JOSEPH

 

Joseph

“Joseph—Father of Jesus”

 

Matthew 1:18-25 18. This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[ did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

 

 

 

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

 

 

 

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”

 

 

 

Last week we began our preparation for the birth of the Christ Child. We discussed “Having it all. Whomever accepts our Lord as their Savior has it all.” This week we are going to look at this magnificent event through someone who witnessed it all but whom we know little. He is just not very visible in scripture – – and that is Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.

 

 

 

One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm, a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was just about to turn off the light when he asked in a trembling voice, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?” His mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. “I can’t, Dear,” she said, “I have to sleep with your daddy.” After a long silence he said, “The big sissy.”

 

 

 

There are certain sayings we associate with fathers. Here are some typical Dad identities:

 

 

 

The bread winner.
The enforcer.
The car keys
The approver/The disapprover
The one who gives away the bride.
The one who pays for the wedding.

 

 

 

As we look in scripture we want to get a good “fix” on this father; we want to see some action, hear some quotes; but as I looked in the Bible for a quote, I couldn’t find one. I never thought about this before, but Joseph doesn’t say a single word in the Gospels. He listens and obeys. We might assume his words are recorded, because we can imagine the conversations he had with Mary, and the Angel Gabriel. We can “hear” him talking to the innkeeper. We can visualize him teaching Jesus about carpentry…but then he fades from the scene. It is widely thought that Joseph was much older than Mary, and when Jesus began His ministry, Mary appears alone, and although the Bible doesn’t say she’s a widow, we can figure that Joseph has since died.

 

 

 

 

Joseph probably thought his life was pretty well planned. His marriage and his vocation were all arranged neatly for him, but then his world came crashing down. He discovered that his bride-to-be was pregnant. We know that Joseph was a man of integrity—he wanted to do the right thing, in the right way. He considered divorcing Mary when he learned of her pregnancy, but wanted to do so without calling attention to the reason, whereas he could have had her publicly disgraced or even stoned to death for adultery. Instead, he risks being questioned about Mary’s pregnancy and marries her, facing personal disgrace. In those days, a marriage contract was worked out between families, and the engaged couple continued to live with their parents till their wedding. I imagine the townspeople could well have thought Mary and Joseph didn’t wait till their wedding. Perhaps, Joseph protected their reputation by moving up the wedding date, and the Roman census took them far away from the town’s questioning eyes.

 

 

 

 

Although Joseph came from the royal lineage of King David (thanks to the Gospel genealogy), we can easily picture him as a humble man. The brief portrait of him in Scripture suggests he was a quiet, unobtrusive man, available when needed, willing to endure hardship and disappointment. Looking forward to fathering his own child, Joseph was faced with being a step-father to a child not his own. He accepted the humbling circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth. He trusted the providential care of God every step of the way. He didn’t have any parenting books, any training on how to be a father to the Son of God, but he possessed faith and compassion. Bible scholars portray Joseph as an effective provider and protector of the family.

 

 

 

A Sunday School was putting on a Christmas pageant which included the story of Mary and Joseph coming to the inn. One boy wanted so very much to be Joseph, but when the parts were handed out, a boy he didn’t like was given that part, and he was assigned to be the inn-keeper instead. He was pretty upset about this but he didn’t say anything to the director.

 

 

 

During all the rehearsals he thought what he might do the night of performance to get even with this rival who got to be Joseph. Finally, the night of the performance, Mary and Joseph came walking across the stage. They knocked on the door of the inn, and the inn-keeper opened the door and asked them gruffly what they wanted.

 

 

 

Joseph answered, “We’d like to have a room for the night.” Suddenly the inn-keeper threw the door open wide and said, “Great, come on in and I’ll give you the best room in the house!”

 

 

 

For a few seconds poor little Joseph didn’t know what to do. Thinking quickly on his feet, he looked inside the door past the inn-keeper then said, “No wife of mine is going to stay in dump like this. Come on, Mary, let’s go to the barn.” -And once again the play was back on track!

 

 

 

In all the Christmas pageants performed, Joseph doesn’t get a starring role, but his part is so important. His task is to watch over Mary and the baby Jesus. Joseph had the important role of caring for the needs of others.

 

 

 

When our lives take a nasty turn, we cry out, like Joseph must have cried out, “God, how can this be?” But like Joseph, we hear a still small voice from God saying, “Trust Me.” God’s ways are not always our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and we may never understand everything that God is doing this side of heaven, but God says, “Trust Me, and all things will work together for good.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been said the best thing a father can do for his kids is to love their mother. Joseph’s love for Mary reflected Paul’s definition: “Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast; it is not proud or rude. Love is not self-seeking or easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but it rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (I Cor 13).  Instead of being indignant, Joseph accepted this child as his own. Joseph accepted the revealed will of God. He followed the instructions—journeying from Nazareth to Bethlehem, then to Egypt, then back to Nazareth. We can easily picture Joseph receiving his son as a gift from God.

 

 

 

Joseph became a father to the Messiah, who would teach us all about the acceptance and grace of God. Joseph is charged with naming their son and thus defining His mission. The name Jesus means “Savior”. Archeologists have uncovered the ruins of Sapphoris, a thriving city near Nazareth. It is believed that Joseph spent much time there working on carpentry jobs, probably with his son and apprentice, Jesus. When Jesus returned to His hometown, the people responded, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph, the carpenter?”

