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.

The Finger of God

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Be Joyful; Pray; Celebrate

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Now, read Nehemiah chapter 12.

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

Let us rejoice and celebrate without ceasing! Amen

 

 

Spiritual Laboratory

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Have you caught the real thing?

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

Let us pray.

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

In Jesus Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

God bless you!

,

 

Helen is in the hospital.  She’s lying in bed, and the Chaplain comes to visit her.  Helen says, “Why am I here? What have I done to deserve this?”

 

 

 

A business person is having a terrible year in business. This person calls the minister and says, “Why is this happening to me? What have I done to deserve this?”

 

 

 

Today let’s think about cause and effect.  Have you ever heard the saying, “Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind”?

 

 

 

Think of water and a silk plant. Let’s say the water represents our thoughts; the silk plant represents the outer world.  If I pour the water down, it produces an effect – a wet silk plant. When we have thoughts in our mind, we have an effect on the outer world.

 

 

 

For example, Say the doctor comes in and says, “Helen, with the effects you have in your physical body,  it is going to take you six months to heal.” Helen holds that in her mind. If she believes it, her body will take exactly six months to heal. This is cause and effect.  So, let me ask you, are you locked into this?

 

 

 

There is a wonderful old movie that was released some years ago called “Groundhog Day.”  It stars Bill Murray.

 

 

It’s a story of cause and effect. Bill Murray visits this town and relives the same day every day over and over (Groundhog Day).

 

 

 

Bill Murray gets up in the morning and goes through the day not being very loving.  Since he’s not very loving (the cause), he had many incidences of people not being very loving to him (the effect). He goes to bed not being very happy with what those 24 hours brought to him. When the alarm rings in the morning, he gets up and realizes that he is reliving the same day again. But this time he does things slightly differently.

 

 

 

This is the whole story of this movie. He lives it, and keeps reliving it, until finally he becomes loving. And when he is loving, his whole life, and everything happening to him changes. It is cause and effect.

 

 

 

 “As far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us” Psalms 103:2.

 

 

 

That seems to talk against cause and effect. That says that if you do something you are not happy with,  God can lift you out of the old pattern to a higher level.

 

 

 

Levels of spiritual development can be surpassed by Divine Grace in a split second. There are many levels of development. One is the level of hard knocks. A lot of us have been on that level for the major part of our lives. If I bend down and hit my head on the table, it hurts. I cut my head, and I experience pain. After many times of doing this, I come to the conclusion that it hurts to bend over and hit my head on the table . I learn how to avoid that in my life.

 

 

 

If I go home, get angry with my family and yell at them (the cause), they will be angry with me for days, weeks, months, or even years (the effect). Soon I learn it is better to be loving. If I am loving, I don’t have that negative effect come to me. That is the hard knocks level of spiritual growth.

 

 

 

But there is a higher level. There is a level where, in a split second, we go to God for Divine Grace. In that split second we are no longer locked into the cause and effect cycle; we are literally lifted above it. This occurs, not through our own actions, but through God’s actions working in and through us.

 

 

 

God’s desire is to express through you in such a complete way – through you, as you – that you never completely reap the harvest of error you sow in your life, and that you always reap more good than you sow. This is God’s Grace. It is a wonderful aspect of the love of God. It is not something that we work to achieve. We do not have to work for this type of love because it simply exists in our lives.  (Reread this powerful paragraph several times.)

 

 

 

Ephesians 2:5. “Even when we were dead through our trespasses” . . .  because of the way we have been acting, we have created a hole for ourselves, and we are stuck in that hole. We may have created a mess in our families, our businesses, and our lives.

 

 

 

“Even though we were dead through our trespasses, we are made alive together again in Christ – by grace you have been saved” Ephesians 2:5, paraphrased.

 

 

 

You are saved by the grace of God – the gift of lifting you out of where you might have gotten yourself. It’s not something you do or earn.   It is a gift freely given.

 

 

 

Luke 15:11-32 is the parable of the prodigal s9n,his father, and his brother.   I encourage you to turn to Luke 15 and reread the parable.

 

 

The story is about God’s Grace in our lives, also, about how we simply need to turn to God.  We may have been far off from God for a long time. Because of the ways in which we have been living, we deserved much worse. Yet, the love of God comes through freely and easily to us. This is the way of God’s love. It always comes. Thank God that we do not have a God who says to you, “Because of what you did back in 1959, you will pay for the rest of your life.” That is a human way; not the way of God. God IS love.  God is NOT made in our image, we are made in God’s image.

 

 

 

We need to accept God as God; not God as we think God should be. If we accept God as we think God should be, we will hold ourselves accountable just as we do in our mind. No one in the world criticizes you more than yourself. You are your greatest critic and judge. God thinks you are wonderful and loves you unconditionally.

 

 

 

God is a God of love and Grace. God does not say, “Tsk, tsk  . . . I’m judging you. You have not been good enough or loving enough, so today you cannot have My grace.” God gives to you freely and easily. If in the moment you feel trapped in some situation, say to God: “God I accept your grace. God I am ready.” And it will come through.

