Passion – The Passion – Your Passion – My Passion

John 12: Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”   And so it begins!
We begin Holy Week today as Jesus rides the donkey into Jerusalem, surrounded by his disciples and others who love Him and even bystanders who are just curious who this strange man is. Riding in through the gates of a city on a donkey symbolizes that the person comes in peace and love. The opposite would be a rider on a giant steed with armor and weapons. This is Jesus in triumph, but triumph of sacrifice, sacrifice for you and for me. That is how great God’s love for us is. That is what His Passion is all about.

Every year as we approach this week, I ponder on the word THE PASSION. That is The Passion of Christ; that week of jubilation, then degradation, then finally crucifixion and then joyous resurrection. It is the absolute gambit of emotion – the alpha and the omega, the full circle of emotion. And what is it about this week that we name it Passion Week? This is the week that God’s passion for us is culminated in a display of perfect love – the passion of His toward us.

But what is Passion throughout the Holy Bible and how does it relate to God – how does it relate to us?
Passion means fervor, ardor, zeal, delight. From the very first page through the very last, the Bible seems to demonstrate one relentless passion… that is, the Father’s passion to see those whom He has created walk in intimacy with Him. In Jeremiah 31:3 the Lord speaks to the people of Israel saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love… and I have drawn you in loving-kindness.” This verse is so beautiful not only because it reveals the depth of the Father’s love toward us but also because it demonstrates God’s passion to draw us into His presence.

Even when the hearts of the Israelites had turned from God, the Lord said, in Isaiah 65:1, “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name I said, “Here I am, here I am!” The Lord’s unyielding pursuit, to draw His people into an intimate, loving relationship, is as true today as it has ever been before. You see, it is and has always been God’s deepest desire that you and I walk in the garden with Him in intimacy just as Adam and Eve had once walked with Him in the Garden of Eden.

The Scripture says that the Father has counted the very hairs on our head. We often don’t realize, because this verse is so familiar, the degree to which this demonstrates how intimately the Lord is involved in our lives. We just have no idea of the effect we have on God. David’s son, Solomon, tries to portray this in the Song of Solomon where the bridegroom, who, in this passionate allegory, perhaps representing Jesus, says, “You have stolen my heart, you have stolen my heart.”

For many of us, however, this is difficult to accept… that our Christian life is not as much about our seeking an encounter with the Lord but rather, God seeking an encounter with us. (that God anxiously looks forward to every authentic moment spent with you) Think of it… Each and every moment in Heaven, the Lord is receiving perfect praise and worship from throngs of angelic worshipers. Yet, when the Lord heard that first note coming from your lips, He, without hesitation, left that beautiful worship of heaven to receive your praise and to interact with you… to be with you. That is what Scripture means when it says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people.

I repeat for emphasis, it is and has always been God’s desire for us to walk in the garden with Him, in intimacy, just the way Adam and Eve once had. And so, in loving kindness, the Lord draws us to himself. I love to search scriptures for those verses where God calls us to himself. Like in Isaiah where the Lord spoke to Israel saying, “Come, let us reason together says the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them whiter than snow” or when our Jesus said, “Come, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

So, what do we need to do to really create and celebrate daily that intimacy?  Just open your eyes and your mouth and ask Him to be with you, to walk with you, to stay with you. Show him your passion, your passion. God wants that intimacy with you… he doesn’t want the forms of the faith… he wants you. Jesus didn’t endure the Cross of Calvary so that we could fulfill some religious duties or follow some religious ritual. He doesn’t really care which door you walk into to worship, just so you walk in.  He doesn’t care if you are Charismatic, Evangelical, Liturgical….  Whatever you feel comfortable with; whatever draws you closer to him is what He wants.   Everyone is different and He knows that.

Oh, how He loves you.  He wants you, your love. He wants your passion.

That is His Passion.

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Dwelling in God in Prayer

 

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” Colossians 1:19

Many of us believe in angels, don’t we? Some sing, some preach, and some listen. We are all angels with one wing; we can only fly by embracing one another. Each one of us has a message. And in a very special way, we give the best we know how.

On the island of Patmos, John wrote the book of Revelation. It is a book of symbols. It is a book of hope. It is a book of vision and dreams ; and because he was a prisoner on the island, he would send messages containing symbols back to the mainland.

Sometimes we get caught up only in symbols, but behind that, rests spiritual truth,
waiting for us to accept and move our dreams, our visions, our hopes, our desires, into
perfect expression.

