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Dedication to God

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Dedication

So what keeps two teams playing for 7 hours and 10 minutes? What keeps coaches from giving up after the 15th inning? Three words: Drive, determination and dedication. Do we show that sort of drive, determination and dedication to God? If your preacher is given a word that requires longer than 45 minutes to preach, are you getting antsy after 45 minutes or are you just starting to get on fire? If you aren’t getting fired up, perhaps you need to rethink just how dedicated to God you are.

Understanding

I know we are only human and we don’t all respond the same way to God’s word. God speaks to each of us in different ways. But like those ball players tonight, we need to be showing that we have the drive to learn more about Him, the determination to weather all trials with Him, and the dedication to never stop loving Him.

Don’t get me wrong. Even I fail on one or more of those at any given time. We are only human, after all.

But

But, it is Sunday (or Saturday,depending on your denomination). It is the day you are supposed to set aside for the Lord your God. The King of Kings. The Alpha and the Omega. He who was, who is, and who will be. Can we not give Him more than a tiny portion of our day? Can we not carve out even one day so that He can use it as He sees fit and not as we see fit?

I’d love to know that I can go to church on a Sunday and not have to worry about what time it is because I know the preacher will stop preaching when God stops pouring out. And if the preacher really is being poured into by God, by golly you’ll know it. He will manage to hit on what you need to hear and explain it as God sees fit to have him explain it.

Unfortunately we live in a culture that only gives God at most 2 hours, if even that, even on His day. Something I saw (I think it was from Max Lucado) on line the other day: The world didn’t crumble to dust when God took a day off, what makes us think it will if we take one off, too? Come on people. Shut down your businesses, take a day off and give it to the Lord your God. The Creator of the Universe. The one, true and living God. Don’t you think He’s earned it?

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Who Rules You?

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God, Ruler of the Universe

That’s a pretty awe inspiring title, but is it believable? I believe it to be. After all, He did create the entire universe and everything in it in just 6 days. What’s the most you’ve done in 6 days? Could you create an entire universe in just 6 days? Or 6 years? Or 6 decades? Or 6 millennium? I’d be lucky to live 6 more decades myself. To dedicate those all to doing what is impossible for all except God would be pretty futile. Even scientists, using top-of-the-line equipment, particle accelerators and the like can only even minimally approximate what they think the universe was like on the first day.

Point, Counter-point

That really isn’t the point, though. God is our ruler. Do you recognize that? In finishing up last weeks monstrous bible study (probably read about 1/2 of all the Psalms just in personal reading) I came across a question that really got me thinking.

1) How do you feel about nationalism? Who rules you? Why have human government? Does God approve of all world leaders and their actions?

Nationalism is a pretty audacious sounding thing, isn’t it? Sounds like something we all should have, don’t you think? Merriam-Webster defines it thusly:
Nationalism

1 : loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups
2 : a nationalist movement or government

So if you are nationalistic, how are you living for God? Doesn’t it seem as if your loyalties are misplaced?

My Answer

Following is the answer I shared with my bible study partner. Take it for whatever it is worth.

I think nationalism is dangerous. It puts the nation above all else. God should always be first. If we are going to be “nationalistic”, we need to put the Kingdom of God above all human nations. God rules me. God instituted them among men (Romans 13:1-7) so as to keep men in line. Without them, the world goes to pot (Genesis 6:1-8). He approves of the world leaders (Romans 13:1) but not their actions when their actions allow or condone sin (homosexual “marriages”, abortion, etc.).

Working For the Lord

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God In The Business World

There have been at least a few people I’ve come across, especially as of late, that say God and religion have no place in the work place or in business communications. I completely disagree.

God Does Have a Place

Not only does God belong in the workplace, He belongs anywhere you belong. Whether it’s a user-driven technical support mailing list, a Linux User Group (LUG) or at the office. It doesn’t matter what your role is, either. Are you a moderator on a list? Perhaps a new user? Or are you the CEO of a major company?

It doesn’t matter. God cares about what you care about. When you honor Him in your work and your lifestyle, He will honor you in return. It won’t be just physical blessings, either. Look at Chik-fil-A for an example of a Christian company that honors God. He is so important to the CEO of the company that Chik-fil-A’s around the nation are to be closed on Sunday so that the employees can spend time with family and God.

Exception to the Rule?

Chik-fil-A doesn’t have to be the exception to the rule, though. Yes, we all need work to pay off bills. It is, unfortunately, a necessity in this world. That doesn’t mean, though, that we need to work to the exclusion of all else. According to this article on Softpedia, we are most likely hardwired (meaning we were created that way) for an 8 hour work day. Not 10 or 12+ hours a day, and certainly not 7 days a week. Even the most die-hard work-a-holic will burn out on such a schedule.

