Blessed

The Barna Group states that only 3% of churchgoers actually tithe on a regular basis. Think about it this way, if you have a church of 100 people, then only 3 of those people tithe every time they get paid. So, who does this hurt?

Some people will tell you that the church needs your money. To be honest, it helps but as I have experienced in my own church, God has always and will always provide the needs for His church.

I believe that it is hurting the individuals, those who aren’t being obedient to God’s word. Malachi 3:9 tells us that if we don’t give our tithes then we are cursed. Verse ten even encourages us to test God and see if He will not bless us. Verse eleven says that God will not destroy the fruit of your ground and verse twelve tells us that nations will call us blessed. All of this just because we were obedient and gave God the first fruits of our labors, the tithe.

Could this be the reason why so many churchgoers seemed to be hurting; because they didn’t give God their first fruit?

I can honestly say that I am a blessed Pastor with a blessed church and I see blessed people in my congregation. I get to hear amazing stories of how God is blessing the families of my church because they have been obedient to what God is calling them to do. I believe that you too can be blessed if you walk in obedience and tithe.

Advertisements

You May Have to Vote for Nebuchadnezzar

Today is my state’s primary and we have heard the uproar of Christians claiming that if Christians vote for certain people then how can they call themselves Christians. First of all, who are we to say that someone is Christian or not based on a vote. Second of all, these same people may place a vote in November for someone they particularly don’t like.

When I think of the election for President one thing I know for sure is that God is in control. Whether our particular candidate wins or not, God is in control.

As the latest blogs and articles have been written concerning the candidates, I started thinking about a particular King that God used to bring judgment upon His people. That king was King Nebuchadnezzar II.

King Nebuchadnezzar was King of Babylon from 605 BC to 562 BC. He was considered one of the cruelest and vilest kings in the world. God used him to take the Israelites captive and to bring them to Babylon. During the early part of King Nebuchadnezzar’s bringing the Israelites into captivity, King Nebuchadnezzar put all the praise upon himself for all that he had done. He didn’t place any of the favor of his success from God.

You can read in Daniel 4 that King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and he asked Daniel to come and interpret the dream for him. Daniel interpreted the dream in verses 20-27.

20“The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth, 21whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home— 22it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth. 23“And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him’; 24this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: 25They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. 26“And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. 27Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

But King Nebuchadnezzar didn’t heed Daniel’s warning and the dream came true. King Nebuchadnezzar lost all he had and at the time that God gave it was all restored to him and King Nebuchadnezzar praised God in verses 34-37.

34And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. 35All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?” 36At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. 37Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.

God uses people that we might think are evil or wouldn’t make a good president. He uses them to fulfill His purpose. Don’t get wrapped up in the election process that you lose your focus praying for our country.

My point is this, whatever happens in this election God is still in control. God has a purpose and a plan for everything. Just because your candidate doesn’t get chosen doesn’t mean that God isn’t working things out the way He wants it to work out.

What Do You Believe In?

Do you know what you believe in? Do you attend church just because you grew up attending church? If you were asked today, what do you believe, would you have a good answer?

Every day we are faced with decisions to believe in something or not. How well do you know what you believe?

We have to draw a line in the sand and decide what we believe. Do we accept the Bible as the infallible word of God? Do we accept the fact that Jesus died on a cross for our sins? Do we accept the fact that Heaven and Hell are real places?

What do you believe? Start your thinking process on this subject this Sunday as we draw a line in the sand. We begin at 10:30 am.

God’s Search and Rescue Plan Involves You

search and rescue

When children go missing, parents go looking. And that’s what God has done. There’s not a square foot on earth that doesn’t have his footprints. He began searching for them the moment Adam and Eve made a choice and lost their way. He sent the nation of Israel looking. He sent his Son to “seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Today he sends his church. In Acts 1:8 we find his search and rescue plan: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus sent the disciples into the middle of Jerusalem and told them to wait. While they were waiting a crowd gathered for Pentecost. Some estimate Jerusalem swelled to over one million people during this time. The Holy Spirit came on them, Peter preached, and the church swelled from 120 to over three thousand.

It didn’t stop there. They devoted themselves to “the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). That first church in Jerusalem grounded its people in the Word, in deep community, to sharing meals and sharing Christ, and to prayer. They had to. The task at hand was too big for them to accomplish on their own. They needed each other. Mostly they needed God.

That hasn’t changed, has it? We still have the same commission to be witnesses for Jesus in our Jerusalems and in our world. We are still called to the Word, to love each other, to share life, and to prayer. And we are still searching for those who have lost their way.

We are still searching because the Father still has children who are missing. So go to your Jerusalem and wait. God will bring you power as you serve him there. Let’s not leave a square foot without our footprints.

