Thursday, December 2, 2010

Remember


The Book of Habakkuk

                Habakkuk is such a funny sounding name. This guy was another prophet of the OT. He told God that his nation was lawless and needed punishment. Criminals were ravaging the righteous and lawlessness was rampant. He wanted God to intervene. When God told him how he would send a Heathen army, Habakkuk said it was unfair. The rest of the book, which is only three chapters, is a dialogue between them.
                I wanted to encourage you with something this morning. Habakkuk was on fire for God. He was seeking him out fully. Something that he did was that he remembered what God has done. We Christians tend to forget; that was also Israel’s problem. Israel and Judah kept forgetting what God originally has done. Today, I challenge you to think back and look at what God has done in your life. Set up mental markers. These sign posts will help in times of trouble. Something that always helps me is really trying to remember if God has ever let me down. I know everything else in this world has, but has God? My honest answer is no. God has never let me down. When I doubt, or struggle with life, I remember that. God has always been faithful. The only moments when I feel alone is when I do the self-isolation; consequently, remembering God’s faithfulness really helps me to go through life. Once again, look at your life and see what God has done in it. Hold on to those moments and don’t forget. If you become forgetful, it can lead to a lot of pain and regret; vice versa, remembering can lead to a stronger relationship with God and even deliverance from a situation. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Its been a while...



                It has been a while since I wrote something in my blog. So now I write. I have been reading a lot in the books of the prophets because I have never read them before. They have a lot to do with Judgment and punishment. Israel sinned and they were feeling the consequences for their sin. In Lamentations the prophet asks why? He asked if it was fair that they were getting beaten this bad. He questioned God and even challenged him. The reply he received was just turn to God.
                See, in every prophet book I have read so far, the key theme is turning back to God. Your life right now might really suck. It might seem like everything around you is falling apart. I encourage you to turn to God. He will lead you; just seek him out. There are others that have this huge burden on your heart for something. I once again encourage you to seek him out, he will provide for you.
                My prayer is that this little reading helped you in some way. I hope that it encouraged you. Just keep seeking out God in your life and don’t forget about him.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ignoring God


Amos 4 and 5
                These two chapters really amaze me, especially chapter 4. The Israelites would sacrifice to God, but they would not listen. He wanted their Heart not their sacrifices. God would try to warn them through prophets but they still would ignore what God had to say. The people would continue sacrificing their children and prostituting themselves;  they were living in wickedness. Then God did something that usually worked; he began to punish them like a father would to his child. He wanted to show them a lesson. However after this they still did not acknowledge him. They continued to ignore God.
                So God let them be, their sin destroyed them. The ironic thing is, chapter 5 states that all they had to do was turn to him. All the death and destructions that becomes inevitable was not really all that inevitable. All the Israelites needed was to begin being just and following God with their heart. He did not want the hypocrisy of the people. They would do the “right” religious festivals and worship but their hearts would not obey him. It was all empty.
                Allow me to pose a question to you. Do you utterly ignore God? Do you go to Church and leave Jesus at the door? Do you sing songs of praise, but when it comes to your daily life you do nothing? All God asks of you is to love him but also help the needy. He wants you to reach you lost friends, he wants you to help the poor, and he wants you to follow Jesus’s footsteps. I just want to encourage you to start listening because if you don’t your consequence might be like Israel: being destroyed by their sin.
“I the LORD, hate and despise your religious celebrations and your times of worship. I won’t accept your offerings or animal sacrifices- not even your very best. No more of your noisy songs! I won’t listen when you play your harps. But let justice and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry.” (Amos 5:21-24)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Being In Tune

I just wanted to challenge you with a thought today, are you in tune with God? If God was a song, would you be playing the same tune or are you on a beat of your own. I watch this video that will be the centerpeiece of the Discussion in Epic Youth Jr High Style (I just made that up lol). Its only 10 minutes and yet it is very meaningful. I hope you enjoy it like I did.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzA9MkODmx0

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Living by Grace and Mercy

Amos 1-4

                Reading these chapters in Amos is a pretty scary thing. May people don’t realize this side of God. In these chapters, God talks how he is going to destroy the wicked and save the poor. He talks about destroying countless nations. You see the wrath and justice of God.
It makes me realize that we live by something we take for granted every day. We live by something called grace. Grace is getting something that we do not deserve. If you look at the sins of Israel, we commit many of those acts. Ezekiel says that the real reason Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed was because they mistreated the poor. Today we do the same. In today’s society, rape, abuse, drugs, individuality, prostitution, idol worship, etc. run rampant; however, God allows us to still exist and even thrive. This Grace runs so deep and this brings up my next point.
These chapters make me realize just how big the sacrifice of Jesus really is. If the God of the Old Testament is the same one from the New then we should truly be on God’s naughty list, but we are not. The blood of Jesus really covers us. It gives man more time to realize who God is and what he has for us. It allows for people like you and me to come to God and really gives us a chance to live life.
All I know is that we really do live by grace. The sin that you commit or the ignorance you are allowed to keep is only there because God is allowing it only for a time. It is true on the other side of the spectrum. The relationship with Jesus is only allowed because of Gods’ grace. He wanted us to get out of our mess. That is why we are getting something we do not deserve. He loves you so much and is giving you this grace. I encourage you to take it and if you already have it then be thankful for it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Beating Your Chest