 

 

 

At any time we can replace the law of cause and effect. We can go higher. We are not locked into an endless cycle of our own human mind of cause and effect. We can have the full Grace of God come through. And, like wonder, it will; everything will be changed in a split second of time.

 

 

 

God’s time is not our time. We think in terms of linear time in our minds.  We judge.  We say, “Now, to heal this body it will take this much time” or “To take care of this terrible business that I am locked into, it will take so much time.” But for God,  there is no time or space. Twisted mazes can be straightened out in a split second. I have seen it happen, and you have too.

 

 

 

Cause and effect would say that as a farmer if I sowed ten seeds I would get ten plants. But you know the Truth. If I sow ten seeds, I am going to get back many plants which will produce thousands of seeds. This is the way Divine law works. It works that way in our own life, too.

 

 

 

In a split second you can have what you desire.  God, will always meet you more than half way. By becoming receptive to the Grace of God, we receive the measure of God’s provision which exceeds any of our imaginings.

 

 

 

Our mind will say, “This good I am seeking is far off.” But here is what far could mean: Freewill Accept Receive. That brings the far – close. In your free will, you have the choice to accept God’s good, and it will come to you – beyond what you ask, seek, earn, or even deserve. God is more than willing to give to you.

 

 

 

I repeat, Grace has nothing to do with anything that anyone else has ever done, or any outward activity on your part. Grace is an inner realization that you are already one with God. You always have been, and you always will be. The only separation is a false belief in our own minds.

 

 

 

A great spiritual teacher once said to his ministerial students, “Congratulations. You have now all replaced the law of cause and effect. You will live your lives on a new plane.” You, too, can replace the law of cause of effect. You, too, can live in that realm.  In the Bible, John 1:16-17 it says: “From His fullness we have all received, Grace upon Grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”. Cause and effect is law. However, there is a higher level, and that is the Grace of God. Does that take away from the statement I started this message with? “Thoughts held in the mind produce after their kind.”   No. Not at all. It is the type of thinking that you are holding in your mind.

 

 

 

Let’s say in this split second in time that God totally took over your mind. Right now you are being filled with God. God is filling your every thought. At the core nucleus, there is no more fear or anxiety. You are being filled with the power of God. This is higher than any words can verbalize.

 

 

 

Now, through the power of God, you are filled. Through your human motivation and willingness to accept, you agree to hold this revelation. And thoughts held in your mind will produce after their kind. It works the same way, but it’s a higher working of the law. It’s a higher outworking that can work at any time for you.

 

 

 

There are times of emergency when you have or you will call upon God in the moment, and you can’t wait. You need God, and you need God now.   You consent with your  mind and say,

 

 

 

“God this is the moment.
This is the time.
I give You my human mind.
I ask You to fill me with Your light and wisdom.”

 

 

 

With this, something comes to you higher than you have ever imagined or earned. It is an immediate intervention of God. It is so complete and thorough, and yet it is so quiet and gentle. God does not come to you in a thunderbolt. God comes to you in the stillness.

 

 

 

The immediate intervention of God’s Grace is not reserved for human emergencies only. Grace is omnipresent.

 

 

 

You are literally being bathed in the Grace of God now,  as you sit here in this room. It is instant love. In human situations – on the job, in the home – Grace is always present. There is not one person of any religion who is not surrounded and filled with God’s Grace. But each person has free-will on whether to accept it.

 

 

 

“I will open the windows of heaven for you until you say it is enough.” When do we say it is enough? Do we say, “Okay, God, by my human standards I say it’s enough, so I will accept just a little of my good. I have been bad. I’ve been in the far country. I’ve squandered my father’s money. My brother has been so good all long. He stayed with my father. He has been surrounded in his good all along, but I was too dumb. I don’t deserve any better.”

 

 

 

In the quietness, God says to you: “Please, please accept more of My good. Please take it. Please ask for it. Please, through your free-will, take it. It’s yours. I give to you freely. I want to give it. It gives me great joy to give to you.” And you say, “No, no. I’ll take only this much.” How much better it is to supersede our own mind, and go completely into a state of Grace.

 

 

 

There are more forms of Grace than there are leaves on the trees. Grace is attuning with the law and its perfect working.

 

 

Let us pray:

 

 

 

Dear God, I realize that Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ, that is the real saving, redeeming, and transforming power that comes to me through the work Jesus did, establishing a new and higher truth.

 

 

 

Dear God, I affirm: Through the grace of God I am forgiven and healed.

 

 

 

Help us, Father, to lift ourselves above the law of cause and effect. Be with us, Lord, as we transcend that law to the higher law,   the law of God’s Grace.

 

In Jesus Christ’s name . . . Amen.

