Visit THE LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS Chapel Ministry

Featured

Visit The Light in the Darkness Chapel Ministry:  http://www.thelightinthedarknessweb.wordpress.com

Visit The Light in the Darkness Prayer Requests and  Praise Reports   http://www.spiritualfamilyprayerlist14.wordpress.com

Visit our Live Chat and Interactive PrayerRoom: http://www.thespiritualfamily.chatango.com

Note: If the links above are not clickable, simply copy and paste into your browser.

Enjoy the messages of Pastor Peggy right here (below)

 

Advertisements

Maximum Spiritual Impact

Let’s look at the last words of Paul to his followers before he took leave of them, never to return:

I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews.  I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.

 “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me,  except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead.  But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

“And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know. (Acts 20:20-27)

How can we live our lives for the maximum spiritual impact while on our journey?

Serve the Lord with humility. (V 19), having a servant’s heart. I most impact the lives of others by serving them. Serving the Lord IS serving others.

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” Philippians 2:7-8)

Have a MINDSET of humility.

“Though he was God,  he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

The people saw Paul’s tears. He exuded love, patience, and understanding. In other words, his life was a demonstration of the life of Jesus Christ.

Grow in your knowledge of the Lord. (V20,21) .

Grow PERSONALLY: be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:1). Personal growth is beneficial to ourselves because it allows God to change us and to develop within us the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23). Our character is changed, and we become Christlike.

Grow PUBLICLY: Share your life in Christ with others, fulfilling Acts 1:8.

 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Our lives are to be clean, not wavering, not lukewarm. We are to have clear intentions and be a bright light.

“so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” (Philippians 2:15)

Other people’s lives are at stake! Like Paul in Acts 20:20 and 27, we are to keep back nothing, not shrinking away from sharing all that they need to hear. We speak out what we are living out.

Live a selfless life (Acts 20:22-24), sacrificing self for others’ benefit. Before acting or speaking, ask, “How will this help the cause of Christ? Let nothing—none of our own creature comforts—hold us back from living unto Christ, not unto self.

“Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” (II Corinthians 5:14-15)

We can be bold for Christ because “living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” (Philippians 1:21)

We need to present ourselves daily “as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) as it is our “reasonable service”. (This word reasonable means logical.)

Let us pray that we may finish our course with joy!

Lord, we want to be like Jesus. We want to be so totally committed and surrendered to You that others will be able to just look at us and be able to see You and follow You. Create in us that humble mindset coupled with self-sacrificing boldness that we need to fulfill Your Kingdom purposes in our lives. We pray that every life that crosses pathways with our lives will be impacted TO THE MAX for You! Thank You Lord. Amen.

Enjoy this beautiful worship song by Emmanuel Live (the worship group of our church)

 

The Good and Faithful Servant

My resource for this writing is my notes from my Pastor’s sermon last Sunday.

Our life has a purpose, and God is interested in us. We are to be in a state of constantly reshaping, growing, regrowing, expanding, re-upping, updating, and making “something out of nothing.”

ENTROPY is defined as the tendency for things to fall apart if unattended. We ask the Lord to teach us to value our days, our lives. The opposite is to devalue. If we devalue, things begin to dissolve and fall apart.

Ps 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Parable of the Three Servants

14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver[b] to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’

21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together![c]

22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’

23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

  1. Everyone is given something.
  2. God gives us freedom to do what we want with His gift. He does not make us do anything.
  3. God returns to evaluate what we did with His gift.
  4. God’s reward is based on our actions (no on the amount or worth of the gift in our eyes)

Principle: When we use well what we are given, more will be given. If we do not, what we have will be taken away.

Our culture is based on entitlement. (Everybody gets a blue ribbon). God wants a return on His investment. He isn’t particularly interested in the amount of money or talent He invests in us, as He is in what we choose to do with it. We cannot sit on our progress, but must grow and make the most of each opportunity. We have the opportunity to change our thinking from “I have to” to “I get to.”

Rene Braithwaite, a college professor, said: “You are an axe in God’s hands. God will wield you as an axe whenever He can. Your role is to work to become as sharp as you can. The sharper you are when God wields you, the deeper the cut.”

Ecclesiastes 10:10: “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.”

A dull axe saps your strength, and you will be found to be trying too hard and accomplishing little.  Lord, sharpen me! Swing me!

My church’s Mission Statement reads: “Empowered to reach those away from God, to grow in faith and to live a life of purpose.” We come together at church to grow, so that we can succeed outside the walls. Just hearing the word on Sunday does not fulfill God’s purpose in our lives. We are building  “Redwood Faith”: The root system of these giant trees is interconnected. We need accountability and connectedness; we cannot grow in isolation.  If you are retired, don’t give in to the temptation to entropy (quitting and deteriorating), but remember you are a part of the biggest mission field, the Baby Boomers. There is much to be done. God has invested talents into you which can be used to reach those who do not yet know the Lord. Use your God-given talents to bring the love and blessing of the Lord into the lives of others.

Phil 1:9: “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.”

How can I sharpen my axe? How can I renew myself from a fixed mentality (Im OK the way I am, I can’t change; negativity) to a growth mentality (I can stretch and grow and learn new things; positivity)?

  1. SHARPEN APTITUDE. Become better, learn new things, prepare for future, break the chain of “It’s always been this way; this is how I am”. Search for ways to grow, such as mentorships under people whom you would like to imitate. Increase the capacity and the skill set.
  2. SHARPEN EXCELLENCE. Excellence is a reflection of who we are and what we are called to do. We are to set up new boundaries. Rest is necessary to be at the top of the game. Attention is to be given even to how we dress and prepare for the day. We must teach ourselves optimism, and say no to things that prevent excellence.
  3. SHARPEN MOTIVES. Why am I here? What is my assignment and purpose? What is my platform? (way to get something done to accomplish the real purpose. Col 3:23 “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
  4. SHARPEN ATTITUDE.  Sharpen speech and communication. Eph 4:29 “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”  Don’t be myopic (short-sighted). Work is to  be a sanctuary where ministry can take place. Have an attitude mentor, someone who you can follow, who lifts you up. Phil 2:7: “Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being, when he appeared in human form.”
  5. SHARPEN DISCIPLINE. Discipline is the ability to finish as if to win. Know your own quitting points or failure points ahead of time, and push through obstacles. Get a new grip. Persevere.

Heb 12:11-13   No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

Let’s pray together:

Lord we thank You for the talents and resources you have invested into each one of us. No matter what our age or circumstance, Your investment in each of us can be used to reach people who do not yet know Jesus. We ask together that You would show each one of us what our talents and resources are. Give us clear definition and insight so that we may know ourselves as we really are in Your sight. Help us to let go of preconceived self-image. Then, show us ways we can sharpen these things in our lives and use them to the maximum. Let us not be found burying Your gifts out of fear or insecurity. Show us how we can connect with others and combine our faith and resources to accomplish Your purposes. Nothing is too small for You to use and bless. Show us our infinite value to You. Let us step forth into a growth mindset and put all of our faith and trust in You, and what You wish to accomplish through us. Amen.

THE WAY

In our Bible, in Acts 18:26, it teaches about the Way of God. The Way is
capitalized because it is a system of working your life.   Now I turn to “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the  life. No John 14:6-7, “No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you  will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”   There is a trinity of living there – the way, the truth, and the life.   These verses say: may someone say of you, truly you are the way of God –  in the way you do business, in the way you treat your family and your
friends. May they say you are truthful and may they say you are living the  life of God. May you follow Jesus in doing this, by becoming this  yourself. When they see you, they are not seeing Jesus, they are not  seeing you, but they are seeing God’s ways.

 

 

 

The Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883. It was an engineering miracle  and I am going to explain why. When John Roebling was inspired  for the idea of the Brooklyn Bridge, he took the  idea to the greatest engineers of the day. The engineers told him, “No  way, it can’t be done.” They told the bankers who were financing the  project, “No way, it can’t be done.” But John Roebling believed in his idea. He thought he was inspired by God with the design of the Brooklyn  Bridge.

 

 

 

Finally, he got the funding to go ahead. Roebling convinced his son,  Washington Roebling, an up-and-coming engineer, that the bridge could be  built. The two of them conceived the concept of how it could be  accomplished and how to overcome the obstacles.

 

 

 

After the financing was arranged, they got started. With unharnessed  excitement and energy, they hired a crew and began to build their dream  bridge.

 

 

 

The project was only a few months underway when a tragic on-site accident  killed John Roebling and severely injured his son. Washington was severely  brain-damaged. He was unable to talk, or walk. Everyone thought the project  would have to be scrapped since the Roeblings were the only ones in the whole world who knew how to build a bridge of this expanse. Everyone said  it could not be done. They said no-way.

 

 

 

Washington Roebling prayed to God. He had a problem. He could not talk; he  could not move anything in his body except for his little finger. He still  had the dream of building the bridge. People would visit him and say, “You  have got to give up your dream. You can’t talk; you can’t walk; you can’t  move; no one else in the world knows how to build this bridge. How can you  expect to still build it?”

 

 

His wife said, “He has been told by God to build this bridge.”

 

 

Over the next couple of years, working with his wife, Washington devised a  code. She would put his hand on her arm and he would tap out a code with  the one finger. His mind was still sharp, but he could not move his body  except for this one finger. He proceeded to build his bridge through his  little finger and his wife. No other engineer on the whole planet knew how  to build this bridge except for his finger and his sharp mind. It took 13  years of communicating in code with his one finger to build the Brooklyn
Bridge, but he did it; rather God did it, through him.

 

 

Yes, there is a way!

 

 

There are many times in our lives when things happen to us. An event  happens in our lives and we say, “Oh dear, that’s it.” An event in our lives that seems horrible at the time.

 

 

 

An event can be a millstone around your neck, or it can be a milestone.

 

 

 

You can take what God has given you and allow God to come through and God  will come through, even if it is through your little finger.

 

 

 

God uses what we have, and gets through what we have, so that the world can  have more.

 

 

 

When you are wave-maker, you are in the way.   When you are believing others, saying, “You can’t do that.” Negative thinking is in the way.   Or when you are standing against yourself saying, “No-Way, because of my environment  or because of this situation or that situation, I can’t do that.” You make waves for yourself.   When you stand up against progress, you are in the way of a problem-solving God.

 

 

 

At the beach, when you are standing on the sand, a wave comes up quickly.   It looks large; it looks ominous, but it quickly disappears. When you are  on the way, the way of God, it does not quickly disappear. God works  through you. You ride the crest of the miracle wave that does not disappear.  We are committing to be on the way of God.

 

 

 

George was a wave-maker. He was on the Board of Trustees of a church. The  Board at this particular church had six members. Five of the members would  be unanimously for something – something good and positive. George would  stand up and vote against it. One time, he was asked, “George, how can you  be against this particular good thing?”

 

 

 

He said, “I didn’t want it to be a one-sided vote.”

 

 

 

George stirred up trouble for years in the ministry. When everyone was in  favor of something, George would be against it. But it was not only at  church that George did this, it was in his business, the social club where  he was a member, and also, in his home.

 

 

 

I am very grateful to people such as George, because they have been such  great teachers for us. They were great teachers because what disturbs us  most about them, is we see aspects of ourselves in them.

 

 

 

Sometimes the waves we create block ourselves. It stops our progress and  it makes us miserable.

 

 

Yes there is a way people:
Fear less, hope more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Hate less, love more;
And all good things are yours.

 

 

 

Here a story about the great poet Maya Angelou. When  she was young, her grandmother raised her in Stamps, Arkansas. Her  grandmother had a particular routine when people who were known to be  whiners entered her store. Whenever the grandmother saw a complainer  coming, she would call Maya from whatever she was doing and say, “Sister,  come inside, come.”

 

 

 

Maya said, “Of course, I would obey. My grandmother would ask the  customer, ‘How are you doing, today, Brother Thomas?’”

 

 

 

“The person would reply, ‘Oh, not so good.’ There would be a distant whine  in the voice. ‘Not so good, today, sister Henderson. It’s this summer  heat. I hate it so much, it frazzles me up and it frazzles me down. I just  hate the heat. It is almost killing me.’

 

 

 

“Then my grandmother would stand, her arms folded, and mumble, ‘Uh huh, uh
huh.’ She would then cut her eyes to me to make certain that I heard the  lamentation.

 

 

 

“Another time, a whiner would moan, ‘Oh, I just hate plowing. That packed  down dirt, it ain’t got no reasoning; the mules ain’t got no good sense.   It’s killing me. I can never seem to get it done. My feet, my hands are  sore; I get dirt in my eyes, and I get dirt up my nose. I just can’t stand  it. It is killing me.’

 

 

 

“My grandmother again with her arms folded would stand there and say, ‘Uh
huh, uh huh.’ Then she would look at me and nod.

 

 

“As soon as the complainer was out of the store, my grandmother would call  me to stand in front of her and then she would say the same thing she had  said a thousand times before. ‘Sister, did you hear what brother complained about?’

 

 

“I would nod, ‘Yes, Grandma.’

 

 

“Grandma would continue, ‘Sister, there were people who went to sleep last  night, all over the world – rich and poor, black and white – they will  never wake up again. Sister, those expected to rise did not; their beds became cooling boards and their blankets became their winding sheets.   Those dead folks would give anything for just five minutes of this  weather, or ten minutes of plowing the person was grumbling about. You  watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you are supposed to do when
you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the  way you think about it. Don’t complain.’”

 

 

 

Maya concludes, “It is said people have few teachable moments in their
lives. Grandma seems to have caught me at each one I had between the ages
of three and thirteen.”

 

 

 

The wave-maker becomes the way-maker when he or she stops seeing the bad
and focusing on the bad and focuses all talk on God instead. The  wave-maker becomes the way-maker when he or she stops criticizing and  tearing down and thinks only about building up themselves and others  through talk and action.

 

 

 

Always see the WAY!

 

 

The Wrecking Crew

I stood on the streets of a busy town
Watching men tear a building down
With a “heave, ho” and a loud yell
They swung a beam and an entire section fell.

I asked the foreman, “Are those men as skilled
As those you’d hire if you wanted to build?”
”No way,” he said, “no indeed!
Just common labor is all I need.
I can tear down as much in a day or two
As it would take skilled men a year to do.”

And then I thought as I went on my way,
Which of these two roles do I choose to play?
Do I walk life’s road with love and care
Striving to build. . .encourage. . .and share?
Or am I one who roams the town,
Content with merely tearing down?

 

 

 

Recently, a man was at a pool clubhouse and was on a chair that only had  three good legs. He noticed this right away, so he braced his foot against  the other, so he would not fall onto the floor. We all need a foundation  to sit on. A chair is good when it has four legs. The person who is the  wave-maker has one foundation leg as criticism. The person who is the  wave-maker has one foundation leg that is defensiveness. One leg is
contempt and one leg is stonewalling. What happens is all the legs are  weak and the person will – sometime, someplace – when they least expect  it, fall down. Then they will have to question their values. I suppose  that is good. That is what happened to George.

 

 

 

Over the years, George started to change. Thank God the message of spirituality took hold.   Instead of being a wave-maker, he became a way-maker. To become a way-maker we have to change the foundation of our lives.

 

 

 

The four major foundation legs of our lives.

 

1) The first leg is love. This is the bridge builder among us  which will allow us to build bridges to other people, not burn them down.

 

 

2) The second leg has to be trust. You have to be brave enough as a child  of God to realize that each of us is a child of God, and we have to trust in  humanity, trust in others.

 

 

3) The leg of this foundation has to become respect for other people, respect for
yourself, and a desire to build up instead of tear down.

 

 

4) The fourth leg is the promoter. It is the promoter of ourselves and other  people.

 

 

 

When you have those four legs in position, you can sit in your  chair and it will never fall. The foundation will grow even stronger as life goes on. It will be the foundation of your life.

 

 

 

George asked his minister many times, “How do I change?” He would change  on one point, but it would be short-lived and he would fall again.   Finally, his minister said something that was inspired by God and George  got it. His minister said, “George, become a WAY person.”

 

Mark 9:33-37 The disciples are following Jesus on the way.
They are attending their church. They are following their master.

“Then they came to Capernaum; and when He was in
the house He asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But
they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about
who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them,
‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all, and servant of all.’ Then
He took a little child and put it among them; and taking the child in His arms,
He said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in My name welcomes Me,
and whoever welcomes Me welcomes not Me, but the one who sent Me.’”

 

 

 

They were not enjoying the way, they were arguing on the way.   Can you hear them now? “Well, I’m the greatest because Jesus likes me best.”

 

 

“Oh no,” another says, “I’m the greatest because Jesus said this to me
three weeks ago.”

 

 

Another one said, “Well, I’m the greatest because last night at dinner it
was Jesus who asked me to sit next to him.”

 

 

Jesus was saying you must love others; you must promote others. You cannot
exalt yourself; you have to exalt God.

 

 

 

You must see the WAY for others. Never see the walls.

 

 

 

You ARE loving. This is what we serve. We serve love and becoming the way,
the truth, and the life. That is what our purpose is in life.

 

 

 

You can become a way-maker by practicing your spiritual best, not your lower human worst.

 

 

 

I have a story here that Leo Hauser tells in the book, “Five Steps to
Success.” He tells the story about Jim Kaat. Kaat traces his success back
to spring training in 1966. The Twins had acquired a new pitching coach,
Johnny Sain, who silently watched the pitchers perform. One by one, he
called them in for a personal chat.

 

 

“Jim,” said Sain, “I’ve been watching you pitch. What are your four best
pitches?”

 

 

 

Kaat, knowing his pitching ability well, responded, “Well, my best pitch  is my fast ball, then it would be my curve, my slider, and my change-up.”

 

Sain said, “What pitch do you spend the most time practicing?”

 

 

“My slider and my change-up,” said Kaat. “If I could improve those two
pitches, I know I could have a good season.”

 

 

 

Sain looked at Kaat, pondering his comments, then he responded, “I see it
a little bit differently, Jim. I want you to take a different approach.   Work on your fast ball. I know it is your favorite pitch, so go out there  and practice and warm up during the games concentrating on your fast ball.   Throw your fast ball 80% to 90% of the time, all year long, and you are  going to win a lot of games.”

 

 

 

Kaat left Sain’s office stunned. He had expected expert tips on improving  his change-up or his slider. At least Sain could have provided technical  advice on smoothing out his curve ball. Telling him to do more of what he  already did best didn’t make much sense.

 

 

 

That season, Kaat threw fast ball after fast ball. He thought his arm was  going to fall off, but he heeded the advice. That year, 1966, Jim Kaat won  26 games and went on to become pitcher of the year in the American League.

 

 

 

My friends, we tend to practice what we are not good at. Practice instead the easiest thing in the world. That is loving yourself, and loving other  people. You will find it becomes your greatest strength. If you do this  one thing, you will become God’s way-maker.

 

 

 

The wave-maker always tells others they cannot do something, such as the  people who told Roebling he could not build his bridge. God’s way-makers  always believe in the possibilities.

 

 

 

Kathy Lamancusa tells of her son Joey. When he was born, his feet were  twisted upward with the bottoms resting on his tummy. As a first time  mother, she thought this looked a bit odd, but she didn’t really know what  it meant. It meant that Joey had been born with club feet. The doctors  assured her that with treatment he would be able to walk normally, but  would never run very well. Joey spent the first three years of his life in  surgery, casts, and braces. His legs were massaged; they were worked and
exercised. By the time he was seven or eight years old, you would not even
know he had a problem when he walked.

 

 

 

If he walked great distances, like at amusement parks, or on a visit to  the zoo, he complained that his legs were tired and that they hurt. They  would stop walking and talk a break for a soda or an ice cream cone and  talk about what they had seen, what they had to see. She said, “We didn’t  tell him why his legs hurt and why they were weak. We didn’t tell him that  this was expected due to his deformity at birth. We didn’t tell him so he didn’t know.

 

 

 

“The children in the neighborhood ran around as most children do during  play. Joey would watch them play and of course, would jump right in and  run and play, too. We never told him he probably wouldn’t be able to do  that, to run as well as the other children. We didn’t tell him he was  different. We didn’t tell him so he didn’t know.

 

 

 

“In the seventh grade, he decided to go out for the cross country team.   Every day, he trained with the team. He seemed to work harder and to run  more than the others. Perhaps he sensed that the abilities which seemed to  come naturally to so many others did not come naturally to him. We didn’t  tell him that although he could run, he probably would always remain at  the back of the pack. We didn’t tell him that he shouldn’t expect to make  the team. The team runners are the top seven runners of the school.
Although the entire team runs, it is only those seven who have the  potential to score points for the school. We didn’t tell him that probably  he would never make the team. And so he didn’t know.

 

 

 

“He continued to run four or five miles a day, every day. I’ll never  forget the time when he had 103-degree fever. He couldn’t stay home  because he had a cross country practice and I worried about him all day  long. I expected to get a call from the school asking me to get him and take him home. No one called.

 

 

 

“I went to the cross country training area after school thinking that if I  were there, he might decide to skip practice that evening. When I got to  school, he was running alongside of a tree-lined street, all alone. I  pulled up alongside of him and drove slowly to keep pace with him as he  ran. I asked how he felt. “Okay,” he said. He had only two more miles to  go. As the sweat rolled down his face, his eyes were glassy from his
fever, yet he looked straight ahead and kept running. We never told him  that he couldn’t run four miles with 103-degree fever. We never told him  so he didn’t know.

