Thursday, May 30, 2013

My House Shall Be A House Of Prayer

Mark 11:15-18
My House Shall Be A House Of Prayer

     “Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for the nations? But you have made it a robbers den.” -Jesus 
     Jesus went to the temple and began casting out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. And He would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple. Jesus has come to cleanse us! He has called us to be the temple of His Holy Spirit! We are to be houses of prayer to the nations! This means that we are to be places of prayer and refuge to everyone around us. We are to be a comfort and help to our neighbor and a living example of God’s kingdom and power.
     What a wonderful job. What a wonderful life to live, being places of refuge for those in distress and for those who desire to know our Lord and Savior. The world has no way to offer hope and comfort to it’s distressed people, but we carry that hope and comfort with us wherever we go. 
     As God works to clean out all of the corruption in our lives, His Holy Spirit becomes pleased to dwell in us and we find ourselves truly a place of prayer for people. It is the chaos of sin in our lives that keeps us from being effective houses of prayer. Our lives have been filled like the temple, with selfish pursuits and greed making us more concerned with taking care of ourselves than others. We cannot be houses of prayer and refuge for others if there is no room left in our lives for them to be able to enter into it. It is time to learn how to love.
     Love gives us freedom. Love gives us the ability to pursue people with kindness, and to help with no thought of the pains and the time that it will take to see results for our labors. Love will pursue a person and even if it is rejected it will continue to love unconditionally. Love requires your whole heart. It has to give all of itself with no fear of rejection for if it is afraid of rejection it will not be able to make it past the very shallowest form of love. The love of self. If we don’t put all of our heart into it, it means that we are more concerned with our own well being than of the other persons. Love has no fear of rejection. Love has no fear of speaking the truth even if it means it will be ridiculed or tortured for it. Love has no fear of having wasted its time on someone it will pursue indefinitely. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) - Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
     Let us pray for true love for one another that we may indeed prove to be houses of prayer and refuge to our neighbor. God bless, -Seth

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Living As Christ Taught Us To Live

Mark 10:42-45
Living As Christ Taught Us To Live

     And calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord is over them. But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
     To be a servant of all is our great commission from God and it is the greatest honor to be in service to one another. It removes the burden of wondering how we should live and what we should focus on with the future of our life ahead of us. It simplifies so many things and so many questions. Jesus clarifies this life of laying down our lives for the sake of others, in chapter 10 verses 29-30. “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brother or sister or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the Gospel’s sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mother and children and farms, along with persecution; and in the age to come, eternal life.” I think about the rich man who Jesus tells, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” 10:21 Jesus doesn’t say - consider what you have as not your own and follow me, but rather, step out in faith and be the servant of your brothers and sisters who are worthy of your going out of your way, and at great sacrifice, to bless them. How will we ever experience the joy of following Christ if we are afraid to let go of the world to do what He has asked of us?
     I was recently reading the history of the Jews at the time of Rome’s final destruction of their land and how lawless the people of Israel had become at that time, engaging in all manner of robbery, plundering and killing of one another so that no one who had anything of value was safe. They were either in fear of their lives or facing the loss of all things. It said that no one who had anything of value was safe from these attacks. So Jesus’ counsel to the rich man in light of these events was to his blessing - using his riches to attain riches in heaven rather than losing it all only a short time later and maybe his life as well.
     So where do we stand? When do we finally take Jesus’ counsel and actually apply it to our daily lives? If we do, only then will we bless Him for His foresight into the future, and thank Him for allowing us to reap heavenly wages for what we would have ultimately lost in the end either by outward circumstances or death. I did not start this message with the view of going down this aspect of it however we would all do well to consider these things and question how far each of us has been truly willing to go for the sake of Christ and the spreading of the Gospel. There is only one path in front of us as Christians and it is the joyful path of following in the footsteps of our Master, as a servant of all.
     Let us love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and take these final words to heart. 8:34-38 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
     God bless you all!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

