About http://thespiritualfamily.chatango.com/?flash and https://thespiritualfamilymessages.wordpress.com/

We have a chapel site, a message site, and spritual chat room, open to all. thespiritualfamily.chatango.com. In addition, there is a blog that presents a spiritual and uplifting message, weekly. At this writing there are almost three hundred messages available. https://thespiritualfamilymessages.wordpress.com/ I am an ordained minister, recently retired from serving as a chaplain at a prison as well as serving as ministry leader in several community activities, organizations, and churches. I am also very active in serving in geriatric settings, bringing love and showing how faith and trust can bring the peace that surpasses all understanding.

INSPIRATIONAL SAYINGS

 

Take one or a few of these and meditate on it/them.  Share your thoughts in our chat room this coming week.

 

 

 

*Don’t attempt to run from the past; it is always behind you.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t be afraid of opposition; Remember a kite rises against, not with the wind.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t be afraid of tomorrow, for God has already been there.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t be concerned others not appreciating you. Be concerned about your not appreciating others.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t be irreplaceable – if you can’t be replaced, you won’t be promoted.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t be so Heavenly minded that you do no earthly good. *Don’t control; be in control.

 

 

 

* Don’t count the days; make  the days count.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t ever slam a door; you may want to go back.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. *saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t get married only because of the money. You can borrow it cheaper.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant. **Don’t just get something out of church; put something into it.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t kill the dream – execute it!

 

 

 

 

*Don’t learn the tricks of the trade; learn the trade.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t let anybody walk through your mind with dirty feet. (Gandhi)

 

 

 

 

*Don’t let people drive you crazy when it is within walking distance.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t let time take control of your destiny. Let your destiny take control of your time.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

 

 

 

*Don’t let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future.

 

 

 

*Don’t limit your challenges – challenge your limits.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t listen to what I say; listen to what I mean.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t love the things you own, lest they own you.

 

 

 

 

*Don’t measure your life by how many breaths you take; measure it by how many times, you get your breath taken away.

 

 

 

*Don’t pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger people.

 

 

 

Dear God, help me live the Truth in my life every single day.

Help me to walk away from error beliefs and opinions and

become a stronger person in faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen

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Competition

Jeremiah 11:18-20 (NIV).  Plot Against Jeremiah

18 Because the LORD revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. 19 I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying,   “Let us destroy the tree and its fruit;
let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.”
20 But you, LORD Almighty, who judge righteously and test the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause.

 

 

Psalm 1 (1-3)

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

 

 

 

Mark 9:30-37(NIV): Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time (GOSPEL)
30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

 

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.  35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

 

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

 

 

 

THOUGHTS:

 

But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” –Mark 9:34

 

 

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus has to have a discussion with his disciples about humility. When Jesus confronted them about their argument, they were ashamed. Sitting down, Jesus tells them this: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

 

 

Oh, how often we think we are better than everyone else, even though we are not! The ego is much easier to inflate than a balloon, but pops just as quickly when pricked with shame. The easiest way to avoid this is simply to follow this message: “Be the servant of all.” We must not be preoccupied with who is the best. Rather, we should think about ways to serve, and about how Christ is working within.

 

 

The modern, competitive world makes this rather difficult to do, and this is defintely frustrating. However, what might be even more frustrating is the competition that takes place within ourselves: the competition between desires. I want this, I want that. I want to do great things, and yet strangely, sometimes I want to do things that are terrible and not great in any way. Where does the desire for God fall in with this internal war? If only my desire for God won out in every single instance; then I would stop wasting time wondering where I stand in competition with others and spend much more time thinking about love, both divine and human, and how to submit to Christ’s workings within me.

 

 

Love and Christ ought to always win when in competition with excessive pride toward the false gods, and the only way for that to happen in every instance is to be “the servant of all.”

