Monday, February 14, 2011

The Greatest of These!!

Psalm 9:1-2 (Holman CSB)

I will thank the Lord with all my heart;
I will declare all Your wonderful works.
I will rejoice and boast about You;
I will sing about Your name, Most High.

Today marks Valentine's Day. According to the Greeting Card association an estimated 1 billion Valentine's Day cards are sent each year making the holiday the second largest card sending holiday next to Christmas at 2.6 billion cards per year.  Approximately 85% of cards are purchased by women according to the same association.

My point with the facts about the popularity of Valentine's Day is that for those that in celebration for the day that as a society it can be one of those days that equate to when you are having company coming over.  You know what I mean.  You clean the house more. You hide your dirty laundry.  You clean the toilets.  You make sure you clean the kitchen, the dishes, etc.  Your company arrives.  You have fun.  They leave.  You go back to letting it go just a little until the next time a visit is set to occur.

We can not just wait for "special days" like Valentine's Day, anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, and Easter. 

My point is that when we get in a rut, love can become the same way.

Love for our spouses - 

Love for our kids - 

Love for our friends - 

Love for our fellow man -

Love for our God -

When we do not make a conscious effort to display and speak our love daily, we invite ourselves into the rut.  We create a situation or situations where we begin to not appreciate the gifts that God has given to us.  We take them for granted.  The longer it happens, the more we get used to it.  And ultimately:

We Lose It!!

And once it is lost, it is so hard to get back.  I have had the misfortune to have lost many, many relationships throughout my life.  ALL of them were my fault.  I could have demonstrated a greater appreciation for the people around me.  I didn't.  

In later years, I tried to repair some of those relationships.  It didn't work with most of them. It will be my burden to bear for the rest of my life, at least for those relationships.  The ones I have now I cherish.  Oh God, how I cherish them.  God has brought me back from the great abyss.  The land where nothing else matters.  And each day, I give thanks. 

Many times we cross paths with others who are in the same boat.  We cross paths with someone whose lives could be changed by a simple word of kindness.  If we shared what God has done in our lives.  If we shared how much love we have to give that was given to us through such a great cost.

The Bible has 393 versus that talk about or have the word love in them.  I have listened to many people say that the Bible is a book of rules and nothing more.  I have listened to people say that the Bible is fake.  I have listened to people say that it is all a fantasy or some great hoax that has lasted through the ages.  I believe the Bible is a love story.  A love story that tells of a Father's love for His children.  A love story that tells of redemption for the lost who can return to the Father at any point.  All you have to do is accept His love for you.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite books and series of verses in the Bible.  I hope that they give you strength and peace.  But even more than that, I hope that they show you the love that you seek and that you may take that love and in turn share it with others.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-13

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Many blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.

To my beautiful wife, I love you more than words can say.  I thank God for you.

Pastor Jim

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Looking for God?

We spend an inordinate amount of time trying (and often failing) to do things on our own. We have been covered with the lie that the Lord helps those that help themselves.  Yet no where (and yes I challenge anyone to find otherwise) does it say in the Bible that you are to help yourself.  God desires us to rely totally and completely on him. He gave us the tools to do so.

Some examples:
Psalm 121: 1-2
1I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth

What is being said here?  What does it mean to you?  For me it is a solemn reminder that I can give everything to God.  No matter what my situation or trouble, He is my help and salvation.  It also reminds me that even though I am only a small part of creation in comparison to everything else the Lord has made, I am important enough that the Lord will set everything aside for me in my time of need.

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God knew of our needs that He sent his son to take the form of man.  We know how that worked out for us. We now have a bridge between our lives and God.

John 14:6

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Not only do we have a bridge, but it is the ONLY way to God.  There is no magic detour.  There is no other secret hidden path.  It is a brightly lit as a highway turnpike.  

Embrace Him fully.  Offer yourself to Him fully.  Guess what will happen:

The enemy will strike harder and faster - It seems that when things start going well, they start going bad.  Yet we have knowledge that this will happen.  We know the ways of the evil one.  (Read Genesis 3:1, Revelation 12:9, John 10:10).  

If we are prepared, we will prevail - God gave us the armor  we need.  (Read Ephesians 6:10 - 18).  However, it is not just by being prepared.  We must also work.

James 2:26
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead

Faith and hope are great and necessary in looking for God.  But we also have to put in the work.  We have to get to know God.  We have to actively seek God.  We can do this by spending time with God each day.  We can do this in prayer and by reading his word.  Surround yourself with good people.

Proverbs 1:5

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain to wise counsels

Seek to gain more understanding of what God has planned for you.  While you are looking for God, I will bet you will find that he has already found you!!

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim