Wow Pastor!

Wow, Pastor, you were on fire this morning!

Sometimes a sermon hit a certain point where it gets personal and today was one of those days.

I really, really, really don't like Satan intimidating people.  His goal is to destroy you.  I mean completely destroyed.  I realize as I said this morning that facing Satan is like meeting the defensive line of a college football team. But I also said that it isn't impossible.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Submit:  You word will never scare the Devil.  But when God speaks, he shivers.  When you submit to God, He speaks blessing over your life.

Resist:  Satan will never just, "go away."  You have to resist.  TELL him to shut up.  STAY AWAY from his temptations.  SAY no to his lies.  SPEAK the truth.  As it said this morning.  When he reminds you of your past (and he will - frequently) remind him of his future.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, keep Satan and temptation as far away from me as possible.  AMEN

I've Had Enough

This is Latte.  He is our cat.  He is a lovable, sweet troublemaker.

Latte has had some health issues as of recent, and we couldn't quite figure out what was going on.  But after some hard work, we found the source of the problem.  An infected tooth.

This has required us to give him liquid antibiotics, Pepcid AC in pill form, exceptional food, and subcutaneous injections.  After fighting the infection back, we finally had the tooth pulled yesterday.  Now we have a new problem.  He's had enough!  Every time we try to pick him up, he runs.  He is finished with needles, doctors, pills, and liquids.  I kind of feel bad for the guy, he isn't a happy camper.

He should recover fully over the next few days and hopefully return back to his usual self.  But this got me to thinking.  How many times has the solution to our problems actually been more difficult than the problem itself? Follow along.

We get comfortable with uncomfortable.  It may hurt, but we can live with it.  Maybe, but eventually, something will have to be done about it.  Quite often the solution is easier if it is applied sooner than later.

We fight the solution, even though we know it will make our life better.  Change isn't something we necessarily like.  Then when the details of "how" change takes place we really get nervous.

We shy away from people who can help us because it hurts.  Every time we put Latte in the car, he knows where we are going.  As soon as he sees the Vet he starts to bark (yes bark) his disdain for what is about to happen.

Exodus 15:26 . . . for I am the Lord, your healer.”

One might assume that Jesus just snaps His fingers and "boom," and all our problems are instantly solved.  I've seen Him do some awe-inspiring instantaneous things in my life.  But more often I see Him carefully and gently bring healing through a series of changes.  Remember Jesus addresses the body, soul, and spirit.  Let Him heal your whole being, not just the parts that hurt. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, please be my healer today.  AMEN  

Who Are Your Good Friends?

I didn't blog yesterday because I wasn't anywhere near my computer.  I just unplugged and went away for a few hours.

The picture is me with a couple of guys from church. We took off for a day to race at the Andretti Indoor Karting & Games in Orlando, Fl.  (No this isn't a paid promotion, but I have to say it is the best go-kart track I've ever driven on.)

Hebrews 10:24  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

The drive up and back, 4 races together, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, allowed us to learn more about each other.  It allowed us to share our lives with each other.  It allowed us to build our friendship and encourage each other.  

Who do you hang out with?  Better yet, who do you share your life with?  

Sharing is what relationship is all about.  Sharing our joys and victories as well as our burdens and needs.  With Christ as the foundation of the friendship, we can embrace that which is different from our culture or background.  We can overlook the past and look forward to a great future.  We can share our hearts and not feel, "judged."  

So who do you share your life with? 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, allow me to share my life with someone today.  AMEN   

Are You In Management?

Management and Leadership are two different things.  Leadership casts the vision, the idea, the cause.  Management figures out a way to make it happen.

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:

Managers don't own what they are using, they just are the caretakers of it.  The manager of Wal-Mart doesn't own the store.  Sometimes you will see the title, owner/manager.  I see this quite often in restaurants.  

When it comes to being a follower of Jesus, we understand that we are in management.  God gives us different gifts to use in accomplishing His mission to reach hurting people who need Him.  

There are the Romans 12:6-8 gifts. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

There are the 1 Cor 2:8 - 11 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

There are the ministry gifts of Eph 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,

Each of you has a gift.  Most likely you have more than one.  When we discover those gifts, we mistakenly believe that we have been promoted to some higher plane of holy existence above others!  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  It only means you've discovered what was in you the whole time.  The question is, "Will you be a good steward of it?"  Which means. 

Will you use it with humility? 
Will you use it to build the Kingdom of God? 
Will you be generous but responsible for using it? 
Will you acknowledge that you don't own it, that it belongs to God? 

Are you a good manager (steward) of what God has given you? 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus help me to discover and use my God-given gifts today.  AMEN  

When God Sends You A Memo

Being discouraged is a constant battle for all of us.  Even the most positive gurus out there will tell you that positive choices have to be made daily.

But recently, I've been discouraged.  Not the kind of, "I want to quit my life and go live in a cave." kind of discouragement.  But the type that just irritates you like a mosquito buzzing your ear.  You keep trying to kill it, but all you do is end up smacking yourself.

So out of the blue, in the last couple of days, a few people have gone out of their way to encourage me in some specific areas.  Areas that, to be quite honest, I was getting a little frustrated in.

Jesus loved to give praise.

Jesus said that his cousin John the Baptist was the greatest prophet.
He commended Peter concerning his faith.
He praised Martha for listening to him while he taught.  
In the end, we want to hear Jesus say to us.  (Matthew 25:23) ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.

Jesus rewarded with love. 

He gave His words of wisdom, guidance, and affirmation.
He gave His through His acts of healing, generosity, and compassion.
He gave His life.  Period.

PRAY: Dear Jesus, I need a memo.  AMEN  

First and Ten

That's the theme of my Sunday AM messages for October.  It's all about putting God first. 

Now I am no commentator, and I don't have a Ph.D. in Theology.  But I do want to observe a few things from my text this morning.  

2 Cor 8: 1 - 7 1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

2 Cor 8: 1 - 7 1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 
The churches of what we today know as Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albani,  and Greece had discovered a gift from God.  A grace to give.  

2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 
These were people who were neither rich or affluent.  In fact, many were poor.  But from their abundance, they gave.  It doesn't mean that they gave huge offerings.  It says that they were generous with what they had.  

3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 
They didn't give irresponsibly.  They gave by faith.  Even when that faith asked them to give beyond, they did so.  No one forced them to do it.  They believed that God was the provider of everything they had.  

4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 
These people were giving to help the word in Judea.  Many people were hungry and suffering.  They wanted to do something about it, so they gave.  But notice the order.  They gave themselves first to the Lord.  Giving always puts God first. 

6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 
So Paul was sending Titus to receive an offering that apparently they had either promised to receive or were in the process of doing. 

7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.
If you excel in faith, teaching, preaching, telling others your story about Jesus.  If you excel in understanding the Word of God and of your knowledge about Jesus.  If you excel in mercy, love, and grace.  Then see to it that you excel in giving too.  

God comes first.  When you put Him first in our life, you will notice the difference.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I will put you first in my life today.  AMEN