 

 

 

Prayer of the Day: O God, our teacher and guide, you draw us to yourself and welcome us as beloved children. Help us to lay aside all envy, competiveness, and selfish ambition, that we may walk in your ways of wisdom and understanding as servants of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord who taught us to pray saying,  ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy  name. thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we  forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,  for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever’.   Amen

Competition

Jeremiah 11:18-20 (NIV)   (The Plot Against Jeremiah)

 

18 Because the LORD revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. 19 I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying,

“Let us destroy the tree and its fruit;
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
that his name be remembered no more.”

 

20 But you, LORD Almighty, who judge righteously
and test the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for to you I have committed my cause.

 

 

 

Psalm 1,  1 – 3

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

 

2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.

 

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

 

 

 

 

Mark 9:30-37(NIV): Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

 

30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

 

 

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

 

 

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

 

 

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,   37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

 

 

THOUGHTS:

 

But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” Mark 9:34

 

 

In today’s  reading in Mark, Jesus has to have a discussion with his disciples about humility. When Jesus confronted them about their argument, they were ashamed. Sitting down, Jesus tells them this: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)c  Oh my, how often we think we are better than everyone else or can do something so much better than another, even though we are surely not! The ego is much easier to inflate than a balloon, but pops just as quickly when pricked with shame. The easiest way to avoid this is simply to follow this message: Be the servant of all. We must not be preoccupied with who is the best. Rather, we should think about ways to serve, and about how Christ is working within us.

 

 

The modern, competitive world makes this rather difficult to do, and this is defintely frustrating. However, what might be even more frustrating is the competition that takes place within ourselves: the competition between desires. I want this, I want that. I want to do great things, and yet strangely, sometimes I want to do things that are terrible and not great in any way.

 

 

Where does the desire for God fall with this internal battle or even internal war? If only my desire for God won out in every single instance; then I would stop wasting time wondering where I stand in competition with others and spend much more time thinking about love, both divine and human, and how to submit to Christ’s workings within me.

 

 

Love and Christ ought to always win when in competition with excessive pride toward the false gods, and the only way for that to happen in every instance is to be “the servant of all.”

 

 

 

 

Prayer of the Day:   O God, our teacher and guide, you draw us to yourself and welcome us as beloved children. Help us to lay aside all envy, competiveness, and selfish ambition, that we may walk in Your ways of wisdom and understanding and live always looking to You as  servants of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord who taught us to pray saying, ” Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.   Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debters.  And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. ”  Amen

 

 

May the blessings from God be with each of you and me as we honor God, praise, and worship Him and draw Him deep within our hearts.

 

 

May we love and honor every person we encounter, knowing we are all His children.

 

 

Let us go in peace and serve the Lord,

Be Prepared

Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared

Matthew 25 (NIV) 25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.  11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

 

 

A perfect parable for being prepared, prepared to live in the serenity of the Love of our Lord and prepared to die to Him, and to inherit everlasting life.

 

 

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote a prayer in 1943 that has become famous. I’m sure you’ll recognize it.

 

 

“God, give us grace to accept, with serenity, the things that cannot be changed, the courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”

 

 

I love this prayer; and as many of you know, it is used by millions of people around the world. This prayer is a wonderful philosophy of life. The key to it, of course, is the “adverbial phrase” — to have the wisdom to distinguish between the first two parts — to know what in life to try to change, and what to try to simply accept because it cannot be changed. In other words, be prepared for life.

 

 

How many of us have the wisdom to know these things? It seems that if we have the wisdom, if we accomplish this through life experience, contemplation, prayer, meditation, however we gain wisdom, we can earn that quality called serenity, happiness, and, of course, inner peace. It is all about using our knowledge, our wisdom to accept, and to be prepared, relying on our God and His Son to guide us.

 

 

The search to find and become serene – to feel that sense of peace requires a balance of knowledge, wisdom, and positive action. What would we need to bring into our lives to feel that inner peace? I think the true way to feel this serenity – to feel serene – is through our relationship with God; and we do this through belief and the preparation to live as one with Him.

 

 

Even scripture has its own serenity prayer and it dates back thousands of years. These words will have a familiar ring to them. Focus on the words of the Gospel of Matthew. Realize as you read and perhaps reread these words of Jesus what He is telling us on how to prepare for serenity – inner peace.