John writes in his book of Revelations, “Behold I put before you a door open which no one can shut.” Friends, we are required to step through that spiritual door. The door is opened by God for us.

Sometimes we stand on the threshold of that door and wish we could go through it. We dream our dreams. We hold our visions. But something in us keeps us from stepping through. Maybe it is the limitations of our past.

So we stand at the door until God can help us to heal that within us which keeps us from the spiritual side where good awaits us. What are we waiting for? Only God can heal us so we can begin anew.

A minister used to ponder in his thoughts, about people who would call so often for help, for the same problem, over and over again. He got to the place where he had a key word or phrase that he would use. He would always end his time with people in a very profound way by saying, “Through prayerm you can begin again!”

God is a God of new beginnings. It’s not over, my friends, until you say it is. You can begin again right now, today. You can make the decision to go forward in faith, having this mighty power direct and move you to that high calling in Christ Jesus.

I think of Paul when Timothy wanted to give up. He came to Paul and said,
“I can’t handle this.” Paul said to him, “Oh Timothy, neglect not the gift of God that is within you. Press on to that high calling in Christ Jesus.”

We all need to hear that message ourselves, don’t we? Sure, there are times when it is very difficult, but hear the voice of God within us say, “Press on. Press on. There’s more. I am here to help you.”

Get up every morning and say, “The best years of my life are yet to be lived. Thank You, God.” It’s wonderful. So beginning again calls for strong spiritual faith, spiritual courage, and a strong spiritual determination that will not quit.
There is something wanting to press out from us, express from us-God giving God’s self through us in the wonder of the world. I like to take the word “wonderful” and say to people, “Do you know that you are wonder-filled?” You are wonder-filled; filled with wonder, mystery, and majesty. It’s wonderful. You are a child of God, and you have many gifts from God that you have discovered, and many that still are waiting for you to unwrap.

It will give you great courage to know that you are not alone – that God is with you.

These are times when you accept those challenges of life with great excitement, and step out not always knowing where our steps are going to take you. You do know that with God’s guidance and direction, it will be good.

All of us are on this journey, traveling from our own personal path to God awareness that Jesus Christ urged us to follow. We stop thinking so much about ourselves, and we begin to engage ourselves in ministering to God’s family. In this ministry, we somehow get excited about our life and find that everything we do, everything we give, and everything we are is God’s gift to us. I know that I feel that way in our SF group and what we do together.  We must keep giving of ourselves to receive more.
Self-realization instructs us to relax in this wonderful presence in order to make the spiritual connection with God. The world is coming to realize the healing power responds to silence. We know this to be the most powerful energy in the world-silence-the silence of prayer.

Most of us participate in the Spiritual Family Prayer Group on Thursday evenings. If you have never done so, please feel free to stop in and join us in prayer. We call healing forth by recognizing our oneness with God. We have a dialogue among us and God, invoking the Holy Spirit to join us as we pray for healing, support, strength, and comfort, knowing that in God’s plan we are all one.This dialogue we have among us and God is a wonderful spiritual experience. Each of us builds on our own capacity to receive from God. Healing is dependent upon a steadfast faith, true vision, and inner expectancy. And Prayer is our link with this healing power and process; it was, as scripture shows us, exactly this way in the life of Jesus, basing his connection to God on prayer . We can realize that this is also the power of our connectedness, the power of our oneness.
We also pray for guidance: Prayer is the power of illumination. It enlightens the mind;
it wakes it up. As we pray, we are enlightened and are able to be guided by our Father.

Isaiah 58:8 “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning and thy
healing shall spring forth speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before
thee; and the glory of Jehovah shall be your reward.”

Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Many people know about the Truth, but it remains just an intellectual process. The intellect must be spiritualized. There is nothing wrong with the mind; it’s wonderful. It’s the explorer, the adventurer, the investigator.  It goes out and finds all of these wonderful things for us. Then it comes back and we have to take it to the heart and translate it into wisdom.

So our intellect is a powerful agent, but it must never leave the nourishing power, or the heart, Many live a kind of surface life, knowing about things – but not eve understanding. We give new birth to ourselves, by KNOWING the truth. When that Spirit of God moves in you, – things happen. It gives voice to song. Glory to God’s Word crowns us with joy.

