The Power of Words

“I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36

Here I am typing WORDS. I am also thinking in WORDS. Our thoughts, our feelings, our whole lives are dependent on communication mostly through WORDS. What is important is what the words we project say and mean. There is a saying you have heard many times; perhaps you have said it yourself. People say, “Talk is cheap.” We have all said that at one time or another.

The question is: How much do our words cost us? Many times there is an outer cost. If I say something positive to you, it builds a bridge between us. But if I say something negative, it burns that bridge down. We all know that ill-spoken words can cost friendship. When you have spoken the word often, it reins over you, your friendships, and your family. It has control; you no longer have control.

When words we have spoken need to be taken back, we also have the spiritual maturity to do so.  Our words clothe us and are what others see. In relationships, after a while you do not see the person; you see the words coming out of their mouth. We must take responsibility for our words. What are we doing with our words?

Well, when focusing on creating something positive and enduring, imagine that you are the watering can for the garden of life. The words coming out of your mouth should do three things:

1. They should be positive.
2. They should be uplifting.
3. They should be nourishing.

As a good spiritual person, you need to check your words and see if they are following this vocal trinity of being positive, uplifting, and nourishing.

Then we have to ask the question: What am I saying to myself? Personally, what do my words cost me?

In the Bible Jesus says: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36

Every day is Judgment Day. This very day will be a Judgment Day that is determined by the words you say. People will either love you or not, first by your words. They will treat you good or they will treat you badly depending upon the words you say. Inside of yourself, how your body feels, how your world is treating you, and how everything is working for you (good or not-so-good) is determined first by your words you say to yourself.

We will have to account for every word we speak this day, silently or audibly. By your words you are going to be justified, and by your words you are going to be condemned.

Matthew 12:33 says: Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad for the tree is known by its fruit. Now, this is not talking about trees; this is talking about words and the fruit on the tree of life we create by our words.

What is the fruit of our life? It is the words we speak.

Then Jesus says something you might think is unlike Him. You brood of vipers! He was saying, “Can’t you please understand how important what I am about to say is to you!” He goes on to say: How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure [Matthew 12:34-35].

Inside of you is a heart. I am not talking about the muscle that beats within your chest, but the heart that is often talked about in Jesus Christ’s teachings – our soul. Those things beyond our conscious mind, that we really believe about any particular situation, is stored within the soul. Scripture tells us: The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure [Matthew 12:35].

Often we are saying flowery things with our mouths, but inside we may be holding something else deep inside of us. We just can’t seem to get beyond it. We mouth the prayers, but somehow there is a struggle going on inside of us, and we just can’t seem to get it right no matter how hard we try.

A wonderful true story, a traveling minister went into a church one day. The church had a problem – mice. Hundreds of mice roamed throughout the church. A little boy, trained in techniques of affirmative prayer stood up and led the congregation in prayer. He said, “Dear God, let us bless and multiply the mice.” The church never again saw any mice.

Many people asked: “Why didn’t the number of mice triple?” Even though his words were “multiply the mice,” there was a loud voice speaking in his total belief system, his feelings from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, saying “The mice are gone.”

That is the loudest voice in prayer.

Let me paraphrase what Jesus said in the Bible about thinking and feeling. “Wherever two or more are in agreement in prayer, there am I in the midst.” Today, focus on creating inside of you a better prayer power than you have ever had before. You are here to have a dynamo of prayer working through you. You are here as spiritual students. When you want to heal a condition in your body or in the body of someone else, you want it to happen. You don’t speak the word in a lazy or idle way. When you speak, you want God to move mountains.

You do this by having both voices verbal and silent inside of you speak at the same time – your thinking and your feeling. This is the powerful way of prayer, and it is so because it was the Jesus way of prayer.

When you go to the hospital and you are praying for someone, if you do not believe that that person is going to be healed totally and completely, please leave that room, because you are not going to do any good with that prayer. You might make the person feel better for the moment, but you are there to do more than make them feel better. You are there to create a whole new awareness of God. You do that through your TOTAL belief.

Sometimes, if the condition is bad, I have to generate myself up, as you will too. You have to talk yourself into the full power of absolute belief. You will have to use positive affirmations and build block-by-block. But when you pray, you are going to have power.