Someone Has to Do the Job

Yes, there has to be someone to fill up those jobs else they will go somewhere else quicker than they are now (although some industries really cannot move far from home, so to speak). So work hard while you are young, do what you need to do to be able to provide for a family. Just don’t keep God out of the picture.

Pray as you work. On breaks, read your bible. Don’t give up social interactions though, as long as they remain wholesome. When you work give God your best. If you’re giving God your best, your employer will thank you because you’ll be working at your best for him, too.

What About Conflict With Coworkers?

There are going to be people, unfortunately, who think the simple act of you reading your bible, or displaying your faith on your clothing, is offensive. It could be an atheist or it could be someone of a different belief whether Jew, some other Christian denomination, Muslim, or even Buddhist. So how do you handle it? With grace, politeness, and love.

As Christians we are called to spread the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ everywhere. Not just where it might be convenient or safe.

Work for the Lord, praise Him in all that you do, and when presented with the opportunity to witness, don’t speak from your own self but let God speak through you. You’ll be amazed at the power such witnessing will have on others. Will it get you in trouble with others? Possibly, but Christ never said following Him would be easy. We are told that those who hate Him will hate us also (John 15:18-21), so if they hate you because of Christ, rejoice in that and praise God for loving you so much that the enemy finds you enough of a threat to hate.

Share God with others. Do not be delinquent in sharing Christ with one person you come across.

Do you want to learn more about Christ? Do you want to know Christ’s love for you? If you have a Facebook account, check out God Loves You, a Facebook ministry for educating non-believers about Christ.

Hoarding

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What Have You Hoarded Today?

Living in America, a good deal of us (I’d say the vast majority) find that we have more than enough. Even those on food stamps or welfare and living in public housing have it much, much better than those on the street.

Yet finding a soup kitchen or a shelter for the homeless is difficult in most cities I’ve been in (all in Tennessee, the state I live in). I know of one shelter and soup kitchen in Nashville, one in McMinnville that is being renovated from a former animal shelter and that’s it. I’ve lived in Nashville, Cookeville, Knoxville, McMinnville and have been to Murfreesboro, Antioch, Crossville, Chattanooga, and several other smaller cities. I know they all have a homeless population, I hear about it in the news. For those you don’t hear about in the news it’s almost a given for a city of any size (believe it or not, McMinnville, as tiny as it is, has one too).

Yet, at least in McMinnville, our food bank is full to bursting. There is no shelter, except that afforded by abandoned structures and nature, to speak of for the homeless. There is no one going out to the homeless and trying to find out what they can do to help them get into a home. To get a job.

Yet our homes are FULL of stuff. Computers, telephones, furniture, clothing, food, figurines, movies and music and even Bibles.

How many of us can hold a yard sale and make quite a bit of money off of it? How many of us have clothes or blankets or food that we can take to a group of the homeless and provide for some of their needs?

Now how many of us will actually do that?

My Commitment

I will admit that I really hadn’t given it much thought until I read one of my devotionals today. It was simple, yet poignant. Here I am, blessed with all this stuff, much of what I don’t even use anymore and there are people in my own county who, for whatever reason, do not even have a home.

Today I am going to at least see what I can do to change that. Not just for today, either.

Sure I only have a limited amount to give, but I challenge each of you who live in Warren County, TN to do the same. Go through your closets, find what you don’t (or won’t) wear anymore and gather it together. Don’t go to the Good Will truck. Don’t go to the thrift store. Find a group of those who cannot afford Goodwill or the thrift store and give away your items to those who can use it.

Together we can make a difference in Warren County. We can help provide for those who don’t have anything, or anyone. Together we can follow in Jesus’ example and provide not just enough, but more than enough. Make friends with the people you help. Go and see them time and again. Show them how Christ has entered your life. Show them that someone cares. Lift them up, encourage them. Perhaps we can’t help every homeless person, but we can make a difference.

Quit hoarding. Quit keeping to yourself what you don’t want or need or cannot use. Let Christ move in your life and shine through you to those who have given up hope. To those who have been truly marginalized.

Mowing The Lawn

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Taking Care of Our Homes

Being a good Christian, I believe, isn’t just about proselytizing, witnessing, and acting all goody-two-shoes. There’s also taking care of the resources God gives you. Good fiscal policy in the home. Good work ethic (to include a good attitude). Good housekeeping. There is also the matter of landscaping.