Lamentations

                Have you ever felt like everything is going wrong in your life? Have you ever cried out to God and felt like he was not listening? Have you ever been so stressed or in so much pain that it is even hard to breathe? Have you ever screwed up and felt like God is punishing you? Those are intense feeling and you are honestly not alone.
                The book of Lamentations is intense and is full of pain. It is about a guy screaming out to God. His country is destroyed and his people are being hunted down. Everyone he knows is either being killed or deported. The children of his people were being massacred and it seemed like God was actually against them. One of the most powerful verses of the book reads “My eyes are red from crying, my stomach is in knots, and I feel sick all over. My people are being wiped out and children lie helpless in the streets of the city. A child begs its mother for food and drink then blacks out like a wounded soldier lying in the street. The child dies slowly in its mother’s arms.” (2:11-12). Can you understand this pain. Another verse states that the prayers of the people are being lifted up but the clouds are blocking them. It means that God seems like he is not listening.
                Now honestly, if you would of read the books before this one. These people were wicked and were completely going against God for a long time. These people were Israel and God continued to warn them what would happen if they did not obey him, yet they did not listen. They continued to be lawless and wicked. This is what happened. Even knowing about how the Israelites committed evil deeds, this punishment seems so severe. This book even states that women are eating their children because they are so hungry. It does not seem fair and ‘just’. It amazes me that the author of this book even challenges God. It shows honesty.
                What is the point of this devotional? Well in the mist of this there was hope. The author stated that it could be worse. They could have COMPLETYLY been destroyed; however, God allowed them to live and there is hope in that. That is the one of the hopes of this story; however, what about you? What is the hope in your life when you are crossing the thresholds of this hell? The hope is found in your actions. Something the author said in the mist of this Holocaust was profound “We’re still alive! We shouldn’t complain when we are being punished for our sins. Instead, we should think about the way we are living and turn back to the LORD.” (3:39-40). He talked about repentance which is turning away from their  sins and following the LORD again. Now I honestly don’t know if God punishes his people like he did then; however, I do know we suffer when we engulf ourselves in our wrongs and saturate ourselves in our sins. We do have repercussions. So to put this in today’s terms: when your hand is burning, don’t complain about it but take it off the stove. We need to turn away from our sins. If Israel would have done this, these events would not have happened. They would be in peace. So I challenge to seek God in the mist of the current hell you’re going through, and if you are not listening to God, there is consequence that is inevitable. Its just a natural law like putting your hand on a stove; its going to get burned. I encourage you, to just look at your life and see if you are living the way that you should be living.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Being the Worst Example

Being The Worst Example

                Have you ever had a bad example in your life? Maybe this person caused you to do something very stupid. Maybe this person caused you to indulge in a bad habit that seemed to become almost like an addiction. It is interesting, people can usually point fingers and reveal the bad examples in their lives. Some of them consist of friends, family, movie stars, and even church leaders. Have you ever wondered who the worst example in the bible is? The person is Jeroboam son of Nebat.
                Jeroboam was the first king that split off from the Dynasty of King David. He led 10 of the 12 tribes to split and create the Kingdom of Israel. (I know it can get confusing). The important thing is that he is mentioned well over 30 times in just 2 books of the bible. He led Israel to abandon God and utterly reject him. He was one of the most powerful examples in the Old Testament. He was a terrible example in the bible. He led people in such deep sin that even eventually the people of Israel began to sacrifice their own children.
                My challenge for you today is to imagine if you were written in the Bible. What would it say about you. Would you be a good example or would you be one like Jeroboam that led people away from God. This is a very a deep thought. I encourage you to be conscious of your actions today and see where it leads you.  Enjoy

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I don't serve no sissy God


Do you think of God, what do you think of? Do you think of this all powerful being who is so enormous that you are so small compared to him? Do you think of a God that is terrifying and almighty or do you think of a God that is full of love and compassion? These are all great questions but sometimes we think of God in favor of one over the other.
                Today, people focus on the love of God. It’s not a bad thing but we make God seem like a hippy sometimes. He just loves us and wants to take care of us. He will never hurt us or harm us. This is not a bad thought, but many people take it to an extreme. I sometimes find myself taking it to an extreme. This aspect of God can completely be taken advantage of. It takes away from who God is. Thinking that God as only love makes him seem like a sissy, and a sissy is someone we can take advantage of because he loves us so much. We think we can do what we want.
                On the contrary, we don’t serve no sissy God. If you read the bible you will see another side of God and this is what I want to challenge you with today. Look at the stories of how God dealt with his people Israel. Look at how they feared him. Take time out of your day and really think about who this God is that you serve. I can tell you this. If you are serving my God, You ain’t serving no sissy God, and this not so sissy God has my back. Does he have yours?