 

 

 

Was Joseph a perfect father? No, of course not. We’re told that after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had children of their own, and they did not become believers in Jesus till after His resurrection. In spite of what their parents tried to tell them of their older brother’s miraculous birth, they refused to accept it. Parents can teach their children, but they cannot give their children faith. They can tell their kids how to live, but they can’t make them moral persons. They can baptize their children, but they can’t make them believe. They can love their children, but they can’t give them eternal life. The influence of parents is important, but we individually choose to accept or reject faith in God.

 

 

 

 

There’s a lot I’d like to know about Joseph—where and when he was born, how he spent his days, what he said, when and how he died. The last we hear of him is when he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with Mary and Jesus, when Jesus was 12-years old. He was apparently a man of few words, but he did what he was supposed to do. We don’t know much about Joseph. We’re pretty sure he wasn’t afraid of thunderstorms! Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was: “a righteous man” (Mt 1:18). Joseph may have thought that being righteous involved doing the proper thing; he found out that it is also about being the right person.

 

 

 

Who are you? What can you take from the life and activities of Joseph and apply to yourself? How can you follow the path God has chosen for you in a righteous, loving, and respectful manner?  What has God asked you to do that may have taken you by surprise? And what have you done about it? Joseph followed that small voice that told him to take Mary and be a loving husband and father. God asked you to accept this Son as your Savior and to go into every nation proclaiming the gospel to all!

 

 

 

 

Please join me in prayer: Lord God, when we observe the action of this mature, responsible man; when we study his compassionate involvement, his disciplined restraint, his plain obedience, all woven together into righteous action, we know that we too can live in accordance with Your will for our lives. Help us to grow and build our lives upon this model of pure love and trust in You.

 

Amen

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BE PREPARED

Matthew 24:36-44

Be Ready

 

 

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matthew 24:36-44, RSV.

 

 

Grace and peace to you from our expectant Lord. Amen

 

 

 

The superintendent of a large Christian school was concerned about the disarray he found in so many of the classrooms he visited. Papers were often strewn on the floor, and the students’ desks were surrounded by clutter. Feeling strongly that learning could not take place in such an untidy environment, he decided to take action. He chose one classroom for an experiment, introduced himself to the students and with a smile made this proposition:

 

 

 

“Your teacher, principal and I provide a well-equipped classroom for you to enjoy but we need your help in keeping your desks and the classroom orderly. Many of you have crumpled papers inside your desks with books left open and the pages bent. Often there are pencils on the floor under your desks along with other debris.

 

 

 

“I would like each of you to clean out your desk today and begin this school year resolving to keep it clean. One day I will return and inspect your desks and the person with the neatest desk will be given this $100 bill. I won’t tell you which day it will be. It will be a surprise. Not even your teacher or the principal will know the day.”

 

 

 

The children squealed with excitement and began immediately pulling things from their desks, filling the trash baskets with crumpled papers, stacking their books neatly inside their desks, and neatly lining up their pencils and pens.

 

 

 

Every morning for the first week, every student checked his or her desk to make sure it was in perfect condition, confident that today would be the day the superintendent returned. The next week, a few boys grew weary of the exercise and returned to their former habits. By the third week, several students remarked, “I doubt if he’ll come back at all. He just said that to make us keep our desks clean.”

 

 

 

After two months, no one in the classrooms bothered to inspect their desks and in fact, forgot the superintendent’s promise except for one girl. Dutifully, she inspected her desk every morning and several times a day, making sure things were in proper order. For months, she was teased by the other students. “He’s not coming back! Why do you keep looking for him? You look stupid believing that promise, anyway.” Still, she remained quiet, kept her desk in perfect condition and waited.

 

 

 

Near the end of the school year, there was a knock on the door and the superintendent entered. Quickly, the students flung open their desks and began frantically to clean them. But the superintendent held up his hand for them to stop. All the students were asked to stand beside their desk at attention while the superintendent inspected each desk.

 

 

 

One after another, he rejected them for being unkempt. One boy tried giving excuses but to no avail. Another blamed the teacher for not reminding them. Still another blamed the superintendent for making them wait so long. Finally, the superintendent arrived at the desk of the little girl who confidently displayed her well-kept desk while beaming at the superintendent.

 

 

 

After inspecting her desk, he took her by the hand to the front of the classroom and awarded her the $100 bill.

 

 

 

“Boys and girls,” he said kindly, “this girl never stopped believing I would return so she kept her desk in perfect order. She didn’t need to worry about what day or even what time of day I would arrive because she was always ready. Always.

 

 

 

Ready – that is the key word for our gospel lesson this morning. Be ready.

 

 

 

We have entered a new church year again as we are in the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is a time to look ahead to the coming of Jesus as a babe in the manger. It is also a time for looking ahead for the second coming of Christ.

 

 

 

 

Our gospel lesson says very plainly “Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” And how do we get ready?

 

 

 

 

We are ready for his second coming by being like that little girl in our story, daily preparation. We are to keep our desks clean or in other words we are to repent daily.