I know the word conjures up thousands of dollars spent on planting trees, gardens of flowers (and maybe veggies) and the like but it really doesn’t have to be that complex. It can be as simple as picking up sticks and mowing the yard once or twice a week (depending on how fast your grass grows or how big your yard is). Keeping what God gave you looking nice makes God happy. It’s part of being a good steward of all that is on this planet.

Of course after sin entered the world such stewardship became increasingly difficult. There are people who just don’t care. Than there are others who just don’t have the means. For those who don’t care, there isn’t much you can do. For those who don’t have the means, well, there is more than plenty we can do. Some of the things we can do to help (for free or a reduced price):

  • yard mowing
  • house keeping
  • extend pet care for those on trips
  • cooking (either brought in or cooked on site)

Those are just some of the things that we can do to help those who cannot help themselves. Perhaps you could even make a church ministry out of it, giving them a copy of your churches latest sermon or just sitting down to talk with them about God and Christ and our place in the whole picture.

Don’t think you pastors are excluded from this sort of thing, either. Perhaps with each new “customer” in the yard mowing, you can schedule an informal lunch with the head of the family. Just don’t be pushy. Don’t make that a requirement, make it a gift. You could even have the lunch scheduled for the first time the yard is mowed. Have your parishioners invite them to church, gently, with each time the yard is mowed. Even if they decline, they will get to see what it means to be a Christian.

Do be careful, though. Some might try to take advantage of such a free service and seek to (ab)use it to undercut the local yard mower, sitter, kennel or maid service. Serve those with a real need. They are going to be a greater witness than those just seeking to take advantage of a free or reduced price service.

It’s Not Easy Being A Christian

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No Promises

The only thing we are promised if we remain on the straight and narrow is heavenly treasure and eternity in perfect fellowship with each other and, more importantly, the Lord our God.

We aren’t promised an easy life. We are warned from the get go that it will be hard. We will be persecuted, attacked, hated, reviled and all because of Christ’s name. And this won’t be just from man, either. The enemy is out there, seeking to devour us as quickly as possible because he does not want God to get His due praise and glory. Also, we are human. Even as Christians we still sin. What’s important is how we handle this. Do we turn to God or do we turn away from God after we have been convicted of our sin. If we turn toward Him, and let Him lift us up we can have defeat over that which causes us to sin. We are to sin no more in that area so that He can focus on working us up to the point where we can make another improvement. It’s an ever ongoing project. We are just human after all.

What if we fall back into that sin which we have been convicted of? Perhaps you need to assess whether you turning away from it (and in turn toward God) was an honest, 110% effort on your part. Did you let God lift you up or are you trying to do this all on your own? If it’s the latter, then yes. We will fall back into the same old sins all over again until we let Him lift us up and start a work in us. He hates the sin but loves the sinner. We are His most precious creation, after all.

Have you been praying for something? Did you get it? Did you then fall back into some sin you claimed to have been convicted of? Perhaps it was an honest claim, but was it an honest effort to turn away from that sin? Only God knows our heart. He knows it better than we do! Until you “get it” He won’t reward you. He may even take away what He gave you. He’s done it to Israel plenty of times. Go through the Old Testament and count the number of times where Israel has been scattered, been put in bondage, or been a conquered nation. As you count, notice how many times they tried to do things on their own to get back to where they were. Then also notice that they only got back to where they belong when they let God put them there. God won’t treat us any differently. We are His peculiar people. We are all (Jew and Gentile alike) his chosen people. His singularly most precious creation. We are made in His image. No other creature of the earth comes close. We alone matter most to Him. For us alone He sent His only Son, Christ Jesus.

Don’t reject Him working in and through you. Don’t reject His saving grace. Don’t reject His gift to us and us alone. If He is convicting you of sin, take it from me. Do not wait until you are punished to turn away form it completely. Stop. Examine your life. Take the steps necessary to rid yourself of that sin. Give it up to God. Pray every morning. Put on that full armor. Do not let the enemy get to your weak spot. Walk in the full knowledge that God’s armor is impenetrable. Walk in the full knowledge that God has always got your back. Just accept His saving grace. Accept His son. Accept Him.

My Prayer

Dear heavenly Father,

You know that I have sinned. You know that I have struggled with this sin since the enemy brought me into it when I was but an ignorant youth. Let me be a shinning example of your grace, o heavenly Father. Lift up from me the burden of this sin. Take this rebellion away from me. Lift me up and make me perfect through Christ Your son. I know You have already forgiven me when I confessed to You o Lord my sin on Resurrection Day. You have forgiven me, now take this sin from me. I turn away from it, God. I praise You, Lord for showing me the error of my ways. As always, You have shown mercy and love. You have already shown me that the job You have taken from me was not meant to be final. You have something better for me that You want to make me ready for. I accept that. I accept that this next job will be just temporary until You are ready to show me something else, and when You are, you will close that door. Only You can open doors and only You can close them. All I can do is choose to walk through them. Give me Your next job, o heavenly Father. Lift me up and raise me up to what You need me to be. I have nothing that isn’t already Yours. In Jesus’ name I pray.

