Archive for October, 2011

Do You have Peace?

Posted: October 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

As Paul wrote to the church in the city of Philippi, he said that it is possible to possess the “peace of God.” (Phil. 4:6). Jesus Himself had said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives.” Worldly peace is simply the absence of conflict or difficult circumstances. Everything is calm and in order in our lives.

But the peace of God is a peace of heart and mind that can be possessed even in the midst of the storms of life. So how can I have that peace?

Paul says, “Replace your anxiety with prayer.” He says, “Let your requests be known to God with thanksgiving.” We give thanks in the midst of the storm because by that we remind ourselves that God is still in control. That nothing has caught Him by surprise. That He can handle the affairs of our lives.

Worry doesn’t accomplish anything. It is much like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won’t take you anywhere. So remember, “Your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask.” He is delighted to listen to your heart. Cry out to Him today and know the peace that passes all human understanding.

Shrinking the Church

Posted: October 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

“Children it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore, we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us; but they were not of us, for if they had been of us they would have remained with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” (I John 4:18-19)

If John, or Paul, or even Jesus was the pastor, the church would explode with growth; Right? In John 6:66 it says, “After this many of his disciples t urned back, and no longer walked with him.’ That sounds like major church shrinkage to me.

I think we have confused a crowd with a church. We speak of unity in the body of Christ, but the Bible says, WHat fellowship can light have with darkness. Sometimes the church shrinks when the Spirit of God moves to restore.

Is That in the Bible?

Posted: October 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Recently someone asked, “Church Unleashed”, is that name in the Bible? I thought about that a couple of ways. Is “First Baptist Church of Any Town” in the Bible? How about “Smith Memorial Methodist Churh?” Or, maybe, John Calvin Presbyterian Church? How about Moody Bible Church?

For that matter where do we find Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, or any other denomination in the Bible? We don’t. Those are divisions by men.

But here is the other side of my thought process. Who decided which English word to use for certain concepts? Obviously translators.
But when Luke 4:18-19 says, “Loose the captives”, could it not just as easily have said, “Unleash the captives.” Or when John the Baptist said he was not worthy to unloose the sandals of Jesus. Or when Jesus said of Lazarus, unbind him and set him free.

It is obviously a concept. For too long we have put God into our mental boxes. We have reduced Him to a God we can manage and control, sometimes making Him little more than a genie in the bottle or a Santa Claus. But when we shape God in our own image, or in our own mental concept, what is that? It is idolatry.

It is time to Unleash our concept of God. It is time to Unleash His Kingdom in our world. It is time to Unleash His Church to be the Church. It is time to Unleash the Word of God and let it demonstrate its power to transform lives.

Church Unleashed is very much a Bible concept.

Those were the words of a man named Nehemiah. He had come under the leadership of God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It was a good thing, right? Leading God’s people to accomplish God’s will is always a good thing, right? Amazing how opposition comes when you are doing something successful, more than when you are failing.

WHen Nehemiah began rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, having rallied God’s people, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem became angy and opposed him. Three men who shared nothing in common except their dislike for Nehemiah.
Have you ever noticed how disgruntled people in churches who have nothing in common will come together in opposition to God’s plan?

So Nehemiah did what we should all do, he prayed first. But listen to his prayer, “Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.”

That doesn’t sound like the prayer of blessing that Jesus called us to pray for those who curse us and despitefully use us. Perhaps it wasn’t very “Christian”, but it was honest. And it was in private, with the one who could lead him.

David often prayed that way about his enemies. SO what do you do when you face criticism and opposition? What do you do when others despitefully use you? Tell your heavenly Father on them. Let Him change your heart, and let Him deal with their problem.

TOO LATE!

Posted: October 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

As I stood in the office I could see in her eyes something was troubling her deeply. She opened her mouth to speak, but only broke down in tears as she laid her head on my shoulder and sobbed. Finally, she was able to get out the words that were choking her. “I waited too late.”

She unfolded the story of a neighbor she had gotten acquainted with. It was a woman that most ignored, but she built a friendship, having some coffee in the morning together. She said, “I was trying to build a relationship with her so I could tell her about Jesus. I waited too long. She died this week.”I agree that the Gospel flows best across a bridge of relationship. But we can wait too long. God has called us all to share the Good News. The scripture says, <em>”Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”</em>

When is the right time to present the Gospel? As soon as any door of opprotunity opens. Sometimes we don’t have time to wait. Someone may be in the hospital dieing. Someone may be on a seat next to us on the airplane and we may never see them again. We have to trust the Holy Spirit to work to overcome barriers. He has promised power to be a witness. (Acts 1:8).

Take inventory today. Who is in your family? Who are your friends? Who are your associates, your neighbors? Who is in your life? WHen will you tell them about Jesus? Don’t wait until it is too late!

If

Posted: October 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…” (I John 1:7) AND as John says, “and indeed our fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (I John 1:3).

The Word of God tells us, “God is light.” God calls us to walk in “uncreated” light. God has always been, and always will be. He is Creator. And He is light. That is His essence.

And we are called to walk in the light. What does that mean? It means that we are to live in obedience to God. Growth as a Christian doesn’t come by study, or by gaining more knowledge of His Word. It means as God reveals His truth through His Word, we are to obey what He says.As we obeyl what He says, “We enjoy fellowship with Him.”

We are instantly in fellowship to the degree that we obey. And we are out of fellowship with Him to the degree that we disobey, and the instant we disobey.

And in order for there to be true unity in the body of Christ, we must walk in the light. We cannot enjoy fellowship with one another as we are disobedient to God’S Word. We may know a peaceful coexistence, but not unity,

When my children were little, a movie came out entitled, “All Dogs go to heaven.” If you listen to a lot of the popular theology or to Hollywood it seems everyone thinks all people go to heaven. EVen Rob Bell in a book entitled Love Wins suggests a universalism where eventually everyone makes it.

But Jesus presented a different picture. In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus tells of a day of final judgment. He describes the “righteous” as sheep and the others as “goats.” He speaks of them being divided from one another.

The first time I went to West Africa, the man leading our team said, ‘Do you know how to tell sheep from goats?” I thought he was kidding. I thought surely it is obvious. But it wasn’t. They looked pretty much the same. But the goats’ tails and ears pointed p, and the sheep’s ears and tails hung down.

Jesus isn’t talking about farm animals. He is talking about people. And those who have discovered righteousness are brought into eternal reward in heaven, and those who haven’t are cast into eternal punishment in hell. It is truly the Great Divide. Are you a sheep, or a goat?