 

 

 

You all know that I used to live on a very small ranch. One thing I liked to do or used to like to do before the drought and grasshoppers ended that journey was to garden. I enjoyed working in the garden. I would get all hot and sweaty from pulling weeds and hoeing the garden. The work felt good. I also loved to work with the dogs and the donkeys. Animal contact was and is my passion. Fin, Fur, Feather, and Friends. Afterward, here in Texas and 100 +F weather, I was sticky and stinky and absolutely filthy. So when as soon as I was done,, it also felt good to get cleaned up afterwards. Nothing makes me feel better than to come in after being outside working/playing and then peeling off those dirty clothes, taking a refreshing shower, and then putting on some clean clothing.

 

 

 

How absurd it would be to put on those same old dirty clothes again!

 

 

 

And that is what Jesus is talking about for the season of Advent. We are to clean up our lives, to take off the dirty clothes and put on the new ones of grace. Advent is a time of preparation and the one preparation we can do is repentance. Take off the dirty old self and put on the clean new self. Luther talks about this as he tells us to drown our old self daily in the waters of our Baptism and then to rise up again as a new, forgiven person living in the grace of God.

 

 

 

We are to be ready for the coming of Christ through our act of repentance. We acknowledge before God that we are in need of His grace through Christ, then we are symbolically drowned in the waters of Baptism and raised up to a new life.

 

 

We are to be ready by daily repentance.

 

 

 

Repentance is the act of turning away from our sins to live a new life in Christ. And so if the second coming does come, God will see us as in our new selves, cleansed by the blood of Christ. God will recognize us because he made us clean through Jesus’ sacrifice.

 

 

 

Ian Macpherson tells a story about a little girl who was on a train to London shortly after the Second World War. She had been evacuated from the city during the air raids and had not seen her mother for a long time. She was excited about meeting her mother on arrival at the station.

 

 

 

A fellow-passenger teased her by saying. “What if she does not recognize you? It is so long since she saw you and she may have forgotten what you look like.” At first the child was shocked by the idea that her mother would not recognize her. But soon she was all smiles again as she announced, “It will be all right. Mummy made the dress I am wearing. If she does not know me by myself, she’ll know me by my frock.”

 

 

 

God will know us by the white clothes of repentance we wear when we repent.

 

 

 

Repentance does not just happen once, it is a daily activity we must do to be ready for his second coming. Daily, like that girl in our first story, we must clean our desks, so to speak. We must clean our selves daily, so we are ready for the second coming of Christ.

 

 

 

Daily preparation is important.

 

 

Daily I must repent because we do not know the time or place of his second coming.

 

 

Daily I must repent because daily I sin. Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that I do now have to repent because I am good even for God. We are never good enough for God. We are sinful people who need the daily washing away of our sins.

 

 

 

C.S. Lewis says: “A Christian is not one who never goes wrong, but one who is enabled to repent and begin over again after each stumble—because of the inner working of Christ.”

 

 

 

Because of Christ I can repent and begin over again. And this happens daily if we are truly honest with ourselves by admitting that” I am a sinful creature who needs to repent of my sins.”

 

 

 

Several years ago the Peanuts comic strip had Lucy and Charlie Brown practicing football. Lucy would hold the ball for Charlie’s placekicking and then Charlie would kick the ball. But every time Lucy had ever held the ball for Charlie, he would approach the ball and kick with all his might. At the precise moment of the point of no return, Lucy would pick up the ball and Charlie would kick and his momentum unchecked by the ball, which was not there to kick, would cause him to fall flat on his back. I bet many of you remember that comic strip issue.

 

 

 

This strip opened with Lucy holding the ball, but Charlie Brown would not kick the ball. Lucy begged him to kick the ball. But Charlie Brown said, “Every time I try to kick the ball you remove it and I fall on my back.” They went back and forth for the longest time and finally Lucy broke down in tears and admitted, “Charlie Brown I have been so terrible to you over the years, picking up the football like I have. I have played so many cruel tricks on you, but I have seen the error of my ways! I’ve seen the hurt look in your eyes when I’ve deceived you. I’ve been wrong, so wrong. Won’t you give a poor penitent girl another chance?”

 

 

 

Charlie Brown was moved by her display of grief and responded to her, “Of course, I’ll give you another chance.” He stepped back as she held the ball, and he ran. At the last moment, Lucy picked up the ball and Charlie Brown fell flat on his back. Lucy’s last words were, “Recognizing your faults and actually changing your ways are two different things, Charlie Brown!”

 

 

 

Are you going to change your ways as of today? Lucy saw her fault but was unwilling to change her ways. What about you? Are you ready to repent and change your ways? Are you ready to confess your faults to Christ and allow him to cleanse you so that you are prepared for his second coming?

 

 

 

Jesus says, “Therefore, you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Be ready, my friends; be ready.

Amen

 

Matthew 24:36-44, Romans 13:11-14, Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122

The Power of Words

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

 

 

 

Here I am typing WORDS. I am also thinking in WORDS. Our thoughts, our feelings, our whole lives are dependent on communication mostly through WORDS. What is important is what the words we project say and mean. There is a saying you have heard many times; perhaps you have said it yourself. People say, “Talk is cheap.” We have all said that at one time or another.  A few days ago most of our words focused around having a Happy Thanksgiving.  Let’s make the words that created this phrase lead us into the future of love, sharing, and, and worshipping our Lord!