Many ministers never say a word when they are praying with a person. They just sit by his or her bed and know the God truth about that person. The person might be healed because he/she is able to tune into the power.

There is great power when those two things – thinking and feeling – are combined. You can do anything. You are a co-creator with God, and little will stop you in that co-creation. You will have a tremendous, wondrous power of God working with you.

In Matthew 15:8 Jesus says: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Jesus wasn’t looking for people to honor Him as Jesus the human; he was looking for people to honor the Christ. They were speaking with their lips, but their hearts – their minds – were far from the Christ principles. Jesus knew that if you believe, you are going to be healed. You have to believe and be willing to believe with your free-will to change every part of you to become new. When you do, it’s going to happen. Nothing can stop it. Speak that power; be that power through your faith.

Jesus continued saying: In vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines. In other words, they were going back to human mind, looking to the limitations, and believing them
.
Whenever we believe in our human lack, even if we have evidence of fact in our own life that this is the way it’s been up until now, we are placing blocks between us and the Divine. We have to tear down that block and let God come through.

In Matthew 15:13 Jesus said: Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Inside of our minds we have lots of weeds. We struggle all the time to dig out, weed our gardens, and plant the seeds of Divine ideas in our minds so they take root.

I don’t want my human worries and fears to take root and strangle all the Divine ideas. I want God to be so prevalent in the garden of my mind that nothing else exists.

Jesus then talks about others who choose to leave the weeds.. He says: Let them alone. They are blind guides of the blind. If one blind person guides another, both of them will fall into a pit [Matthew 15:14].

The mind moves upon ideas. Ideas are made visible through words. Hence, holding right words in the mind will set up the mind going at a rate proportion to the dynamic power of the idea behind those words. You are speaking, praying, and wanting something to happen, but what is the idea behind those words? Does it have dynamic power in your heart and soul? Have you permitted it an opening? Have you allowed it to become whole inside of you?

A word with a lazy idea behind it will not stimulate the mind; will not heal the body. The word must represent swift, strong spiritual ideas in order to infuse the full energy of God into the mind and the body. For many years there have been students of Christ, and they have made a clear, intelligent perception of its truths. Yet, they are outside the kingdom of Spirit. They anxiously ask, “Why do I not realize the presence of God’s Spirit?” Have you opened the pores of your mind by mentally repeating the solvent of crystallized conditions – positive prayer affirmative thought? This means mental discipline day after day, and night after night, until the inertia of the mind is overcome and the way is opened for the descent of God’s Spirit.

What is the descent of Spirit? If the Holy Spirit inside of you descends, it is descending on your whole mind. It is becoming one with you. It is that moment in the hospital where you know that you are going to be healed. You don’t just hope it; you KNOW it. And when you know it and you speak the words, it can become manifested in that moment.

It is when you know you are not going to be in lack any more and have prosperity in your life. It is manifested. Whatever it is you are praying for will come to pass and be demonstrated.

The personal consciousness is like a house with all the doors and windows barred. The doors and windows of the mind are concrete ideas, and they swing open when the right word is spoken to them – the right word that is given through God. Unbar your doors; let them swing open; and through prayer, walk through the doors and out of your tomb.

Let us pray:

Dear God, I go on a journey with You. I ask You to help me formulate my affirmative prayers. I agree that I will say these affirmative prayers several times morning, noon, and night. I ask You to join with me in planting vocal plants of divine ideas in the soil of my mind that will not be uprooted. I give myself totally and completely. I join together the two voices inside of me of thinking and feeling, and I become a great co-creator of good with You.

Father, You are my partner in all things. I will never leave You. I will never turn my back on You in any situation or moment in my life. I know that You will never turn Your back on me. I so decree this is the way I will live my life. In Jesus Christ’s name . . . Amen.

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Philippians 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in eerything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God
then  …………..                                                                                                     Psalm 100:4 – 5  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courtts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

The preacher placed two identical jars on the table next to the pulpit. He quoted      1 Samuel 16:7,The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. A human looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

“These jars came from the same factory, were made of the same materials, and can hold the same amount, but they are different,” he explained.