 

 

Matthew 6:31-33: “Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life – what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body – what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns. And yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you, by being anxious, can add one cubit to his (or her) span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing?

 

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin. Yet, I tell you, even Solomon and all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore, be not anxious saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ But seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”

 

 

I love these words. They are magnificent and so calming in themselves. We have heard the last part many times; and it is the true significance of this spiritual journey that you and I are searching for in order to grab the significance of happiness, and our desire for serenity and inner peace. Seek first God, then all else will be added unto us.

 

 

I know, you have heard it and done it before. I believe every one of us has. Yet, in order to be serene and know happiness, you and I must pursue this every day – put God first in our lives. This is the only way to be prepared to live a serene and purposeful life.

 

 

With all the challenges in our lives these days, it is difficult to have the confidence and the trust it takes to actually believe that we can put God first. Maybe that’s why many people are not at peace and are fearful. It’s scary to turn over everything, especially for those who do not totally trust.

 

 

So, as we contemplate our need to put God first so that God may speak through us, and act through us, and give us something worthwhile to do, we realize, all over again, this loving connection that is ours.

 

 

What promises would you like to make to yourself right now? Promises that you will keep.

 

If we DON’T do that, then we tend to need the world to support us so we won’t be afraid, so we can find serenity (through others); we need our spouses, our bosses, our co-workers to recognize us, praise us, and give us credit for what we have done.

 

 

One thing about people in this day and age – they do not always give us the support that we need or feel we deserve. It does not happen all the time. Maybe that is because we are the ones who are supposed to give that support, and love to ourselves. Keeping our own promises is a key way for us to find our own inner peace and our own serenity.

 

 

If you ever feel a sense of anxiety, what can you do about it? Think about it, and the answer comes: “Really be there.” What does that mean? The answer is: “To really be there, in the moment.” When you feel anxious, you need to breathe deeply into that stress, that anxiety and then pray. Don’t try to stuff it or ignore it. Then it just grows and grows.

 

 

Think about this: during a rainy day, instead of fearing that it might ruin your plans or make you feel down and anxious, take a deep breath and notice the raindrops and how they slide down the window pane. Focus on that beauty of nature. Listen to the thunder as the rain continues. The sheer variety in the raindrops and how they fall can be very relaxing. I feel relaxed just thinking about it (since it rarely rains in Texas during the summer months).

 

 

And think about this – the sad mockingbird has no songs of its own. It has no musical taste. It will follow the song of a robin with the song of a little sparrow. It sings and sings and sings, and is so joyful. Why? Because it makes others’ songs its own. It has real joy when it gives itself, completely, to its own singing. It feels and is complete in its joy of singing.

 

 

We have often heard that another way to serenity, to feeling a sense of inner worth and peace, is to be grateful for what we already have. The glass is either half empty or half full; it is our call. What do we say it is? Is it half empty or is it half full?

 

 

By showing gratitude toward the things we already have in our lives, we are actually invoking the very presence of God. Invoking the presence of God is surely the best way we have of reminding ourselves of what is really important. This is the number one way to prepare ourselves for serenity.

 

 

Some of us are prisoners of our desires – things we want, or the things we feel we have to have. How do we deal with our attachments to things? One suggestion might be to feel the pain of not having what you do not have.

 

 

I decided one day that since I have so many t-shirts, I would donate an old one for any new ones I bought. Guess what, except for a new blouse for church, I have not purchased any new t-shirts in a year. I often look longingly at a great t-shirt but then turn away. It hurts a bit, but I am not willing to discard the old.

 

 

How long do you ever stay happy when you get what you want? A few hours? A few days at most? Even a brand new car stops bringing pleasure after a few weeks. It just becomes the thing you ride in to get to where you are going. Is it worth it? That is something to contemplate in prayer.

 

 

We, also, can offer our attachment to things directly to God. Continue to offer to God whatever it is we desire, over and over again until we start believing that it is God’s, not ours – which it is, nothing truly is ours. The pain will then cease and desist.