Friday, October 15, 2010

It can be refreshing


            When you had a long day or week, business can completely overwhelm you. Sometimes you get so tired and overworked that you leave out God. It is like you are taking on the world. Slowly you begin to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. The weight of your job, school, finances, security, illness, (you fill in the blank) creep onto your back. While this happens it seems the relationship with God begins to suffer. You know what you need to do, you know that you need to keep seeking God out. However, it is a hard task when all this “stuff” is happening.
            While God gets put on the back burner life gets difficult and the stress begins to pile up, but when you finally get the courage to put everything aside, even the simplest verses can seem so refreshing. It is like a hot shower after a long day with a sore body; the water seems to rush over your body with the illusion that it is seeping through your skin. It is rejuvenating. It can also be like that much needed sleep after that over worked day. You lie in bed feeling the cushion of your mattress catch your body. God does something that none of these can do. He can refresh the soul. He helps satisfy that eagerness and restlessness that some things can’t cure. He can do it by the simplest means. Look at Ephesians 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” Is not that verse something special? It just talks about how by just believing we are a part of Christ. The verses found before these talks about God’s grace and how he loved us. He chose us and adopted us as his sons and daughters. Just thinking about that thought alone seems to take away that weight of the world. It seems to release the burden and realize I am a child of God.
            What is the whole point? I think the point is that we are not meant to take on the world. We are also refreshed when we get to cast everything aside; it is something we were meant to do. When we seek him out we can find rest. After all, he  is the master of comforters. He tells us things that are really cool to think about like the thought about being a child of God. Why am I one? What does that mean? These thoughts can lead us to an understanding about God and can bring us peace. It is something cool to think about. Would you rather think about being a child of God or all the junk your stressed out about? It’s your choice, but I already made mine. I challenge you to just try it and seek him out today. Life is short.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The End

The End
1 Corinthians 15:35-58 
This section is so poetic. It is about our heavenly bodies. Paul is answering a question about what our heavenly bodies will be like and how it will come. His response is awesome. I know I can’t really give his words any justice by trying to describe what he said.
            He stated that nothing is comparable. We are like a seed; when the seed dies it grows into something completely different from what it was sown from. The seed of a redwood tree is completely different from the Redwood itself. You cannot compare it with its origin. Paul was saying something similar to this concept. Our earthly bodies are made up of flesh and bone. They deteriorate and have many weaknesses. We are walking bodies that are constantly decaying. When we die something new is given to us. Our bodies now are perishable, but when we are sown they will become imperishable. Our bodies now are from the earth, but we will be given bodies from heaven. 42. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body and is raised a spiritual body.
 Now does that now sound so cool? He goes on to describe the imagery of this transformation. Then he goes into how death will not be able to touch us in these bodies. He quotes from Hosea 13:14 where, oh death, is your victory? Where, oh death, is your sting? It is really a cool concept to think about. Will I have a six pack? Will I be completely unrecognizable from what I am now? Is it really like the seed of a redwood vs. its actual tree? Just think about that.
What is the point of it all? The first point is that it is only because of Jesus that we have this. It is from none other (verse 57). All glory goes to him; however, there is even a more important lesson to pull absorb from this passage. It is the last verse. We need to endure and keep moving forward. We need to fully work for the LORD. When we work none of it is in vain. In other words, DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE.
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (verse 58)
Father please doesn’t let me waste it. Let me live and work for you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Unexpectedness of God


2 kings 5

                I have always found it strange when God works. He dabbles in the affairs of this world very often but in peculiar ways. A lot of the times, he works in ways that we would not expect. For example, in this chapter, it involved the heathen warrior Naaman. That statement is strange in itself. Why would God help someone who was in charge of attacking the people of Israel? So that fact alone is unexpected; however, this Naaman was also helped in an unexpected way. At least he did not expect it.
                This warrior Naaman had a severe case of leprosy. Leprosy is when you skin gets so diseased that it practically falls off. It is excruciating and very painful. Well Naaman wanted to get healed, so he went in search for the prophet Elisha. He wanted him to call on the name of God and heal his leprosy. Well he found the prophet, and the e prophet told him that he needed to go to the Jordan River and wash seven times. In doing so, he would be healed of this afflicting disease. Naaman did not expect that; quite contrary, he expected Elisha to heal him by calling on God and wave his staff over Naaman’s afflicted body. Naaman wanted a spectacular show. So he walked away upset and went to the Jordan river grumbling and complaining about Elisha. The story ends with his healing and he is so overjoyed that he commits himself to following God for the rest of his life.
                Many times we imagine the same thing in our lives. We dream that God is going to help us in this mighty way. Maybe you picture that God will send his army of angels and hand you money to pay your bills. Some people imagine hearing the voice of God  in a  with your own ears.  Jesus told the religious leaders of the day that their problem lied in that. They expected some astronomical impossibility in order to prove the authority of his heritage to God. He was already healing people in front of them. See, God does not really work like that. Actually, he usually works contrary to what you are expecting. It’s like when you intensely pray, what you pray for does not usually get answered in the way you expected. For example, you are praying for someone that gets cancer and suddenly they actually get healed. Many of us don’t expect it to actually happen.
 God is so good and I Just wanted to encourage you to keep on the watch to how God moves in your life. Never doubt in the things that he can actually do. You will notice the unexpectedness of God. Watch how he moves in others also. I want to encourage you to keep praying and never define God. What I mean is do not put God in a box. Do not say that God can only work like this way or that. If you do, you might be shocked in how God actually works. He is not confined by our boxes, he is so much more

