Monday, May 28, 2012

Don't Rebuild

Usually when a storm like Beryl comes along and destroys homes, we would seek to rebuild as soon as possible.  It is a natural inclination for us to rebuild.  We may try to improve some on the previous structure, but rebuilding is a must.
   We can do that spiritually too and it can destroy the work of Jesus in us.  Our life in Christ is a relationship built on faith in Him.  People in relationship do things naturally to communicate, spend time together, work together, share friendships, and show loving care to one another.  That is the life of faith.  But I have watched too many people start down the road of faith, only to revert back in their thinking and actions to doing things simply to earn God's favor.  And no one can be saved that way.  In Galatians, Paul speaks to this very issue because some people were trying to get the Galatians to follow the law as well as faith in Christ.

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

He appeals to them to not fall back into a mindset or pattern that tries to please God by following a set of rules.  Christ died and showed us His grace to set us free to live in a vibrant relationship with Him.  In fact, He lives His life in us.  I can truly live in no other way than to experience the grace of God daily.  I can't earn God's favor.  I can only enjoy it by dying with Christ.

Today we celebrate freedom because others have died to earn it and preserve it for us.  The same is true for us spiritually.  Our freedom can only be enjoyed because Christ died for it and preserves it.  

Don't try and fight a battle that is not yours to fight.  You can't win.  Freedom and life are found only in Him.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Way More than We Thought

I'm sitting at a Starbucks about seven blocks from Times Square as I write this.  I'm across the street from the Carnegie Deli where where Justin and I ate lunch.  It is over 100 years old and was packed.  We ate beside an Indian couple (from India) who were on a 40 day holiday.  We ordered.  Justin got a Reuben sandwich and I got the local spotlight special, a "Woody Allen."  The walls were plastered with pictures of all the stars who have eaten here over the past century.  Impressive.  Most impressive as well were our sandwiches when they arrived.  I'm not sure how many animals were killed to just make our sandwiches, but a herd comes to mind. The picture is only "half" the sandwich.  No, I didn't eat it all.  Justin's Reuben looked like a mountain covered with cheese.  He didn't eat it all either.
We did not want to waste the food.  In fact, we discussed how sad it was that so much food must be wasted every day in this deli, yet the streets outside had their fair share of homeless and hungry folks in them.  We asked for "to go" containers and within a block we had shared our excess with people who were hungry.  Their joy was a blessing to see.

Took me an immediate different direction.  It has to do with a promise I read recently.  It comes from Psalm 84:11

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

This tells us that the Lord is just waiting to pour out all kinds of good things on us.  He wants to do that so that we can have an abundance in our lives that overflows to others.  Yet I wonder how much is just sitting, being wasted in the storerooms of heaven, because we fail to see and hear what He wants to give us.  Or are we paralyzed by fear or sin or some other roadblock of blessing? 

Your Heavenly Father wants to share excess with you so that you can pass it on to the hungry.  Its not going to be just material things.  It may be.  The question is, are you willing, ready and seeking to receive what He has?  Ask, and you will receive.  Seek and you will find.  Knock and the door will be opened.

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Say It Again

Engaging Every Person to Become a Passionate Follower of Jesus Christ.  That is our purpose.  To engage means that we believe the Bible is Eternal Truth.  And when we respond to that truth by faith, God gives us a New Heart.  At that point we experience and live in the Grace of God and extend it to others. We find Authentic Living is so freeing, that we can be who we are at all times. Since we have died to ourselves and live for Jesus, we can experience intentional, Growing Relationships with the Lord, our families, friends and acquaintances.  We also step up so that Everyone is Equipped to tell our personal story of God's grace to anyone who asks and also to serve others to show the love of Christ.

Toward this end, we work hard at having an atmosphere where we can be open and honest with each other so we can help and encourage each other in the pursuit.  We are intentional about trying to provide opportunities for everyone to move forward in the process.  So if you have been attending and you want to move forward, its time to join a small group or take one of the classes offered to start building relationships while learning more about the Bible and the God of the Bible.  If you have enjoyed attending and building some relationships but aren't serving in any way, its time to step up and give of yourself in helping others.  And do it without expecting something in return.  We serve for the sake of showing the love of Christ, not for reward or brownie points.  And if you have been doing all these things but have never shared your story with anyone, its time to prayerfully ask the Lord to give you an opportunity.  But be ready to do it in three minutes or less, simply telling what your life was like before you met Jesus and how He changed you.  Not all the details, but the essence.  That gives the person the option of asking for more and you can see how the Lord is helping you connect with them.

How are you doing in the journey?  How are we doing in helping you?  If there is a way to help you more, email me with your thoughts or questions:

Pastor Pat

Friday, May 4, 2012

We've Spent Enough Time

 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do. . . 1 Peter 4:1-3

"I don't know how to stop."  You've used the excuse.  So have I.  It can apply to everything from eating the wrong thing to any sinful actions we have going in life.  What motivates us to stop?  For most people, when the doctor says stop eating the wrong thing or smoking or drinking or you will die, they stop.  The thought of death or losing life with their family is a strong motivation.  When most people are told "be on time from now on or lose your job," they change.  Especially in this economy they need their job.  So they do what needs to be done to effect the change.

So what is our motivation to end sinful patterns in our lives?  Picture Christ's suffering on the cross.  Do you hear the anguish of each breath?  Do you hear the screams of pain on every lash of the whip as it rips across His back?  Can you feel the sting of the thorns as they pierce His head and the blood drips into His eyes?  Can you appreciate the weight of your sin and mine being heaped on His righteous soul and He feels the brokenness of Oneness with the Father?  Can you?  

We've spent enough time satisfying the sinful, evil desires of this body.  Time to be done.  So we arm ourselves with the same attitude as Jesus.  Out of love for Him, we simply refuse the desires of the flesh, even if we suffer for it.  And suddenly the only thing that matters is doing the will of God.  So the greatest motivation in the world is at work, the motivation of what John Wesley called perfect love.

Haven't you spent enough time doing the other thing?  Try loving Jesus today and see what happens.