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

1. They should be positive.

2. They should be uplifting.

3. They should be nourishing.

 

 

 

As a good spiritual person, you need to check your words and see if they are following this vocal trinity of being positive, uplifting, and nourishing.   Then we have to ask the question: What am I saying to myself? Personally, what do my words cost me?

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

That is the loudest voice in prayer.

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Jesus continued saying: In vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.  In other words, they were going back to human mind, looking to the limitations, and believing them.

 

 

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Whenever we believe in our human lack, even if we have evidence of fact in our own life that this is the way it’s been up until now, we are placing blocks between us and the Divine. We have to tear down that block and let God come through.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Let us pray:

 

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

 

 

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

Let us Give Thanks

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before God’s presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD is God: it is God that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are God’s people, and the sheep of God’s pasture. Enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving, and into God’s courts with praise: be thankful unto God, and bless God’s name. For the LORD is good; God’s mercy is everlasting; and God’s truth endureth to all generations.Psalm 100

 

 

 

There is a tradition many of us have of taking time on the week before Thanksgiving to share some of the things we are thankful for with each other. We actually did this on Thursday evening during our Prayer Group Meeting.

 

 

I want to share some thoughts about thanksgiving from God’s word.

 

Spend the next few minutes thinking about what you are thankful for so that you can share it within your heart with your family and friends and us right here in our prayer group, chat page, in this web page http://thespiritualfamily.chatango.com    I really think that taking time to openly share with one another what we are thankful for is a great thing to do. Verbally, declaring what we are grateful for is a very biblical thing to do.

 

 

 

What does it means to live a life of thanksgiving? How can we take this annual holiday and turn it into a constant attitude? How can we live a life of gratitude and praise? I know that many of us are not from the U.S.A., but I do know that Canada, Brazil, and the Philippians also have a celebrated day, although a different day. Those from countries who do not have a recognized day, I encourage you to take this message to heart and to live it because the message is for everyone.

 

 

 

A youth mission statement in many churches is “to honor God in all we do, say and think.” Today I am going to talk about being grateful in all we do, say, and think. I want to start by talking about what it means to think thankfully. Gratitude starts with our thoughts. It begins with taking captive our every thought. It grows out of an attitude of appreciation, humility, and proper perspective.

 

 

 

One of the best biblical descriptions of how thankfulness needs to be infused into our character is in Colossians 3:12-17…that reads… “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

 

 

It’s clear from this passage that thankfulness is supposed to be a regular part of our lives. Gratefulness is emphasized here because it’s the perfect antidote to pride and selfishness and a host of other sins. After all, what is the opposite of thankfulness? Things like, complaining, arguing, selfishness, a sense of entitlement. Our sin nature wants to try and convince us that we deserve more, that we are in the right, that we have been taken advantage of, or that we really have it bad. Witnessing that kind of mentality can be frustrating. We all have run across a few people in our lives who always seem to be victims; they always seem to feel like they should get more; they always complain about what they have or what they are given.

 

 

That’s not what we are supposed to be like as believers.

 

Thinking thankfully involves three things- First, prayer: Philippians 4:6 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

 

In this passage the way that we keep from anxiousness and worry is through prayer. When we present our requests to God and give control over to Him, our load gets a lot lighter. When we pray with thanksgiving, we are thanking God for the ability to pray; we are thanking him for answering our prayers, we are thanking Him for freeing us from worry. When we pray with thankfulness to God it has a way of adjusting our thinking so that it falls in line with what God wants.

 

 

 

Worship also has a way of putting us in a mindset of thankfulness. Verse 16 of that passage in Colossians is a great example of that. ”. It’s hard to be grumpy, and bitter, and selfish when we are singing joyfully to the Lord, although sometimes we might try. Singing lifts our spirits, focuses our attention on God, and puts us in an attitude of praise. No matter how down we are, singing and smiling will lift our spirits.

 

 

 

Finally, thinking thankfully involves dwelling on the good. Our minds can sometimes be uncooperative. They keep wandering back to that nagging money problem, or to the liquor store, or to past failures, or other unproductive things. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you are just chilling out or relaxing or spacing out in church, how a weird, random thought will cross your mind? Sometimes the strangest stuff just shows up there Then you snap out of it and say to yourself, “What was that about?” Because of natural inclination towards evil, we have to train our minds to think about good things. We have to purposefully dwell on the good.

 

 

Philippians 4:8 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.

 

 

This is a great thought filter. Ask yourself; are my thoughts true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable? If not, it might be time to make an adjustment.

 

 

Well along with thinking thankfully, we need to talk thankfully. It is important to express our gratitude from time to time. Talking thankfully involves praising others, praising God, and sharing our gratitude. When was the last time you told your spouse, “I’m really thankful that I’m married to you.”? Do you tell your kids that you appreciate them? Do you let God know how thankful you are for what He has done in your life? If you are a believer in God, saved by grace, you have a lot to be thankful for. No matter how bad life gets, you still can’t complain. It’s also important that we verbally tell others what we are grateful for.