 

 

 

“Two weeks later, the day before the second to the last race of the  season, the names of the team runners were called. Joey was number six on  the list. Joey had made the team. He was in seventh grade; the other six  team members were all eighth graders. We never told him that he probably  shouldn’t expect to make the team. We never told him that he couldn’t do  it, so he didn’t know. He just did it.”

 

 

 

Friends, as humans, we have a tendency to give others our opinion. How  much better to give others a piece of God’s opinion – which is always optimistic,  always positive. God would say to Joey, yes there is a WAY! No  matter what you have, no matter what obstacle you have faced, no matter  what block has come in your life, through My power you can do all things.

 

 

Let us pray.

The great creative energies of God are at work in your life – ever  renewing, ever restoring, ever-refreshing.

 

God, with Your help, I take a  fresh look at my life, today. I want to become a positive person that  believes there is always a WAY. In this moment  of contemplation, I consider in the light of Your love, my habits and my  beliefs, my way of acting or reacting. May I realize my life is not just  mechanical and repetitive; I have a choice in the moment of the great  creative energies of the Divine. I thank You for always being at work in  my life, ever new and ever fresh. God, Your eternal power will continue to  blossom forth, filling me with a victorious spirit, with perseverance  needed to reshape habits, with an appreciation of all of Your life’s  blessings.

I decree in Jesus Christ’s name that God’s great creative energies spring  forth new within you. God’s power is present within you and you are  capable of rising up. God fills you with new Divine hope and new Divine  enthusiasm for your life. Through the power of God, you become the  WAY-maker for the people you touch.

 

 

 

 

In Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.

God bless you!

 

The Abundant Life

 

. Please read.(1King 17: 7 – 16.) I want to tell you this story

 

 

A great prophet from the Old Testament, Elijah, was living in a cave, drinking water from a brook and being fed by ravens sent by the Lord. But the brook dried up because of the great drought. The Lord came to him and told him to go to Zarephath and to stay there. God told him a woman would supply him with food. When he got there, the widow was there gathering wood. He called to her and asked her for some water and some bread. She had no bread but had just enough flour and oil to bake some bread for her and her son for their last meal before they would surely die. Well, Elijah told her to use that flour and oil to make HIM some bread and bring it to him and then to make more for herself. He says, “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.” She did as Elijah had told her. And there was an abundance of food – more than enough for Elijah, the widow, and her family. Now, some time later, the son became ill, very ill, and actually stopped breathing. Elijah took the son and carried him to the room where he was staying. He laid him down on the bed and hovered over him three times and cried to the Lord. The Lord heard him and brought the boy back to life. The Lord was shining abundance of love and caring to Elijah and to the son and mother. Elijah, the widow, and her son believed and held strong in their faith. They were granted the abundance of food and life as she cried to Elijah. “I know that you are a man of God and I know that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”

 

Look at the three principles of abundance illustrated here:

 

 

1) Receiving the word of the Lord (faith);

 

2. Not looking at your circumstances (faith);

 

3. being obedient (faith).

 

These are the main keys to abundance. The commonality of all three is stated in one word – faith

 

As Hebrews 11:1 states, “…..Faith is the evidence of things not seen.”

 

 

In order for abundance to be part of your life, you need to have faith. You must Know that you Know that you Know. God is more moved by faith than needs. Oh, He may feel your pain but is not always moved by it (Hebrews 4).   God is moved by actions (faith). When we begin to take action to line up with His word – when we align ourselves with God through our faith and prayer life and acting on that – we put ourselves in a position to receive abundance. And abundance we receive. And then, the ball is back in our court to be speakers of abundance and sowers of abundance.

 

 

Job 22:28 – You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you ; so light will shine

 

Ps 20:4 – May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.

 

John 15:7 – If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

 

I Jn 5:14 – Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

 

Ps. 37:4 – Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

 

 

What is this telling us? It is telling us that our God is a giving God. He wants us to be showered with abundant life. A life that is so full, spiritually, that it can hardly hold more. When we are filled with abundant love, abundant faith, abundant action to give to others, and abundant energy to go and make disciples of all nations, we are enveloped in the essence of God. Yes, all this is from God and only from God.    In the story above from 1 King 17, we see that there was abundance as the Lord promised. There was great abundance, not any lack. In that place of dryness and cracked earth, there was abundance of oils and flour. Elijah was obedient and because of this obedience, he was used to bring forth abundance, great abundance. And this abundance NEVER was used up. It was there, every day. And as a need arose to restore a boy’s life, God was there to whisper the air back into the child’s lungs and bring him back to life. Abundant treasures given to those of faith.

 

 

 

So how does that impact you and me? It affects us the same way it affects that widow and her son.

 

 

Mark 4:24-2524 Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.

25 “For whoever has, to him more will be given……

 

 

 

Yes, we need to take heed. The more abundance we sow and the more abundance we reap (in faith), the more we will receive. We need not fear the storms of life for they prepare us for the abundant life that is to come from that storm.

 

 

 

WL Scott I paraphrase often as his ideas and love of our Lord is just terrific. He says here and I do paraphrase: When we go through the storms we must come out better than when we went into them. Storms reveal strengths and weaknesses so we can shine better before those in darkness. God needs a holy vessel to work in so those people who will be in our midst should feel the love as if God himself was breathing on them. The more we go through the storms the sweeter we should be in the things of God. The storms are not here to kill us but to wash the dirt off of us so the holiness inside of us presents the glory of the King. We must not despise the storms but welcome them so the fullness of Jesus Christ may shine like the sun on a dark mid-night. I hope you and I will be able to go through the first time. (end of paraphrase).

 

 

 

Here is where our abundance resides – the other side of the storm. At the end of the storm, at the end of the path is the golden light, a light as bright and as abundant as God’s Glory could possibly be – because it IS God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Total Abundance we all dream for ourselves and others (after the storms) is not money, not a magnificent home or car or anything material on this earth. That isn’t even the long range goal on our path.

 

Do you see the light at the end of the road? There is the Total Abundance for which we have been working and striving and sharing with others.

 

May your dream of abundance be the cradling within God’s arms without a care in the world. You are home and this eternal home is the abundant mansion for which we all seek.

 

I will see you there!     Amen

The Finger of God

It is so important that your faith, to be alive, has to be alive in you. It has to be an individual, personal practice. Finding God ourselves, in the depths of ourselves.

 

 

 

A high school principal, Max Keller, challenges his students to take initiative in opening doors to opportunities. He says, “You’ll never get anywhere if you stand around waiting for someone to hand you the remote control.” In the same way, we cannot live our faith by remote control.

 

 

 

Does your faith meet your need in times of crisis? It is easy to be helpful and optimistic when we are riding the crest. The faith that matters is the kind that sees a person through bad breaks and guides the person through the valleys.

 

 

 

When you try to rate your faith, ask yourself whether it is stable …. in times of triumph and tragedy.

 

 

 

Do you have special stated times for spiritual development? While faith cannot be put into boxes and while religion should not be restricted to certain areas or special hours, people of great faith have always set aside stated times for meditation, prayer, and spiritual exercise.

 

 

 

A priest was once asked an assistant to Fulton Sheen for the secret of his success.  He said, “His strength and influence are generated in silence.” Martin Luther had this famous saying, “If I have six hours of work to do, I spent two of the hours in prayer.”

 

 

Why should we? So we can listen to the voice of our master.