 

 

We, also, can take care of our bodies. Many of the ills or discontent and anxiety we experience in our lives is often due to discomfort in the body. If we pay attention to the things that really serve us – the foods we really need to eat in the appropriate quantities, the exercise our bodies desire – the problems may evaporate (talking to myself here – maybe you, too).  Take a long walk, or work out in the gym, while practicing the presence of God. A lot of problems simply dissolve when the body’s needs are taken care of. Pay attention to and take care of the body. This is another stage of preparation for serenity.

 

 

Lastly, there is a kind of discontent that comes over us that is actually healthy, despite everything we have been talking about and that is – A Divine discontent.

 

 

“Are you not paying attention to something? Is there some unfinished business in your life? Are you not taking care of your family? Do you have a commitment that you are ignoring? Do you have a calling from your soul that you are putting on the shelf? If you are doing any of these things, a kind of Divine discontent arises in the soul, and calls to us to fulfill it. It will not be content until we make the necessary efforts to fulfill them. This is a gift God gives us. We must do what is necessary to fulfill those things.”

 

 

Make a list of your goals, and prioritize them. Look specifically at your goals and decide what is most important and what you can do right now.

 

 

Taking care of yourself should be right up there as number one and also – make one of the goals the commandment Jesus gave his disciples and us and that is “To love the Lord, your God with all you heart, all you soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.” The fulfillment of that goal will bring the highest degree of satisfaction into your life.

 

 

It is spiritually important to take care of those goals as it is spiritually important to pray and to meditate. All of these things bring their own contentment.

 

 

It would be great if it only took a blue sky and some white clouds to bring serenity – not that it can’t, but more often, it takes our own commitment to know what we really need – our God, our minds, our bodies, our families, etc. – and to fulfill those needs before contentment can come.

 

 

But it will come.

 

 

Most of all, it takes our awareness that God lies behind it all.

 

 

If we seek first to know God, to put the presence of God into every activity, then serenity is ours. Or, in the words of Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things (serenity) will be added unto thee.”  Put it all together and you are now prepared to live in His glory. You have learned the secret of serenity, hope, faith, and trust. What more can you ask for? With this preparation you are not only ready to live a full and fruitful life, but you are prepared to pass on to that great beyond – having successfully followed that path toward His Light.

I pray that serenity lives as part of you.

God Bless you.

What is God Like?

Genesis: 17: 1. When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless.”
I am sure we have all heard this lovely little story: A six-year old child looked into the crib of his brand new baby brother and said, “Quick, before you forget, tell me what God is like? I am starting to forget.” What the child was asking about has been the pursuit of scholars for many centuries Scholars call it “theology.” Theology seeks to answer the question, “What is God like?” I want to give you a very brief insight into the theology of the Bible. You may find it much more interesting and understandable than you think.

 

 

 

When we, as Christians, speak of God, we frequently refer to a “trinity” of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is Biblical. If we compare Genesis 1:1-3 and John 1:1-14, we see that the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Word (Who became incarnate in Jesus Christ, the son) were all present before the creation of the universe. Ephesians 4:4-6 refers to the concept of “Trinity.” Jesus told His apostles to baptize in “the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

 

 

 

This is a difficult concept to grasp. However, man is also a trinity of body, soul, and spirit; “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thess. 5:23) We do not fully understand how the three are united and what their interrelationships are. And. if we can’t understand our own nature, how can we hope to fully understand God? Let us accept what God has revealed and seek to learn what we can of the things we can understand.

 

 

 

Here are three questions about God for this day:

 

The first question is the question of Moses: “Who is God?” Ex. 3: 13-14. …………. and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then, what shall I tell them? God said to Moses, ‘I am Who I am.’ We can learn something of His nature from His names:  He chose to answer Moses’ question by giving the name first “I am” then later “Jehovah,” the self- existent One. This means He was neither created nor born, nor does He depend on anyone for His existence. He had no beginning and will never have an end. He has always been the same and always will be. This provides certainty and stability every human spirit seeks.