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Confidence


2 kings 4

                What your about to read is something you might think is na├»ve. It does not seem possible to accomplish and honestly, you do not see many people who have this quality. I know that I lack it and everyone else I know of lacks some of it. The “it” is confidence.
                The fact is that we see this all throughout the Bible. This chapter is about Elisha, but you also see it in every book of the Bible. There is this quality of assurance that these Bible heroes have. People like Elisha, David, Peter, Paul, etc. All these figures obtained this state in life. In this chapter, Elisha is doing all these miracles and almost seems non chalant about it. I imagine him just walking around with not a care in the world. He sees people hurting and I can picture him saying “Hmmmm, your son is dead? Ok (says a little quick prayer), all better.” I can imagine him with this great attitude and great assurance that God is going to take care of him and use him to meet the needs of others.
                Do you have this type of confidence? When we look at the world around us, this characteristic seems like a rarity. We are constantly worrying and complaining day to day. Now granted, I know that we all go through tough times and our faith gets tested. However, so did all the heroes of the Bible. Each one went through tough times and some even doubted and worried; however, in almost every case, all of them knew that God was going to take care of them. Look at king David. There were a couple of times he got CHASED out of his kingdom and one of these times was by his own son. Then to top it all off, his son slept with his fathers’ wives. Now that is something to really wrestle with; however, David had this confidence in God that he would make things right and did not have one worry about it.
                That is a good point, it is the confidence in GOD that these people had. That is so powerful. Today, Christians still lack that. Imagine if you walked with the same attitude as David? Imagine if you walked with the confidence of the apostle John. John was hunted down and thrown in boiling tar, yet he still had confidence in God. Nothing shook him.
                I want to encourage you with a question; Do you have confidence? I know I lack it, but do you? We are called not to worry about anything and God will take care of us. He tells us that we are more valued then the animals that he takes care of. He tells us that we are his children and that he will love us unconditionaly. He tells us he will protect us, listen to us, lead us, teach us, etc. So the question is why don’t you walk in confidence? Remember, you do not hold God up, God holds you up. Today I want to challenge you to walk with confidence in God and see where it takes you. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

This Little Light of Mine is the One I’m Going to Let Shine


Ephesians 5:6-20
            Do you remember the church song so many of us used to sing? It went something like this: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine; Let it shine; Let it shine.” When I read these verses that were written by Paul it reminded me of this song. We all have a calling and Paul is really so clever in how he puts it. We need to be “People of Light”. It’s not about race. Personally when I hear this phrase I think of knights slaying demons and dragons. They are destroying the darkness. My thought is not far off from Paul’s meaning.
            What does a lamp do when you turn it on in a dark room? Well, it lights up all the dark corners of course. God calls us to do the same thing. This little light of ours needs to be shined. This little light is actually not that tiny. It is huge and powerful it is the light of Jesus. Paul describes us and tells us how to shine this way: “You used to be like people living in the dark, but now you are people of the light because you belong to the Lord. So act like people of the light and make your light shine. Be good and honest and truthful, as you try to please the Lord.” (5:8-10). to translate this further, Paul is saying that we were all dark; however, now that we have Jesus, we are people of the light. We are God’s children. The way we shine is to do things to please Jesus. That’s all we have to do. Paul goes on to say that we should avoid worthless things that are being done in the dark. In verse 12 he mentions how disgusting they are. Think about that for a second. We all know things that are done in the dark and the perverseness and stupidity that lies in it. Think of how perverted pornography is; there are genres that include senior citizens. How about drug usage or even alcohol? Have you ever seen a person stoned out of their mind? They act so dumb. Almost all of us have seen a drunk, and they can’t even walk straight and seem “slow”. “But the light will show what these things are really like.”-vs. 13 it’s interesting, having Jesus is like having a filter. We see things for what they really are. Think about this fact throughout your day.
            Like in all the medieval movies and shows darkness is appealing, but it always ends with a dark twist and almost always kills. It’s the same thing in real life. If you give in to darkness you are killing yourself. Sometimes this death is physically (by slowly killing your body), but it is definitely always spiritually. That is why we feel the need for more darkness because we want it to make us feel alive. Are you following?
            I know this little devotional can be confusing; it is mostly my thoughts all jumbled world. Let’s show people the darkness that they are really engulfed in. Remember, it is not in a judging way because Paul also talked about love. We need to do all this in love. There are numerous ways we can shine. For example, verse 19 talks about meeting together to sing songs and worship with all your heart. We can pray together and all this light will build with such a magnitude that it will burst out from us and spill out to the dark corners that surround us. I challenge you to shine today. As Paul says in verse 16, “These are evil times, so make every minute count.”