BAKE THAT CAKE

Dear God,

In our message today, in the outside world, in our internet Bethel, please grant that nothing I ever do or say will ever detract from the beauty of Christ working through me. Help me always in all ways to reflect Your glory. This I can only ever do with Your help. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, In Jesus Loving Name I Pray, Amen

 

 

In everything we do, we come to that point where we have completed our efforts, and we have to let go and let God. Then we rest. The seventh day is our Sabbath. It is the day God goes to work and brings to completion all of our efforts.

 

 

The simple illustration I have always used is one of baking a cake. If you are going to bake a cake, you have to do your part in the process. That part is your six days of creative activity, where you put all the ingredients of the cake together. Then what do you do? You let go and let God; you let go and let the oven do its work. While you are resting from your effort, the oven, or God, if you will, will go to work and bring to completion your efforts.

 

 

 

When you have understanding faith, (and that means an awareness that God always completes God’s part, and that God is a God of good), then you know you cannot fail. This creative process works, each and every time. We do our part. We put the ingredients of the cake together and put it in the oven, and then we let go and let God.

 

 

 

Of course, what do we often do while that cake is in the oven? We open up the oven door and see how God is doing; we make sure the Divine activity IS really taking place. Then we close the door. We don’t have to do all that when we understand that we really are involved in a creative process with God.

 

 

 

I remember when I came into that awareness. Then the idea came that there really is a system by which I can live. I can really do something about this mess that I have called my life. I can change it. Before then, there was no real system. It was, “Maybe God will act on my behalf, and maybe God won’t.”

 

 

 

Understanding faith is faith based on knowing – knowing that the activity of God is always at work on our behalf. All we have to do is LET IT and to work with it. Do your part, and then – let go and let God. Very often the question arises, “How do I know I have done my part? How do I know there isn’t more for me to do?” When it keeps persisting, and you find that your continuing efforts are bringing more disharmony than harmony, then maybe it might be the time to let go and let God. Stop doing whatever it is you are doing, and let the Divine activity truly take over and bring to completion your efforts.

 

 

 

The words of Paul in his letter to the Philippians (chapter 1, verse 6): “I am sure He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” For us, the day of Jesus Christ can be right now. It is the day of completion. Jesus Christ has already come when you and I realize that God is with us NOW; that God is with us as the essence of our being, the fullness of being, the fullness of life, love, peace, wisdom, and any spiritual quality you can think of. When you have that realization, then for all practical purposes, Jesus Christ has come a second time into your present, daily life. Paul gives us that assurance.

 

 

 

You can count on God to do God’s part in this whole creative process. In the Old Testament, there are several wonderful stories that bear this out – the idea of letting go and letting God at the right time, doing your part and then letting go and letting God step into the picture, and as Paul said, bring to completion all of our efforts.

 

 

 

One of those stories is the story of the Red Sea. The story simply is that Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and got them right up to the edge of the Red Sea. This is your story and mine. The Red Sea, spiritually, represents the big obstacle that seems to loom up on our path of unfoldment. What are we going to do? Try to crash our way through it? Run away from it? What are we going to do? As Moses led these people right up to the Red Sea, these are the words he was instructed to speak to the people: “Fear not.” Why? Because the presence and the power and the activity of God was with them and is with you, in this situation.

 

 

 

Friends, if we didn’t have that realization that a God of good was with us all the way, then how could we possibly face these experiences of life?

 

 

 

Moses said, “Fear not. Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord which God will work for you today.” He said the Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still. In other words, where is it we find our solution? In the stillness. You don’t find the solution in continued struggle in the outer aspect. There are outer things for us to do. The six days of creative activity are ours to do, but then there is always the Sabbath day, the seventh day.

 

 

 

What did the people do? They became still, right in front of this big obstacle. Do you know what the very next line is in the scripture? As soon as the people became still, the Lord said “Go forward.” In other words, the water parted. In some way, that obstacle dissolved itself and the people were able to move through.

 

 

 

It is the same thing with you and me. Have you ever walked right up to a problem and then stopped, relaxed and became still, in prayer, and then walk right on through the challenge?

 

 

 

Why? Because the Spirit of the Lord has paved the way for you, making it straight, safe, smooth, successful, and helpful. So, the Red Sea story tells us that in the stillness, not struggling in the outer aspect, do our miracles take place.

 

 

 

How about the story of Elijah and the still, small voice? He found God, not in the earthquake, not in the wind, not in the fire, not in the outer distractions of the world, but in the still, small voice within himself. What an experience that was! When you read that account in the nineteenth chapter of First Kings, you will see it builds up to a climax of the still, small voice. You can just sense a time of quiet and peace, a time of stillness, that great peace of mind that we all aspire to. After that, what happens? The Lord tells Elijah to go to work, and gives him three things to do. That is the same way it is with you and me. These periods of coming apart in the quietness and stillness are simply times of preparation for outer activity in the world, for another six days of creative activity.

 

 

 

Then you come to the same point of letting go and letting God, enter the Sabbath rest, and be with the still, small voice within you. Sometimes, we get so caught up in all of this that we want to continue struggling and striving in the outer aspect to bring about our miracle.