Then he upset one and it oozed out honey. He turned over the other, and vinegar spilled out. “When a jar is upset, whatever is in it comes out. Until the jars were upset, they looked alike. The difference was within, and could not be seen. When they were upset, their contents were revealed.

“Until we are upset, we put on a good front. But when we are upset, we reveal our innermost thoughts and attitudes for ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.’ Luke 6:45”

What if someone “tipped you over” today? What would flow out? Would you reveal the “honey” of grace and patience and overwhelming gratitude to God, or the “vinegar” of anger and sarcasm? Above all, love each other deeply, because “love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
This week, through Thanksgiving and gratitude, we will restore the interior of each of us, from bitterness to sweetness.

Allow me to share this inscription that appears on the Plymouth Rock Monument in Massachusetts: “This monument marks the first burying ground in Plymouth of the passengers of the Mayflower. Here, under cover of darkness, the fast dwindling company laid their dead, leveling the earth above them lest the Indians should learn how many were in the graves.   History records no nobler venture for faith and freedom than of this Pilgrim band. In weariness and painfulness, in watching often in hunger and cold, they laid the foundation of a state wherein every human through countless ages should have liberty to worship God in his or her own way.  May their example inspire thee to do thy part in perpetuating and spreading the lofty ideals of our republic throughout the world.”

This Thursday, we are going to celebrate the greatness of God’s good. It will begin Thursday morning, as we notice the wonderful smell of a turkey in the oven, wafting out from the kitchen. There is no smell like that in the world. Right now, we can smell it – the aroma of the turkey browning and the spices cooking through it seems to fill the air. Some of you will have a mother, a grandmother, a wife, or a husband who will be in the kitchen. This wonderful aroma, floating through the air, seems to lift everyone in the household.

There are other smells too. I love the smell of cooking candied yams. Often, everyone is in such a good mood because of the smells, that there is singing going on in the kitchen. It seems like no matter how small the kitchen is, everyone is gathering there. Other large rooms are standing empty, but everyone is in the kitchen because they want to breathe in all this good that God has created.

As you are celebrating and smelling all these wonderful smells on Thursday, will you stop to think why Thanksgiving is on Thursday? What an odd day of the week on which to celebrate Thanksgiving. Why not celebrate Thanksgiving on a Sunday? Why would it be in the middle of the week? Who would have picked Thursday? If you are going to have it on a weekday, maybe Monday or Friday would be better? Why not celebrate on Saturday, when the majority of people are off of work for the weekend?

I want you to think about something else, also. Not only is it on a Thursday, but it is in November. Why is it in November? If we are celebrating the harvest, it was months ago. Why do we have this one day in November when we are celebrate and give thanks to God for all that God has done?  Yet, does it matter what day and what month?  We should celebrate our thanksgiving to God every day of the year.

The symbol of Thanksgiving is the fatted bird-the turkey. “Birds of a Feather.” That is a saying in this country. I do not know how old the saying is, but “birds of a feather” means things, or people, of like mind or like activities. We are all going to do basically the same thing on Thanksgiving. We may eat turkey or we may not, but we will all be doing the same thing – at some point, during that day, we will take a moment and realize (more than we do ordinarily) how good God has been to us, and how wonderful it is to be healthy and alive.

Thanksgiving is a day to recognize God in our lives, and we will feel good. We will express our gratitude to God through praise, and we are going to see the good everywhere. We will know that God will provide, and everything will be fine.

I share a story with you that takes place in Bethany. This particular day was hot, dry, and dusty, with a hot wind blowing. I do not know of anything more miserable to the human spirit than a hot, dusty wind. You are all clean, you go outside, and a hot, dusty wind hits you in the face. The air seems so thick with dust that it is difficult to breathe. You feel down because of the environment.

A group of people were really feeling down. They were grieving. They were clinging together as grieving people often do. They were weeping and mourning outside a cave in Bethany that was serving as a tomb for Lazarus (the brother of Martha and Mary). He had been dead for four days. Those in the grieving group were talking as Jesus approached. They were saying things like, “If He had come earlier, this might not have happened. He could have healed our brother, and everything would have been okay. But look, He comes now when Lazarus has been dead for four days.”

