Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thoughts on Tuesday

It seems to be a common understanding among people that each of us face our own set of unique challenges/situations/circumstances on a daily basis. These situations that I am referencing will range on a scale of 1-10 to say the least BUT they do concern us and they do bring a source of stress/worry/ fatigue to our lives. It is during those moments that we must be willing to turn our attention toward the promises of God that are found written in His Word.

Psalm 130:5-7, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than those who watch for the morning—Yes, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy, And with Him is abundant redemption.(NJKV)

Our Hope in God can become and will become the great stabilizer and strength to us during these various chapters in our lives. It steadies us in times of fear and difficulty, not because we know that everything will turn out as we want, but because we know that we can place our hope, confidence and trust in the Lord God Almighty. Hope is what assists us in moving forward in our walk with Christ regardless of these circumstances as well as the future circumstances that we may face. 

Biblical hope finds its roots in God and in his goodness, mercy, love and power. We exercise our hope when we endure patiently (Each of us know that patiently waiting on God is not always easy). We nurture, strengthen and often times encourage our hope when we read God's Word. Though we hope for earthly blessings, our greatest hope is aimed at the life to come, when God will not only wipe away our tears but invite us to share his joy forever. Placing our trust in God serves as a reminder that we not only look for a temporary reprieve or comfort in a certain situation but it also reminds us that "we are looking for the city whose builder is God." Our Hope is not just a temporary emotional release but it is an Eternal Promise that we carry deep in our hearts. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday's Musings

I would like to share an excerpt from the message that I shared yesterday at New River. I am truly convinced that God is calling us to focus on the development of our relationship with Christ as well as raise the level our commitment regarding our relationship. Each of us must be willing to do our part and participate with God in the development of this relationship. Our commitment to Christ is going to require tenacity, perseverance, endurance, faith, desire, passion, love (both God's love as well as our love for Him), and a heartfelt decision to declare that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives.

Romans 12:9-12, Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor (to detest utterly, some translations us the word “hate) what is evil. Cling (keep company, to stick or be glued) to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;” (NKJV) (Emphasis Added)
 I am intrigued about a story that I read about an unusual high school wrestler from Iowa. Listen to Kobey Pritchard's wrestling coach describe his protégé's motivation in the Iowa state wrestling tournament. "He's been very vocal about his goals: wrestling in a national championship, becoming an NCAA champ, not just a state champ."  What makes Pritchard different from his competitors? He wrestles without a left leg. Kobey was five years old when he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in his left femur. Doctors removed the leg when he was six. Now he's ranked number four in the state in his weight class. His drive and determination are inspiring his teammates and his fellow competitors. (Jim Denison shared this information)
These words were written from the pen of the Apostle Paul as he recognized the challenges that were facing the Christians at Rome. Should I dare ask this question this morning? Is there anyone here today facing challenges in your journey of life? I believe the Spirit through Paul is reminding us that victory will not come to the faint-hearted. Nor does it belong to those whose will to win is not strong. Victory will not arrive to those who have not made the decision to be committed to the daily journey of faith.  We must recognize the fact that the enemy has the strong resolve to overthrow our faith and we must possess an even greater resolve to resist, rebuke and defeat the enemy of our soul. It was said during the war in Vietnam that the “American government and the people lost the resolve and the will to win the war.” Only by facing the opponent head-on with undaunted valor can the battle be won.  Victory necessitates that we fight on with undying, inflexible persistence.
I believe that is very important for us to recognize the fact that God is calling us to draw nearer to Him and that we must not allow the enemy of our soul to place the plague of spiritual blindness in our lives!!!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Personal Reflections

Romans 6:1-3, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (NKJV) (Emphasis Added)

Tomorrow (March 25th) would have been my Dad's 91st birthday. He passed away almost one year ago (March 31st). He lived almost one week after we gathered as a family to celebrate his 90th birthday. It seemed to me that he had a goal to reach 90. I did not fully understand his rationale about 90 but at his age I felt that he had earned the right to set his own goals and that he did not owe me an explanation. I am sharing this information as a backdrop to the post that I am about to share. 