 

 

 

This name was so sacred the Hebrews wouldn’t pronounce it for fear of taking the Lord’s Name in vain in violation of the commandment in Exod. 20:7. When this Name appeared in the Scriptures, the Jew would read another name. They might substitute the Hebrew name “el” “The Mighty One.”. This is the most common name for God and frequently used in the plural, “Elohim” to indicate the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

Exodus 23 uses the name “Adon” (Lord or Master). God is stressing His authority in ordering every Jewish male to report to Him 3 times a year.
When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, besieged Jerusalem and threatened to destroy it, Isaiah asked the question in II Kings 19:22: Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!

 

 

 

“Holy One” means one set aside. One separated from sin and corruption. Wholly apart from men and their misdeeds. Isaiah’s favorite name for God is “The Holy One of Israel.” He is the One venerated and exalted above all others by God’s people. When the priests abused their power and oppressed the people, Malachi asked the question, “Have we not all one Father ? Did not one God create us?” (Malachi 2:10) He is Father in the sense of founder and creator of the race. In the Old Testament, God’s relationship with His people was patriarchal. He ruled as a Father. In the New Testament, it is paternal. He adopts us as His children and loves us as a parent. A higher level of fatherhood. Jesus taught us to call God “Father.” He used the expression frequently, taught us to pray to “our father in heaven, and pictured him as father to a prodigal son.

 

 

 

God is spirit. When Paul spoke to the Greek philosophers in Athens, he said, since we are the offspring of God we cannot represent Him with gold, silver, or stone . Acts 17:29. He is not material. Jesus told the woman of Samaria “God is Spirit.” Spirit is real and living, although invisible. Not an impersonal power or “Force.” Spirit indicates personal, intelligent life. A personality Worship is contact between two spirits; the spirit of God and that of a man.
God is also represented by light. In I John 1:5: “God is light.” This relates to His character: Darkness is sin, ignorance, injustice, and unrighteousness. There is none of this in Him . God provides enlightenment for every aspect of our lives; physical and spiritual, temporal and eternal. To put it simply, He shows us how He wants us to live out our lives. Hence the warning of I John 1:6, If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live in the truth. His people are not permitted to participate in the “fruitless deeds of darkness.” Eph. 5:11

 

 

 

Next God is described as love: I John 4:8. This is His character and His main motivation for all He does.  Nature would not teach us this. The creation is cruel and unforgiving. The lion eats the Impala, the snake eats the mouse, disease ravages all species. There is suffering everywhere; we see it daily..: But God is love.

 

 

 

John 14:9. Jesus has revealed this aspect of God’s character. I Jn. 4:9.   To know God is present in our lives and accept His love and redemption, we must show His love to others.  Heb.12:29 “our God is a consuming fire.” We would be remiss if we do not warn people of the coming judgment of God. This describes His attitude and destructive power against sin and disobedience.

 

 

 

There is a judgment coming on those who do not know God and obey the Gospel. II Thess. 1:7-9.  Fire is connected with this judgment. Jesus expressed God’s love when He came to earth the first time. The next time, He will express God’s wrath on the disobedient.

 

 

 

What does God do? Richland Center Wisconsin has a warehouse which is reported to the first work of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Just a brick warehouse. Near Somerset, PA. is the famous Kaufman mansion at Falling Waters, another Wright creation. They have little in common, but to an expert, the hand of Frank Lloyd Wright is obvious. Just so, we can see God in what He does, as well. Look out your window and you will see the Love.

 

 

 

Gn. 1:1, 2. There was a beginning. Things have not always been as they are. All science seems to agree on this. There was, therefore, an originating cause. No one doubts this. It is common sense. Faith takes over when we seek to know that originating cause. Heb. 11:3

 

 

 

Colossians 1:16, 17 names Christ as God’s agent in creation. It was by the power of His Word God created the world out of nothing. We see it in providence. His is the hand that holds all things together. Col. 1:17

 

 

 

When the sun rises and sets. When it rains and grass grows, when a baby is born or your body is healed of disease, God is at work. He rules and sustains the universe, yet, He has time to note the fall of a sparrow and number the hairs on your head. He cares for you. He makes the plans, all of them, and He makes things happen according to His will. He alone is able to work the work of redemption: we have all been alienated from Him by sin and guilt. We are under sentence of death because the soul that sins dies. He paid the price of our redemption with the blood of His Son. I Cor. 6:20   And our redemption is God’s greatest work. It restores us to the fellowship with Him for which we were created. We belong with God. And we belong to Him, our Father, Elohim, Adon, Jehovah, only because of the Amazing Grace He has offered us. It is through grace you are saved, not through works. It is the GIFT from God. All you have to do is accept it.