 

 

If you would like to, when you are finished reading this message, you’re welcome to come back to   thespiritualfamily.chatango.com  and share your thanksgivings. And we all would love to hear about what you are thankful for. It is so amazing what God is doing in our lives.

 

 

Now, let’s think about acting thankfully. We need to demonstrate a life of thankfulness in everything we do. That begins with a heart of service. Serving is a demonstration of appreciation, respect, and love. It can be done in a selfish, ungrateful way, but when it is done right, it is a blessing both to the server and the servee.

 

 

1 Timothy 1:12 12  I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.

 

 

Are you thankful for the area of service that God has called you to? Acting thankfully also involves sacrifice. It requires us to give something of ourselves. This is best demonstrated in our financial offerings to God.

 

 

Giving back to God is a way of thanking Him for his blessing and provision. Even if we don’t have a lot, or a lot to give, when we give back to God we show that we understand that He owns it all anyway. Don’t give out of guilt or compulsion. Every time you write an offering check or put a dollar in the offering plate, take a second to say, thank you God for everything you have given me.

 

 

Finally, we can act thankfully by sharing what we have. This might take the form of sharing some of our abundance with those who don’t have as much. It might be sharing with the homeless or needy. People who really understand thankfulness and appreciation usually are very good at sharing with others. They know how great it feels to give. This doesn’t just apply to sharing our stuff, but, more importantly, sharing our faith. If you have a real understanding of who Jesus Christ is, what He has done for all mankind, and what He has done in your life, you are going to be looking for every opportunity to share that with others. We can best show our appreciation for our salvation by praising God and telling others. If our faith is truly transforming, and valuable, and important, we will share it with those who don’t have it.

 

 

The best thing about living a thankful life is that it helps us put things into perspective. When we focus on the great things that God has done for us, the annoying junk in life has a way of losing its importance. During this thanksgiving seasons let’s begin to train our minds to think thankfully. Let’s take the opportunity to talk thankfully, and let’s demonstrate our appreciation by acting thankfully.

 

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 18 ..give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

 

If you are not giving thanks, you are out of focus to God’s will. Let us rejoice and give thanks, show thanks, and present ourselves in a way that shows the love of or Lord.

 

 

Let us Pray: Almighty God, Thank You for my life, for my faith, for my love of You.   Amen

Veterans Day, 2017

By now most of you know I am an Army Brat, tried and true. Through good times and bad, my heart always embraces the military and my allegiance is to my country.

 

 

Veterans Day gives Americans the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans. However, most Americans confuse this holiday with Memorial Day, reports the Department of Veterans Affairs.

 

 

What’s more, some Americans don’t know why we commemorate our Veterans on Nov.11. It’s imperative that all Americans know the history of Veterans Day so that we can honor our former service members properly.

 

 

Here s a brief history of our holiday:

 

 

 

 

 

Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918.   In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

 

 

 

In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

 

 

 

 

In 1968, the Uniforms Holiday Bill ensured three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. Under this bill, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holiday on its original date. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on Oct. 25, 1971.

 

 

Finally, on September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978.   Since then, the Veterans Day holiday has been observed on Nov. 11.   If the Nov. 11 holiday falls on a non-workday — Saturday or Sunday — the holiday is observed by the federal government on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday).   Federal government closings are established by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. State and local government closings are determined locally, and non- government businesses can close or remain open as they see fit, regardless of federal, state or local government operation determinations.

 

 

United States Senate Resolution 143, which was passed on Aug. 4, 2001, designated the week of Nov. 11 through Nov. 17, 2001, as “National Veterans Awareness Week.” The resolution calls for educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans.  It would be interesting to know if schools follow this effort today and if students even know why they have a school holiday (or care).

 

 

There is a difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day, celebrated the end of May, honors service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle. Most of you know I lost my brother in VN, so this is always a special day of remembrance for me. Deceased veterans are remembered on Veterans Day also, but the day is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime.

 

 

Here is a little bit more history –

 

 

Veterans Day … More Than Just A Day Off.

 

 

“The White House Office

October 8, 1954

Dear Mr. Higley:

I have today signed a proclamation calling upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 as Veterans Day. It is my earnest hope that all veterans, their organizations, and the entire citizenry will join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day. With the thought that it will be most helpful to coordinate the planning, I am suggesting the formation of a Veterans Day National Committee. In view of your great personal interest as well as your official responsibilities, I have designated you to serve as Chairman. You may include in the Committee membership such other persons as you desire to select and I am requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch to assist the Committee in its work in every way possible.

I have every confidence that our Nation will respond wholeheartedly in the appropriate observance of Veterans Day, 1954.

Sincerely,

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER”

 

 

 

As youngsters most of us quickly became familiar with “school holidays” … every day that school was not in session. When we returned for the school year each fall, we (as well as the teachers) were provided a copy of a calendar for the entire year that included all Federal holidays, teachers’ institute days and any extra days off for parent/teacher conferences, special testing etc. We didn’t necessarily know the real meaning or purpose of every holiday or occasion but we, also, didn’t always care. School holidays were the only holidays that counted.