So the path of prayer calls for the spiritually adventurous who are willing to step out on faith and trust the keeper of infinity. I believe prayer is the key to lifelong spiritual insight, for it is our return home. It is that journey back to God.

Following Jesus Christ opens the mind to the omnipresence of God – that everywhere present energy empowering love has its perfect expression in us.

Spiritual prayer is a commitment to a faith that removes mountains. It takes that potential in us and makes it possible. With God all things are possible.

So we have this potential in us for goodness, for wonder, for mystery, for
beauty, for sacredness. But it becomes possible as we give expression to
the potential.

Faith and belief become an inner conviction. The compatible relationship between mind and heart begin to bring forth and birth wonderful ideas that we want on our spiritual journey. Jesus Christ is calling for each of us like He did 2,000 years ago: “Stretch forth thy hand; reach out into the world.” Don’t get into this exclusive self, but inclusive. “Stretch forth thy hand and be healed. Take up your bed and walk. Arise, shine, for the light has come. Go in peace.”

Open the eyes that have been blinded with doubt, fear, hate, and bitterness. Heal the worry thoughts and lift them up into the light of God. Give them to the light. “Take my burden. My yoke is light.”

Just know that God’s Spirit, is inviting each, and all of us, to bring our present difficulties to the light, to the altar. And in the light there is no darkness. “If thine eye be single, the whole body shall be filled with light, and the crooked places made straight.” Those places where we have gone back and forth, not knowing which way we’re going, are part of the preparation for the Christ mind to be manifest in us.

We are called to do a great spiritual work, friends. Remember, all of us have direct connections to God. We have three avenues through which we function and operate: thought, desire, and action.

The most far reaching in its effect is the power of thought. Thought is the parent of action. It gives birth to action and movement. The guiding light of God will bring its fulfilling plan and purpose, and we shall have our heart’s desires.

The time will come when there will be nothing to heal. There will only be
something to more to KNOW.

Friends, it is something to know about ourselves, that we have been
unwilling (for one reason or another) to know yet. But when we spiritually
can deal with it, face it; it then becomes as natural as breathing.

There is something we need to know about ourselves. What is it? What is it that we don’t want to know about us that is standing in our way? There is just something more to know-to know God’s love, power, peace, and joy. There is only the perfect image of God in which we were created. We take hold of this as we understand -understand that we just must simply accept.

There is something in us to know. When we know it, we can accept it and love it . . . “I will not leave thee until thou blesses me.” Jacob said to the angel, “I will not leave thee until thou blesses me.”

Friends, I oftentimes think the things we attach to our lives-the hurt pain, grief, and sorrow are asking us to bless them so they can leave us. I will not leave thee without your blessing.

So, whatever the pain might be, whatever the hurt, sorrow or disappointment, bless it so it does not have to go unhealed. Let it have NO power over you, let all the power be God’s power but turning it over to Him.

We begin the last leg of our Lenten journey this coming week. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday when we will walk beside Jesus, riding on a donkey, through the gates and into the city of Jerusalem. Let ‘s take this last week and focus on the messages from the last several Lenten weeks. What has been your awakening, your spiritual growth during this time.  What have we realized that we can bless and let go and turn over to God at the altar.
Let’s take just a minute to be quiet and still in spiritual prayer. How do
I know God is here? I know because I feel peace. So it is – my prayer is that you can feel this peace that passes understanding, and in that peace, be healed.

In the name and through the power of Him Who is love, in the name and through the power of Jesus Christ, accept your healing, mental emotional, physical, and, especially, spiritual.

God bless you as you continue on that eternal path of the soul, accepting
every good and perfect gift from God. Amen.

A Positive Choice

Psalms 16:11.  “You show me the path of life. In Your presence there is fullness of joy.”

“There was an old sow with three little pigs, and as she had not enough to
keep them” . . .

Here is a mother who has fallen on hard times. A lot of people can relate
to this today. Her whole life is crashing around her. Perhaps, she had it
worse than any of us can imagine, she was going to have to give up her
children because she did not have enough money to keep them.

“She sent them out to seek their fortune. The first that went off met a
man with a bundle of straw, and said to him: ‘Please, man, give me that
straw to build me a house.’ Which the man did, and the little pig built a
house with it. Presently came along a wolf . . .”

There is an ancient saying: “The wolf is at the door.” This means that
some type of a bad situation has come to your household.

“Presently came along a wolf, and knocked at the door, and said: ‘Little
pig, little pig, let me come in.’