Then the group is absolutely dumbfounded as they see Jesus kneel down, and with a smile on His face He begins to give thanks to God. Can you imagine? Imagine if I was performing a funeral service for someone you loved, and instead of grieving with you, I had a huge smile on my face and gave thanks to God. Can you imagine how dumbfounded, and possibly angry you would be?

I bring you John 11:38-44: “Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, Father, I thank you for having heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.'”

I imagine the people standing around were no longer a crowd, but were now
a mob. I imagine they were getting more and more angry at Jesus.

When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

A man is lying dead, and his friend is giving thanks. Everybody just looked at Jesus. Then, with His next breath, Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come out!” At this point, you can imagine how the atmosphere is electric. I am sure time was such that a few seconds seemed like an hour.

The “dead” man came out to them. What did that crowd feel? There was joy, shock, fear, and disbelief. But He gave thanks, and that set the miracle into motion.

A man in A. A. told his story. “God caused me to be raised from the dead.” This meant he had the power to give up drinking. Then he looked at all his friends – birds of a feather, people of like mind – and then with tears in his eyes he said to them, “You are unbinding me. Do not leave bound what God has unbound.”

God is constantly unbinding us. God is constantly telling us to come forth. If, after looking back at the past and what God has done in our lives, we hold that in our minds, we will have the incredible intelligence in human mind to give thanks in advance. We know, no matter what we face today, that God is with us. No matter how difficult it is in the moment, we can say, “Thank You, God. I know I am connected with You. I am not separate. I know that when I work with You as a partner, everything will work out all right.”

And I ask God to give me the power to unbind myself – not holding myself bound by the thoughts of the past – and I ask that my family and my friends not bind me, either, and that I have the power to go on.

During this Thanksgiving week, we need to ignite that feeling. Yes, we are thankful for the harvest, and we are thankful for what God has done in our lives in the past. But we are also thankful for the things that we have not seen as of yet. We are thankful because we know we have a God who responds. We know that everything will be fine. No matter how great our mountain, or how great our difficulty, God is a God who answers our present challenges, instantly, in a way that is beyond anything we can imagine.

Because this is Jesus’ way of prayer, a woman in need of her own healing placed a chair opposite her with a picture of Jesus Christ on it. Then she started to give thanks to God and to every part of her God-created body, starting at the top of her head.

She was in pain. Things were not going well. Our human reaction is to curse the things that are not quite right. Instead, this lady gave thanks to the body parts, for God working in the body parts, and brought them into new life, regenerated in the God-Truth that was already prepared for her. We can do the same with any situation in our lives. She gave thanks and unbound herself.

I am going to close with scripture from Romans. As you thank God for the gifts He has bestowed on you in the future, I ask you to remember this:

In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the
love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:37-38].

Let us pray:

Thank You, dear, wonderful God, for my week of thanksgiving. Thank You for
bringing joy to my heart, and helping me to recall all the things to be thankful for. And thank You, in advance, for all the things I cannot yet see with my physical eyes, but that I know, through faith, Your blessings will come forth. I thank You in advance, and will do so all week.

In Jesus Christ’s name . . . Amen.

Father Alexander Schmemann was an acclaimed Orthodox theologian and one of the founders of St. Vladimir’s Seminary. The month before he passed on in 1983, he wrote a short piece that he read at his last Thanksgiving liturgy which even years later has been quoted:

Thank You, O Lord!

Everyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation and eternal joy…

Thank You, O Lord, for having helped us to overcome all difficulties, tensions, passions, temptations and restored peace, mutual love and joy in sharing the communion of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you, O Lord, for the sufferings You bestowed upon us, for they are purifying us from selfishness and reminding us of the “one thing needed:” Your eternal Kingdom.

Thank you, O Lord, for having given us this country where we are free to worship You.

Thank you, O Lord, for our families: husbands, wives and especially, children who teach us how to celebrate Your Holy Name in joy, movement and holy noise.

Thank you, O Lord, for everyone and for everything.

Great are You, O Lord, and marvelous are Your deeds, and no word is sufficient to celebrate Your miracles.

Amen.

And so we say, THANK YOU, HOLY ONE!

