Archive for category Religion

The Journey Begins (but this time with friends)

Route_66

I’m thrilled that our church (First Christian Church of Seminole) is taking a journey together. We’re going to travel the original Route 66 – that is the 66 books of the Bible together. Beginning January 1, 2013, we’re all going to read through the Bible in a year using a One Year Bible reading plan.

I believe this is one of the most important things we can do as individuals and as churches. It’s also one of the most difficult things to do, too. Our enemy does not want us to each get into the habit of daily Bible reading. He will stop at nothing to distract us, discourage us, or dissuade us from reading God’s Word every day.

But, when we do… LOOK OUT! It will change your Christian walk. Putting a little effort into reading the Bible every day will change your life. And, it only takes about 15-20 minutes a day. Talk about ROI (return on investment)!

So – put away those excuses, cast aside your fears, buckle in and join us as we read through the Bible in year – TOGETHER!

Here’s a link for the reading plan, should you want to join us: CLICK HERE

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“We Demand a King!” – 1 Samuel 8

Possibly one of the saddest of all chapters.

Up to this point, God was the King of the nation of Israel. God’s plan was to assign prophets to be the liaison between He and them. And that was working well through Samuel. Unfortunately, Samuel’s sons were selfish, greedy little perverts.

The nation of Israel did not like this arrangement, so they looked around at how other nations were doing it and demanded their own king.

To be honest, I don’t really get why they were in such a hurry to get into a situation where a king would recruit their children into the army, where they would be forced to labor for the king, where their own daughters would be taken from them to serve in the king’s kitchens and courts, etc.

Surely, it would not have been worse than a few bad-apple prophet sons.

But…

“But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.” So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home.

And so it begins…

Lord, I know I can be as selfish and short-sighted as these people. Forgive me when I get so fixed on what I want, when I want it, that I miss out on Your best plan for my life. Today, I choose to surrender. I choose Your way, not mine.

e

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Matthew 12 – Now or Never!

It must have been amazing to walk around and see Jesus perform miracles, teach and deal with the Pharisees so “delicately”. I love to read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ time on Earth.

However, the one passage that jumped out at me each time I read this morning (because I really wanted to focus on something else because I don’t understand this passage):

43″When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

I was intrigued, however, so I checked into Matthew Henry’s commentary. Here’s what he had to say:

The unclean spirit leaves for a time, but when he returns, he finds Christ is not there to shut him out; the heart is swept by outward reformation, but garnished by preparation to comply with evil suggestions, and the man becomes a more decided enemy of the truth. Every heart is the residence of unclean spirits, except those which are temples of the Holy Ghost, by faith in Christ. (see http://mhc.biblecommenter.com/matthew/12.htm)

Did you catch that last line? “Every heart is the residence of unclean spirits, except those which are temples of the Holy Ghost, by faith in Christ.”

Wow – it’s no wonder the battle seems to be getting harder and harder! The fewer Christians there are in the world, the more enemies of the truth! It’s automatic – if a man is not a Christian, he is the residence of unclean spirits!

This has shown me how important it is for us to reach others for Christ – to build up the army.

The time is now (or never).

e

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Matthew 5 – Be Perfect. Be Perfect?

The Sermon on the MountThe sermon on the Mount – the epitome of Christ’s journey of submission.

We’ve all probably heard and read this chapter so many times. But, it contains so much instruction from Jesus – the central tenants of Christian discipleship.

There is so much power in Jesus’ teaching in regards to helping people understand how the Old Covenant is done away with by Jesus’ coming to earth. I’m sure many chins dropped when Jesus delivered this statement:

21″You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.

Like some who profess to be Christians today, it’s easy to say, “I may not be perfect, but I do pretty good when it comes to the ‘Big 10′”.  Not so much. What about this one:

27″You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

It’s clear that when we’ve broken one, we’ve sinned…period. It’s not a matter of if you’ve done more good than bad, or if you’re better than someone else. If you’re feeling pretty good about yourself because you compare yourself to anyone but Jesus, you might want to reconsider.

And, comparing ourselves to Jesus only points out that we can’t make it on our own. That’s the whole point of the New Covenant. We need the redemption of Jesus, who took on our sin at the cross and paid the penalty once and for all.

Lastly, verse 48 jumped out at me:

48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Impossible? Well, it’s a journey. None of us is perfect. The Bible is clear about that in Romans. Yet, with a soft heart, and eye always on Jesus, and a band of brothers to help keep us in line, we will be moving more towards perfection through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit inside us.

Be Strong!

peace,
e

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2 Samuel 10 – Hanun’s very bad day

The message I received today from this chapter is to be careful with whom I form alliances.

King David was sending a peaceful delegation to express his sorrow to the Ammonites since their king had died. Years earlier the king had showed kindness to David.

However, some of the Ammonite nobles whispered to the king’s son, Hanun, that David was only sending men to spy on them so they could overthrow them.

Listening to this evil counsel, Hanun seized David’s men and humiliated them and sent them back with half-shaven beards and hospital gowns. Not a wise move.

Ultimately, this led to war.

Now, Hanun hired soldiers from Aramea, Rehob, Zobah, Maacah and Tob.

…and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. [b] He also struck down Shobach the commander of their army, and he died there. 19 When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them. So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore.