 

 

 

Another great story in the scripture is the story of Jehoshaphat in Second Chronicles. He was the king of the southern kingdom of Judea. At one point, three invading armies came in to attack Judea. Jehoshaphat did not know what to do, so he went to a prophet. Do you know what the prophet told him? The prophet told him almost the same words you would have heard at the Red Sea with Moses. They begin with,“Fear not.” The prophet tells Jehoshaphat that “the battle is not yours, but God’s. You will not need to fight in this battle. Take your position. Stand still and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf.”

 

 

 

In other words, the prophet told Jehoshaphat, “Don’t do anything.”

 

 

“You mean, I’m not supposed to do anything?” How are most of us conditioned? “I’ve got to get out there and do something.” But he had done all he could, up to this point. And when the three invading armies came in, two of the armies mistook the third for Jehoshaphat and fought with them. Then those other two invading armies turned on each other and fought each other. Who was standing there not having to lift a finger throughout the whole experience? Jehoshaphat.

 

 

 

Friends, IF he would have entered into battle, he would have been fighting a battle that he had already won. Does that sound familiar? How often we keep struggling and striving when the battle has already been won? In God, there is no battle to be fought. If you need to think in terms of fighting a battle, know in God, the battle has already been won! This whole scenario we find involved in God with us, in the perfect spiritual pattern with us, is something that simply needs to be played out on earth. That is what you and I are attempting to do.

 

 

 

One more story comes out of the Old Testament that tells us about being still and experiencing salvation. It has to do with a king named Hezekiah. (In II Kings 18-20.) The Syrians had come down (a conquering nation) and had invaded the southern kingdom of Judea. They were surrounding Jerusalem, and the chief representative of the Assyrian King was outside the walls, threatening the people, and telling them, “Don’t listen to your King Hezekiah. Come out and surrender to us because you cannot resist the great King of Assyria.”

 

 

 

This is like what happens in us, in that city within us that we call peace of mind, when all the negative thoughts seem to be beseeching our peace of mind and quiet and shouting out at us, “Worry about this; worry about that.” Do you know what King Hezekiah does? He tells the people, “Do not answer him.” In other words, be quiet. Do you know what happens? The Assyrians withdraw. Something happens in the outer aspect.

 

 

 

Haven’t you noticed that when you let go and let God, something happens, and very often it is unexpected. It is always better than you expected. But something happens, and that which you fear, does NOT come about. What does come about is the perfect solution to your problem.

 

 

 

It is interesting, because many Biblical scholars think that at that time at the siege of Jerusalem by the King of Assyria, at about 700 B.C., that a certain psalm was written (Psalm 46). Psalm 46 begins by stating, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Do you know what verse 10 of Psalm 46 says? “Be still and know that I am God.” Do you see how that statement ties into what Hezekiah told the people in chapter 18 of II Kings when he said, “Do not answer him”? We can take a cue from that. “Be still and know that I am God.” When you have done your part, simply let go and let God.

 

 

 

At the beginning of this three part series, I began this talk by quoting Ecclesiastes in saying, “For everything is a season; there is a time for every matter under heaven.” I said there was a time to keep silent and a time to speak, but we can also reverse that: there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. I think my time of speaking is over, and now it is time for me to keep silent. I have done my part; the cake is in the oven. Now, it is time to let go and let God.

 

 

May God give you His gifts of discernment so that the last three weeks of this series become strong in understanding and allow you to live your life in quiet and peaceful happiness, knowing the cake is in the oven and will be done to perfection; and also and most importantly may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart during these last 3 weeks of this series be acceptable to You, Oh Lord, our God and our Savior.

 

 

God bless you!

 

 

Rest in the silence of prayer. . .

This we do in the name and through the power of the living, loving
presence of God through Jesus Christ. . . Amen.

THE SOUND OF SILENCE

.”Let me … Find refuge under the shelter of your wings.” Psalm 61:4

 

 

There is spiritual power in stillness and peace of mind, through which you can find, and then express, the joy of the Lord.

 

 

 

In the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, there is a familiar passage that begins with the words “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” The writer goes on to enumerate a number of things saying that there is a time for this and a time for that. In verse seven of chapter 3, it says, “… a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”

 

 

 

I guess this moment now – is my time to “speak”.

 

 

 

Whenever we are going to present something, it is always well if we have something to
relate. Sometimes, we cannot outdo silence. Very often in life we are so conditioned to keep the noise going. We get so outer-oriented and so busy that we forget to take time for quiet; take time apart, as Jesus did in His ministry. This is depicted in several places in the Gospel – where Jesus needs to draw away from the crowds, and take a time apart.

 

 

 

This is not a new idea, but are we really practicing it in our lives? In other words, maybe, sometimes, we are talking too much when we need to be silent, and just spiritually listen for the voice of God.

 

 

 

This reminds me of the story of the tourist who came to a country town.

 

 

 

That evening, he went down to the General Store and found a number of men who were gathered around, sitting there in silence. This particular gentleman happened to be a person who liked to talk a lot, so he kept trying to strike up a conversation. Nobody would reply. These good old boys were just sitting around the General Store in silence. Nobody said a word. Finally, the tourist said, “Well, really, is there a law against speaking in this town?”