Religion is…………………(from Matthew 23)

What is the word “religion” How would you define religion? It’s not really easy to define because just about each person alive has a different definition of it. Even different people of the same exact denomination have a different definition.

Everyone sees God a bit differently. If you were to look at the outside world from the windows in this room where I am writing this, you would verbalize what you are seeing at the moment as definitely what the outside world is. The outside world is what you see. And yet, people looking out the windows to the North and those looking out the windows to the South would see different things.
“What is religion?” If a person were doing things unloving, and justifying them with passages from the Holy Bible, what would that mean as foar as “religion was concerned? How does it really count in our lives? What is it all about?

If we are really to follow the teachings of Jesus, and this whole society has freedom of religion, and there are so many different ways to believe and so many different churches, what is it that we as followers really believe? Do we/they really practice the religion of Jesus Christ? Or, if they are practicing another religion, do they practice it and does it make a change for them?

A survey was conducted of 1,500 different Americans as to what they believe. 1,500 people were selected at random and asked questions. Here are some questions asked:

Does America believe in the power of positive thought? More than 90% of those surveyed agree, either strongly or somewhat strongly, that what they think has an effect on their physical well being. A full 96% of those surveyed believe that what they think has an effect on their health. And 92% believe that what they think can change the outcome of events in their lives. Of those surveyed, 92% believe that a positive mental attitude can be very effective in helping to deal with life challenges.

Americans tend to rely on themselves rather than just luck, the survey shows. A large percentage of those surveyed (84%) believe people create most of their own problems. When faced with life challenges, most respondents indicate that they tend to rely on themselves for solutions.  Nearly 90% agree either strongly (47%) or somewhat strongly (42%) that a strength comes from within.

Interestingly, 42% of those surveyed go to church, and yet a vast majority say they believe in God; they believe in a power higher than themselves. Everyone has a slightly different view on what that higher power is.

Today, just for the brief moment as we dig into this, I would like to take a look at what Jesus said about religion. You’ll find that even though He was talking about religion of that day, it is still very true for today.

The first thing Jesus did, ( Matthew 23) was to denounce formalism in religion. Do you know people are surprised when they come to church today? They are surprised that we can laugh in church; that we can have joy. I ask you, what better place to laugh, what better place to find joy than right here? If you have ever come to our Spiritual Family Prayer Room,  http://thespiritualfamily.chatango.com, you will be amazed at the comraderie, the laughter, the music. It is a wonderful Bethel (as we call it) and all feel so at peace and happy there. You too can feel that peace, serenity, happiness wherever you are. Try it. Practice it.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.” If we are to follow Jesus Christ, we need to practice what we teach. We shouldn’t just come to church and memorize the words; we should strive to practice it in our daily lives. How do you go about practicing the teachings in your daily life? You do it moment-by-moment as things face you. Like it said in the 23rd Psalm, live that Psalm, practice the presence of God. You practice it by knowing that you are not alone, by knowing that there is a power working with you that can help you get to the other side. That walks with you as a shepherd.

I am here to tell you of your possibilities. I am here to tell you that you are more than human, more than flesh and blood. I am here to tell you that no matter what you have faced in your life, you can overcome. You are not locked into the past. The past does not put you in jail. Today is a new day. Because God is with you, working in your human mind, you can walk beside the still waters. That means you have calmness and serenity inside of you. You can have an assuredness of faith that you can walk forward. You can succeed in ways you have not succeeded before.   You walk with Him in safety which creates your (our) Humbleness.

Jesus goes on to say, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their [robes] broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call
them rabbi.” Of course he is saying this as admonishment.

This is teaching humbleness. It is teaching that the human is not the important part. The important part is the shining glory of the Christ you can have as you surrender to that. What Jesus is saying here is that they are teaching people to surrender, not to God but to them. That is the wrong way to surrender.

We all have equal access to God. This is exactly what Christ tells us. He is saying that we are students of a great creative activity of God. It is a soul school where we are all enrolled, whether we want to be or not. Even if we resist it, we are enrolled in it. The more we surrender, the more we can accept its blessings.