 

 

 

A friend of mine has a golden retriever, as do I; but Bentley is trained to only come
if my friend calls him. You could go out into my friend’s yard and scream at the top of your lungs and Bentley would just turn around, get that stupid smile on his face, and go where he was planning to go in the beginning. But if my friend goes out and says, even in a low voice, “Come, front,” Bentley will come, even from a long distance. Why doesn’t Bentley come when others call?

 

 

 

Jesus gave us the answer. In His story, the sheep return because they know
the voice of their Master. I discovered it is also true with Bentley. It seems to me that Bentley has some wisdom to offer. Do we listen to the voice of our Master, or do we heed other voices? Other voices of worry, fear, and disaster outside of us will never be God’s voice.

 

 

 

We cannot remake our lives the way we remodel our homes. We cannot call in an expert to draw up plans and then hire someone else to do the work for us. Nor can we move out while this process is going on and then come back when it’s finished. We may get suggestions and advice, but we must do the job ourselves. To do it, we must set aside special times for the doing by communing with God.

 

 

 

Is your home life better because of your religious faith? Someone once said when a person gets religion, even his dog and cat should be able to see the improvement. Religious profession should build a happier life. You can rate your faith by asking yourself: “Does my attitude in my home contribute to an atmosphere of affection, mutual respect, and cheerfulness? Do I properly reflect the deep convictions of the faith that is mine?”

 

 

 

Does your faith give you a sense of companionship, even in times of solitude? A common criticism leveled at Americans is that as a group we are afraid to be alone. We are told we do not want to know ourselves or analyze ourselves. We are accused of looking for continual means of escape. How about spending time in solitude with God? True faith should provide a feeling of spiritual consciousness. That is to say, our religion should give us a sense of oneness with our Creator. How do you rate in this respect? A person is never less alone than when he or she is with God.

 

 

 

Does your faith give you a new outlook on your job or volunteer work and a new approach to your work? There is an old saying, “Work is worship.” It is a true corollary of faith. Of what use is your religion in the work-day world if it does not provide a usable philosophy for you when you are on the job?

 

 

 

You can get an appraisal of the vitality of your faith by the way in which you find your place in the world. How do you fit yourself in that place? How do you devote yourself to it?

 

 

 

This reminds me of the story of a simple-hearted, hardworking nun. She was observed, many years ago, while on a retreat. As the many guests finished eating and piled up the dishes to be washed, the lone nun stood quietly with her arms elbow-deep in sudsy water and listened to a troubled woman pour out her woes. The sister listened intently while methodically washing plate after plate. I marveled at her patience and acceptance of such an unending, thankless chore. I asked her, “How do you do it, day after day, washing all those dishes alone, and still having the patience to listen?”

 

 

 

She looked at me and smiled. She said, “I just imagine that I am dipping my hands in the pool of Bethesda.” By focusing her attention on stirring up God’s healing waters, she did her daily chores with serenity, cultivated a listening ear, and offered restorative care to those she encountered.

 

 

 

Does your faith give you a sense of security in meeting life? A well-known story about the early career of John Wesley tells of his fear during a storm. He was on board a ship and he was terrified with fright. As he shook, he heard a group of Christians singing. They were praising God.   Wesley asked them, “How in the world, in a storm like this where we might  all perish, can you sing?” They said to him, “If your faith cannot serve you during a storm, what is the good of it?”

 

 

 

To estimate whether your faith is just a fair-weather faith, ask yourself how you react to storms whipped up by worry, fear, finances, relationship problems, health challenges, and unexpected emergencies. Does your faith give you a sense of security in meeting life? Every person can kickstart, or increase, his or her faith – if they truly desire to.
Has your faith ever inspired you to do a good deed? One of the most rewarding acts is to give without a thought of getting help in return.

 

 

 

A clerk in a supermarket tells this story. She glanced down the long line waiting at the cash register she was operating at the supermarket. She said, “Dear God, help me to be more like you.” She prayed and thought about the message at church and how she was told in every instance to ask herself, “How would Jesus handle this particular problem?”

 

 

 

She scanned a loaf of bread. She said, “That will be $3.09.” There was a small boy in front of her and he dumped a fistful of change onto the counter. As he did this, she heard the others in line say, “I thought this was an express line! Wouldn’t you know I always get in the wrong line? Wouldn’t you know there would be some kid who would ruin my day?”

 

Another said, “It will take her all day to count that kid’s money.” She counted every one of the pennies and he was short 28 cents. She gave him an uneasy look and his cheeks turned pink. Then she asked herself, “What would Jesus do?”

 

 

 

Quickly, she picked up the receipt and scribbled on it, “I owe this register 28 cents.” She slipped it into the register along with the boy’s coins. She pressed a paid sticker on the bread and handed it to him. His eyes brightened and he said, “Thank you, ma’am.”

 

 

 

The disgruntled complaints of the waiting customers no longer made her nervous because they noticed what she had done, and it had changed their day, also.
She said, “My heart felt light. It didn’t just last that minute; it lasted the whole day. I had a faith I took with me to work and I had been successful in emulating Jesus on one small occasion.” She was able to do it all that day.

 

 

 

The finger of God never leaves identical fingerprints. You are the finger of God in every situation.

 

 

 

Does your faith command your deepest loyalties? In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous short story, “The Face of the Mountain,” a young boy stares at a face carved in granite and regularly asks tourists in town if they know the identity of the face on the mountain. No one does. Into adulthood, midlife, and old age, he continues to gaze on the face at every opportunity, until one day, a tourist passing through exclaims to the once-young boy who is now a weather-beaten old man, “You are the face on the mountain!”

 

 

 

Meister Eckhart, said, “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which He sees me.” It means our highest loyalty should be our recognition of our oneness with God.

 

 

 

With which eye do we see ourselves? Which closeness do we wish to stay near? It is all very well to say that we want God to command our highest loyalties no matter where they lead, but how do we react when they do not lead us where we think we ought to go? How deep are our deepest loyalties?

 

 

 

Is your world different because of your faith? How many cares one leaves behind when one decides not to be something, but to be someone. If religion does not change our world, it very likely has not changed us very much. When we walk through life with faith, when we have what is commonly called a consciousness of the presence of God, our outlook on all life is deepened and refined.

 

 

 

We need to look at things in a new way. If we profess faith in the creative power of God, we should see all life as God’s life, all scenes as God’s scenes.

 

 

 

 

 

May God reach out and touch your hand, pulling you close to Him

 

Be Joyful; Pray; Celebrate

 

1Thessalonians 5:16 -18: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, this is  God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

What has been the best thing that happened in your week so far? What has been the worst thing? It’s easy to be thankful and celebrate when nice things happen, harder to be thankful to God when not so nice things happen.

 

 

 

 

 

It says in Bible – give thanks in all circumstances – (all situations) (1 Thess. 5v18) No matter what happens in our week, good or bad – we should always thank God. And why? No matter what kind of week we’ve had – God is still the creator, still our heavenly father, he’s still the biggest and still the best, he doesn’t change and still deserves our thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think we always thank God for, even if we’re having a hard time? Think about; meditate about that  now: Take a moment  and thank God for the good and bad that has happened to you.    Celebrate!!

 

 

 

 

 

Now, read Nehemiah chapter 12.