“To which the pig answered: ‘No, no, by the hair of my chinny chin chin.’

“The wolf then answered to that: ‘Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll
blow your house in.’ So he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew his house
in, and ate up the little pig.

“The second little pig met a man with a bundle of sticks and said:
‘Please, man, give me the sticks to build a house.’ Which the man did, and
the pig built his house. Then along came the wolf, and said: ‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in.The little pig said, ‘No, no, by the hair of my chinny chin chin.’

“Then the wolf said, ‘Then I’ll puff, and I’ll huff, and I’ll blow your
house in.’ So he huffed, and he puffed, and he puffed, and he huffed, and
at last he blew the house down, and he ate up the little pig.

“The third little pig met a man with a load of bricks, [pondered a bit
before he made his choice] and said, ‘Please, man, give me those bricks to
build a house with . . .'”

What kind of choices are we going to make to build our lives? We are given the
power by God to build a house out of straw, sticks, or bricks.

It’s our choice how easy, or difficult we make our lives. We can use the
same God-given power to make our lives seem easy, but sometimes it takes
us a little longer to build our houses, as the Bible says, on a firm foundation
that will stand throughout time.

“The Three Little Pigs” is a story – not about building a house – but about
making soul choices. We need to realize that we can have bricks – we don’t
have to settle for straw or sticks – but IT IS OUR CHOICE.

We can get instant gratification in life and take the first thing that
comes along, or we can take a little longer period of time and make the
right choices that in the end will make our life a lot easier.

“So the man gave him the bricks, and he built his house with them. So the
wolf came, as he did to the other pigs, and said: ‘Little pig, little pig,
let me come in.’

“The pig says, ‘No, no, by the hair on my chinny chin chin.’

“The wolf said, ‘Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house
in.’

“Well, he huffed, and he puffed, but he could not get the house down. When
he found that he could not, with all his huffing and puffing, blow the
house down, he thought he would outsmart the pig and said: ‘Little pig, I
know where there is a nice field of turnips.’

“‘Where?’ said the little pig.

“‘Oh, in Mr. Smith’s farm, and if you will be ready tomorrow morning I
will call for you, and we will go together, and get some for dinner.'”

“‘Very well,’ said the little pig. ‘I will be ready. What time do you mean
to go?” “Oh, at six o’clock,’ replied the wolf.

“Well, the little pig got up at five, and got the turnips before the wolf
came (which he did about six) who said: ‘Little pig, are you ready?’

“The little pig said, ‘Ready! I have been and come back again, and got a
nice potful for dinner.’ The little pig continued to outsmart the wolf, to
the undoing of the wolf.”

This could be a story of the economy today.

This story is about you. It is about how using your God-given power you
can outsmart the wolf that comes to your door. Many stories are written
about the wolf at the door (like “Little Red Riding Hood.”) The purpose of
these stories is to give you the idea that when the wolf comes to your
door, in whatever form it may, it is NOT the end. It’s another new
beginning for you; it’s a chance for you to have a second chance by having
the Holy Spirit guide through you. By going to God, and having God
inside of you clearly giving you the direction in which to go, you will be
able to get out of the maze in which you might find yourself. You have the
choice. You have the choice to build your life aright, in the precise way
in which a life will succeed.

“The Three Little Pigs” is a story from 1620. It was translated from
German to English at that date, and it was hundreds of years old then. It
is a story about people and life then, but it is also a story about people in life today.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:24-25: “Everyone then who hears these words of
mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house,
but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.”

What does it mean to build your house on the rock? It means to have a firm
foundation for your life. It means to build your life every day in a
spiritual way, block by block, thought by thought.

Whenever the wolf comes to your door, or someone says something to you
that makes you so angry, turn within in prayer and go to God. That is what
builds your house and builds your life on the right foundation. It
spiritually empowers you in the moment, giving you the power to live your
life as you wish to live it.

[Continuing with Matthew 7:26-27]: “And everyone who hears these words of
mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his
house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew
and beat against that house, and it fell – and great was its fall!”

The way you build your house says everything about you.

False prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing may be the man on TV
who says, “Buy this item, and you will be happy. Just sign on the dotted
line, and your life will be better.” And you think, “If I had that, I
would really be happy.” That is not the case.

You never have to pay God for God’s gifts. God is always free, and
always available to you.