 

 

Veterans Day, in particular, was always a bit confusing. Veterans Day, is observed each year on the eleventh day of November and coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day which are celebrated in other parts of the world. All mark the anniversary of the end of World War I as major hostilities of the war were formally ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month beginning in 1918 when the Armistice with Germany officially went into effect and every year since.

 

 

The observance of Veterans Day and the celebration of Memorial Day are often confused as noted above. Many Americans mistakenly believe that Veterans Day is the day set aside to honor American military personnel who died in battle from wounds sustained during combat … that would be Memorial Day. Today, Veterans Day, is the day that ALL American veterans, both living and dead, are recognized for the sacrifices they have made in their lives to keep our country free.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank a veteran today. Remember a veteran today. And make sure your children understand why they’re not in school today … it’s so much more than just a day off.

UNTIED

I am reposting a favorite message of Pastor Peggy’s from just over a year ago.  This one ministered to me greatly then, and still does today. Perhaps it will minister to Pastor Peggy as well as she is recovering from a procedure this week.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” Philippians 4:6

 

Is Life Overwhelming? I have heard some people say in the past that they do not want to bother God unless it is a crisis emergency situation. Some have said that God’s help is not to be used for small things.

 

Sometimes, life can become overwhelming. No matter how much we plan, or how much we prepare for it, sometimes things happen, and we feel out of control. We feel as if we do not have the power that we had before. Something has happened, but we don’t know exactly what.

 

Do you remember the story of the giant in “Gulliver’s Travels?” Here was a person, like us, who was all-powerful. Here was a person who could walk above problems. Here was a person who could seem undefeatable but the giant’s thoughts were working against him. The giant in “Gulliver’s Travels” falls asleep on the beach. While he is sleeping, all these tiny, little people come, put strings over him, and then stake down the strings.

 

A few strings would be no problem at all. He could easily pull those up, sit up, and go about his way. But these little people worked all night long. Each tiny, little person came up to the giant and placed strings across him.

 

The giant wakes up and finds that he cannot move his arms or legs, and he cannot sit up, no matter how hard he tries because he is all tied down.

 

 

You and I have had the same experience, haven’t we – of being all tied up in the thoughts and worries about momentary circumstances of our lives.

 

These little people can represent those little worries and thoughts, those little things that scramble around inside of our mind and seem so uncontrollable. Every time they move across, they take a string with them. Soon we are tied down. Soon we are weak in thought and we don’t feel like we can get up again. Soon we think the weight of life is pulling us down, and we are powerless.

 

You might say, “God, can I ever stand again? Can I walk tall and free? Can I ever be all I once was?”

 

You can! You can! With God’s help you can.

 

Sometimes, the things that happen to us can seem so overwhelming. But whatever they are, we can! We have the power—because God has the power and the know-how.

 

We have the ability to have a transfusion of thought where we totally change our mind; where we have a fusion (if you will) with a Mind that is greater than our mind. God’s Mind knows how to lift us up and out of our problems. When we are free from selfishness, limitation, greed, fear, anxiety, hatred, and inferior feelings, we can stand up to anything.

 

Revelation 21:4-5: “The former things are passed away . . . Behold, I make all things new. “

 

Imagine if God came up to you, tapped you on the shoulder, stood right by your side, looked into your eyes, smiled at you and said, “Don’t let the past burden you. Don’t let it tie you down on the beach of life any more. Don’t worry about those waves. The past is no more. It has passed away and you have a brand new life in Me.”

 

To truly follow Jesus Christ, we have to do this in our prayers and truly embrace His truth.

 

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do
he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”   John 14:12

 

When we do this, we’re recharging; we’re getting ready; we’re going apart for a while like Jesus did, and then coming back into the world fully powered, super-charged, ready to perform miracles. Nothing can stand in the way of the Divine power coming in and through us. We are then FULLY working with God. We’re so much of God in action and God’s love in demonstration that people cease sensing us; and, instead, they sense God. That is Christ within us.

 

We have seen, or sensed those in life that manifest this degree. Mother Teresa is an example that comes to mind. St. Patrick, the famous monk, is another. I bet we could name many more.

 

Is this a one-time experience? It’s not even a one-time daily experience. It is something we have to constantly decide upon, choose, and do. When we do, we truly follow Jesus, we live up to our potential of all we can do and be.

 

Jesus told us: “Leave your nets.”  for us, in today’s time, We can look at these as nets of our own personal involvement.

 

What do your nets pick up? If you are putting down your nets in your mind and catching things, your nets are picking up thoughts of people who are telling you that you can’t build your future, you can’t prosper, or the dying-nosis that says you can’t rebuild the cells in your body with God’s help to produce new wholeness and life.

 

Jesus said, “Leave your nets – and follow me.”    What does that mean?

 

It doesn’t mean to follow Him with just your feet. It means to follow Him with your head and heart and feet.

 

There are a million miles between the two. We can run to every church and religious service and still never “get it.” But we can close our eyes wherever we are in prayer and “get it” right where we are—in an instant. We have that within us to always be able to rely upon.

 

Walt Whitman said, “I am not contained between my hat and my shoes, and neither are you.” We are much more. Any time we might think we are contained, we are like that giant tied down.

 

Any time you sit in a chair and think this is all there is to your life, you are like that giant tied down. If something is going wrong and you’re depressed and you think this is all there is, you are like that giant tied down.

