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Black Sunday

December 13, 2013

Black-SundayWhen Thanksgiving rolls around do you find yourself combing through the ads searching the sales? Have you ever found yourself waiting in line at any number of stores to take advantage of those black Friday sales? Why do we do it? Is it because we really want that flat screen T.V. or that new game console? The short answer is yes. We are eager to show up at one of those stores at eleven o’clock at night and wait in a long line for five or more hours so we can get that new item for a great price. When the time finally comes and those doors open we make a mad dash into the store, trying to beat everyone else to the sales before they are all gone. Why? It is because we really want those items.

When we get what we want from all of the sales we take our new items home and we start to enjoy them. Day after day we use them until one day they just stop working. We get frustrated and disappointed as we try to get it to work once more, remembering the time and effort we invested into getting it. Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Did you go through a situation similar to this one? I know I did. Why do we put ourselves through this over and over? It is because of our desire for those pleasurable items. It is because we desire items that eventually will break.

If you are willing to give worldly items this much of your time, energy and money, are you willing to give God the same? Would you be willing to get up and stand out front of your church building in anticipation for the doors to open so you can hear the gospel, worship God and give Him your money as you would Wal-Mart or Target? Most people would consider you crazy for doing such a thing. Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter six starting in verse nineteen and following that we should be storing up treasures in heaven instead of on earth. His reasoning for this is because the things on earth will break and rust. They will not last just like those items we buy on Black Friday that will not last. In this section Jesus wants us to evaluate our relationship with earthly treasures and worldly treasures. He wants us to evaluate where our heart is. When we are willing to invest so much of our lives in things like a T.V. or game console and not willing to invest the same in God, what does that say about where our hearts are?

What if just in the area of our worship to God we treated it like the average person treats black Friday? What if we considered every Sunday as Black Sunday? Counting down the days until it gets here, showing up extra early so you can get a seat right up front, excited knowing that what you are bringing to God and what you are storing up for yourself will last a lot longer than any worldly item. Imagine the excitement and energy there would be if every Christian invested this much time and energy into their relationship with God? As Christians, we need to make sure our priorities are in the right place, with God. I encourage you to evaluate your life. Make sure you are storing up your treasures where God is.

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The Battle of 300 and the Bible

March 2, 2012

Have you ever watched the movie 300?  While watching it you were motivated and encouraged because of the actions of these few men against such a great King of Persia Xerxes.  Then you find out that it was a true story.  Maybe you learned about this great battle in a history class or from the history channel.  A lot of times when we learn about history we learn about these great kings, great nations and great battles. Have you ever wondered how this lines up with the Bible?  After all, when you are learning about these areas none of the kings, or nations or battles from the Bible ever makes its way into the picture.  If it were up to the world we live in the Bible would find its way on the shelf and never to leave.  It is up to us to look through the Bible and find where all these other areas fit.

The movie 300 was based on a great battle.  But where does that fit with the Bible?  In the battle of 300 we read of a mighty king named Xerxes.  As the movie portrays his kingdom was large and he wanted to be treated like a god.  When you start studying through the Bible you will notice that the name Xerxes appears in the book of Ezra.  I know what you’re thinking; can it be the same person?  In fact it is.  The book of Ezra covers the time in which the children of Israel are in bondage and are allowed to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.  In Ezra 4:6 we read about the reign of Ahasuerus.  It is interesting that when you investigate this name it is what the Hebrews called Xerxes.  Not only do we read about the great king Xerxes in the book of Ezra but we also read about his father king Darius and his son Artaxerxes.  With further studying you will notice that Esther from the book of Esther is Xerxes wife.  In fact when he returns home form his loss against the Greeks she was there to comfort him.

The list could go on and on and on when you start comparing great kings and nations and battles to the Bible.  The world around us may want to ignore the historical facts that are in the Bible but it is up to us to look for these facts.  It is up to us to teach our parents, children, friends about these facts. By doing this it will help them look at the Bible as true historical book of facts and not just stories that they learned in bible class.

What Percent are You?

February 24, 2012

If you were completely honest with yourself what percent do you give to the Lord?  Do you think you fall into the fifty percentile range?  How about the eighty percentile range?  As I look back at my own Christian walk and if I am honest with myself there were many times when I was below fifty percent.  Too often we get caught up in the here and now that we don’t give God what he demands.  In fact a lot of times we think we are on the right track when we are just giving eighty percent.  In Mark 10 we are able to find what God expects.  We find that you have to give Jesus your all.

You might recognize this passage or be familiar with the story.  It is about the infamous rich young ruler.  He was a well off young man.  Not only did he have plenty of possessions but he also believed in God and followed his commandments.  In the time of today this is the man who shows up every Sunday and possibly even Wednesday to church.  He seems to have it all together. You like this guy.  In Mark 10:17-19 this young man asks Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life?  As a response Jesus told him to sell all of his possessions and follow him.  Of course this was too great and the young man went away sad. 

A lot of people look at this verse and think its talking about how we need to give monetarily to God.  When you look at the overall context and what Jesus is trying to teach us you see that it is not just about money.  It is about giving Jesus one hundred percent and nothing less.  For the rich young ruler it was money that stopped him from giving one hundred percent.  What is it for you?  Is it your money? Maybe your comfort and ease?  I encourage you to examine yourself today.  How much are you giving to the Lord?  If you feel like you might fit into the shoes of the rich young ruler then stop, turn around and follow Jesus.