 

The Jews, God’s chosen people, encounter disaster when they stray from God’s ways and protection. Babylon’s soldiers lay Jerusalem’s temple and walls to ruins, and lead all but the poorest from Jerusalem, into captivity. The prophet Isaiah foretold that they’d be forgiven, refined by their suffering and would return from exile. It takes time. Nehemiah works in the court of king Artaxerxes, but feels called by God to rebuild Jerusalem, miraculously the King allows him to do this. Despite opposition, the Israelites put huge effort into rebuilding the massive walls of Jerusalem, the city that was their cultural home, which has been uninhabited for 160 years!

 

 

 

Now in Nehemiah 9, the Wall had been completed – Ezra reads from the book of law; the Israelites have great confession of their sin & forefather’s sins that lead them being in exile and Jerusalem being ruined. In Nehemiah 10 People recommit to God; there is the writing of an oath to obey God’s law again: leaders seal their names on it. And it is recorded forever in Nehemiah10.

 

 

 

 

In Nehemiah 11 the Holy city, built by God – needed a population, leaders settle there and people cast lots a tenth go to live in this city – moving from their homes! – Huge sacrifice and what a show of obedience; the leaders who settle are listed in Neh 11. Neh 12 –Work is done, people are there –   Time to celebrate!

 

 

 

A celebration is also held in our Bethel (http://www.thespiritualfamily.chatango.com/)   every Thursday night. We celebrate the blessings from God, family treasures, friendships, our trials, love of pets, gifts of patience and forgiveness. The list goes on and on.

 

 

 

All of those examples of celebration were for a reason, in response to something significant, something good happening. Celebration is reactive; it’s something that we want to do. It’s human nature to want to mark special happenings and it’s enjoyable; it benefits us, it feels like a ‘right’ response.

 

 

The dictionary says of the word celebration – “holding of festivities to mark a happy event, public praising of something.”   The bigger and better the event, the greater the celebration. Fundamental to any celebration is ‘thanks’, giving ‘thanks’ to the person who has made the whole thing possible.

 

 

 

In Neh 12 we see a celebration of thanks for what God has achieved: The rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls as well as being a good demonstration of how God works through a leader and a corporate body. This is a great analogy of what God does in our lives when he rebuilds our lives through Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Like the Israelites in exile, we start from a place of utter ruin, a consequence of our sin, where there appears to be no hope; we’re born into a situation where we’ve strayed from God and are cut off. But God is calling us, and has a plan for us. The rebuilding work starts when we request forgiveness for our sins. God can then start his healing work, there’s opposition and there’s cost. But, a truly miraculous and wonderful new life is built, and its creator is very worthy of celebration. By looking at this monumental event in history, and it’s a fitting celebration, I hope, we can be encouraged to celebrate God and his on going rebuilding work in our lives.

 

 

 

I’m talking about a lifestyle of celebration, where we thank God for significant works, but also apply an attitude of celebration to our daily lives. We show it this way in our chat room:  \o/ \o/ \o/.  Amazing what typing keys can display.

 

 

 

 

The significance of celebrating God is our chief end ch.12, v.43  and on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy ” Here are a people wrapped up in God. They’ve left their homes to work on this thing; they’ve witnessed God’s work in their lives, helping them accomplish this massive feat in an incredible 52 days. This wasn’t party emotion turned on just for the day and forgotten about the next.

 

 

 

Celebrating God means living our lives in worship of him. It’s more than singing songs on a Sunday. It is the total submission of all that we have and are, to everything that we know of God.   We are made to be beings that celebrate God that enjoy God, that thank God, and when we do, we’re fortified, like those walls. “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18. 

 

 

 

We celebrate, thank and praise God because it’s our chief end!

 

 

 

Levites were the teachers of the time; they were busy people. There must have been at least one Levite who drew Nehemiah aside; and said, ‘Look Nem, I haven’t got time for this, I’m really busy next Tuesday, isn’t it more important to do God’s work than to celebrate it? There are people who have come to this city to live, whose homes aren’t built yet; they need our time most.’

 

 

 

There must have been someone who thought that. And yet, not only was this an all inclusive act of thanksgiving, but they brought people in from the surrounding countryside too! v27 “.the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication”  What Nehemiah demonstrated was that the job wasn’t actually finished, until God had been thanked and his works celebrated. It’s part of the process. He was right too. Nehemiah was around before Jesus, but Jesus taught this very thing through parable of the ten lepers. (Luke 17 : 11- 19)

 

 

 

We celebrate God and give thanks because it’s what we feel, what overcomes us, and we don’t want to leave God waiting for it. v43. ”The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”  The whole thing was designed as a public event, the choirs and instrumentalists walked on the top of the walls, not like the Queen’s tea parties, where only a select few get in. This couldn’t be more public!

 

 

 

The witness comes in v.43 the people were ‘rejoicing because God had given them great joy’. Ahhh Haaaa! There’s the witness: expressing the joy of God.

 

 

 

People must have said: I want to know what this thing is that you have that gives you such joy! Real joy! You’re so full of Joy about this God of yours, you can’t keep it in. I want that! Is that what people would say about our worship in our churches or here in our Bethel? Or in your day to day life – your daily act of worship in the week, at home, at college, in the office?  Something to think about.

 

 

 

John the Baptist said – that ‘He (Christ) must become greater, I must become less’ (John 3 v30) That’s what we do in our public worship, our celebration of God’s miracles….. Make God greater, and make ourselves less.

 

 

 

The process for celebrating God  is that it is Planned . The Levites were brought to Jerusalem from the surrounding region for this day, the singers were brought in from the villages, the people, the gates, and the wall are purified before the two choirs march in opposite directions around the walls. This celebration of God was very well planned.

 

 

 

There is confessions. v.30When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall’. Before anyone sang a word in thanks, there was purification. The people were cleansed first, then the project was cleansed. This would have been through a sacrifice where a sacred animal suffered death in the place of the people. Before these believers could stand before a holy God, they had to have a clean heart.  External ritual achieves nothing when un-confessed sin lurks in the heart. Psalm 51 v16-17 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is aa broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.  

 

 

 

It’s important to start from that place of forgiveness, as it focuses our thanks on God when we celebrate , not on us. When God has done a work in our lives, or if we’re thanking him simply for who He is, there is a temptation to celebrate ourselves as if we had a bigger part to play than our simple obedience. ‘Apart from me (says God) you can do nothing’ John 15 v 5.

 

 

 

Someone said that ‘holiness precedes happiness’. It’s hard to celebrate even God when our sin hasn’t been dealt with first. And yet when we confess our sins they’re removed ‘as far as the East is from the West ‘(Psalm 103 v 12) What a glorious starting point ! Makes you want to praise God doesn’t it?   So let’s Celebrate!!   We thank from the heart.

 

 

 

The fruits of celebrating God shows that God is always seeking to do good things in us.   When we are obedient, because of his graciousness, he heaps blessings back on us. When we thank him, we benefit! There are lots of benefits to celebrating God’s work:

 

 

 

For example, there’s Unity –  Giving praise to God is a profoundly unifying experience. In Jerusalem the priests, Levites, leaders singers and masses join together in worship of God, there’s no distinction as to which ones are rejoicing with great joy – they all are! When we come together before God, we become aware of our equally deep need for  God’s forgiveness, and stuff that might divide us can only fade into insignificance  compared to the wonder of what Jesus has done for us all.

