you in your area, look for other organizations that provide much-needed help for other around the world. Many of them have a large Internet presence.
 The beauty of the Christmas season resides in the beginning of the gospel, one self-less act from God. God's gift to us was himself, he became one of us. He became human, let that sink in for a little while....... The creator of the universe, who needs nothing, became one of us. In his infinite wisdom and knowledge he determined that heaven was not complete unless we could be with him. The message of the gospel is not only that Jesus came and died and was resurrected from the dead for us. It is also what Jesus commanded his disciples in his last parting words. Matt 28: 18-20 Then Jesus came near and said to them, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

   You see, we get hung up on a lot of theology and doctrine from the epistles, and is good to know this, but the epistles did not exist when Jesus gave the command to go into the world to a twenty something year old guy and his teen friends. Much like a new year has new meaning and purpose, the disciples’ lives had a new meaning and purpose after that day. To go and do, not to join a church and delegate, it’s about all of us together doing our part. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Am I Thankful for?

What am I Thankful for?

   November arrived and as of this blog post it is on his way out with a cold blast! The elections are done and over with, thanksgiving came and went, the Holiday shopping season “officially” started. The timing of this blog post is at the beginning of the Christmas season. The opportunity for being all pious and super religious is so tempting and so easy. Yet I would like to think of my readers as people who do some critical thinking and examine their world around them. So instead of going for the easy answers I will present to you some hard questions that we all need to ponder from time to time.
   It amazes me how we designate a single “official observance day” for holidays that should be an everyday thing. Should we not honor our moms and dads everyday instead of just one day in May and June? Thanksgiving Day, a whole entire day dedicated to the act of giving thanks. Do we spend the entire day doing that? Far from it, we have a list (in some cases legendary) of things to do to get ready for a once a year feast. Then there is the matter of, the football game. Whether is watching the one on TV or the traditional back yard “Golden Drumstick trophy” contest (that somehow the weakest team wins every year in some families), the thoughts of the day are on who will win this year. What should we give thanks for, the regular things; health, family, friends, good food? What are you thankful for?

   Are we thankful like Psalm 42 for the memory of the things God has done for us? Are we thankful for our calling as servants and followers of God as Colossians 3 speaks of? Do we give thanks out of obligation or out of the uncontainable joy of what God has and is doing in our lives, (Psalm 100)? Do we thank God in proclamation of His deeds, Psalm105? Have you thanked God for his faithful love for you, Psalm 106? Do you remember His name when you think back to the day you were crying out to Jesus for your Salvation and He heard you and rescued you, Psalm 118:21? Will you give thanks for who God is, Psalm 118:28? Can you stop in the middle of adversity and thank God for being God, Daniel 6:10? Are we thankful for what we already have, Matt15:36? Will you remember to say thanks for whatever comes next, Matt26:27? Are we thankful for the opportunities to share in others burdens, Luke22:17?

   What am I thankful for? That the God creator of the universe felt that heaven would not be complete unless I was there, and in an inexplicable display of mercy send His only son to die a brutal death for my sins to be erased. That on the third day He rose from the dead so I too could have eternal life with Jesus in heaven. The rest as they say…well, is just gravy.