Sunday, May 31, 2009

It got me to thinking . . .

Mr. Burrell's post on their site, Shepherd's Hill, changes weekly. He often has things that are insightful and meant to make you think and dig into the Word for yourself.

In the previous post, he made several good points. We need to understand why we do what we do for Jesus. We need to be able to put it in very simple terms for others to understand when they ask.

Some people think that Christians need to be perfect. What they don't understand is that our mistakes and mis-steps are covered by grace. We need to make sure that they understand that we screw up daily and need to ask for forgiveness (theirs' and God's) for the foibles and flaws in our lives.

We also need to be sure that we truly treat others as Jesus would have. We need to be sure that we don't come off as holier than thou and judgemental. There are things that people say that still shock me about their personal lives but I try not to raise an eyebrow. They deserve the same grace that God has afforded to me. It is not my place to point out things that they already are convicted about.

My job here is to be the best reflection of my savoir as HUMANLY possible. I need to make sure that others see HIM through me; even if it is just glimpses. As I mature in HIM, it should be a more accurate reflection as HE opens my understanding.

I may not agree with Mr. Burrell all the time but have found him to be a knowledgeable man of God and I enjoy his family's site immensely.

From Shepherd's Hill again . . .

Take off the Mask

Paul Burrell

Welcome in the name of Jesus Christ. I am writing to you about some observations of my families this week. Sometimes, you can see the Word of God portrayed in people around you. It may be through good actions or bad. But, God’s Word is always true even if we don’t like what it says. Let’s look at our first passage today.

We are in the Book of Galatians this week. Paul wrote this letter to the Churches in Galatia, an ancient province of the Roman Empire. It deals with a common problem in a lot of denominations. That problem is that the law is seen as a requirement of salvation. Paul spends the first chapter giving his qualifications as an Apostle of Christ. It seems that some people will not just listen to truth or wisdom but need an authority to tell them that they are doing something wrong. We may fail to listen to our wives telling us to slow our driving down because we feel that we know how to drive better than she does. But if a police officer turns on his lights and pulls us over we might give a little more attention to our mistake after we pay the fine. It was the same truth in both situations, but the authority had to make it clear for us.

How sad when we won’t listen to our brother or sister in Christ even when they have told us something right out of the Bible. Let’s look at chapter two and verse eleven. Paul tells us of a little problem where he had to correct the Apostle Peter. It seems that Peter had two ways of acting. In the following verse it reveals that Peter ate with the Gentiles but after the Jews arrived he withdrew and ate with them instead. Now, this might be easy to overlook what God is showing us today if we do not remember Peter’s past. Peter was raised a Jew and followed all the laws of Jewish people. God had revealed to him that the Gospel of Christ would be brought to the Gentiles (Acts 10). God's will was made clear to him. He had been given a revelation to make sure that there was no doubt in his mind.

Isn’t it strange when we pretend that we just don’t know what God wants from us or why there may be problems in our lives after God has already told us what to do? I see it in people all the time. If God has told you His will, you need to follow it! Peter knew exactly that he was to associate with Gentiles and take them the Gospel. In Galatians 2:13 we read that the other Jews “dissembled” with Peter. That interesting word means to put on a false appearance, a mask or to act in a way other than the truth. Peter was pretending to fit in with the Jews and not the Gentiles for harmony’s sake. Sometimes peace is not worth the price.

Have you ever had someone deceive you into thinking that they were somebody other than who they really were? Maybe a false character was presented to you about how smart someone was or that they were wealthy and you later realized that the person was lying to you. I’m not sure why we would want to be anyone other than the person that God called us to be. Peter and these other Jews were so convincing that they drew Barnabas into their story (v13). Peter was caught in his lies, though, and Paul rebuked him in front of these Jewish men. His statement in verse fourteen gives us insight as to exactly what Peter was doing wrong. Paul said that Peter was living in the freedom of the Gentiles and then had turned around and was compelling them to live under the Law as Jews.

Let me give some real examples that we have seen over the many years we have lived as plain Christians. People see plain dress and always associate it with Christianity, and that is a good thing. It is a great tool for witnessing to others since they always ask us what we believe. But, we have met people along the way who went completely off course. Some started dressing plain after meeting us while others we met were already plain dressed. Through time many of them changed. The reason that they began to do it became clear. Instead of doing it for spiritual reasons some did it as a means to gain material things. For example, some dressed plain because it gave them favor or pity. Another thing we have seen is someone dressing plain because they feel more holy than others in doing so. Others are so torn about plain dress that they flip-flop back and forth and end up with confused children who never know what to wear when they wake up.

