Monday, July 7, 2008

Words of Encouragement

The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. - Psalm 89:11

Worship is...celebrating Him as our Creator and thanking Him for all that he has created.

This week I need to do something just a little different with the words of encouragement, I just want to worship! If you'll go with me, let us worship this week together. Many of us will have many thing we must face and it is in our time of worship that we are able to make it through the difficulties of our lives. It is worship that we find our strength, the joy of the Lord.

Lord thank you for creating the heavens and the earth. Thank you for making all things because nothing was made that was not in you. Thank you for creating the sun, the sky, and the stars. Thank you for the flowers, the grass and trees. Thank you and forgive us for taking for granted the wonders of your handiwork that is around us.
Thank you for creating man and giving him all the provisions of the earth. When I think of the heavens I wonder at why you would even be mindful of us. Who is man that you would even think about him? Who is man that you would take time to care about, to answer, to listen to, to love, to protect, to cherish? Who is man that you would be so patient with, when he continually turns after his own thoughts and ways? Why would the great creator of the universe care for us?
Yet you do, you consider us and call us to come and be part of your perfect plan. Thank you for creating me and calling me to be one of your children. Thank you for having a mind for my salvation even before the first man ever set step on this earth. The cross was on your mind from the beginning, even before the sin of man was done. The cross was not an after thought for you, it was always in your mind.

God today we say thank you for giving us your word. You give us revelation of you through your word. Today we say thank you and we worship you this day because of all that you created. We worship you as our creator. So as we worship you as creator, help us to keep your word as it states in 1 Peter 4:19 "Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator"

The Week in Review

Theme: Women charged by the Spirit
Preached Metropolitan Church of God
Detroit, MI, 2007

Scripture: Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

As I read this scripture, I had a few questions. The first one was,

1. Who gives the power? This is a simple enough question, but it still needs to be answered. I cannot give you the power, nor can I take it away from you. Solely God gives this power. He instructs the Holy Spirit to indwell within the hearts of all his children. This spirit is the same spirit he sent to woo you and I. This was his prevenient grace, the Holy Spirit calling us to repentance. You or I couldn’t even accept salvation without the Holy Spirit because we were too lost to realize we were lost. God’s spirit had to bring us to the point of clarity to understand we needed saving. When he did, God’s Spirit then was promised to dwell within the life of all believers. And there should be some evidence of his indwelling. We should look like children of God. We shouldn’t be liars, cheats, or any thing that continues to reflect fleshly things. We should however show forth the fruit of the spirit, love, peace, longsuffering and the like. If there is no evidence of God’s spirit in our lives, then maybe we need to go back and check where we are standing with God. His spirit does not pick or choice just a few select to dwell in, but those that are yielded to God are the ones that the Spirit dwells within. So we must check ourselves to see if we are truly yielding all to God.

2. Who has the power? God gives the power to all that come accepting his gift of salvation through the blood of his son. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” – Joel 2:28-29. That means God does not limit who is able to come to him. In our society we have limitations on who can go to talk to the boss. You cannot just walk into your boss’s office and demand audiences you might get fired. If you wanted to talk to the president of the United State you can’t go into his office. Even those that are granted entrance have to be put through some rigorous things before they become part of that choice bunch. We are limited in access. With God, however, he does not limit who can come. There are however, some requirements for access. You have to be his, period. We cannot live an unsaved life and think we will have the Holy Spirit directing us because the two don’t mix.

3. What is the power for? – The ultimate purpose of the indwelling Spirit is so that the people of God could enact the standing orders of Jesus that he gave to his disciples before he ascended (Acts 1:2-7). That mandate has not changed for you or I. He didn’t want them wasting time on when would God reestablish the kingdom, see they were looking for power to come in God setting them back in power as a nation, they were looking for an earthly kingdom. (Acts 1:6) God’s purpose was to establish a spiritual kingdom in the earth. God doesn’t want you or I worried about earthly things either, instead he wants our complete focus to be on the building of the spiritual kingdom. And you can do that even as you go about in your day to day. Jesus was instructing them to prepare themselves to be transformed by the divine visitation of the Holy Spirit that would help them tell what they knew about Jesus Christ to others (Acts 1:8). What did they know? They knew Jesus as the Lord of all creation, redeemer of all who trust in his death for their deliverance, and stern judge of all who reject his call to repent and pledge their loyalty to him. Yes, I said he is a stern judge. We only want to talk about heaven, but never tell people that there are consequences to your rejection of Jesus. That is hell eternally, a place where there is no joy, no peace, no love of God. That is what makes hell punishment. You are forever aware of what you have rejected.

4. So how does the Spirit charge us? Let’s look back at the word transformed. To be transformed means you have been changed or altered. As I was thinking about being charged by the Spirit, my mind first went back to the disciples. Did you know they were a group of misfits? In our day, they wouldn’t get the invitation to go into see the president; they wouldn’t be part of the choice group.