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Story of God’s Faithfulness


2 kings 3

Today, I wanted to share a story with you. This tale is about the faithfulness of God and how he looks after those who love him. The story takes place in the dark times of the Middle East. It was the time when Israel had kings with its 11 tribes. Judah also had its set of kings since the huge split from Israel. This time was a time of war and Israel was in a state of rebellion. The people of Moab, who were the subjects of the Israelites, rebelled and refused to listen to Israel’s king. The Moabites stopped paying tribute and began to fortify their towns.
Now the king of Israel was a wicked king. He did very defiling and immoral acts. It ranged from prostitution to murder. This king declared war and began to march with his allies. His allies were the king of Edom and the King of Judah, whose name was Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was the only king in love with God. He did great things to keep his people on the right path. God did not like his alliance with the king of Israel, but God loved him. Well, the King of Judah began to march with Israel.
God turned his back on Israel because they were lost in their sin and rejected, but since Jehoshaphat was with them, he helped Israel out. Let me state it a different way. God’s wrath was on Israel and he was teaching them a lesson, but because of Jehoshaphat he decided to help Israel defeat the armies of Moab. That is something very interesting and intense. God loved Jehoshaphat so much because he was a man of faith and he was seeking God out always that He turned away his wrath for the sake of his child
God loves you so much and is faithful to you if you are faithful to him. He will help you in your times of needs and trials. If you ask him, he will even help out the people around you. He will help out your friends, family, and your enemies. He will help the people that stand in your way because you are faithful. I learned a long time ago something incredible about God. No matter how much you serve him, he will always out serve you. You can give all your possessions away and go to the mountains of Russia to serve God, but in some way or another, he will meet your needs in such a miraculous way that it makes your act of sacrifice seem small. Try it out. God will be faithful to you, his child.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Because Of Love

Ephesians 4:1-5:5

            There was a famous song in the 80’s that talked about the message of love. Actually, he asked “What is love?” Love is so important to the Christian walk. You hear pastors and church leaders talk about it all the time, at least I hope you do.  Honestly, love is probably one (if not the one) of the most important central concepts in Christianity. In today’s world, there are so many doctrines. There is the Health and Wealth that talks about how God will bless you. There is the fire and brimstone that talks about judgment and how you are going to hell. There are doctrines about saints, the trinity, demons, gods, legalism, etc. If you can imagine any strange concept, there is probably a doctrine that follows that.
            In Ephesians 4, Paul discusses all these “ideologies”. “We must stop acting like children. We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teachings, which are like winds that toss us around from place to place.” (Eph 4:14). Paul here states that there are false teachings and that we need to be wise and mature, but how do we do this? There are so MANY teachings that exist in our society. How do we weed out the garbage? Paul even gave an answer to this, and the solution is with love. “Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head of the body. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong BECAUSE OF LOVE.” (vs. 15, 16) Love is the filter that we should put all these doctrines into. If something does not have love, it is definitely a false teaching. If it hates anyone like gays, murderers, Mormons, Muslims, etc, it is definitely not from God. This is an amazing way to really see what is from God.
There is also something that Paul says that is really awesome. In Eph 4:25-5:5 he talks about how we should be. The “Rules for the new life”, or in other words, “How to be a Christian”; this whole section is all about love. It goes into loving others, helping the needy, saying the right things to others, and even loving yourself. The last part is what really gets me. A lot of us beat ourselves up when we screw up; however, Paul does not believe that. Paul talks about doing as God does. That incorporates so much. Would Jesus be a racist? Would he hate gay people? Would he beat himself up? I don’t think so. We need to love all of these people. If we don’t then we are not worshiping God we are worshiping idols. We are going against God. This battle that is raging will be a losing one. The solution is that we need to mimic Jesus. It is an impossible task but Paul says something that brings hope. In vs. 30 he says “Don’t make God’s Spirit sad. The Spirit makes you sure that someday you will be free from your sins.” So don’t give up hope; the work in you will one day be completed. Have joy and continue to love.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ignoramus