These are not just isolated cases but there have been many families that fit each problem I mentioned above. In the first example, the father probably tried it and it became something of a challenge to him. In doing so, he discovered that the world treated him kindly. In one group we knew, the family allowed their children to dress poorly and were always dirty on purpose because the general populous believed them to be poor. They could have cleaned up at any time but chose to be filthy as a rule.

Others started walking plain because they received a real revelation of being separate from the world. Somehow, it went to their heads and they became judge and jury for all the church. I suppose they felt like they were more holy than you and I and therefore were qualified to act in the place of God. We knew some families that became instant enemies with us after demanding that we give up all the luxuries of life. They required that Children of God should sit on concrete instead of upholstery and eat leftover pork and beans cold from the night before to avoid waste. One family withdrew from us after we bought our house a couple of years ago. We had been in a three bedroom house with one bathroom for almost ten years (seven people). When we could finally afford something larger that had two baths we were shunned. (I am not kidding) After all, God doesn’t want you to love this world or the things in it, right?

One father told me that all he wanted to do was sit on the floor and read the Bible. He neither worked a job nor took care of his wife and children but saw himself as a mighty man of God. I guess he hadn’t read up to 2nd Thessalonians 3:10 yet.

And then there was the other group that would show up plain one day and dressed in blue jeans another. When it suited them, they always dressed to fit in with the people around them. If they attended a worship service with us they acted like they always dressed plain. But later we would discover that it was only a show for us and that they were someone else when they were at home. Some even confessed that God was directing them to dress plain but dressed like they always had.

Now, let me say that in the spirit that the Book of Galatians was written you do not have to dress plain to be born-again. Wearing a cape-dress or broadfall pants gets you no extra points to get into heaven. We are saved by grace, not by works, lest any should boast (Eph 2:9). Recently we began an exciting Bible study looking at the feasts of Israel. God said many times that these were statutes for ever. We are examining each feast and the significance to the Jewish people and also to the Church that they hold. I love what Zola Levitt said. Zola was a Jewish Christian that understood the ties with the Old and New covenant. He has now gone on to be with the Lord but his studies are still available.

Zola Levitt said if you want to observe a feast or holy day you may. It gives you no extra points to do so and takes none away if you don’t. He then quoted the passage in Ephesians.

So, why do we dress plain? We have chosen this walk in obedience to God as He has called us to be separate in all things in life. We cannot answer for anyone else. Those who chose to live as a Christian will be persecuted. The enemy will try to frighten us so that we won’t stand up for our beliefs. We should fear no man when it comes to what we believe and be ready to give scripture to back it up.

How about your walk? Do you act one way around Christians and another around worldly people? Is your life so on fire for God that both sides know where you stand? If you were arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? You see, we must walk true to what God has shown us. If you do something or refrain from something in the name of Jesus it should be seen by others. Without opening our mouths, our actions should testify of whom we are and Whose we are!

I love the way Paul finished this chapter in verse twenty-one. His term of frustrating the grace of God tells it all. Paul earnestly wants us to understand that we live under Grace. Our actions should not be to gain salvation. If we make a decision to walk in Holiness in any form that the Spirit has revealed to us through the Word of God we should understand that it is because of our love and devotion to our Savior that we do it.

I do not hold my wife’s hand or open a car door for her to make myself married to her. I do it because I am in love with her. What greater reason would someone have of dressing apart from the world than because they are in love with Jesus Christ? What greater reason would you have for studying His Word? May the Lord Bless the reading of His Word today.

Prayer-Father, if there is something in us that is insincere may we become totally blameless. Let our actions be pleasing to You and may our walk glorify You.

In Jesus’ Name-Amen

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We need reminding . . .

2 Cor 12:

7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Just because we ask to have something removed doesn't mean that God will take it away. He may have given it to us so that HE could still use us. We are not to steal the glory that rightfully belongs to HIM!

Infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions and distresses war with the flesh but in our spirits we should be rejoicing!

From Shepherds Hill . . .

Beyond Favor

Paul Burrell

Welcome again to the message of the week. If you have written me in the past week or so and I haven’t answered you please be patient. I answer every letter (eventually) but sometimes we get busy and I put them aside. I trust that you are continuing in God’s Word since you have joined us today. We have had some news of a tragedy that got me to thinking. I started asking the question, “why?”.