Let’s look at the disciples for a moment. When we read scripture have you every wondered why the disciples so quickly left what they were doing and went with Jesus? As I was studying with a pastor friend of mine, Lamar I found that it was customary in the Jewish culture for boys age 5 or 6 to study in schools called “bet sefer”. They studied and memorized the Torah. Boys that excelled would move on to the next level in their education. They would study more complex oral traditions of the Torah. The local rabbi hired by the community or small village/town would use this level of education to teach using the question and answer method. Male students became a religious adult at age thirteen and if a student were gifted enough he could continue his studies with the rabbi in secondary school called “Beth Midrash.” If the Jewish male student was not a good enough scholar to advance to this next level of education, they were encouraged by the rabbi to go home and continue to learn the trade of their family, as this would be far most purposeful in making a living in the coming years.
Those that went on would continue to study the rest of the Hebrew Testament. At age 15, the truly gifted would travel to study with the famous Rabbi. The student would be asked a series of questions by the Rabbi, if he was able to answer them to the satisfaction of the Rabbi, he would then become his talmid or disciple, if not, he would be sent home and told to take up the family business. It was rare for a Rabbi to ask a student to be his talmid, even though some would ask the Rabbi.
So why do I tell you this? The disciples were all from this same culture as Jesus. They had all gone through the same training, but they were not good enough to be the talmid or disciple of the rabbi, that is why they are about their business as fishermen and the like. Yet here comes Jesus and calls the misfits to be his Talmid, disciples. What an honor. First it was an honor because they didn’t have to go and ask him, he came seeking them. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16)

This group had some characters in it. There was a doubter, There was one that was quick to react, but would become doubtful to accomplish what he asked for, so he sank. They didn’t understand the nature of Jesus always and fought amongst themselves who would be in a place on honor on Jesus right hand in heaven. They scattered when trouble came. They couldn’t stay awake in times of need. This group was the ones rejected as disciples by the rabbis of their time. They were all banished to a place of misfits among the people. Oh they went about life, but they knew they had not cut it as disciples to the rabbi.

Jesus took this misfit group and taught them, walked with them and offered them something wonderful. That was because he knew what they would become. The after picture was something to behold. This same one that denied three times, never denied again. He became bold for the cause of Christ. The doubter stopped doubting. The ones that ran and hid during difficulties now stood even as martyrs for the cause of Christ. What happened? The Holy Spirit transformed them. They went from misfits trying to find a place to fit in, to having a divine assignment given to them from Jesus himself. They went form misfits, to mighty vessels of honor.

The Week in Review

“Living with many signals”

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Colossians 3:2 “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Life is busy! Track a normal day in the life of a mom for instance. You get up; get your kids ready for school. Get them up, feed, lunches ready, homework packed up, clothes on, teeth brushed all while trying to keep them from killing each other. You try to get them out on time and if you have a job get you where you need to be at the same time. Add daily home care needs, clothes washed, food purchases and cooked, and the list goes on. In this list add whatever your families needs are, your husband’s needs, the church needs, and if time (Ha!) your needs.

How do you handle all the signals without malfunctioning? Sometimes we are hit with so many signals in our lives, we can overload our mental, emotional or spiritual circuits. We can make wrong choices before we stop and process all the information that we receive in this daily moving from one signal to the next. We can be hurt by others responses to our situations or what we perceived as their lack of concern.
We have to examine the signals and find out from God what is the proper what to approach the situations. When we do not, we can become bitter, angry and unkind to one another. When we do not examine the signals in our lives, we can also become focused on our selves (focus on things on earth, instead of on things above). Instead, what we need to do is seek God to help us handle the many signals in our lives so that our affections can be focused on God and not on the things that affect our emotions.

What happens when our focus is our emotions:
* We can easily become captive by our feelings.
* We may hide or deny our feelings or wallow in them, usually the latter.
* Our feelings show what is lodged in our hearts.
* Our heart’s emotions rule our minds and direct our actions.
* We question where is God during our hard times.
* We (women) do not handle the multitude of signals we receive well, where our husbands appear to be able to tune them out, thus frustrating us to no end.
* We do not recognize our basic differences without putting any value judgment on them.
* We do not die to our demands and forgive when others treat us insensitively.

What are we to do to change what happens?
* Tell God immediately how we feel about hurts and injuries.
* Ask God to speak his best response through us.
* Sometimes we may need to dig dipper to understand our own emotions and responses.
* We have to change the “old” for the “new”. – Changing or the removal of our old foundation
* We must not place our emotions under the subjection of God, they can no longer rule our decisions and choices
* We must not allow how we feel to determine if God is there for us, we must trust regardless of how it feels.
* We must recognize our basic differences between men and women and allow God to help us remove judgment from our interactions with each other.