2 kings 1

Ignoramus is such a peculiar word. Personally I find the sound of it kind of funny. It probably honestly has nothing to do with what I am going to talk about today. I just have another story to share about another king that followed the path of other kings and truly missed out on what God had for him
There was a king named Ahaziah. He was a small king and ruled an even smaller land. This land was Israel and like his father, he made a huge mistake. He completely ignored God. He even fell through a roof and severely hurt himself. All the medicine people in the land could not help him, but he had a brilliant idea to look to God for help; however, it was not the God that led people out of Egypt, and it was certainly not the God that saved his land and even his father many times. No, it was the God of the philistines, who was actually Israel’s enemy. His name was Baalzebub. He went to him and completely ignored God. He did not even try to seek out God’s help. It was like he pretended he was not even there. So what happened to this tiny king? Well, the story is brief; Ahaziah did not get better but much worse. The fall that happened to him ended up stopping his heart.
Now Ahaziah was not to smart, but my question for you is: are you any smarter? We might not be on our deathbed but how long does it take you to seek God out when you are going through problems? Is he your last option or your first? The answer for many of us is that God is our last option. When a problem arises and we can’t fix it, we tend to look to others and when they can’t help we tend to go to the next option, then the next, and so on. God is sometimes, if not mostly, the last option we use? My question is why? Why do we wait till the last minute? Why do we not seek him out first? Are we any smarter then Ahaziah? I can honestly say that in my life, I have done the same fatal mistake of completely ignoring God in my struggles. I might have not died but I have suffered immensely for it. I have felt the pain and depression that comes from facing almost innumerable odds.
It’s like having a huge migraine and refusing to take Advil. It’s like getting surgery and refusing anesthetics. It just does not seem smart and it tends to lead to a lot of pain. I want to encourage you to START with God. When you go through something, seek him out first. He should be our FIRST option and not our last. If you are truly seeking God out, he will never let you down.
                

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Great Lie?


Luke 1
            In Luke chapter 1 a wonderful story is told. It is about the miraculous pregnancy of both John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. The narrator goes into all the signs and revelations that are revealed to both husbands and wives. When reading this chapter one can’t help but feel like they are departing on an adventure that is close to a fairy tale. Is it a fantasy story? Are all these stories found in this book just a bunch of fables that entail fictional characters that are engrossed with magic and power? Looking at it from a Christian perspective, this idea brings the hairs on the back of the neck to a standing posture. Some might get defensive and others might get violent.
            So is it all just one big lie? I was thinking about this question while I was reading this really cool chapter in Luke. This chapter is the start of the most influential character in history. This man Jesus is responsible for a change in the world as a whole. This is the person that brought most impact in society and continues to bring impact every day either by combating poverty or even war. That fact right there brings heavy weight to one side of the argument. If this whole bible is just a story, why is it in circulation still? Why has it made such an impact on countries and societies of all different cultures and practices?
            These are all huge questions that probably have volumes of books written for each individual topic. I just want to pose them for you to think about. Look at the depth of the characters; there is so much about the individual and so many different stories about everyone. You might say “Well, I know many novels that are written by authors that seem to have such a depth.” But on the contrary, if Luke was not even around during the time of Mary’s pregnancy how would he know. If he just made it up, why would the other books of the bible agree with it? The bible is written not by one author but many. I’m not talking about 3 or 4; on the contrary, I am talking about well over 25. They all seem to connect to each other in some way. They were also in different time periods! I can’t explain it because I am no theologian or scholar. I am just here to pose the challenge of this miraculous literature. It is still circulated. If you look at it from a secular perspective you cannot deny the impact it has. If you add in a little of Christian experience, you clearly see that it is a book of miracles and had a sort of divinity about it. For myself, it has not steered me wrong. In all the social psychology concepts that society seems to accept, like love your neighbor and all that. It seems that the bible has been telling us that all along.
            I just wanted to pose the question once again, is it just one huge lie or is there something more to it? It is definitely the most impacting work that has hit our world, and it still makes a difference today. It helps the individual but it also has the potential to lead society; however, do not get me mistaken. If you follow this book without realizing the real author, you are just following a concept that is impossible on your own power. Now that is even more food for thought.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Underestimated Power

Luke 4:31-44
            We have all seen horror movies with monsters and demons. If not, you have heard stories of these terrible creatures and dark powers. In some stories, they kill dozens and in others, they deform others. Some of us have cringed at these images and others have not been able to sleep at night because of dreadful nightmares.
            We have glimpsed perceptions of evil either with our imagination or with other tools such as movies and TV. It is interesting the response that rises in our bones, the fear that we have all experienced. There is also something far more intriguing; did not Jesus cast out this type of evil? There are numerous stories about Jesus casting out demons that oppressed people, and some of them are found in this very section in Luke. The peculiar thing about Jesus and demons is that there is no fear that gets aroused within us. We usually don’t get scared. The reason is that next to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God, nothing can even compare to that power. This Jesus casted out demons as if he was crushing ants; Jesus is so powerful.
            Let me say that again; JESUS IS SO POWEFUL! In this same section Jesus goes on a healing spree. He begins to heal all these people that come up to him. We have all been in a hospital and seen so many sick and dying. In Jesus’ day, there were no hospitals, so imagine a person walking into a hospital and when he walks out, every patient is following him. He is so powerful.
            Let me say that again; JESUS IS SO POWEFUL! So you need to stop getting over burdened. Your problem in life is nothing compared to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God. I don’t care if you have family issues, illness, dying, oppressed, poor, etc. JESUS IS SO POWERFUL! Really, try to take in that concept. We all know the stories of Jesus. This person conquered death; that is something none of us can do. We all have issues. My challenge to you is to realize the power of Jesus and rely on him. He can get you through anything; he will carry you if he has to. Life is tough, but CHRIST is tougher. Problems are confusing to solve, but CHRIST has the answers. Have faith and rely on him. STOP UNDERESTIMATING HIS POWER, and please stop underestimating his love for you. He loves you so much and hates to see you hurting, angry, depressed, and (fill in the blank). Come on, you’re not alone