I understand that Father's Day is almost three (3) months away and I also understand that to many people March 25th will be just another day on the calendar but I had no idea that March 25, 1926 would play such a significant day in my life, in my immediate family's life, in the lives of my family as well as the family of God. I am fairly certain that Mamaw and Papaw Willingham never fully realized that their son would develop into such a multifaceted individual. One of the meanings of the word "multifaceted" is a "gem." (Dictionary.com)

I felt inspired to obey the words that the Apostle Paul spoke to the church at Ephesus. This post is meant as a means to honor the "gem" of a man named Wallace Willingham. He was a son, sibling, faithful husband for almost 65 years, father of 6 children, grandfather, great-grandfather, adopted spiritual father to many individuals, employee as well as an employer in a small business. I must also add that he was a Gospel Preacher for 67 plus years with many of those years spent as a Pastor. I can not write these words without giving honor to my Mother who faithfully traveled the road of life with him until the final mile of his journey. Our life has been blessed with true examples of a husband and wife caring for and loving one another through the challenging days of the circumstances of daily life. I need to add one more note about Dad, he was Veteran of WWII. He served in the 87th Infantry Division of Patton's 3rd Army. He won several medals as well as citations at some of the Major Battles in the European Theater. 

I could write many words about Dad but I will try and focus on those things that the Spirit has spoken into my heart. I want to follow the command of the Ten Commandments. I want to honor my Day. I never say a prayer that I do not reflect on the prayer life of Dad. Him and Mom were and Mom still is the intercessor for our needs as well as the needs of many others. I have been with Dad when I have heard him call out the name of his family as he sought God on their behalf. I am determined to pick up the mantle of prayer for our family. I made this commitment to Dad during a conversation a few weeks before he passed on to his eternal reward.

Dad taught me (I also believe this is true for my family, my siblings and their families as well.) to love people. Dad taught me not to judge people. Dad taught me to respect people regardless of race, nationality or gender. Dad taught me to listen to my elders. Dad taught me to respect, appreciate and honor those spiritual leaders that God has placed in my life. Dad taught me to love my wife. Dad taught me to love my children. Dad taught me the importance of discipline. Dad taught me a strong work ethic that I practice to this day in my role as a Pastor. Dad taught we to work hard and to be honest in my financial decisions. Dad taught me to give and tithe. Dad taught me to share with others. Dad taught me to care about others and to be ready to share my love as well as the love of God with them. Dad taught me to preach the Gospel with passion, fervency, compassion, concern and faithfulness. These are just a few of the character traits that Dad deposited in the 63 years that he was in my life. Let me hasten to add that those traits and many others rise up in my heart and life on a daily basis as I continue to move forward on my personal road of life. 

Dad I honor you today and I look forward to the day and time in which we will be reunited together in Heaven. It will be at time that I will fully appreciate being placed in your care for those 63 years of my life and at that time I will fully understand the difference that Christ in you and through you has made in my life. 

Dad, I close this post with one of your favorite sentences. "Son, we will live to fight another day." Dad, I will do my best to fight every day against the powers of darkness so that the Kingdom of God can be shared with those people that I contact on a daily basis. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts

It is hard to imagine that it has been nearly two (2) weeks since I have made a post on the blog. The lack of writing is not connected with any lack of inspiration or lack of listening for the Spirit to speak guidance into my heart. The desire to draw closer to God and listen for His heart to speak into my life is greater than ever before at least in my opinion. The times in which we are living are demanding that we seek God with sincerity, passion, purpose and a willingness to obey His Word. I want those spiritual attributes to be very active in my daily life and not just my "Sunday life" at church. I have a burning desire in my heart to run this race of life to the very best of my ability. 

I am not prepared to trade my "passionate" relationship with Christ for a "casual" relationship in which I just go through the motions, routines and rituals of Christianity. I truly desire more than religion. I am desiring a developing, maturing, and life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. And I also believe that there are many other believers who are sensing that same call and that same desire. I am determined to join forces with those other believers and see the Kingdom of God thwart, defeat and overcome the powers of darkness.

I feel led to share a passage of scripture that the Spirit brought to my attention in prayer a few days ago. These following words taken from the writings of the Apostle Paul issue a challenge to the family of God. I desire to accept this challenge and follow the precepts that are outlined in these following words.