Amen

Fasting Day 21

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Christ Has Risen! Death Has Been Defeated!

Today we celebrate the most important aspect of Christ’s mission on earth. Dieing for our sins. Without that supreme sacrifice, without the innocent Lamb being willingly led to the slaughter, we would not have salvation and eternal life when we accept Him as our Savior.

Today is also the last day of the fast. Sin has been forgiven, and what a day to ask for that forgiveness. Our fast is over, but don’t go anywhere, anyone. We’re holding out our baskets and waiting for them to be filled, like when God — through Ezra — worked that miracle for the widow and her son with the oil. God provided not just enough for them to get by, but enough to take care of all their debt AND for them to live on the money from the rest comfortably. All they had to do was believe that God would work through Ezra. God is supremely sufficient in all ways forever!

Such as it is with this fast. Apparently what I thought I should be praying about was not what God wanted me to pray about. Figures! But I listened! I heard you loud and clear today God! I had to take furious notes at church (times 2!) but I was listening, and I am literally bursting with joy!

Day 21

It started as soon as I woke up this morning. After I spent some time with God while I cleaned up for the day, I was able to share a wonderful breakfast with my family. What I was afraid wouldn’t be enough turned out to be more then sufficient. I should have seen the rest coming! Haha! God blessed me with being able to make scratch-gravy (used butter and bacon fat and flour to start the roux, add milk to desired thickness), scratch-made baking soda drop biscuits, Hormel black label maple bacon, Country pride sausage patties, and fried (in EVOO and a cast iron skillet) potatoes. It was beautiful and tasty. I forgot to pay attention to one pan of bacon and that went to the dogs (as did the left over bacon fat), but ya know what, they are family and get to celebrate too!

The real celebration, though, was at church today. As I made my way to church (thanks to the loving Cook family), God started percolating up inside me and by the end of service I was BURSTING! I could hardly contain myself, but I knew I had to. God has revealed the path He wants me to take in one matter. Now I pray for the boldness to go forth and do as He says, that my own voice goes mute and I speak with His words only, and that His will be done in all things: job, family, and relationships.

And He still wasn’t done! I get home and tell my father that service was awesome and he begins to talk to me about church and God and all of that and I wind up witnessing to him for two straight hours! Praise God! He’s even told me that he’s looking for a new church. Keep praying people of Bridges of Hope, God is hearing his people and answering their prayers!

Pray also that God brings to me, in His perfect timing, the spouse He has chosen for me. This whole fast, and really before that, He has been putting people in my life and bringing pieces of scripture to my attention in order to prepare me for when He works on the heart of the woman He has chosen for me. He wanted me to be ready so that there would be no doubt and hesitation on my part. God has chosen us both already. Pray that she is so moved too.

That brings me to something God gave me while at church (haha, He knows I could do the double note-taking, hehe).

It’s not so much what He told me as what He has lain on my heart to share, so bear with the tense shift please.

I reject everything that is in this world and only accept what You give me.

I reject all things of this world. You alone are sufficient! I accept Your will for me; Your job for me (whatever it is); the woman You have chosen for me. I give up and reject my family for Your family. I reject their will for Your will.

I beg of You Lord, in me fulfill Your promise for me. Give to me, as unworthy and imperfect as I am, what You see fit to give me.

To the woman You have chosen for me I say this.

If you looking for perfection, I am not it; only in Christ am I worthy for anything. Only in Him am I made perfect. I do my best but I fall short of anything. If you are waiting for beautiful, I am not it. I am only an ugly sinner washed clean in His blood. If you are waiting for riches, I have none in this world. I am but a poor man whose only riches lie in Heaven above. God gives me enough to live in this world and I accept His will. If you are waiting for true love, now that I have but only because God gave it to me to go give to you.

God also had this to share with me.

It inside me is a love so strong
God gave it to me I know its not wrong

A love so strong I want to cry
Christ’s live, enough to die

To you and God alone I do give
This love inside me that is so big

Christ died for us the church
For my love for Him and you my heart does lurch

Christ on that hill to show
How big His love for us does grow

To encompass all the east and west
His love for us the best

In comparison to my love for Him my love is small
But, I believe, God gave it to me so for you I can give it all.

I can hardly wait to see what else God has for me to share.

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