 

 

 

One of the men spoke up and said, “No, there’s no law against speaking, but we sort of have a general understanding around here that unless one is sure he can improve upon the silence, he does not speak out.”

 

 

 

The idea of improving upon silence is important if we are considering we have something to say.  We must first become silent and let our mind become active.   And along that line of thinking…. Another story that tells us that if we do speak out, we had better know what we have to say and what we’re going to say, and that it is of importance at least to us and possibly, to other people.

 

 

 

There was a gentleman who was buying a horse. The seller of the horse told the man, “This was a very religious horse. There are a couple of key words this horse will tune in to. Any time you want the horse to stop, just say the word ‘Amen,’ because that’s what he stops on. Then, when you want the horse to go forward, say ‘Praise the Lord.’ You got it?”

 

 

 

The buyer said, “Yes, I understand that, and I’m willing to go with it.” So he bought the horse, remembering that it was a very religious horse.

 

 

 

One day, he took the horse out for a ride. While they were galloping along in this field, the horse began galloping a little too fast. The gentleman forgot the key word to stop the horse (which was ‘Amen’). He was hollering out just about every word you could imagine, but the horse just kept galloping. The gentleman looked up and noticed he was heading toward a steep cliff. The horse kept on going, and the gentleman began to panic. All of a sudden he remembered the key word that would stop the horse, and he cried out “Amen!” The horse stopped right on the edge of the cliff. The man looks down and sees the big drop, looks up to heaven and says, “Praise the Lord.”

 

 

 

This story keys into one thing, in particular. That is, if we have something to say, we hope it is the right thing to say, and that it will be helpful to ourselves and to other people.

 

 

 

The idea of silence is a very important idea because it brings with it peace of mind. And peace of mind is the one thing we all strive to achieve. Of all the blessings you will receive in prayer, there is one that stands out among all the others, and that is peace of mind. I don’t think we can accomplish very much in life without peace of mind.

 

 

 

We don’t have to look very far around the world to see that there are plenty of places in the world that are still in need of peace. But if we are going to have peace out there, we must first establish peace within ourselves.

 

 

 

One of the greatest ways to learn to establish peace within ourselves is to practice the silence, to give ourselves those opportunities to have times of real quiet, prayer, and meditation, and to be in the silence where there is just ourselves and God. These periods of silence will lead to a greater degree of peace of mind, without which nothing of lasting value has ever been accomplished.

 

 

 

The Bible brings this idea out in many different ways. One particular section in the Bible is full of a lot of racket and noise, and that is the book of Revelation. The sixth chapter (please read to get the full effect) in the book of Revelation is where the seven seals are broken and opened. When the first six seals are opened, there are all kinds of noises that take place; things that the writer describes as the upset of the universe that he says must happen before God will reveal God’s self to you, and wipe out all the evil, and establish the kingdom of God.

 

 

 

Remember, that does not literally have to happen. What can happen is that we can establish peace, right here and now, as we let God have God’s perfect way in and through us. There is always a hard way to learn spirituality and an easy way.

 

 

 

In the first four chapters, the four horsemen appear. Then, when the fifth is broken, you have a picture of the martyrs who are slain. They are under the altar crying out, “Oh, Lord, how long before you will avenge us.” It is a very different concept of God than we often have. It depicts a vengeful God who is going to carry out retribution upon his people. This is the JUST my, as the writer’s, point of view of this passage.

 

 

 

Then, when the sixth seal is broken, there are all kinds of cosmic disorders. There are earthquakes and upsets all over the place.

 

 

 

Finally, in the next chapter, there is a nice interlude, a time of quiet. Then, in chapter eight, the first verse, the seventh and final seal is broken.

 

 

 

Do you know what it says then? There is NO more noise and no more racket. It just says simply that there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Can you feel that? Then the noise starts again, according to the writer.

 

 

 

What a relief that must have been. What a relief it is, also, in our lives when we can stop the racket and the noise of the world from intruding on our consciousness and peace of mind, TO KNOW that because God is with us, we always have a direct access to inner peace, that we can turn to God. We can take comfort in that silence of spiritual thought.

 

 

 

Probably one of the greatest stories is in the New Testament – the idea of the stilling of the storm. Jesus was out on the waters on the Sea of Galilee with His disciples, and a storm comes up. Jesus is asleep in the boat. A little lesson here is to remember that God never sleeps. We may sleep, but God, with us NOW, never sleeps. Anyway, the way it is shown in the scripture is that Jesus is asleep in the boat and the disciples wake Him. They ask Him something like, “Don’t you care about us?” All Jesus does is speak the word, “Peace, be still, peace, be still,” and the waters are calmed.

 

 

 

You and I have power to still the storms in our lives. How? By simply speaking the word of peace in prayer, we can take command of our consciousness, and of our lives. We are in charge of our world. We have this power through God.  All power is found in the silence. The Bible says that we have been given dominion. In that power, we find whatever it is we need to accomplish in life, and we find the power to do it.