Romans 12:1-21, “ And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.  Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. 20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”  21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (NLT)

Friday, March 10, 2017

It's Friday but Sunday is Coming

Amos 8:11-13, “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the Lord. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, But shall not find it. 13 “In that day the fair virgins And strong young men Shall faint from thirst.” (NKJV)

You may have heard these words spoken or you may have read them but normally they are associated with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I have heard the title of this blog post was attributed to a Minister who was preparing to preach a Good Friday message to a large congregation. These 6 words became his message as he repeatedly spoke them. His passion and zeal would increase each time that he would repeat the phrase, "It is Friday but Sunday is Coming!!!" I know that we are still a few weeks away from Good Friday and Easter but I am choosing to repeat those words today in light of the passage from the book of Amos.

I know that Amos was referencing more that just a Pastor's Sunday morning message. Those types of messages would not have existed in the days of the Prophet Amos. But the principle grabbed my heart as I was reading some scriptures a few minutes ago. Have you been preparing your heart to hear, receive, retain and apply the words of God that your Pastor or Guest Speaker will share on Sunday? Have you taken the time to pray for your Pastor and the freedom that he/she needs to declare the word of God? Do we take seriously our responsibility to "hear the Word of God" and then take the appropriate action in response to His Word? 

Have you ever spoken the word "Shhh" to someone when you were trying to hear what was being spoken? Have you ever asked the crowd of people in your living room to be quiet so that you could hear what was being said on the TV? Have you ever asked someone in the movie theatre to be quiet so that you could hear what was being spoken by the actor or actress in the movie you were watching?

Many of us may need to go to church on Sunday and tell the devil to quieten down in our minds (Shhh) so that we can hear what God is saying to us. Many of us may need to go to church and turn off our phones and listen to what God is saying to us. Many of us may need to tell ourselves to stop thinking about all that we need to do and focus our attention on God. We can produce the focus that is needed because we make the effort to focus at work, school, recreational activities, sporting events, during movies and television shows etc. It is time that we took authority over satan and turned our attention to God and truly HEARD WHAT HE WAS SAYING TO US!!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday's Inspiration

I trust that you are sensing the presence of God in your life this week. We face many adversaries that seek to interfere with our recognition of God at work in our lives. We can become so overwhelmed with "living" that we fail to take time to recognize that God is at work in our lives. That is one of the benefits of your church family. We can remind each other of the goodness of God and we can bring comfort to one another as we walk the challenging road of our life. It is a blessing to know that someone cares and that someone is praying for us. It is also a blessing to be the person who shares their love, care and concern with our fellow pilgrims on this journey of life. 

The inspiration and direction of the Spirit placed these wonderful words in the heart of the Apostle Paul. We receive from God and then we share what God has shared with us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.(NKJV)

Daily life will provide us with many opportunities to invest in the lives of other people. This investment will either be a negative one or a positive one. Our journey of life with either leave a trail that has produced a positive impact or it will leave a trail that has left a negative impact. I certainly understand that no one of us are perfect but we can strive to be a person of influence that encourages people to be glad that we are a part of their lives. Jesus called us to be salt and light that will bear witness of His goodness and bear witness of His presence in our lives. I encourage you to reach for that goal today and see what type of opportunities that God will place in your life. NOTE: Many of us will see this opportunity in our own home today. Let us seek to excel in that area of our life!!!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday's Insight

I feel that I need to share a brief quote with you that I read this morning. There is such an underlying element of frustration or disappointment that is certainly affecting America today in my opinion. It seems that the frustration about the election is more visible that it was even during the campaign. Everyone is asking for change across the spectrum of concerns that are facing our nation but it seems that very few are willing to take an introspective look at their heart and their life. 

I believe that attitude has made it way into the family of God. There is a cry for change yet many are unwilling to surrender their heart to God for the full effects of transformation to take place. Our nation, our churches, our families and even our lives will only change once we resolve to allow the Spirit to do His full and complete work in our lives. 

Let me share a quote that I read this morning.

"In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis likens humanity to a fleet of ships sailing in formation. Three things can go wrong: (1) the ships collide with each other; (2) the ships take on water or suffer mechanical problems during the voyage; (3) the fleet sails to the wrong destination. Laws can help prevent collisions between people and can point society toward the common good. But they cannot keep individual "ships" from breaking down. As Lewis notes, "You cannot make men good by law; and without good men you cannot have a good society."

Here is another famous quote but this one is found in the Bible.

Isaiah 55:8-9, For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.(NKJV)