God Is With Us

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ,9
God Is With Us

     And when I came to you brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
     Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. (4:1) But just as it is written, “Things which the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (2:9)
     I chose these verses for us to reflect on in regard to our job as Christians. Sometimes we can become bogged down while trying to step out in faith and share the Lord because when we start to plan, an immediate list of all the qualifications we think we need, and all of the projected possible scenarios, simply overwhelm us. Paul makes some interesting statements here regarding his own preaching ability that should be an encouragement to us. He says that he was often in difficult and fearful circumstances but it didn’t stop him from sharing a Gospel that would seem like foolishness to many. Instead he relied on the Holy Spirit to make use of him so that men might not be convinced on his word alone but on the power of God that went with the word! God’s power is the vital ingredient and not only for the planting and growing of good seed but also for the glorious works of healing and signs and wonders. In essence Paul is saying, “I’m not just going to tell you about my God, I’m going to show you my God!” He wasn’t going in with a half hearted attempt to reach “some” people for Jesus, he was going in with the full power of God in order to bring all to Christ!
     He says, “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” If we also go forward on our knees in prayer we also have been made stewards of the mysteries of God. Stewards of “Things which the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
     Our job in the Lord’s service each day does not have to start with us thinking we’re finally prepared for every question someone might throw at us. It begins with seeking the Lord for His, “Power from on High” that we might not only tell people about Him but show Him to people. “And all things that you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” Matt. 21:22 Ours is the great job of being stewards of the mysteries of heaven! “Blessed is the slave whom his master finds so doing when He comes. Truly I say to you, that He will put him in charge of all of His possessions.” Matt. 24:46-47
     We have the amazing hope to share with mankind as well as all the resources of Heaven with which to do it! Hallelujah! So let us forget the list of fears of not being ready and step into the fields that are overflowing and white for harvest! 
God bless you all!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Unashamed Of Jesus And The Gospel

Mark 8:34-38
Unashamed Of Jesus And The Gospel

     “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with His holy angels”. Mark 8:38
     Why is it that we feel shame in being associated with Jesus and the gospel? Why are we so easily ashamed of Him, and of telling others about Him? Verses 34-37 give us some answers to this question. 34. And He summoned the multitudes with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it. 36. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37. For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
     What we should notice about these verses is that they carry a very unappealing message for our pursuit of ease and comfort. Jesus demonstrated what it means to carry a cross and it was anything but a relaxing experience. Each of us has spent many hours, days, and years trying to keep up with the world. Trying to do things that impress our friends or cause people to envy us for what we have. Jesus did not demonstrate this type of living. Instead He tells us to give up that lifestyle or we will lose our souls to it. He does not tell us to mix with it, but to die to it.
     This way of life is not only unappealing to our friends and the world around us, but they will look at us as though we were dead! How could we possibly enjoy a life that has no popularity and no worldly excitement attached to it? Where is the fun? Where is the excitement? This is a message that will not make us a big hit at the party. There is no glory or envy to be gained from our friends by living this way or telling them about living this way. It also stings their conscience causing them to not like having us around ruining their party. So, rather than living for Christ in front of our friends we feel ashamed of even mentioning that we try to live this way. We live the Christian life in front of other Christians, but not in front of those who would think us foolish for doing so. We show ourselves unwilling to give up our lives for the gospel. We are unable to let go of their opinion of us and are ashamed of being a Christian in front of them.
    But once we have become dead to the world and alive in Christ our joy and excitement has a new source, one that does not come from possessions and easy living. Our hearts burn with a new passion; a new fire that is bigger, stronger and more appealing than anything the world has ever offered us. Our Heavenly Father has the universe awaiting us. Truly our life is just beginning for in the same way that He is infinitely creative He wants to teach us to be infinitely creative.
     So let us gladly give up our lives here on earth, embracing the humility Jesus has offered us and set our eyes on His return. Let us ask Jesus for help in being unashamed of Him so that in the day of His glorious return we will find Him unashamed of us.