So, in Jesus’ teachings we have to:

1. Practice the presence.
2. Be willing to practice and do the work by acknowledging – .
An assuredness of faith
Humbleness
Teachability
3. We all have equal access to God.
4. We’re all students of Christianity with one teacher – God.

This says that each one of us has direct access and communication with our God.

You have as much access as I have. I am not special. The only thing that makes us different is that I am here giving the lesson, and you are reading it or, perhaps, listening to it. But that’s not what’s important. What’s important is what happens later on this week with you in your life. Will you be loving on Monday? Will you be at peace on Tuesday when you have to face whatever it may be? That’s the key – to know that you are not stripped defenseless as a human being. You
have a love and a power that is directly with you, and that will never leave you alone.

“Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah.” Do not look to any man or woman to be your final authority in life. Whatever you hear, take the things you can accept, and then go and test them for yourself. Go to God directly and ask, “Is this right for me?” Then you’ll have the flood of information that comes to you directly and you will know without a doubt what is right or wrong for you. You’ll know, and it will become very real to you.

“The greatest among you will be your servant.” The greatest among you will not be exalted, but will be on his or her knees to serve you, to give to you. The ultimate service to humankind is not to wait on you hand and foot with material things and doing things like bringing you glasses of water. It is to be your servant in love. That’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to love you, even if you don’t love me. That is the ultimate way to serve humankind.

All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” This does not necessarily mean that if you exalt YOURSELF that the hand of God is going to come and strike you down and leave you lying on the floor of the sanctuary. It doesn’t mean that at all. It means as you go by your own way of your own mind, you will cut yourself off from the awareness of God.

You will find, in time, that your own ways are not really the ways that bring you happiness, and you’ll question: “Isn’t there more to life? Is there something here I’m missing?” At that point, if you let the Mind of God in, you’ll find the flood of realization. God will not say to you,”Tsk, tsk, tsk . . . you were so bad, you went the wrong way you miserable person.” If you hear that, that is your own mind. God mind will say, “I love you without question. I so adore you for who you are and the possibility of what you’re going to become.” It’s going to cuddle you andhold you tight, and begin to flood you with the way you, personally, need to go. It won’t be a generic message, but a very personal spiritual message for you, working in you.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

The word “hell” as in most places in our Bible means Gehenna which literally was the trash dump outside of Jerusalem. There were fires burning there for over 800 years. This is where the reference to hell as the eternal hell fires comes from in the teaching of Christianity today across the whole world.

What it’s saying is that I am not to stand here as someone who is giving you the message of your unimportance and tell you about the trash dump of life. I’m not here to tell you about the pits of life; I’m here to tell you about the goodness of life, the goodness of God and the potential of every one of you. And you are to tell yourselves the same thing.

There are more Pharisees today than in the time of Jesus, the crystallization in the realm of forms is found on every side. A Pharisee observes the forms but neglects the spirit of religion.”

A wonderful story is about the people who were going down the Nile River. One day there was one man who said, “Oh, I don’t need to go down the Nile. All I really have to do is study the maps.” He became a great scholar. Do you know he knew every rock that was on the bottom of the river? The depth and width of the river at given areas? He was an expert like no one had ever been. As a matter of fact, he spoke all around the world as the premiere expert on the Nile. Yet, he had never been there. Crowds would come to hear him talk about the maps of the river Nile, and yet he had never felt its water on his face. He had never fallen out of the boat to feel the temperature of the water. He had never experienced it.

Religion is not a Sunday morning experience. It is an every day, every moment experience. Religion is not something that tears you down, but something that builds you up. Religion is not something that lacks love, but fills you with love every moment of your life. It helps you to know that you have a power within you that loves you so deeply and so specially.

In Matthew 12:16 it says, “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, “Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.” This is talking about things like having to sign a card of commitment to a certain religion to give a certain amount of your income. They have this today and they had it back then.

The word “religion” literally means “way of life.” Religion is not a Sunday morning experience for one hour, it is a lifelong spiritual journey lived one moment, one day at a time.

Jesus says to the scribes and the Pharisees, “You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!” Jesus believed in giving to the church, it is something we should all do,
but not in place of living the spiritual teachings. Many gave offerings in the history of religion to buy their way into grace and heaven. The way to grace and heaven is found through living the spiritual teachings in our daily lives.