 

 

 

 

It’s very hard to hold on to a sinful thought or habit, when we expose ourselves to God in humble adoration.   In our Bethel (http://www.thespiritualfamily.chatango.com/) every Thursday night, we come together as one to celebrate. What joy there is in each heart as we open them up to our Lord.

 

 

 

 

This celebration we read about was not only marking the end of the building project, but the start of a new era for the Jews, through the celebration; they were dedicating themselves to future works. v. 44 ‘At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, first-fruits and tithes’, v. 47 ‘all Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers’

 

 

 

 

As we celebrate what God has done in our lives, it’s inevitable that we dedicate ourselves to future works. By looking back at what God has done, we’re encouraged at what he’s going to do, whether that’s celebrating a key event, celebrating the daily working of God in our lives, or simply celebrating who God is.

 

 

 

 

When a lifestyle that celebrates God, equips us wonderfully for the trials of life, we are empowered.

 

 

 

Hebrews 13 v 15 “Let us continually offer a sacrifice of Praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name’  It’s only plants that are alive and healthy that bear fruit. Praise is the fruit of a heart that knows Jesus. The spirit of God is a spirit of life.”

 

 

 

God did a great work for the Jews, and Nehemiah recognized the importance of celebrating God’s deliverance. We too should recognize the triumph of God, and live a life in celebration of him.

 

 

 

When Paul was in prison for spreading the good news of Jesus- he wrote, in celebration – In Philippians 4v4 ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’

 

 

Let us rejoice and celebrate without ceasing! Amen

 

 

Spiritual Laboratory

 

We go to the doctor yearly for a checkup to see if we’re okay.   There may be some adjustments we need to make.   Spiritually, we must also get a yearly checkup.  Zig Ziglar has said,  some of us need “to check up from the neck up”.   If we are willing, God can heal lukewarm faith, and cause a new fire  to burn inside of us, with enthusiasm, and excitement for our spirituality.

 

 

 

According to an ancient story, there were once four people who were  walking in the woods. They were all complaining about their lot in life.   “Woe is me,” one said.  Another said, “Don’t tell me that, you don’t know my problems. My lot in  life is terrible.”

 

 

 

All of a sudden, as they were walking in the woods, they came across a  high wall. They were very curious because they could not see over the  wall, so they built a ladder.  The first person climbed up and was amazed at the incredible beauty in  this other world, on the other side of the wall. Then he climbed down and  the second one climbed up and he was also amazed at the beauty.

 

 

 

Everything they had ever prayed for in their lives was on the other side  of the wall. The third person climbed up and said the same thing.   The first, the second, and the third thought it was nice, and yet they climbed back down the ladder and returned to their usual lot in life, complaining all the way. The fourth climbed up the ladder, stood at the  top, and said, “I want a better life and there is a better life; and I am going to go over the wall and accept it and make a commitment to it.” He did so and lived in the other world happily forever.

 

 

 

I am going to ask you a very serious question. Is your life working for  you?

 

 

Halford Luccock, a noted scholar, noticed a significant correlation between physical and spiritual immunity. In medicine, a person can develop immunity against a disease by receiving a very mild dose of that disease.

 

 

 

The same thing can be experienced by the soul. If a person receives nothing more than a small dose of God, he or she may develop an immunity against the evil that exists in the world but not all encompassing passion for God.

 

 

 

Leslie Weatherhead affirmed this concern when he said, “The trouble with  some of us is that we have been inoculated with small doses of Christianity which keep us from catching the real thing.”

 

 

 

Have you caught the real thing?

 

 

 

When you think about who you are, do you most often think about your own  personality and characteristics? True, they are a part of you, but there  is something much greater in you. Because you are a spiritual being, you  are more than flesh and blood and human eyes. You are spiritual. When you  truly see yourself, you will see yourself as an expression of God. You  will allow your spiritual nature to show in everything you do.

 

 

 

One time, Paul was in Athens. He was very upset about what he saw there.  “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked  within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he argued in the  synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the market place  every day with those who chanced to be there.

 

 

“So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus, said: ‘Men of Athens, I  perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along,   and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this  inscription, `To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown,  this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it,  being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor  is God served by human hands, as though God needed anything, since God gives to all humans life and breath and everything. And God made from  one every nation of humans to live on all the face of the earth, having  determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that  they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after God and find  God. Yet God is not far from each one of us, for `In God we live and move  and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, `For we are indeed God’s offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think  that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the  art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now God commands all people everywhere to repent. . . .” (Acts 17:16-17, 22-30)

God commands people everywhere to change, rise up, and start thinking about God.  Let me ask a few questions for you to think about.

 

 

Can you put your belief into words? It is not difficult to  profess faith in God, especially here in this laboratory of faith. But  what kind of God do you believe in during the secret times? How would you explain your idea of God to someone else from a laboratory of another  faith? Ask yourself whether you can put your profession of faith into words. What spiritual principles do you live by, work by, and stand by?

 

 

 

Then there are questions regarding your belief about life after death. Do
you believe in heaven? Do you believe you will be reunited with those you
love, after death?

 

 

 

As a Christian, what do you believe about the person and mission of
Christ? What about His miraculous birth and His miracles? His death? His
resurrection?

 

 

 

It has not been proved that a vital religion must be articulate, and it is  a well known fact that faith to some individuals is so precious they are  reluctant to talk about it. But for your own personal test, I ask you to think about why. Why do you believe  this particular way?

 

 

 

Do you live as though what you believe is true? It’s one  thing to profess a faith and quite another to practice it. You need to ask  yourself how much of your faith is just a mere verbalization of the use of terms out of which a lot of meaning has gone.

 

 

If you read about Jesus Christ carefully, you will see, over and over  again, He said to people, “Think.” He said this about the Lord’s Prayer.   He said not to just talk about it, but to think about it. What does it  mean to you?

 

 

 

William James once suggested that the average religious believer had a  religion made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to fixed forms by imitation and retained by habit.  Does that describe you?

 

 

 

 

It is so important that your faith, to be alive, has to be alive in you. It  has to be an individual, personal practice.  Finding God ourselves, in the depths of ourselves.

 

 

 

A high school principal, Max Keller, challenges his students to take  initiative in opening doors to opportunities. He says, “You’ll never get  anywhere if you stand around waiting for someone to hand you the remote  control.”   In the same way, we cannot live our faith by remote control.

 

 

 

Does your faith meet your need in times of crisis? It is easy  to be helpful and optimistic when we are riding the crest. The faith that  matters is the kind that sees a person through bad breaks and guides the  person through the valleys.

 

 

When you try to rate your faith, ask yourself whether it is stable ….  in times of triumph and tragedy.

 

 

 

Do you have special stated times for spiritual development?   While faith cannot be put into boxes and while religion should not be restricted to certain areas or special hours, people of great faith have always set aside stated times for meditation, prayer, and spiritual  exercise.

 

 

 

A priest was once asked for the secret of success of Fulton Sheen. He  said, “His strength and influence are generated in silence.” Martin Luther had this famous saying, “If I have six hours of work to do, I spent two of  the hours in prayer.” Why should we? So we can listen to the voice  of our master.

 

 

 

 

A friend of mine has a golden retriever, as do I; but Bentley is trained to only come
if my friend calls him. You could go out into my friend’s yard and scream  at the top of your lungs and Bentley would just turn around, get that  stupid smile on his face, and go where he was planning to go in the beginning. But if my friend goes out and says, even in a low voice, “Come,  front,” Bentley will come, even from a long distance. Why doesn’t Bentley  come when others call?