Finding the Door to an Eternity of Sundays

doors

In the spring of 2010 archaeologists unearthed a 3,500-year-old door to the afterlife from the tomb of a high-ranking Egyptian official near Karnak temple in Luxor.[1] This door was meant to take the official from death to the afterworld.

Jack found another door to the afterlife. He taught English literature at Oxford and spent many evenings walking the gardens of Magdalene College. And it was one evening while walking with his friend John that Jack discovered his way.

His door seems to have found a way into his writings as a wardrobe through which his characters could enter Narnia, a kind of medieval version of Paradise. Jack, or C.S. Lewis as we know him today, went on to become one of the great apologists for the Christian faith in the 20th century. He wrote of death in this way: “If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a ‘wandering to find home,’ why should we not look forward to the arrival?[2]

How would you write about that time you take your last breath and the moment right after?  Will you look forward to it? Or will it be a terrifying moment for you? And would you want to be able to face your death unafraid?

Jesus enables us to do that, you know. He moves us from a Friday and Saturday of death and disillusionment to a Sunday of victory. Your way into that victory is through a door. Jesus Christ.

Jesus said of himself, “I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). And all of the Easter stories tell this.

In another garden, another Magdalene—Mary—was looking for Jesus’ dead body to anoint, but it was missing from the tomb (John 20). Two angels speak to her but she is so upset she misses them. She keeps talking about her “Lord” and that he had been taken away. It took Jesus coming to her and calling her by name before she recognized what had happened.

You’ll have your Fridays and Saturdays. Days that are dark and days that are lost. In those days when you can’t find the door out, do as Mary did. Keep calling Jesus “Lord.”  Keep calling and keep looking for him.

Because if you keep calling him Lord, he’ll call you by name. And when he does, you will turn and find the door to an eternity of Sundays.

[1] Door to afterlife from ancient Egyptian tomb found http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100329/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt_antiquities

[2] http://en.proverbia.net/citasautor.asp?autor=14386

Eliminate the Shanks from Your Life Swing

Butch Harmon, who has instructed professional golfers from Fred Couples to Tiger Woods, tells the story of the club member who was having problems with the shanks. That is, a poorly played golf shot. He spent 20 minutes trying to get him to work his stance, his weight transfer, his wrists, his arms and shoulders, his chin.  He tried everything but the man still shanked every shot.

He went into the pro shop and told his father the problem.  Claude Harmon went out to the man, watched him swing one time, and told him to keep his clubface square.  Five minutes later the guy was hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway.

Butch asked him how he knew what the problem was after one swing.  Claude said, “I knew what he was doing before I stood up from behind my desk. . . .  A shank is a shank. I knew the guy was hitting it with a shut clubface before I walked out here. The only question left was, what did I need to tell him to get him to stop?”[1]

Jesus already knows what is causing the “shanks” in your life.  He knows why your life “swing” is off.  And he knows the solution before you even know to ask for help.  He knows because he corrected your problem on the cross.  It is there he uttered these words: “’It is finished!’  With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).

On the cross Jesus paid a debt that was owed by those (us) who were unable to pay it. He finished the work of satisfying both the holiness of God and the love of God.  The fact that God is holy is foundational to Scripture.  Holy means he is “above,” he is “higher than.”  He is not just better.  He is not just an improved version of us, but that he is “set apart.”  Way apart.

“Holy” means something that is set apart from us.  And this difference is manifested in the way he views sin.  He sees it differently than we do.  He can have nothing to do with sin.  It has to be punished.

But God also loves.  The fact that God is love is foundational to Scripture.  So he put our sin on his Son and punished it there.  In doing so, he took care of sin and he took care of you and me when we embrace him as savior.

[1] The greatest father: Claude Harmon wisdom and lessons still show the way, Golf Digest, June, 2006 by Butch Harmon at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0HFI/is_6_57/ai_n26885507/?tag=content;col1

You Can Make it Through the Fire

It seems like recently that many people I know are going through trials. From sickness to family crises to financial turmoil people are going through a lot of stuff.
At the first sign of crises we fall to our knees and cry out to God, keep me from this lord, don’t let me go through this.  None of us want to face adversity. But have any of us thought that maybe we are to go through the trial.  When we go through the trial do we not ever stop and think that God is allowing us to go through this so that we can get stronger. How do we not know that God knows more than we do?
God could be preparing us for something that is ahead of us.  God is getting us ready to face something greater. Just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
The truth is when we go through trials, it is those trials that make us stronger. When we go through those trials we realize that God will get us through it.
When you think about trials remember what the 3 Hebrew children went through in Daniel 3. Because of their faith they were forced into the fire. They made it through the fire. In that fire there was someone with them. That someone was the Son of God.
You will get through the fire. It may not seem like it now but you will get through the fire.  And if your not going through a trial right now,  the next time you do go through one pray that God will help you through it not keep you from it.
Jesus spoke these words to us in John 16:33. “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”