We can follow all the ways of Jesus’ religion, follow the way He walked, but how are we thinking this moment? Or on Tuesday evening, how are we thinking about ourselves? Are we thinking about ourselves as God would be thinking about us? Are we believing in our possibilities? Do we know, with our faith and with God,that everything is going to work out okay? Do we know we are going to be healed? Do we know that if we speak the word in acceptance of faith, that God will work inside of us, no ifs ands or buts? It’s our God, and God is one with us.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.”

Imagine you’re a cup. Where is the outside of your cup? Well, this morning we took showers, brushed our teeth, put on our clothes and combed our hair, but it is more important to clean the inside of us first. It is more important to think aright, to cleanse ourselves of all the self-condemnation, anger, and hate; to forgive, and to have God infill us again.

He goes on and becomes tougher. He says to the scribes and Pharisees, “You are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Inside of each one of us is where the church is. That is where the cathedral is. Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning, Thursday afternoon are the times of worship. We are to live our Christianity and make it fully alive, not in a show to others, but to reveal what is in our soul.

You have trillions of cells in your physical body temple listening to your thoughts right now. You have a career ahead of you where you can produce spiritually for yourself and for others. You have relationships where you can shine love like you never believed you could. All you have to do is humble yourself and let God shine through, realize you have that connection and connect yourself, and plug yourself in to make it all alive.

Jesus’ own religion was a system of true spiritual thought inside of Himself. It was not to exalt himself. Over and over again He said, “Don’t look to me; look to God.”  We know it is not to exalt any preacher. It is to exalt those holy moments, those quiet moments beside the still stream when we again find the mystery connection, the secret voice, the magic of God in us.
And, it is and  you will.

Let us pray. . .

This morning I ask for the beginning of a new connection. I ask for a beginning of a whole new spiritual awareness that is higher than anything I have ever experienced. I pray that our minds and our lives open up in a way hat we can be infilled so we totally and completely clean the inside of the cup.    We give ourselves totally and completely to the activity of the Holy Spirit in and through us.

In Jesus Christ’s name and nature we pray…Amen.

To vote is a Responsibility and a Privilege

Romans 13:1 “there is no authority except that which God has established.”
The United States will vote on Tuesday, November 6th. It is a scarey time no matter who you support but regardless…

I want to share with you all today the importance of getting out to vote and how important it is – as Christians. Now we have been preached at for years about NOT mixing politics and religion – church and state, you know. Did you know that originated to keep the government out of church business, not the other way around. And for us Christians, faith is part of our lives, every aspect of our lives. So, why should we cordon off politics from our faith?  The truth of the matter is many Christians today don’t know how their faith affects their vote.
Instead of shying away from the issue, Let’s look at how all Christians should vote (in my humble thoughts). No, I’m not going to come out and say vote Republican or vote Democrat. That would be too easy … and too polarizing.

First, we must remember that “we are commanded to be “aliens and strangers” in this world because our “citizenship is in heaven” (I Peter 2:11, Philippians 3:20).  At the same time, we are citizens also of this country, of our states, of our cities and towns. We do owe our fellow citizens our input, our decree of what is best for our area and our nation.

Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” ~ Jeremiah 29:7  This is our duty as Christians – our Judeo-Christians and our heritage. What Jeremiah is telling us here is that we must seek peace and create a space – a place where we can prosper, where the atmosphere, the conditions are right that the average (wo)man can support himself/herself and family and give back to their church or synagogue and community so that the Lord’s word can be spread and so we can share this word with all – in safety and freedom.

As I peruse the social media, the news, conversations with others I wonder, “Have we lost all civility during election season? Everything you read on social media and the news is so severely mean and divisive. Politics has become so polarized today you cannot even stop at the store or drop by the donut shop without being told to choose who you’re going to vote for. Between all the smear campaigns and negative ads, we have lost the ability to have conversations with respect and humility And I am speaking of Christians and people who profess to hold dear to their ethical and moral characters.  It is beyond belief what some people will say and do to try to persuade others. I actually am severely limiting my actions and reflections on the social media to just hello’s and spiritual talk and television is quickly becoming a thing of the past in our household. We stopped watching the major channels years ago due to the lack of any guidance or good moral content. And now, because I have become extremely upset at some of the things I have seen and read that I am not going to get on the social media until the middle of next week and maybe not even then, at least not like I used to. It just has put a bad taste in my mouth. I am sure that many are feeling these same effects.