If you are the underdog, you have tried and tried to succeed, but you have
not. You may feel that you cannot turn things around yourself. You may
feel like there is nothing you can do to make your life better. That is
the time to go to God, and receive the spiritual gift of nourishment and
achievement.

Let me tell you a story about an underdog. It is about a fellow who felt he never
got any breaks.

This is a story about an underdog with a nose unlike normal noses of his
breed. Secondly, socially he is a misfit. Thirdly, he has a psychological
problem. But then came the foggy night. When the foggy night came, a break
came for Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer whose shiny nose was the way, shower
and light-bearer for Santa’s legendary team. He had the honor of guiding
Santa’s sleigh through the uncharted skyways of a murky Christmas Eve.

Many a touching fable has been told about animals and the unexpected
acclaim that came to them.

There are legends about a burro that was rejected for being too docile for
any good. He was pawned off on a man named Joseph and eventually bore upon
his somber back the mother of Jesus on her way to Bethlehem.

Look at Ephesians 2:19-22: “So then you are no longer
strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also
members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles
and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the
whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the
Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling
place for God.”

When you turn to God a new construction occurs within you – not just your
foundation, but also every cell of your body temple and every thought of
your mind. The Creator re-creates. Regeneration under the Divine blueprint
follows.

But much more is under-construction than your physical body temple. Your
entire life is being restructured and rebuilt totally and completely.

The mistake we make as humans is we say, “It’s too late for me. It’s NOT
too late for the young people, but it is for me. I have tried so many
times, and have failed.” This is exactly the second chance you need this
day – the second chance is a choice you make. God is a God of second chances,
and always offers additional chances to you to succeed, and become better than yesterday.

II Timothy 2:19-26: “God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this
inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who
calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.”

“In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also
of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. All who cleanse
themselves of the things I have mentioned will become special utensils…”

I’m going to stop there for a moment. You are the utensils. As you look at
life, you know some of the people around you are the utensils of gold and
silver. You say, “What a life they lead! If only I could lead a life like
that, I would be complete!” But this is saying that all people who turn to
God spiritually, and pray to God to rebuild their lives, become special
utensils in the household of God.

. . . “dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every
good work.”

Who is the owner of the house? God. Now it says what you must do: “Shun
youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.”

This is saying that when you have the urge to do something that you know
is not right – you have the urge to build the house out of straw because it
is right here, but you know it will not last, and you know it’s not right for
you – don’t do it. Wait, instead, and build upon the firm foundation of God.

“. . . along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have
nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they
breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly
to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with
gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know
the truth…”

What an opportunity we have in life to experience choice! Turn
to God and know that the best is yet to be. We have that choice as a human
being.

Everyone is an underdog in some area or areas, but we don’t have to stay
that way.

We want our awareness of God to be new every time we pray. We want God to
be fresh and alive; God is if I allow God to be. But we have a
responsibility when we are co-creating with God to make the right choices
in our life journey – we will have great success.

Let us pray:

Dear God, I realize that there is a power so close to me right now. I turn
to that power. I turn away from the wide spectrum in front of my eyes, and
I turn within in prayer to Your Divine power and authority. I am empowered
again, and new life is given to me.

I thank You for the ability to turn to You anew this Sunday, and have Your
wonder work its spiritual power in me.

In Jesus Christ’s name I pray . . . Amen.

Balancing on the Tightrope

ECCLESIASTES 3:1 – There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. 2. A time be be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4. A time to weep and a time to laugh………


Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the
king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Poor Humpty Dumpty! Some people relate and feel broken, like Humpty
Dumpty; if you do, I pray that this simple message will help.

There is a balance in life, in our earth, and in the universe. Everything in the universe, everything in the world, everything in our lives, responds to a balance that is always there with us, around us, and everywhere present. When we examine God’s balance of life, we begin to see that there’s a time for doing outer things, BUT there is also that time of rest and renewal in prayer.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said it this way: “For everything there is a
season; a time for every purpose under heaven.” We recognize that everything responds to that rhythm and balance. What we want to do is become an orderly part of that flow.   It is very easy to see this balance taking place, right now, isn’t it? Now is the time when the leaves begin to blossom on the trees. There is that time when the leaves begin to burst forth and everything looks glorious around us. The spring brings a desire in us to spring forth in new life, new energy, towards new God-given good. As it springs forth in the spring, it comes to that full fruitage and maturity of summer. Then the balance begins again and everything moves toward a time of rest.