 

 

 

It is really in the quiet that things are accomplished. We know there is great power in the silence and the peace of mind that it brings. It was the same idea the poets address, in that you, could hear the silence. The sound of the silence can be almost deafening. But what a beautiful sound it is, because you feel the spiritual power it also brings.

 

 

 

Think of Psalm 23 which says, “The Lord is my shepherd . . . He leads me besides still waters; he restores my soul.”

 

 

 

So, whatever it takes to enter into a moment of silence, let’s do that.

 

 

Let’s create a practice in the silence which provides certain steps to entering the time of silence which leads to that blessed peace of mind. This then becomes the foundation from which we can go forth and accomplish things in life.

 

 

 

Most of you here,reading this today, are probably working at a job in the world. That is wonderful. But there is a lot of worldly racket out there. Very often you come to church, to our Bethel, to services or prayer group to experience a time of quiet and hopefully, to gain some insight into practical, helpful daily living, and what everybody really wants – to still the racket of the world, once again. It always serves that purpose, and gives a peace beyond (human) understanding.

 

 

 

This practice in the silence is a little technique to help us become quiet and to attain that peace of mind, from which we can then go forth and really do wonderful things in life.

 

 

 

1) The first step is relaxation.

 

Take command of your mind and body; speak the words Jesus spoke to the storm, “Peace, be still.” It doesn’t take very long to find that your mind and body will respond to that, and there will be a sense of peace.

 

 

Once you have achieved that state of relaxation, then comes—

 

 

 

2) The concentration.

 

 

You begin to concentrate on a certain idea, a Divine idea. You don’t worry about something or stew about some problem you have, but maybe just concentrate on the words “solution” or “answer;” whatever it might be, without effort or strain. Concentrate on a particular idea. You will know what that idea is because it will be revealed to you, through you, at exactly the right moment and in the right way. After the concentration comes—

 

 

 

3) A time of meditation.

 

 

We just let the free flow of thought take place; we are one with the presence and power of God.

After meditation—

 

 

4) Realization.

 

 

The answer comes; an idea is born in our consciousness which is the solution we have been seeking.

 

 

I have found that sometimes the realization, or the answer, just doesn’t come right at that moment. It may be after I’ve left that time of silence and gone on about my life; but at the right time and in the right way, there is the answer. It comes exactly at the right time and in the right way.

 

 

 

The fifth step in this whole process of the practice in the silence—

 

 

5) Simply an act of gratitude or thanksgiving.

 

 

We give thanks to God for the process which we’ve just entered and participated in, and for the answer we know is forthcoming, (if it has not already come at the time of silence). Thanksgiving is not just a wonderful way to end any activity, but to begin the activity as well. So maybe before we begin the practice in the silence, we should begin with a note of thanksgiving, because you know, in God, the answer is already there. All we have to do is let it unfold in our lives at the right time and in the right way.

 

 

 

Sometimes, people get the idea that when we enter a time of quiet or stillness that it is a “cop-out” from the world; that we are trying to avoid responsibility.

 

 

 

We can become still and quiet BEFORE we do anything. The moment of stillness is not really idleness but a real period of intensified focused activity. There is always time in the creative process for you and me to become still, and that is the time when God takes over and brings an increase in our future efforts, in both Divine inspiration and strength.

 

 

 

The first chapter of Genesis is the creation story. Author Emmett Fox says that the six days of creation, before the Sabbath, are not the days that God works, spiritually, but are the days we work, when we put forth our effort and do our part. Then, we always come to the Sabbath, which is a time of rest for ourselves. It is the time when we have to let go and let God.  (an interesting hypothesis)

 

 

 

In everything we do, we come to that point where we have completed our efforts, and we have to let go and let God. Then we rest. The seventh day is our Sabbath. It is the day God goes to work and brings to completion all of our efforts.

 

 

 

Let’s focus on these steps and the glory of our Lord as He joins us in quiet meditation and brings His will and His love directly to us.
 

 

Words aren’t perfect but sentiment is good.

Prayer Connections

Philippians 4:6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God.

 

 

 

As you know, prayer is our focus in the Bethel and in our private lives. But is it enough? Let’s discuss this.

 

 

 

Romana Banuelos was just 16 years old, living in Mexico, when her husband left her with two little children. She was poverty stricken, so she and her two babies got on a bus and came to Los Angeles to work. The problem was they did not speak a word of English.    She had just seven dollars in her pocket. She went to a cab driver and gave him the name and address of a distant relative who lived in Los Angeles.
He delivered her at the house and charged her seven dollars. That was all of her money. She got a job washing dishes. Then she got a job making tacos from midnight to six in the morning. From this job she saved $500 to buy a taco machine. Today she manages the largest Mexican wholesale food business in the world. And she was hand-picked by a former President of the United States to be the 37th Treasurer of the United States. Romana said, “I achieved this because I believed. I believed. I prayed and I believed.”