 

Christ IN YOU—the hope of glory!

 

We are not just to stand at the foot of the Cross and look up. We are to take Jesus with us and follow Him by becoming what He said to become; by becoming an active disciple on the quest; by becoming that inside of ourselves, which will cause people outside of us to say, “Now there is an example—a sample of the great example—of Jesus.” We are active examples of our faith, OR not. Remember the message a few weeks ago telling us that we are the channels of God’s word? Always remember that.

 

Following Jesus, we become living examples of our faith. We sense it working in us, and so does everybody else. We realize that God is big enough to tackle and manage any problem we may EVER face.

 

We are not tied down to anything on earth, but instead tethered to heaven itself.

 

How do we do this? Let me give you three words:

 

There are three “D’s” to discipleship.

 

The first D – Discipline.

 

The second D—Dedication. Matthew 6:22 Jesus states, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be single, your whole body shall be full of light.”

 

In John 18:37 Jesus says, “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” [RSV]

 

The third D—Devotion. “Draw near to God and God will draw near to you.” James 4:8

 

When we are tied down and locked into the pattern of thinking (tied down), we have an inadequate self-image. We need to change our self-image, realizing that we are a partner the Lord.

 

We do not think of ourselves in wrong terms. In truth we are children of God. In truth, we are native citizens of the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God is our house. God’s house is a mansion of love, joy, happiness, and a thousand other individual gifts awaiting us.

 

The little thought people with the strings are always trying to tie us down.

 

Whenever anything in life gets you down, God can get you out of it. God can cut the rope that is tying you down. Nothing has to be an overpowering weighty experience.

 

We can turn weakness into strength, limitation into fulfillment, fear into an all-knowing faith, hate into love, and prejudice into open-mindedness, compromise into integrity, falsity into honesty, ugliness into beauty.

 

I believe that with God as the center of our universe we can accomplish anything, and be happy doing it.

 

As we look at these words that are concepts of our human mind and concepts of Christ, we have to realize that, as native citizens of the kingdom of God, we have a free will choice—we can choose. I suppose that is the whole lesson and the destiny of each one of us. In this moment, tomorrow, and the next day we have the choice.

 

In this and future moments, do we follow the little people who are scurrying around on the beach trying to tie us down, or do we follow Christ?

 

If we follow Christ, we have to get up.   At first, it may appear a struggle… We may begin on our knees. We may have to struggle up the rest of the way until we stand.   BUT when we stand on the firm foundation of faith in God, we are a free soul.

 

We are flying high above our problems (flying high like the eagle), looking down and saying: “My, don’t they look small and insignificant? I can’t believe that I allowed that to bother me so much.”

 

Let us pray.

Dear God, I know that I am more, I can do more, be more, and manifest more in my life. I agree to follow You, dear God in my spirituality. God, I totally consent to You NOW. Manifest Divine ideas through my human brain, through the words I speak, and the sounds I hear and perceive when I am hearing. Help me to keep my focus single, manifest through my eyes so that I am no longer blind or tied down —so I can see and touch beauty everywhere in a new degree, higher, better and deeper than I ever have before. Manifest in my physical body so I can express radiant health. Manifest in my being – ness so wherever I go I will radiate spiritual love to everyone without saying a word or making one action. I give myself totally and completely today. I untie myself and leave my nets; I follow, and I become.

In Jesus Christ’s name we so dedicate ourselves—each one of us—to this lasting truth we hold true.

Amen.

 

 

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During a summer-long drought, a newspaper in South Carolina carried this story: “About 100 people gathered on the Lexington County Courthouse steps, Sunday afternoon, and prayed for rain. ‘We had a very specific prayer,’ said the Reverend Henry ‘Hank’ Moody, Jr., pastor of the Pisgah Lutheran Church, who gave the prayer during the twenty-minute service. ‘We prayed for a gentle, soothing rain for the land, a rain without lightning and storm, a rain that will nourish the land and refill the ponds.’” The article continued, “That’s a tall order, and the one the National Weather Services says won’t be filled anytime soon.”

 

 

Isn’t that the way of the world? The world seems to say, pray if you want, but don’t expect anything to happen because of your prayers. But by the next weekend, the city had gotten more rain in that one week than in the previous three months combined! The rains came, but not without storm. A neighbor lost a tree to high winds, and on Friday, there was a fierce, but brief, thunderstorm.

 

 

There are two types of thought – God-thought and worry-worldly thought. A useless human exercise is tossing and turning in the middle of the night, instead of sleeping like a baby. You are tired, you need rest, but you’re awake. You are wide awake, worrying about all the pressures you have, worrying about finances, deadlines, even worrying about not sleeping. The biblical term for this is “The thief in the night.” Your own mind is robbing you of peace and rest. The harder you try to sleep, the more you toss and turn.

 

 

 

Perhaps we are looking at this the wrong way. What we need to do is look to God, but instead we are looking to our own problems.   Dale Carnegie said, “If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something  instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the  lack of sleep.”

 

 

Job 4:6 teaches about building your life on the rock: “Is not your fear of God your confidence . . . .”  Fear could translate as “respect.” In the  middle of the night, do you respect God? Do you respect God’s power in your life, in your problem in the challenge you are having? Do you respect that power? Do you know what that power can do?