 

 

Only God can make life worth living. That’s why it’s important to know Him. Accept Him as your Lord, today; accept the gift of grace He offers and then – Live for Him.

When Dreams Come True

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE, there is life and joy. Proverbs 13:12   We are into a new time in our lives now,…   IF we will it to be so.

 

 

Surprisingly it takes more effort and energy to go back to the past-than it does to go forward. The past was an exciting time. But, it was not without challenges. Of course, we have challenges in life, but they are only opportunities to work with God and discover new positive depths to life, to make us greater, wiser, perhaps more forgiving, and certainly, more loving. It always happens that we have the opportunity to learn from any experience, and we do learn when God is guiding us.

 

 

Luke 12:31, Jesus said, “Seek God’s kingdom first, and all these things
shall be yours as well.”  So, we look at the good in the past. Wonderful things happened, BUT the best is yet to be!  If we do not watch ourselves, we can take the future away and re-live the past on a daily basis. We can become so comfortable with a certain state of mind, that we carry forward the hopes of trying to make the present just like the past.

 

 

God wants us to grow, and become more than we were yesterday. There are usually two reasons why we do not want to start something new, or have new experiences. One of them is the propensity we have for limiting ourselves. We say: “Oh, I can’t do that.” “All my friends tell me I can’t do that.” “You hardly ever see anybody try to do that.” “I can only do so much.” “Look at me, I am too little/large/young/old. How can I do this great thing that is in my mind? How can I fulfill this dream?” “There is just so much I can do. Give me a break; I am only human.” “Maybe that is good for someone else, but not for me.”

 

 

What do we call those?  They are self-imposed limitations, which end up being self-fulfilling prophecies.  With God, we can soar above the level of our former self. Whatever comes to your mind, you can achieve it, with God’s help, God’s direction, and God’s inspiration.  Thanks be to God for His ongoing love.

 

 

Dare to visualize and picture yourself succeeding, in your mind. Dare to dream it, to capture it, and then to soar.  Now, you cannot soar sitting in a chair. You cannot soar while telling everybody about all the wonderful things you are going to do in “the future,” doubting yourself in the present that you have the ability to accomplish it. You cannot soar by speaking negative statements about yourself and what you believe you cannot do.

 

 

God didn’t create you to be a naysayer. God created you to look at the possibilities in life and prove those possibilities to be your own. So, the first reason we do not want to have new beginnings is the propensity we have for limiting ourselves. The second reason is the fear we have of making a mistake. Does that sound familiar? “Cast your anxieties on him.”  1 Peter 5:7

 

 

Do not listen to those negative voices. We cannot dare to dream and soar, when we limit ourselves by being concerned about making a mistake. God has invested in each of us. Love the opportunity to do greater things. Next year you will reflect back on this year and see how you have pushed past certain states of mind to achieve the things you have wanted to achieve with God’s help.

 

 

In Psalms 23 1-3, we are reassured with the familiar words: “The Lord is my shepherd. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.”      Spiritually we are all seeking a restored soul. A fully charged soul. A fully energized soul.

 

 

On television, years ago, Dr. Robert Schuler talked about soaring and the changes we go through. He said there are three things involved in making positive changes in your life. First, there must be a commitment. Second, there must be a plan of action. And third, you must be willing to pay the price.

 

 

If you think about it, every great thing that has happened to you did not come because you were lucky. As Christian students and Christian Warriors, we spiritually know that we draw everything to us by the right of awareness of God’s presence in our life. We actually spiritually earn it. Philippians 4:11 states “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.”