 

 

 

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale told the story of a surgeon who talked about the most exciting surgery he ever performed. This surgery was performed on a little girl who only had a 10% chance of survival.

 

 

 

The surgeon said, “She was a tiny little thing under the sheet, ashen gray face, so frail, so weak and helpless. Just as the nurses were going to prepare her for anesthesia, she looked at me and said, ‘Every night before I go to sleep I pray. May I pray now?’ At that time I was having troubles of my own with my son and in my home, and I had become a very unhappy person. So I answered her, ‘Sure, honey, and pray for your doctor too.’ Then she prayed, ‘Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me. Watch your little lamb tonight. Through the darkness be Thou near me, keep me safe ’til morning light. And Jesus, bless the doctor, because he’s got troubles, too.’

 

 

 

“It just broke me up. Embarrassed, I turned away from the others and pretended to wash up again so I could control myself and get rid of the tears. ‘Oh God,’ I prayed, ‘In my whole life if you ever use me to save a life, use me now to save this little girl!’   The surgery was a success! Her life was saved!”

 

 

 

But the surgeon later said, that he felt as if he had been the one operated on that morning! During that surgery, he felt a great power come through him – a Divine power like he had never felt before in his life. He said that many times in the past, during surgery, he would have a lot of nervous energy, but there was a great, calm that came over him that he had not felt before during this surgery. Then he said, “It was if something was guiding my hand. Through this calm, I was able to perform surgery with an intricate precision that I, of myself, could not do.” As he turned to God in prayer, the surgeon’s life improved too.

 

 

 

1 Peter 3:12For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers…

 

 

 

Dr. Alexia Carrel is a medical doctor who won a Nobel Prize. He wrote: “Prayer is the most powerful form of energy that one can generate. The influence of prayer on the human mind and body is as demonstrable as that of secreting glands. Its results can be measured in terms of increased buoyancy, greater intellectual vigor, moral stamina, and a deeper understanding of human relationships. Prayer is indispensable to the fullest development of personality. Only in prayer do we achieve that complete harmonious assembly of mind, body, and spirit which gives the frail human need its unshakable strength. When we pray we liken ourselves with the inexhaustible motive that spins the universe.”

 

 

 

You have heard about Michelangelo and his wondrous works of art. He created some of the most fantastic statues that have ever been made. But do you know that he only finished fourteen of them? He worked on 44 statues, but he only finished 14 of them.
If you were to go and look at some of his statues, it would take your breath away to see the beauty. But it would also take your breath away to see some of the unfinished work.
Out of a piece of marble you might see a hand, a wrist, some fingers, and part of a hand. On another you might see a knee, part of a leg, and part of a foot. Seeing these you might have the thought, “Of all the tragedies in life, the greatest one is for a person to live and not be fully developed; not be fully formed into what he/she could be.”
To only be a good hand is not enough. To only be a good leg is not enough. You have to be complete. Completeness cannot be found in just the human being alone but is found in your connection and oneness with God. So many times, you feel like you just cannot be complete because you just don’t feel centered in your thoughts, emotions, or spirit.

 

 

 

Yet, when we take the time to connect in prayer, we connect with our God-given possibilities. We then become whole. It is only through our connection with God that we are whole. When you take the time to connect with God, you take the time to connect with your best possibilities. You connect with all possibility. It comes through your mind, and with God, nothing is impossible to you.

 

 

 

You connect with God, your Creator, the life-energy behind a perfect hand, the life-energy behind a perfect leg. When you connect with God, you connect with strength that you didn’t think you had. You connect with God and all can be well again.

 

 

 

This is called “Into the Day”

 

I got up early one morning
And rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish
I didn’t have time to pray.
Troubles just tumbled about me
And heavier came each task.
Why doesn’t God help me, I wondered,
God answered, “You didn’t ask.”
I tried to come into God’s presence,
I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided,
“Why child, you didn’t knock.”
I wanted to see joy and beauty,
But the day toiled on gray and bleak,
I called on the Lord for the reason–
God said, “You didn’t seek.
I woke up early this morning
And paused before entering the day.
I had so much to accomplish
That I had to take time to pray.
(Author Unknown)

 

 

 

In your life, prayer is like opening a floodgate of God’s perfect good. Behind that floodgate is a force, well beyond your human power, of absolute good-even greater good than you can conceive of from your human mind. Prayer releases latent energies. It renews. It gives you vitality and power in the flesh.
When a man picked up his automobile at the dealership, they wanted him to test the engine. (The wanted to impress him with the power of the engine.) So they had him put the car in park and they said, “Now, rev up this engine to 5,000 rpm.”
The car is in park, and he revs the engine up. As the car shakes and quivers with suppressed energy, he thought, “This is like me, often all my potential is in park.” The moment the energy is released, the moment the car is put into drive, or the person is put into drive then there is tremendous forward movement.

 

 

 

Drive, in the human, is prayer – prayer in the Jesus Christ way, praying, believing without doubt and knowing that what you are praying for is one with you, and that you are going to receive.