The verse continues, “. . . and the integrity of your ways your hope.”
When you stick steadfastly to God, everything becomes wondrous.

 

 

Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday!

 

 

In one of the glass cases of the Washington D.C. Smithsonian Exhibit is a fur coat with a story. It is the fur coat of Marian Anderson, the great singer. It was her dream to buy the fur coat, and she bought it. There was another fan of hers, at the time, who never thought she could ever do what Marian Anderson did, but she looked, listened, and read articles about her and dreamed. Her name was Mahalia Jackson. In the early 1950’s, she found herself before a sell-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. She said she stood there and she recalled gazing out at the thousands of men and women. She was just standing there as a baby nurse and a washer woman. As she stood there before the crowd, she wondered if she could even utter a note. What was she, to stand before this crowd? Who was she, to stand there thinking she had the power of Marian Anderson, Lily Pons, or Caruso, all who had stood there on that stage before? After all, she was just a washer woman and a baby nurse.

 

 

Then she was reminded again. She was not standing there as a baby nurse and a washer woman, she was not just standing there as flesh and bones, but infilled with the presence of God who could bless through her. She opened her mouth and she was a little shaky at first. She opened her mouth and that first note didn’t come out, but she kept going. It would have been easy for the human in her to walk offstage and say, “Well, I tried this.” But the human would think about it for the rest of her life.

 

 

Mahalia knew God could do it through her. She opened her mouth again, and the notes came out, and soon the audience got excited. As the beat picked up, people were clapping, screaming, and out of their seats. She was, what many say, the greatest voice of all time.

 

 

Mahalia was asked, many times, throughout her career to go to Las Vegas and sing jazz. One time, she was offered what was a lot of money then, to make one appearance. She refused to do it because she said, “I am a gospel singer. I stand on stage for one reason and that is to bring God to those people.” She said, “When you sing jazz, what do you have when it is over, but the blues. When you sing gospel, you have something to take home.” She refused to sing anything but songs about God.

 

 

When Mahalia died in 1972, her funeral was attended by so many that the Greater Salem Baptist Church in Chicago had to hold the service at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center – a huge place that frequently has international auto shows. Forty thousand people came to her funeral. On her tombstone this is written, “Apart from Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”

 

 

It can be said of you, too – it truly can – when you are having great success and those moments that are so sweet in life. Remember why you got there: you got there because of God. God is the great abundance and prosperity for the human being, if we will follow God, be loyal to God, and respect God in the moment.

 

 

How do you rise above conditions in your life? How do you rise above lack, limitation, and worry? You do it by consistently going to God and rising above any former problems that have trapped you.

 

 

Proverbs 3:25-26 teaches about true security: “Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the storm that strikes the wicked; for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.”

 

 

Where is your foot caught? It is caught in the problem. You yank at it and you pull at it, but it is like a bear trap and you don’t know how to get it off of you. It is true you might have stepped there, but God knows how to get you out of the trap.

 

 

Mark Twain said, “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”

 

 

A lot can be learned by watching a professional logger. It is fascinating how they take apart log jams in the river. It seems there are 10,000 logs in the river and they are all jammed. If we had to break the jam, we would go to the bank of the river and start removing logs. Not the professional logger: he climbs a high tree, takes his time, looks over the situation, finds the one log causing the trouble, blows it up, and then the stream takes care of the rest of the jam by flowing the logs down the river.

 

 

What do we do in the middle of the night with our “log jams?” We go to the edge of the river and we start removing logs, one by one. We start examining them and looking at them. In time, we will remove the jam, but we have worked hard and we haven’t slept and are exhausted. In this life, are we a professional or are we an amateur? What we need to do is climb higher, look over the situation, not with our eyes, but with Divine eyes, and ask God to see what the blockage is, and ask God that it be removed.

 

 

 

 

It will be removed in a miraculous way, something we couldn’t envision through a thousand nights of tossing, turning, and worrying in the middle of the night.

 

 

Will God take us up to an imaginary heaven in a chariot of fire, or do we use our mind to lift ourselves heavenward? “God helps those who help themselves” holds good in the heavens as in the earth. We begin right where we are to bring forth the kingdom of God in our lives. Every problem of life can be successfully solved if we begin with God.

 

 

BEGIN WITH GOD. Sometimes we end up with God as a last resort. That is the hard way of doing it. We don’t have to do it that way; we can begin with God. When we realize we can connect ourselves to God and prove what Jesus said – “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” [John 14:10] – Almightiness then begins to appear.

 

 

I will close with 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, “So we are always confident . . .  we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes we do have confidence. . . .”

 

 

Please, join me in a closing prayer.

 

I am, dear God, always provided for. I know this now, and I know this at all times. I pray that I am reminded of this the next time I need to know, even in the middle of the night. I have faith in You, God, as my omnipresent help in every need. I have faith in You, God as my almighty resource. I trust You, God, to preserve me in abundance. I trust You, God, in every part of my life. I turn to You, God, because I believe You are a rewarder of those of us who seek after You.

 

I give thanks, this sweet spiritual day, to You, God.

 

In Jesus Christ’s name, I give thanks.   Amen.

God bless you

 

 

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