Of course, we are going to go to the Word today and see what God says. Please turn with me to 2nd Corinthians chapter twelve. This familiar passage is sometimes put aside until we begin to experience bad things happening in our lives. There is a false teaching going through the church that states that as long as someone is living in God’s will that they will not be touched by the enemy. It says they will be in complete health and have prosperous finances. Nothing can reach a child of God unless the Heavenly Father says so. As we look at Grace today I hope that we are all reminded that it is more than unmerited favor.

I say that because unmerited favor is the description most people have in their heads for the word “grace”. If you look up divine grace on an internet search you will get very similar results. In one example I saw it was even compared to the non-theist view of luck. I sat under many pastors teachings in which they explained it that way. One used the illustration of a grace period insurance companies give if you lapse on your premiums. Yes, these are good ways to show someone that grace is undeserved. But, it becomes confusing when we begin to interpret the way in which God will apply His Grace. Let us look at verse five.

Paul has just talked about a man who saw revelations and he is boasting about him. He then explains (v6) that he can not boast in himself because people might see him as more than he really is. Paul had a great understanding of making sure that Jesus received all the glory! Verse seven is the key verse today and I think it shows another side of Grace. Paul said that a thorn in his flesh was given so that he did not become, in his words, exalted above measure. Now, consider that for a moment and remember that we are looking at a deeper side of God’s Grace.

Paul goes on to say that he prayed three times to have the “messenger of Satan” removed from his life. Verse nine is the verse where we find that God explains that it is there because of His Grace. That goes against our normal thinking about unmerited favor. Just what favor is God doing Paul? There is a lot of speculation about what this thorn in Paul’s flesh was. Some say his eyesight was bad or that he had epilepsy. Consider Galatians 6:11 in which it sounds like Paul is saying he writes large letters. Other books from Paul are finalized with Paul explaining that this particular writing is his and that this is how he writes. It sounds as if someone else wrote the rest from his dictation and then he wrote the final lines to show the church how his handwriting looks as a validation against false letters. Still other people speculate that Paul’s thorn was not an ailment but a spiritual messenger that tormented Paul’s mind. Perhaps Satan reminded him of his past and how he killed innocent Christians.

Have you ever noticed that we sometimes miss the point in God’s Word? We will spend countless hours trying to find out something that we think is the point and all the while missing the real point. We can argue or debate until the Lord returns about what this thorn is and really get nowhere in learning about grace. Grace is the topic here! God had Paul to write this testimony for us so that we could get a better picture of how His Grace functions. It’s not there for a puzzle to keep you amused or as a mystery that you can solve.

God told Paul that His Grace was enough. This thorn was not removed from Paul’s flesh, whether it was an ailment or a spiritual messenger (or both). Let us finish out the passage and get the clear picture. God told Paul that His strength was made perfect in weakness. It sounds like backward logic to us. We always assume that if we are mighty in the world’s eyes then we will help God to be seen. On the contrary, we only glorify the flesh when we try to show what wonderful people we are. God doesn’t get any of the Glory that should all be His. Now, we are looking at Grace today and how that it is sometimes not seen as Grace.

We like to interpret the Bible to mean whatever is in our best interest, don’t we? When the preacher says for better or worse, richer or poorer we automatically say better and richer! We never consider that it might get worse and poorer, do we? In the same sense we look at salvation and God’s Grace and automatically read something into this. We immediately look at being a Child of God and think that we are untouchable by harm. When something comes that looks bad it throws our whole world off its axis.

Follow on with verse nine and see that Paul glories in his infirmities. He acknowledges that in crucifying the flesh God’s power shows. The next verse is even more amazing. Paul continues to show us that he takes pleasure in challenges in life as they give God an opportunity to work.

This past week one of our daughters was faced with a challenge. She sat in our bedroom one evening and explained a desperate situation that had hit her blind sided that day. It seems that when she was stretched to her limit and pushing to get a scheduled activity done with severe time constraints, she had a government agency show up for a random, mandatory check. As she talked about all of what might happen she came to a conclusion. She told us that she had peace about it because God knew what she needed and that He would not allow anything to happen that did not have an outcome of good for her. We almost jumped up and cheered! It is a great thing to know that your children walk in truth (3 John 1:4)!

She came to the conclusion that God’s Grace was sufficient for her. Look also at Romans 8:28 today. Paul says that everything works together for good to those of us who are the Called according to God’s purpose. Divine Grace is God’s unearned favor, yes. But remember that the enemy can frighten you into panic so that you forget that the outcome will be good for you if you hold on. If you have trouble come into your life yes, pray that God removes it. But if He doesn’t it is because He sees down the road and that in the end you will be better because of going through the fire.