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%204:31-44&version=NIV

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Whisper in the Wind


1st kings 19

                We all go through times of loss and pain, times of loneliness and heart ache. Maybe you feel abandoned or depressed. You feel like the whole world is rallying against you or the walls around you are crashing down. In times like these it seems even hard to breathe. Maybe you’re crying out to God and even he to seem like he is not paying attention, and the only voice you hear is your own echo.
                There is a story of a great man in this chapter. This great man was Elijah; he was a prophet of God. In his lifetime he saw his brothers, sisters, and countrymen turn away from God and follow all these other false names. He saw them give themselves to sexual sin and their evil desires. He saw them cutting themselves and chanting in order to communicate with their new gods. Imagine the loneliness he felt His mission was to let the people know that God was real in a time when people turned away. See, he did so many miraculous signs that proved God was the real and true God, but he felt like no one listened. The people in power constantly wanted him dead and he lost hope. He ran away to the middle of the dessert to literally crawl in a whole and die. This great man, who did extreme works of God, was now begging for his life to be taken away. He lost hope.
                Even though he lost hope, God did not. God told this man to go to the mountain top in order to see him pass by. Elijah did and this is what happened. “All at once, a strong wind shook the mountain and shattered the rocks, but the LORD was not in the wind. Next there was an earthquake but the LORD was not there either. Then there was a fire, but the LORD was nor in there. Finally there was a gentle breeze, and when Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his coat.” (1st kings 19:11-13)
                Many times when we are alone or hurting, we want God to show up in this miraculous way. We want him to do something wonderful and so spectacular that it would blow our minds. Elijah saw all these powerful forces but God was not in them. Then there was just a small and gentle breeze and that was where he was. Sometimes in our life and in our trials we need to sit and listen. We need to calm down and just breathe and focus on God. If you are seeking him out, he is always around you; you just need to look and listen.
                This story ends with God telling Elijah that he is not the only one left. There are many other people who have not turned away from their true God. That was what Elijah needed to hear. My encouragement for you today, especially if you are hurting, is to just stop and listen. God does reveal himself in mighty ways; however, at least in my life, he mostly comes in those cool and refreshing breezes. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Trickery of Baal


1st kings 18:21

                Our world today is a very secretive place. Danger lurks around every corner and this make life difficult. I think almost every Christian would agree with me that being a Christian in a world like today can be very hard. This is the thought I want to expand on.
                In the time of the 18th chapter of Kings, most of Israel forgot all about God. They started to serve another god. His name was Baal, and he was a major pagan deity. They worshiped him through sacrifice and prostitution. Some say he was the god of fertility. If you look before this chapter (in the time of David), you will notice that he was not majorly on the scene and especially not as popular in Israel’s past. However, for some reason, he became the major god of worship. Now Baal he is a tricky fellow; he was able to snatch the hearts of the Israelites.
                See, we all have a Baal in our life.  We have something that can distract us from God. Individually, most of us know what that Baal is. For some, it can be relationships, money, video games, and even school. Anything that distracts us has a potential of leading us away from god. Baal is tricky like that. It has happened many times in my life as well as probably yours. You might even be in that place right now trying to figure out how to get back.  There is always a way. First identify what it is that distracts you and then start taking action. If it’s television for example, set yourself a specified time of watching it. Same concept goes with videogames. If it is partying, identify the reason you’re doing it. Maybe you just need to let go of some influences in your life.
                I hope this encouraged you today in some way. If, at this moment, you are not distracted, then I encourage you to help your family in Christ that is. We all need help at times and we all need that support in our lives. So let’s do this.

“…How much longer will you try to have things both ways? If the LORD is God, worship him! But if Baal is God, worship him.” (1st kings 18:21)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Raw Message of John the Baptist


Luke 3
            I must begin by saying that this whole chapter is really cool. It has some really cool thoughts but something really peaked my interest. There is a very important message that John the Baptist tries to say. His whole ministry was to prepare that way for Jesus Christ, but he was also called to preach. He actually was a tool to help people get forgiveness. Actually, he taught people how to be forgiven. He taught the meaning of repentance.
            When John came out to baptize, many people followed him in order to be baptized. One really cool quality about John was that he told it how he saw it. He spoke his mind and was not afraid to tell the truth. In verse 7 he calls everyone in the crown a “bunch of snakes”. That is like teling people that they are stupid, ignorant, deceptive, etc. That was harsh in those days; however, this is where the message lies. “Do something to show that you really have given up your sins. Don’t start saying that you belong to Abraham’s family. God can turn these stones into children for Abraham.” (vs 8) See this is a very intense statement that can be applied to all Christians everywhere. In those days, everyone was staggering to the title of being a child of Abraham. If you were, that meant you were God’s chosen people. If you were not, then you were outside of God and you were not favored. Kind of sounds harsh huh?
            The first part of the verse is really where you find the essence of John’s message. Baptizim was a sign of repentance. It was the sign of forgiveness of your sins. Repentance means turning away and in the Christian sense it means turning from your sin. “Do something to show that you really have given up your sins…” So many times in our lives, at least in mine, we do something stupid. Yet so many times we say something like “God please forgive me”, yet we do it again and again. John is saying that there needs to be some sort of change in our lives after we repent. We should be acting something out. Of course we will constantly stumble but maybe it will be less and less severe. For example, you have a major issue with lying. Maybe after repenting you put in the effort to lie less and less. Eventually, the lies are not severe and you realize you are telling the truth more; consequently, you are becoming more honest.
            John the Baptist warns us about not truly repenting. He warns us about not acting. If you are a Christian, you are a child of God; however, God is so magnificent that he can make the stones his children. We need to stop just saying sorry and really turn from our sin. We need to show God that we are serious. Maybe you need to be more charitable, or maybe your eyes and heart need to be more pure. You know your flaws, stop saying sorry and start acting. God loves you so much and he wants you to become more like him. This is my challenge for you today.
            Read the chapter, it is pretty cool. Another cool thing is it goes into Jesus’s lineage. That brings some more food for thought.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Intentions