 

 

 

Jesus gave us the answer. In His story, the sheep return because they know
the voice of their Master. I discovered it is also true with Bentley. It  seems to me that Bentley has some wisdom to offer. Do we listen to the  voice of our Master, or do we heed other voices? Other voices of worry,  fear, and disaster outside of us will never be God’s voice.

 

 

 

We cannot remake our lives the way we remodel our homes. We cannot call in an expert to draw up plans and then engage someone else to do the work for  us. Nor can we move out while this process is going on and then come back  when it is finished. We may get suggestions and advice, but we must do the  job ourselves. To do it we must set aside special times for the doing by communing with God.

 

 

 

Is your home life better because of your religious faith?   Someone once said when a person gets religion, even his dog and cat ought  to see the improvement. Religious profession should build a happier life.   You can rate your faith by asking yourself: “Does my attitude in my home contribute to an atmosphere of affection, mutual respect, and
cheerfulness? Do I properly reflect the deep convictions of the faith that  is mine?”

 

 

 

Does your faith give you a sense of companionship, even in  times of solitude? A common criticism leveled at Americans is that as a group we are afraid to be alone. We are told we do not want to know  ourselves or analyze ourselves. We are accused of looking for continual  means of escape.   How about spending time in solitude with God? True faith should  provide a feeling of spiritual consciousness. That is to say, our religion  should give us a sense of oneness with our Creator. How  do you rate in this respect? A person is never less alone than when he or she is with God.

 

 

 

Does your faith give you a new outlook on your job and a new  approach to your work? There is an old saying, “Work is worship.” It is a  true corollary of faith. Of what use is your religion in the work-day world if it does not provide a usable philosophy for you when you are on  the job?

 

 

 

You can get an appraisal of the vitality of your faith by the way in which you find your place in the world. How do you fit yourself in that place?   How do you devote yourself to it?

 

 

 

reminds me of the story of a simple-hearted, hardworking nun. She was observed,  many years ago, while on a retreat. As the many guests finished eating and  piled up the dishes to be washed, the lone nun stood quietly with her arms  elbow-deep in sudsy water and listened to a troubled woman pour out her  woes. The sister listened intently while methodically washing plate after  plate. I marveled at her patience and acceptance of such an unending,  thankless chore. I asked her, “How do you do it, day after day, washing  all those dishes alone, and still having the patience to listen?”

 

 

 

She looked at me and smiled. She said, “I just imagine that I am dipping  my hands in the pool of Bethesda.” By focusing her attention on stirring  up God’s healing waters, she did her daily chores with serenity,  cultivated a listening ear, and offered restorative care to those she  encountered.

 

 

 

Does your faith give you a sense of security in meeting life?   A well-known story about the early career of John Wesley tells of his fear  during a storm. He was on board a ship and he was terrified with fright.  As he shook, he heard a group of Christians singing. They were praising  God.

 

 

 

Wesley asked them, “How in the world, in a storm like this where we might
all perish, can you sing?”   They said to him, “If your faith cannot serve you during a storm, what is the good of it?”

 

 

 

To estimate whether your faith is just a fair-weather faith, ask yourself  how you react to storms whipped up by worry, fear, finances, relationship  problems, health challenges, and unexpected emergencies. Does your faith  give you a sense of security in meeting life?  Every person can kickstart, or increase, his or her faith – if they truly desire to.

 

 

 

Has your faith ever inspired you to do a good deed? One of the  most rewarding acts is to give without a thought of getting help in return.

 

 

A clerk in a supermarket tells this story. She glanced down the long line waiting at the cash register she was operating at the supermarket. She  said, “Dear God, help me to be more like you.” She prayed and thought  about the message at church and how she was told in every instance to ask  herself, “How would Jesus handle this particular problem?”

 

 

 

She scanned a loaf of bread. She said, “That will be $3.09.” There was a
small boy in front of her and he dumped a fistful of change onto the
counter. As he did this, she heard the others in line say, “I thought this
was an express line! Wouldn’t you know I always get in the wrong line?
Wouldn’t you know there would be some kid who would ruin my day?”

 

 

Another said, “It will take her all day to count that kid’s money.” She
counted every one of the pennies and he was short 28 cents. She gave him
an uneasy look and his cheeks turned pink. Then she asked herself, “What
would Jesus do?”

 

 

Quickly, she picked up the receipt and scribbled on it, “I owe this
register 28 cents.” She slipped it into the register along with the boy’s
coins. She pressed a paid sticker on the bread and handed it to him. His
eyes brightened and he said, “Thank you, ma’am.”

 

 

The disgruntled complaints of the waiting customers no longer made her
nervous because they noticed what she had done, and it had changed their
day, also.

 

 

 

She said, “My heart felt light. It didn’t just last that minute; it lasted
the whole day. I had a faith I took with me to work and I had been
successful in emulating Jesus on one small occasion.” She was able to do
it all that day.

 

 

 

The finger of God never leaves identical fingerprints. You are the finger
of God in every situation.

 

 

 

Does your faith command your deepest loyalties?   In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous short story, “The Face of the Mountain,” a young boy  stares at a face carved in granite and regularly asks tourists in town if  they know the identity of the face on the mountain. No one does.  Into  manhood, midlife, and old age, he continues to gaze on the face at every  opportunity, until one day, a tourist passing through exclaims to the  once-young boy who is now a weather-beaten old man, “You are the face on the mountain!”

 

 

 

Meister Eckhart, said, “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with
which He sees me.” It means our highest loyalty should be our recognition
of our oneness with God.

 

 

 

With which eye do we see ourselves? Which closeness do we wish to  stay near? It is all very well to say that we want God to command our highest loyalties no matter where they lead, but how do we react when they  do not lead us where we think we ought to go? How deep are our deepest  loyalties?

 

 

 

Is your world different because of your faith? How many cares  one leaves behind when one decides not to be something, but to be someone.   If religion does not change our world, it very likely has not changed us very much. When we walk through life with faith, when we have what is commonly called a consciousness of the presence of God, our outlook on all  life is deepened and refined.

 

 

 

We need to look at things in a new way. If we profess faith in the creative power of God, we should see all life as God’s life, all  scenes as God’s scenes.

 

 

 

I have spoken about testing our faith, about living our faith in a new FULL way  every moment of the day and night. It is my prayer that we, in this laboratory of faith,  never put down another’s faith, but join together to test our own personal faith.   We join together to know God. Each person might see God slightly differently.   We each have an experience and know why we believe and what we believe.   It is the only way God will ever be truly real to you and me. It is my prayer that God  is real to you, discovered by you, and your life is in close association with Him,  daily, for the rest of your life.

 

“For we are what God has made us.” Ephesians 2:10

Let us pray.

In this laboratory of faith, I pray there is a new reality in my world. I
pray the ancient legend which says in the city of God, everyone will have
spiritual room to live. I pray that everyone in this household of faith
will have a new reason to worship in complete joy.

 

 

God shall be a God to each one, over all. I pray that your faith satisfies
your core spiritual needs at every moment. I pray you make a commitment
to your faith, that you live your religion. That is when your religion
will have new life, and meaning.

 

 

I do my best, God, and I leave the rest to You.

In Jesus Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

God bless you!

,