There is a time for growth and there is a time for rest. You see the leaves fall and replenishing the earth. Then, we see everywhere other evidence of this balance. There is the day and then there is the night. There is the ebb and the flow of things. Even in our body, we breathe in and then we breathe out. We are always one with God’s balance-the breathing in and the breathing out; the ebb and the flow.

Within the cells of our bodies, there is a balance of God. There is a breaking down and a building up. This is referred to by the fancy titles of anabolism and catabolism, which make up metabolism. Our bodies tune into that rhythm of the universe. What we really need to know is that there is this time for the giving out and the taking in-getting in tune with the balance of the universe. This weekend some of us will see a little unbalance for a short period of time due to the time change in the United States. But we will adjust within a few days and move forward again.

All the animals of the world seem to have an attunement to God’s balance.
They all have this time when they are so active (they’re running around, doing their things, and being very busy), and then, all of a sudden, they just plop down and do nothing. What are they doing? They are not doing “nothing.”  They’re renewing strength and energy. They really understand that there has to be a time of giving out and a time of taking in; a time of activity and a time of rest and renewal.

We humans often do not do that. We tend to give out and keep doing, and keep doing, and keep doing, and keep on keeping on. We do not really realize that we are stretching ourselves too far. We often are doing too much.

We are not taking time to renew ourselves, to go into that quiet time of prayer and rest. When we do not take this time, what happens? We end up tired, fatigued and filled with stress. We all end up with a little bit of burn-out in varying degrees, because we have not learned to relax and to renew ourselves.

Think of  – Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty took a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Why was that? Because when he was sitting, he had that outer exterior that was hard, and when he fell, he splattered all over the place. That is like us. We build up that hard exterior, perhaps a hard shell of self-protection and then when we fall, we just splatter all over the place.  So, what we really need to do is to be more like a rubber ball. The ball is resilient. The ball does not have that hard exterior. And when you throw it against the wall, it bounces back. It is flexible. It has all kinds of resilience within it.  If we take time of rest and prayer, totally turning ourselves over to God, we can become like that ball.  All that stress that creates the hard outer exterior becomes soft and resilient.  You have seen people who look like they are ready to break apart from the demands and stress of their life.  Maybe the has even been you as you look in a mirror.  After a vacation or a relaxing, prayerful weekend, that person (you?) looks ten years younger.

There was a man who was blind. He had absolutely the most unique ability to do things very busily, and then, to relax. He would always relax easily Have you ever noticed a person with normal vision, who, all of a sudden, goes into the dark? What do they do? They reach out and their fingers are all stiff because they are full of fear that they will hit something.  But the blind man never did. He always walked around with his fingers very relaxed. He was very centered. Thus, he was able to be aware of everything around him. He never broke anything.  He never fell and splattered like Humpty Dumpty.

We need to do that. If we do not do that, what happens to us? We become too tense. We allow the stresses and the problems of the world to press in upon us, and we hold onto things. We can always be so busy; with too much to do.  So many of the old messages come through like, “Well, you can’t sit down now. You have got to keep going. You have got to keep doing.

There’s more to be done.”   When we were kids they always told us, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” That was kind of strange, thing to tell a kid who likes to sit under a tree and read, renew, and rest. But that little message, or that type of message, goes off in our heads, and we find ourselves keeping extra busy as adults to prove our worth.

If we are honest with ourselves, we would often find ourselves over-extending and over-doing. Sometimes we have so much to do that we really cannot sit down and just relax and renew. The problem is that if we do not take time to relax, to renew, to become more resilient, and to find those times of quiet when we can become centered, spiritually, we become tense; so tense and so uptight that we actually become our own block to the flow of God . When we are so tense, when we are so busy and not renewing, then we begin to suffer on many levels.

There is often a lack of balance among our use of the God-given gifts of life. When we do not exercise a balance between the taking in and the giving out, we over-accumulate and we become burdened, heavy, tense, and overwhelmed, because we have not released, let go, given up, and given out that which we have taken in. We need to learn to strike a balance between these.

I love the story of the sculptor who decided he was going to sculpt a statue of Jesus Christ out of clay. When he went into his studio, he prepared this great and majestic figure of Jesus Christ standing with all His majesty, with His arms upheld, reaching out to the world.