 

 

When wonderful things happen in our lives, we say, “What a wonderful answer to prayer. Thank You, God. I will use faith again and again and again.” These spiritual truths excite us; and they are active in our lives.

 

 

Dare to dream and soar in your future. Dare to be a better person than you have ever been. Push past limitations and past the voices within you. Turn those negative voices into prayer warriors, especially if those voices are negative. I have decided, and you can decide too, to listen to God instead of the doubting voices within my/your own human mind.

 

 

Psalms 121:2, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Your help comes directly from God who will make your heaven right here on earth. So,spread your wings, fly high, dare to dream; that is when dreams come true.

 

 

In the silence of prayer… We dare to dream.   We dare to fly high.

 

 

Thanks be to God

CELEBRATE

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Now, please continue that break and read Nehemiah chapter 12.
The Jews : God’s chosen people, encounter disaster when they stray from God’s ways and protection. Babylon’s soldiers lay Jerusalem’s temple and walls to ruins, and lead all but the poorest from Jerusalem, into captivity. The prophet Isaiah foretold that they’d be forgiven, refined by their suffering and would return from exile. It takes time. Nehemiah works in the court of king Artaxerxes, but feels called by God to rebuild Jerusalem, miraculously the King allows him to do this. Despite opposition, the Israelites put huge effort into rebuilding the massive walls of Jerusalem, the city that was their cultural home, which has been uninhabited for 160 years!

 

 

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

 

 

In Nehemiah 11 the Holy city, built by God – needed a population, leaders settle there and people cast lots 1/10 go to live in this city – moving from their homes! – Huge sacrifice and what a show of obedience; the leaders who settle are listed in Neh 11. Neh 12 –Work is done, people are there -Time to celebrate!

 

 

A celebration was also held in our Bethel Thursday night. We celebrated the blessings from God, family treasures, friendships, our trials, love of pets, gifts of patience and forgiveness. The list goes on and on.

 

 

All of those examples of celebration were for a reason, in response to something significant, something good happening. Celebration is reactive; it’s something that we want to do. It’s human nature to want to mark special happenings and it’s enjoyable; it benefits us, it feels like a ‘right’ response.
The dictionary says of the word celebration – “holding of festivities to mark a happy event, public praising of something.” The bigger and better the event, the greater the celebration. Fundamental to any celebration is ‘thanks’, giving ‘thanks’ to the person or event who or that  made the whole thing possible.

 

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

 

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

 

 

I’m talking about a lifestyle of celebration, where we thank God for significant works, but also apply an attitude of celebration to our daily lives.

 

Let’s break it down into three parts.
• 1. Significance of celebrating God
• 2. Process for celebrating God
• 3. Fruits of celebrating God

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

2. Process for celebrating God

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

 

 

There is confessions. v.30 ‘When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall’. Before anyone sang a word in thanks, there was purification. The people were cleansed first, then the project was cleansed. This would have been through a sacrifice where a sacred animal suffered death in the place of the people. Before these believers could stand before a holy God, they had to have a clean heart.

 

 

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

 

 

The Psalmist wrote – ‘you do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. Psalm 51 v16-17’ External ritual achieves nothing when un-confessed sin lurks in the heart.

 

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

 

We thank from the heart.

 

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

 

Giving praise to God is a profoundly unifying experience. In Jerusalem the priests, Levites, leaders singers and masses join together in worship of God, there’s no distinction as to which ones are rejoicing with great joy – they all are! When we come together before God, we become aware of our equally deep need for God’s forgiveness, and stuff that might divide us can only fade into insignificance compared to the wonder of what Jesus has done for us all. It’s very hard to hold on to a sinful thought or habit, when we expose ourselves to God in humble adoration.  In our Bethel on Thursday night and every Thursday night, we come together as one to celebrate and pray for others. . What joy there is in each heart as we open them up to our Lord.

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

A lifestyle that celebrates God, equips us wonderfully for the trials of life. We are empowered.

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

When Paul was in prison for spreading the good news of Jesus- he wrote, in celebration – In Philippians 4v4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

 

 

Let us rejoice and celebrate without ceasing!   Amen