A few weeks ago we looked at the three Hebrew men who refused to bow down to a king at the risk of their lives. Their said that God could save them and even if He didn’t they still would not bow. Let that be your heart today! God can deliver you but even if He doesn’t, serve Him. Jesus calmed the troubled sea when His disciples cried out. But, Paul prayed that the storm his ship was in would subside but it did not. In the end of Paul’s life God had allowed him to travel everywhere the Gospel needed to be heard to birth the Early Church. It was all part of God’s plan. I’m so glad that Paul saw it that way.

Are you willing to allow God to work? Can you stretch yourself and see that sometimes God’s Grace is not understandable? While it is favor, it goes beyond that. God’s Grace is there to keep you and I until He comes back. His grace is sufficient today.

Prayer-Father, I thank You today for Your amazing Grace! It is sometimes not seen in our lives, and yet is always there. When we did not deserve it, You gave it freely. Thank You for it and for helping us to understand that You have our best interest in mind.

In Jesus’ Name-Amen

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grandma is fine . . .

but Harold is in the hospital now.

Please pray.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What we have is precious . . .

and has been paid for in blood. Please remember those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom.

Let's respect those who are fighting for that right now too.

Join me, won't you?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

As seen in the Macomb Daily 5/23/09

Read God's word, drawing on His limitless wisdom, then, act on it

Catherine Galasso-Vigoritto

Regardless of who you are, where you come from, or what obstacles you must overcome, you have unlimited resources.

Placed within you by almighty God are vast spiritual riches within your heart, your mind and your soul. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on you own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5,6). "In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path."

But when times get difficult, many are tempted to quit, especially if you have attempted to achieve a goal and the results you anticipated have not yet transpired.

You must keep trying, for you are not on your own, God is with you. He is your ever-present working partner. Perhaps you might stumble, but God will not let you fall.

Let us guard the gates of our mind, for our outlook determines the outcome. And read God's work, drawing on His limitless wisdom to meet every need we may face.

Then, act on it. Faith in God's promises, releases God's power, for His word works within us, and as a result, we will work outwardly.

Sometimes, God wants to do a work in us, before He can do a work through us. Times of adversity can be times of opportunities, so we must be patient and give God a chance to work. One sunny afternoon, my husband took our daughters fishing in a lake near our home. Fishing demands faith, as well as patience. The girls could not see the fish, nonetheless, they expected, by faith, to catch some. Also, they prepared for the catch by bringing a large pail to put the fish they believed they would catch.

In the same way, we should have the same belief and expectation and "work while we wait" Patience can be described a "endurance with action." For that is what we all must do. . . exhibit joyful patience. When circumstances are difficult, don't give up. In Isaiah 28:16, it says, "Whoever believes will not act hastily." So don't yield to defeat; make an effort to try again, believing that things are about to completely transform. For when the time comes for God to act, there will be no delay. At once, suddenly, everything can positively change and our nets will be filled to abundance.

Remember, the angel promised Mary, "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37). Therefore, believe with all your heart knowing that with faith in God you will achieve prosperity, success and joy.


Just a note ~

We are His children. Even if you are a wayward sinner, He wants to give you EVERYTHING! All He asks for in return is you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Please pray . . .

A dear sister in the Lord is in the hospital. Tests are still being run.

Our neighbor just succumbed to cancer this morning. His family needs the peace that passes understanding.

Hubby's grandma is in the hospital.

Hold these families up please.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Do you have a printer . . .

that uses Lexmark inkjet cartridges? You will want to check out the cheap lexmark ink cartridges at this site.

Hurry, they are having a 10% promo through the end of the month!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Praying that all moms who read this are as blessed as the Proverbs 31 woman!

Enjoy your families!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Not from the grave. . .

Michael Medved wrote:

Americans spend an average of 29 hours a week watching television - which means in a typical life span we devote 13 uninterrupted years to our TV sets! The biggest problem with mass media isn't low quality - it's high quantity. Cutting down just an hour a day would provide extra years of life - for music and family, exercise and reading, conversation and coffee.

From the grave . . .

Tim Russert wrote:

You can shower a child with presents or money, but what do they really mean, compared to the most valuable gift of all - your time? Vacations and special events are nice, but so often the best moments are the spontaneous ones. Being there. Every moment you spend with your child could be the one that really matters.

Please Pray!

I have a special unspoken request from a heartbroken friend.

Her broken heart has also broken mine.

Pray God's mercy.