He went away from his studio that night, and the mist from the sea came into the studio and affected the statue. In the morning, when the sculptor returned, the whole statue had slipped down. Now Jesus looked more in a sitting down position.  There were the lowered arms outstretched saying, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.”

So the wonders of the night had worked and taken the statue and made it into the compassionate, loving personality that Jesus Christ was and is. “Come unto me and I will give you rest.”

Jesus Christ knew the importance of going apart for a while, of finding a time for rest and renewal, of entering into the one Presence with God. Then He could begin to do what needed to be done by Him at all times.

Matthew 11: 28 – 30:  Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn.  My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  Ask God for help in obtaining deep spiritual rest. Go to God, and God will
give you rest.

We must develop new habits of living so we can tune ourselves into God’s
One Presence and Power.

In closing let me just add one little idea for you – Theologians say that no one ever remembers Sunday talks. Soooo,with that in mind,  I have reduced this message into six letters from our alphabet.  You can use it and say it like a relaxing thought as you prepare for prayer.

LG-LG! – Let Go – Let God.

TG – Think God!

R – Relax!

M – Move!

Seek God’s guidance first, then MOVE – after true spiritual rest and renewal YOU WILL BE READY to do the great things of life, undertake the great projects, becoming a light unto your world! You will be so balanced on that beam that God’s work will be moving and shaking through you with that Holy Power we all want to exhibit.

God bless you!

Temptation…..Is it Real???

(I may have posted this in our Spiritual Chat Room a while back, but think it is important to go over certain topics again.  This is definitely one of them.)

Please read:   Luke 4:  1 – 13

Someone once said, “I wouldn’t be tempted if temptation wasn’t so tempting.” Sam Levenson said, “Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.” Flip Wilson said, “The devil made me do it the first time, but ever since then I’ve been doing it on my own.” Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist anything but temptation.” We all deal with temptation. If we don’t face temptation, we should CHECK OUR PULSE.

It seems that temptation seems to find us, often at inopportune times. We can be in a shower, eating dinner, talking to a friend.  It doesn’t matter what is going on in our lives – temptation is always lurking in the background if not in the foreground, right in front of our faces.  And Temptations come in a variety of forms. It can come through the newspaper, television, a friend talking to us, in our dreams, even in our prayers
Jesus, as the Son of God, faced temptation. If he faced it; how can we expect to avoid it? Well, we can’t avoid it. It’s not a matter of avoiding all temptation.  It’s a matter of overcoming it and then defeating it.

So, let’s discuss for a moment, the reality, the art of “Overcoming Temptation.”
Unlike Oscar Wilde’s quote, “I can resist anything but temptation,” we can overcome temptation.  One thing we can do, and I want you to always remember this – REFUSE to be sucked in.  We don’t have to let the devil push us around. Jesus didn’t back down, when he was tempted.

Martin Luther said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.”  Tempting thoughts will come; and go. LET them go. Just like the birds flying over your head. If they try to land, swoosh them away. It may not be easy but it is definitely possible. All it takes is the power you DO possess already to swoosh, swoosh. I make this sound funny, but it is meant in all seriousness. You do have the power; and that power comes from above – no not the birds, GOD.

Temptation is really a compliment. It means that you are living for God and headed in the right direction. Satan has a contract out on you. Remember that fact, and hold your head up high. Be proud that Satan has his eye on you. It means you are doing something right.

So now, RECOGNIZE your pattern of temptation and be prepared for it.
1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Know where your weakness is, and prepare that area. Figure out the patterns and times in which you are most tempted and brace yourself for those times. Jesus was tempted to turn the stones into bread because he was hungry. When are you hungry and for what are you hungry?  Find the answer to that and you can be prepared for those times. When does that time hit you the most often, where? What are you doing when you feel the weakest? Take a deep breath, say a quick prayer and walk away or turn away. But you will need help so..

REQUEST God’s help.
Psalm 50:15 says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
This is the most important thing in overcoming temptation. We cannot merely use our willpower or courage. The temptation is stronger than we are, but God is stronger than the temptation.
Jesus used the Word of God to refute his temptation.
“Temptations keep us dependent upon God.”

Now let’s see what happens next – Well, now we begin Defeating temptation.
We may feel overpowered by temptation. This is not something we can do on our own. This is with the help of God. There are four things we can do to help defeat temptation. Again, with God’s help.

REFOCUS your attention on something else.
The Bible doesn’t tell us to resist temptation. It doesn’t tell us to just give in either.
Dwelling on the temptation will only make it more tempting. When we try to think about not thinking about it, we drive it deeper into our mind. It’s like trying to think you’re not hungry.
Diverting your attention is a much more effective way of dealing with temptation than fighting it.
We should occupy ourselves with godly things. Jesus refocused his attention on God by going to scripture.

REVEAL your struggle to a godly friend or support group.
You don’t have to tell the whole world. But you should be able to tell someone whom you trust. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says in so many words, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
It would appear that Jesus shared this episode with someone at some point in time. He was alone in the wilderness. For us mere mortals, spiritual friendships and groups are so important. Reach out.

RESIST the devil.
James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Don’t just stand there and let the devil punch you. He can’t make you do anything, contrary to Flip Wilson’s assertion. He can only suggest. Don’t argue with the devil. He’s a better arguer. Jesus didn’t say, “I’m not hungry.” Of course he was hungry. He had been without food for 40 days.

REALIZE your vulnerability.
No one is exempt from temptation. We all have vulnerabilities.
We have to watch out what we do and where we go. Recovering alcoholics are often counseled to stay away from places that promote and serve alcoholic beverages.
Jesus’ temptations were to use his God-given power for selfish motives: food, power, and protection. He was tempted to dazzle people. The devil is not all knowing. He goes back to where we were weak in the past. Shore up those areas. Develop those areas in your life where you feel you could be stronger.

“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Are you battling temptation today? Turn it over to God. You can’t do it on your own. You must ask for God’s help.
Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was “tempted as we are, yet without sin.”   We have power EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE SIN; THANKS BE TO CHRIST. Now is the time to use that power. Now is the perfect time, right now to strengthen it, tone it, develop it.
You are here for a reason; it doesn’t matter what the reason, Each of you yielded to temptation and ended up in “blue.” Now, get ready to wear yellow, pink, green, red again. Use your time here where you can focus and become strong. Now is the time. There is no better time. So begin right at this moment in time. Ask God to come into your life right now and stay with you, helping you to become strong, strong enough to ove

REMEMBER THESE WORDS:
RECOGNIZE
REQUEST
REFOCUS
REVEAL
REFOCUS – again and again
RESIST
REALIZE.

These are the steps of overcoming and defeating the temptations that try to influence our activities, our beliefs, our attitudes, our very lives.

You have the power; Use it.

Please join me in prayer:  Lord, it is only through Your love and assistance and You walking beside me that I can overcome temptation.  During this Lenten season and always, I ask you to stand by me and help me to stay focused on the Good…on the Fruits.  And help me to always stay far from evil.  Amen

OPENING:

 

Tonight we come together to thank God for our blessings, to pray for those we love and those we don’t even know.  And as we do so, we contemplate on our role in the Christian life, in the life we have been given, and how our Lord presented us with such wonderful Fruits of the Spirit.  We will do a brief Lenten program, showering ourselves and all with these Fruits.  Please feel free to take part in this lovely ceremony.

Thank You, Lord, for these gifts.  Amen

And so we begin…. 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP60CxrZd1Y   Fruit of the Spirit Opening

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1atpc65u-o  Fruit of the Spirit is……

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_m8pBIvCAI&feature=related  Fruit of the Spirit Movie

 

PEACE:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-KAvPbO8JY  George Harrison 

 

Thankfulness for the fruits of the spirit given to us as Christians by the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22 – 23.

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  Against such things there is no law.

 

Here by me at the altar are leather bags with straps so you can carry them on your shoulder.  Please come to the altar and pick up one of each of the FRUITS of the Spirit, put them in your bag, and thank God for giving you the desire to carry them with happiness in your heart.

As you listen to the Fruit of the Spirit Meditation music that is playing here now, please think about these Fruits and how they not only came into your life but how you use them and will use them.  All this music will be listen one after the other.  At the end of the prayer meeting tonight, I will list them all again and continue to do so on a regular basis this week as you meditate daily on the Fruits our Holy Spirit has bestowed upon us.

Pick one Fruit each day and meditate on it as you pray to our Lord, asking Him to help you be a witness for Him and display this fruit to all you come across. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omkD5fFdzFQ&feature=related  Thank You, God.  Med. Music to play during the walk to the altar to pick up the fruits of the spirit.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAo2iZ9vWHg&feature=related  Don Moen, Give Thanks

 

Fruit of the Spirit.flv