Once a year

February 17, 2012

As Valentine’s Day approached I started thinking, what am I going to do?  If you have a significant other, you probably know the feeling. Do I get her chocolate, roses, a card, maybe all three?  As I was surfing the web trying to make a decision I came across a website with do’s and don’ts.  Under one of the don’ts the article went on to say that not doing anything for Valentine’s Day because it is a marketing holiday will not fly.  You have to get her something!  I then started to think about how it was just a big marketing ploy but it was also a time to recognize the person you love and show them how much you appreciate them.  Then it hit me.  On my way home I sat there at a stop light watching the people on the street corner trying to sell flowers and gift baskets wondering; why is it just today?  Why are we just making the person we care for feel special just today?  We need to be a people who love to love.

In 1 Peter 3:7 tells husbands to love their wives in an understanding way and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.  Why is it that showing our love and honoring the person that means the most to us tends to be put on the back burner?  Is it because that is what is easy?  Maybe because we are just so busy that it takes a holiday for us to do something special.  Whether you are a husband or wife it is your duty to not just think about your significant other on Valentine’s Day but every day.

What would happen if everyone celebrated Valentine’s Day every day?  Do you think our nations divorce rate would keep going up? What about the cheating spouse?  How would that change?  As the light turned green and I continued on my way home I thought about my wife.  I thought about how great she is and how lucky I am.  When I got home I gave her a big hug and let her know that I love her.  Valentine’s Day this year was not about the chocolates or the flowers or even the card.  It was about spending time with the one who mattered most and making them feel loved.  Prior to this Valentine’s Day when was the last time you showed you affection to your significant other?  Don’t wait until February 14 of next year to show your love.  Give him/her a big hug and kiss and tell him/her how lucky you are. Be someone who loves to love.

Keeping up with the Joneses?

February 10, 2012

Have you ever heard the term keeping up with the Joneses? In the pursuit to live life to the fullest, people take what is not theirs and spent it.  This is a very dangerous and common road that is traveled.  Once on this road your eyes are only focused on the here and now not the goals. As Christians we tend to be guilty of keeping up with the Joneses.  During the rebuilding of the temple we find that the children of Israel fell into this trap as well.  From their trip down this road we are able to identify three markers that may save us from making the same mistake.

The first marker that we come across is the tools given by God.  In Ezra 1:4 we read that all the people around the Jews were to give them gold, silver, livestock, etc.  This was purposed to help them build the temple and give offer a sacrifice to God.  God is supplying them with what they will need to do His work. When you are at this marker you may or may not be on the right road.

The second marker that we come across is the misuse of these tools.  In Haggai 1 we see that the Jews decided to stop building the temple and focus on their own living.  This is the marker where keeping up with the Joneses comes into play.  Instead of focusing on the goals given to them they were focused on the here and now. Once you reach this marker it is very easy to miss it because like the Jews you are focused on the here and now instead of what is really going on. 

The final marker is refocusing.  The only way to get to this marker is to recognize and get past the second marker.  We know from the rest of the book of Haggai and Ezra that they Jews refocused and finished the temple.  The second marker was brought to their attention and they worked hard to get onto the right road.

Like the Jews all Christians has been given a task.  We are to help in the building up of the body of Christ. This means it is our job to reach the lost in order to help save their souls.  Just as God gave the Jews tools, He has given us His word.  As a Christian we need to look at ourselves as an individual and as a congregation and evaluate to see which road we are on.  Are we living in our paneled houses squandering away the tool that has been given to us?  If the answer is yes then we need to refocus and get onto the right road.

A Special Lady

February 4, 2012

There is a woman who was very near and dear to my heart who recently passed away.  As I reflect back on her life I cannot help but to think about all of the times that she made an impact on my life. I think of the many times growing up that she picked all of us kids up for church on Sunday morning, at least six of us pilling into the backseat of her car.  I think of the warm hug I would get every time I saw her.  As I think about these things I cannot help but to be sad because I know that her warm hug no longer waits.  In moments like this I cannot help but to think about Ezra 3 and the Jews who wept about Solomon’s Temple.

In chapter three of the book of Ezra we read that the foundation of the new temple was just complete.  In verse 12 we read about many of the old men who wept while the rest shouted with joy.  Why would they do this?  Isn’t this a joyous occasion?  These old men were weeping for what they lost.  They remembered the glorious sight of Solomon’s temple and were sad that it no longer existed.  These old men were focused on what they lost rather then what was to come.

When we lose someone who was very precious in our life we do the same thing.  We cry while the angels are rejoicing.  Like these old men we are focused on the past and what we lost instead of looking to the future.  As I am faced with the loss of this very special lady I am not going to look back and weep instead look forward and rejoice.  This is not the end of the road for her but rather the beginning.  When you are faced with the loss of a loved one we need to remember that it is ok to remember the past but don’t dwell on it.  Look forward to the glory of God that is awaiting them.  As for me I can’t wait for the day that I can see my aunt Betty again.

Today is a good day to die!

February 1, 2012

Not too long ago I started watching BBC’s TV series Robin Hood.  Anyone who has ever heard the tales know that Robin and his gang take from the greedy rich and give back to the poor. As I watched this series there was one phrase that I noticed kept coming up.  Every time they were about to do something dangerous little Jon would say “today is a great day to die!” In fact as the series was coming to an end and Robin Hood was laying there about to die on of the last few things he said was “today is a great day to die!”  As I sat there and thought about those words I started to wonder is today a great day to die?

1 Thessalonians 5:2 tells us that the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  He may come now, tomorrow or five years from now.  The point is that we don’t know.  As you go through our life and make decisions that impact our future are you doing it with Christ in mind?  If I were to tell you that He is coming today how would you feel and what would you do?  Would you say “today is a great day to die” or would you start to panic with regret.

We all have a beginning and we all face an end.  For some the end will be when the Lord comes and for some it may be before.  What are you doing with the time in between? As you face the day to day decisions that not only affect you future on this earth but your future in heaven remember these four words:  the Lord is coming. Is today a great day to die?