People post political views on Facebook, and then people complain about other people’s views because they don’t agree. I’m sure thousands of people have been “unfriended” (sometimes literally) because of what they post on Facebook. As Christians, we should remind ourselves to be peaceable and respectful. Be above the rhetoric of rabble-rousing.

You should know where each candidate stands on a myriad of issues. If you don’t inform yourself, then you are merely becoming the type of person who gets swayed by negative ads. You need to develop your own filter so you can evaluate the things you hear in debates and ads

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Part of the problem is too many Christians have become One-Issue Voters, and once they encounter a candidate who doesn’t agree with them on the hot-button issue, then they stop listening and stop learning.   Perhaps your One-Issue is abortion or same-sex marriage or the economy or foreign policy. I know of a woman whose One-Issue is stem cell research. You never know what that issue may be to different people.

The fundamental problem with being a One-Issue Voter is your president doesn’t just vote on that one issue. If you vote for a candidate because of his stance on marriage, then you’re also voting for his policies on the economy, health care and the environment.

We all have our hot spots – those issues that really move us. You shouldn’t ignore the issues you feel strongly about; and you should feel passionate about “your issues” – study them, research them. Christians should pursue what the Bible has to say about these issues like abortion and poverty. Don’t vote ignorantly, vote informed. So, when you cast your vote, understand how your vote is cast along the broad spectrum of issues, not just one.

“ Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” ~ Titus 3:1-2
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~ Proverbs 31:8-9

Whether you advocate for the unborn, those in poverty, or those at war … or all of them. Don’t simply vote for whomever will give you the best tax break or the best health plan; also use your vote to bless others and be careful through research of platforms what that entails.

Again, the very foundation of our faith lies in the advocacy of Christ. II Corinthians 8:9 states, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”  Jesus became our Advocate by taking on our poverty and making us rich. He took on the poverty of our sinfulness and gave us his rich righteousness. For this reason, we are called to advocate for others. Most politicians, regardless of party, are rich by our standards. Which one(s) use or have used their wealth to help others, to spread morality throughout the nation and other places as well.
Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.” ~ Zechariah 7:10

Whether you vote for Obama or Romney, one of these men will be the leader of our country. And regardless of how you feel about them, you are called to pray for them.
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior” ~ I Timothy 2:1-3

Pray for whom to vote. Pray for the issues, all of the issues. Pray for peace among the parties. Pray for those who need a voice. Pray for whomever wins, regardless of who that is!
In fact, if you haven’t been praying for the person or party with which you disagree, then let the first time you open your mouth be in prayer to God, not in criticism to others.

I remember the election in 1984 (although just a babe – haha), Reagan won 49 of 50 states and garnered 525 electoral votes to Mondale’s 13. As the incumbent president, I don’t think that election was about hope as much as this one is. I don’t think people were so concerned about their future being better, because they were pretty happy with their present!

This election, however, is about hope. The rhetoric among the parties is about who will raise America out of the recession, who will create new jobs, who will change the trajectory of our nation in the world at large.

But, as Christians, we need to realize we need to Vote Without Hope. Don’t place your hope in any one person. Ultimately, whoever wins will not deliver on every promise. Neither candidate will be able to accomplish everything they intend. And in four years, we will probably be using the rhetoric of hope once again to nominate new presidential candidates.

However, we can Vote WITH Hope. That is because we believe in a God who is sovereign over the president and Congress and supreme over the Supreme Court. He does look over them even when they and we turn our heads.
Proverbs 21:1 reminds that “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord.” What a promise! God is in control. In fact, Romans 13:1 tells us “there is no authority except that which God has established.”

No matter who wins and whether “your guy” wins or loses, you can hope in our God who is the ultimate ruler of nations. So, whether you agree with where we are going as a nation or not, rest assured you can hope in the literal “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:6).

Pray for the redemption of our nations; pray for a leader who can bring us Home!

May God bless you!