Galatians 6
Why do you do what you do? This is just a very heavy question. Why do you do what you do? Why do you work? Why do you exercise? Why do you play video games? Why do you act? Why do you do your favorite hobby? These are all interesting questions with many different answers. They can range from making the big bucks to just simply having fun. How about this question: Why do you serve? Even this question has many answers; some are for popularity while some are for God.
“The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:8). This verse is great. In the past I used to question about if I am doing the right thing? In the past I even questioned my salvation: Am I on the right side of God? If you serve in order to please Jesus, then you are on the right side. If when you donate and it is for the hope that you are impacting it positively, if beyond everything, it is ultimately for God, you are on the right side of God.  You are pleasing the Spirit. So back to the question, why do you do what you do?
On the other hand, it has a negative side. What if everything you do is for a selfish purpose? What if you give to a charity in order to make yourself look good? What if you serve at church in order to be popular? What if everything you do is for yourself? What happens then? “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction…” That is a scary thought. I mean we all have done something completely for ourselves. I have served in church in order to get recognition before. I mean its fun and it is self pleasing; however, even when I have done this, it has always left me with a feeling of wanting more. I am never satisfied. I am always thirsty. I am always hungry. So let me ask you one more time; why do you do what you do?
Here is a cool thought, what if you worked to please the Spirit? What if you exercised in order to please God? What would that be like? What about playing video games? What about driving your car? What if everything you ever did or will do, was in order to please God? I know for a fact it brings security. It makes your day feel beneficial. It makes it feel like unwasted. Doing it to please God makes you honestly feel good. I challenge you to think about this today. I challenge you to do it. See what your day is like. “…the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
-DWYL

Monday, September 20, 2010

Praying

1st Timothy 2:2-9
                I was just wondering while I read this passage this morning, when you pray, what do you pray for? How do you pray? These two questions surfaced in my thoughts and it is a very interesting question. When you pray, do you pray mainly for yourself or do you pray for the people that you know? Most people will claim that they pray for others but they tend to pray for people that they only know. Don’t worry, I do the same thing. I might be a little worse actually; most of my prayers revolve around my personal life and the people that influence it. Selfish aren’t I?
                In this passage, Paul talks about how to pray. He doesn’t only tell us how but, he tells us what to pray for. He states that we should be praying for EVERYONE. We should pray for our country, our leaders and other leaders of the world. He tells us that we should be praying for everyone we can possible think of. Do you know why? The reason is that God wants everyone saved and when we pray for these things it actually pleases God.  We pray for our leaders because they LEAD us. Most of us reading this live in a country where we are free to worship. There are many countries that do not have that LUXERY. Paul tells us to be thankful for the things that God gives us. Yes, you can thank God to. Are you starting to get the picture? There are so many things that you are able to pray for. You have students in the youth, the poor, the church, your teacher, your family, world events, the president, our enemies, etc. There is a plethora of things.
                When you pray you will see many things begin to happen, not only in your life, but in the lives around you. You will see hearts and lives change. It is so cool to witness that. Now I will be honest, I don’t pray like I should and I am working on it to. So you are not alone. The one thing that I do think I do right though, is I will share my heart with God. If something is troubling me, I will just break out in a convo with God. I know it may sound strange but it is awesome. When I pour out my heart it becomes more personal. It is not those typical “Lord, please bless my family and friends…” It is a lot deeper then that and it is talking intimately with him. It is like talking to your dad about your struggles or telling him how you feel about the flood in Pakistan. It is like telling your dad about how you love this country you are in and that you are thankful. It’s like laying out all of your complaints and frustration to your dad so you can get it off your chest. It is the why you are thankful, why you are hurting, why you care for so and so, why you want this person’s life changed. It’s the why in prayers that are really important. All of this is what prayer should look like.
                I just encourage you after you read this to pray.

“This kind of prayer is good and it pleases God our savior.”
1 Timothy 2:3