It might have been better for those who came to fight for Hanun to stay home that day.

Better yet, this could have all been avoided had Hanun not listened to his nobles with their suspicious whispers.

I think it all goes back to asking God before doing anything – which we see David doing, especially in his early years.

Lord, help us to follow the path you have for us today – not listening to gossip or our own paranoid or selfish whispers. You ordain our steps, Lord. Help us to seek your counsel for each decision.

peace,
e

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2 Samuel 9 – Grace for a dead dog

Love this story of grace.

In chapter 9 of 2 Samuel, we see David reaching out to “the house of Saul” – yes the same Saul who spent the last weeks an months of his life trying to kill David. It was for the sake of Saul’s son, Jonathan, of course.

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

He found that Jonathan had a son who was crippled in both feet and what’s worse, a horrible name: Mephibosheth.

Anyway – David granted this young man land and servants and livestock and invited him to eat at the king’s table.

9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

Can you imagine what Phibby was thinking? One day, he’s a “dead dog” and the next, he’s a wealthy land owner dining at the king’s table.

Sounds a lot like my story when God got a hold of me!

Thank God for His grace.

peace,
e

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2 Samuel 6 – Dance Until Your Clothes Fall Off

This is a great chapter in David’s story.

First, they’re returning the Ark to Jerusalem – just as it should be, right?

Then, the wheel on the cart falls off and the men innocently try and catch the ark and stop it from falling on the ground. Oops – not supposed to touch the ark – and they’re killed. God’s mad.

So, David thinks – it’s too risky to bring the Ark into Jerusalem! So, he leaves it at Obed-Edum’s pad for 3 months. During that time, Mr. Edum gets blessed along with his entire household as a result of the Ark being there.

So, now David thinks – perhaps I SHOULD bring it back home. And he does.

If they’d only have listened to God in the first place, none of this would have had to happen.

Now – my favorite story in this chapter is about David’s wife Michal. She saw him dancing around, praising God like he just didn’t care. She looked out the window and saw everyone gawking at him, making a fool of himself (in her mind). But, David was dancing before God “with all his might” and didn’t care what anyone thought.

When he got back home, she told him what a fool she thought he was – and she was cursed at that instant and never was able to have children.

I love David’s response to Michal:

21 David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

I guess this chapter is all about motives. What was David’s motive for bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem? Did he think it was best because he wanted to please God? Or, did he just bring it there so he and his household could be blessed like Mr. Edum?

When Michal commented as she did at David, was she thinking about how much David loved God and was trying to please God? Or, was she more concerned with what others thought about her husband?

The encouragement here for me is to keep my eyes on pleasing God – and not worry about what anyone else is thinking. Are you willing to be “even more undiginfied” and humiliated to honor and praise God?

peace,
e

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1 Samuel 13 – Impatience on Saul’s part

So, Saul has some victories and the people are pleased with their new king.

Then, Saul was told to wait seven days for Samuel to come and make a burnt offering before the Lord. However, Samuel doesn’t show in that time, so Saul takes it upon himself (pride?) and makes the burnt offering without Samuel.

Wow, big mistake. Samuel says, “You have acted foolishly, you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure.”

Dang. Pride and impatience. So glad I don’t have issues in those two areas.

Oh, wait, I do. How many times would Samuel had to sit me down with a similar chastisement? Guess that’s why I’m not “king” of much at this time.

Hey, did you see that even back then the Philistines were hooked on Oprah? See verse 17:

And the raiders came from the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned toward Oprah…

I guess they didn’t fight that day because they watched TV instead.

peace,
e

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1 Samuel 11 – Nahash the Ammonite

1 Samuel 11 - Nahash the Ammonite

Nahash the Ammonite

Nahash the Ammonite. Not the nicest fella, nor the smartest.

First he besieged Jabesh-gilead. When the occupants pleaded, he said they could be his servants, but he’d first have to gouge out one of each of their eyes.

Then, they asked for 7 days to muster help.

Um…let me see if I get this right. Nahash agreed to wait a week while the citizens of Jabesh-giliead had the chance to gather an army?

Very interesting. Perhaps Nahash felt the Jews were weak and that no one would come to their rescue. Perhaps because the people had no “king” they had the reputation of being weak.

Oh, Israel, if you only understood the power of God on your side.

Story turns out good for Israel. Saul gets involved, persuades all his Jewish buddies to fight and they slaughtered the Ammonites. Now, the people recognized Saul ask king.

And so it begins…

peace,
e

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1 Samuel 10 – Saul chosen as king

One day he wakes up as Saul, son of Kish, in search of lost donkeys. The next, he wakes up as Saul, anointed first king of Israel, in search of the first king of Israel instruction manual.

Must have been an amazing and confusing time for everyone. I get the feeling that God was saying, “You asked for it. Here you go.” But, maybe that’s just what I would have said if I were God.

I found it amazing how Samuel gave Saul all these very specific instructions:

When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”

3 “Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.

5 “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”

And, this was all done without the use of cell phones. Did Samuel have all this arranged ahead of time? Or, did God just give Samuel these instructions right there on the spot, and then make them all happen just as Samuel said?

I prefer to believe the latter.

Lord, you ordain my steps. I wish to follow in the steps you have laid out for me today that you may be glorified.

peace,
e

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