 

 

 

The soul needs to be fed-not a food that you get at a restaurant, but soul feeding from God for your soul. You may be stuffed with food, but your soul is often starved. It might not have been fed for a long time. You may be soul starved, and you do not know why. There may be an uneasiness about your life.

 

 

 

When your soul is fed in prayer, there is an inward poise, peace, well-being, and dominion. To neglect this, causes you to stumble through life overburdened. In time, we become irritable, tired, and depleted.

 

 

 

Prayer releases old pressures. Stress builds silently, and then all of a sudden you are like a pressure keg, and you do not know why, but you feel like you’re going to explode. Nothing has happened in the present moment, but still you are so uneasy inside of yourself. You know you have to release this some way, somehow. Prayer releases these old energies, feelings, emotions, and the dormant things of spirit. It refreshes you with new life. It heals diseases, but that is an effect of those old pressures. Prayer is the ultimate healing power.

 

 

 

 

In order to have successful prayer, you have to have a rhythm, a regularity. If I were doing this whole lesson about air, and trying to tell you how good air is, and you were to take in just one breath, it would not do. VERY soon you would be depleted again. The thing that makes air successful is the regularity of breathing. And the thing that makes prayer successful is a regularity of going to God, a regular talking to God and a regular listening to God. You become continually refreshed.

 

 

 

Today get into the rhythm of the regularity of prayer, and bathe yourself in it mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Then something happens-a quiet powerful change inside of you. New spiritual energy comes through you. You feel so good. You feel a transformation taking place.

 

 

 

Jesus said to pray continually. You might ask, “I could pray for a little while, but how am I going to pray, and pray, and pray?” How do you talk to your best friend for so long? Jesus said to make not your prayers a drab, boring statement of the same thing every time. Talk to God as your best friend. Every prayer should be a brand new experience. It should be new and thrilling-a dynamic new adventure of spiritual communication.

 

 

 

One woman who was a professional bowler said, “I go to God if I’m going bowling. I take God with me. God knows how to bowl better than I do.” A businessman gave this advice, “If you’re going to a business meeting, take your silent partner with you and you talk as you would to a fine acquaintance that has been with you every second of your life.

 

 

 

Talk to God, like your mother talked with you when you were sick as a child. Your mother stayed with you many nights when you were sick in bed. While you slept, mother stayed awake and looked over you. Talk to God as a father who has been with you every second, believed in you, and was there to teach you to play baseball and ride a bike. Be with God like that. Make it a voyage of spiritual discovery together where you are believing in a power that is greater than yourself.

 

 

 

 

The most powerful prayer that we can pray is united prayer. Almost always in the Bible when Jesus sent out disciples, he sent them out two-by-two, so that they would not forget, and continually remind themselves of their spiritual power. So, find a prayer partner to pray with. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  I think that is a power of our prayer group on Thursday evenings.  We gather as a harmonious group, all with prayer and love in our hearts.

 

 

 

 

Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote:
“We are lifters here. We are lifters for all of humankind. That is our mission. When we pray here, we pray for everyone, we pray with people who are not of our own faith. We pray on their behalf, and believe and listen.
You are a part of this ministry. You can be a Baptist, a Methodist, a Catholic, or whatever you are. You are a part of this ministry because we are all part of the ministry of God.

 

 

That’s the mission. We are accepting the mission of following Jesus Christ by upholding the very best about another person, believing that they can be healed, or they can have a second chance, or they can have God work in their lives.   We are not saying that we have the power. We are acknowledging that God has the power.

 

 

 

We need you to pray with us and to uphold the high watch for yourself and other people. It will be a continuous prayer with a rhythm that sweeps around this globe. A tremendous power will be generated. There will be extra-ordinary healings, and an uplifting and restoring of our souls.

 

 

 

We all recognize the advantage of prayer co-operation. It is much easier to hold ourselves in the true thinking when we are associated with those who think as we do. It was the work of Jesus to establish in our spiritual consciousness a spiritual center with which everyone might become associated mentally, regardless of geographical location. He said to His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you . . . that where I am, there ye may be also.” That place is a state of spirituality right here in our midst, and we can at any time connect ourselves with it by centering our mind on Jesus and silently asking His help in our demonstrations. It is a prayer of one who is on the way seeking the guidance of The One who has passed over the same road, and who knows all the hard places and how to get through them.”

 

 

 

To find solace, comfort, love, understanding, peace and grace, we want The One who is above all and all, and such a One-we find in Jesus Christ. .Jesus Christ is the head of this ministry. I encourage you to be in prayer to and with Him at all times.

 

 

 

 

Let us pray:

Dear God, from this place, this body of believers turn to You, we are asking that a special spiritual awareness be given to each person praying. We ask that each person being prayed for will be blessed, that God’s healing light and love will radiate through all of us and all those with whom we pray, and throughout all Creation.
1 Thessalonians 4:2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3. And pray for us too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…..4. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.   In Jesus Christ’s name . . . Amen.