Friday, May 25, 2018

Thoughts on Memorial Day Weekend

I am concerned that many Americans will either forget or completely ignore the importance of Memorial Day. Many Americans will only focus on the "fun side" (recreation, food, fun, personal pleasures, etc.) and fail to remember the true purpose of this weekend. Let me briefly remind you of the original purpose of Memorial Day. “Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the American armed forces. The holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, started after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate dead.”

Is it possible that we have taken for granted the freedom that we enjoy in America? Is it possible that we have taken for granted those men and women who have served to defend those freedoms that we enjoy on a daily basis? Is it possible that we have forgotten those men and women who paid the ultimate price (their death) on a battlefield thousands of miles away from the American shore lines? Is it possible that we have forgotten those men and women who returned home from their time of service wounded (physically as well as emotionally), injured, disfigured, depressed, discouraged, rejected, shunned, overlooked and underappreciated? We as American citizens need to do a better job of recognizing, respecting, honoring, appreciating and praying for these unique servants who have stood in the gap for EACH OF US!!!

I would like to encourage you to not get "captured by the hype" of the "holiday." Trust me; it is not a holiday for any individual who has lost a friend or family member on the battlefield in some foreign land. We cannot afford to forget TO REMEMBER THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED AND CONTINUE TO SERVE IN OUR MILITARY FORCES. Take a moment and say THANK YOU!! Take a moment and PRAY FOR THE SAFETY OF OUR TROOPS BOTH HOME AS WELL AS ABROAD!! This is also a wonderful weekend TO OFFER OUR SINCERE PRAISE AND THANKS TO GOD FOR OUR FREEDOM TO CELEBRATE OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST!!


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tuesday's Thoughts

I would like to share a passage of scripture that has been speaking to my heart for the past several days. This passage served as my text for the message this past Sunday at New River. The words of the Apostle Peter as he writes under the inspiration of the Lord God Almighty was brought to my attention again this morning during prayer.

The Spirit reminded me that the family of God as well as non-believers needs to lay aside the "weights" that so easily slow us down in our walk with Christ. Is it possible that many of us still do not fully recognize the attempts of satan to disrupt our relationship with God? We justify our lack of recognition of satan's attempts by reminding ourselves that we do not commit the "big" sins that captures the hearts of other people. But even these thoughts are a subtle attempt of satan to make us comfortable in our relationship with Christ rather than choosing to pursue a more passionate, relationship with him. 

Giving in to satan can lead us into a "spirit of excuse making" as well as a "spirit of good intentions" (procrastination). These types of attitudes if they continue can lead us down the road that takes us away from God rather that drawing us nearer to God. The "excuses" continue to give us "reasons" that we use to ignore our time with God on a personal basis as well as a corporate basis. The "good intentions" makes us feel a little better about ourselves because we think that we have a plan in place to get back on the right road of walking with God. But many people never run out of excuses and they are always moving the right decision concerning God to another day and another time. 

I sincerely believe that God is calling EACH OF US to search our hearts and seek the Kingdom of God first and foremost. I believe that God is calling EACH OF US to put Him first in our lives. I also believe that the spiritual condition of the world is definitely reminding us that "if we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now? QUESTION: How will I (we) respond to God?

2 Peter 1:1-4, “This letter is from Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.  I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have. This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.  May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.  By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.   And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (NLT)


Friday, May 11, 2018

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!

In a couple of days we will "officially" celebrate Mother's Day. I believe that many of us realize that these special ladies deserve our respect, appreciation, recognition and love on a daily basis and not just during a "Holiday." The media is full of stories that chronicle the failure of Mothers and very little news concerning those faithful, loving Mothers who have served and continue to serve their families. I have crossed paths with many wonderful Mothers through my years of service as a Pastor. I have seen these women serve their families under very trying and challenging difficulties yet they never lost their faith, confidence and hope in God.

I was brought up in a home that had one of those Mothers who served her family. I am presently living in a home with a wife who is also one of those Mothers. These two ladies as well as all of the "spiritual Mothers" in my life have had a hand in my development as a son, student, man, husband, sibling, father, grandfather, friend, Minister and Pastor. I want to take a moment and offer my thanks to God for the role that these Godly women have fulfilled in my life. I want my Mom as well as my wife, Ann, know that I love and appreciate them more than they will ever know. They were and still are women of faith, prayer and unconditional love. They have certainly impacted my life in more ways that I can ever identify.

I must also take a moment and remember my Mother-in-law. I only had a Mother-in-law for a little over two years. Ann's Mother, Louise, moved to her eternal home a few months before her 42nd birthday. She died suddenly on a Sunday morning in 1974. But she made a difference in my life in the brief time that I knew her. She also was a woman of faith and a woman of prayer. She made an impact on her family as well as those other individuals that God placed in her life. She is no longer physically present with us but she is certainly not forgotten. "Ludie" is alive in our hearts and minds on a daily basis. You were and still are loved and appreciated.

I would like to share a prayer with you that caught my attention a few days ago.

Dear Father, we thank You for creating each Mom with a unique combination of gifts and talents. We thank You for the sacrifice of self each Mom gives for her children. For the late nights spent rocking a sick infant. For the hands calloused from washing, wiping, scrubbing, mixing, stirring, baking, hugging, patting, disciplining, holding, writing, erasing, painting, and pouring. We thank You for the gift of time Moms give for their kids, whether it’s stay-at-home Moms, working Moms, and Moms who have some combination of the two. We thank you for the flexibility of Moms, for their tirelessness, their perseverance, and their devotion. We pray you give each Mom strength. Help her to see in every mundane task the eternal, spiritual significance that You place on motherhood. (Daniel Darling)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thoughts on Thursday

I am thankful to know that God is ACTUALLY INTERESTED in my daily journey with Him. Isn't it simply amazing to realize that the Lord God Almighty would take the time and make the effort to minister to our lives? I feel an even greater urgency to offer my praise, worship, and adoration to the One who has redeemed me and adopted me into His family. Oh, the blessed joy of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!!

God has given me the mind, the ability as well as the desire to celebrate His mighty presence!! I trust that each of you can sense that same longing in your spirit. Each of us know that life can be challenging to say the least. Each of us have faced, endured as well as passed through days of extreme pressure, stress, anxiety, discouragement, frustration, disappointment, etc. I know that many of us may feel that same way even today or have felt that way in recent days. But it is during those moments that we reach back into our "storehouse of previous blessings" and remember the Goodness, Graciousness and Greatness of the Lord God Almighty!!!

God chose to give me a moment of "Divine Interruption" during a prayer time on Tuesday. I received a text message in the midst of my prayer. I thought about not looking at the text but I reasoned it might be important. It turned out that it was VERY IMPORTANT but not in a manner that you may be thinking. It was not an emergency for which I am truly thankful but it was a "message' from God through this individual person. God had placed an old song in her heart early on Tuesday morning. The song was the hymn, "Living by Faith." and she felt led to share it with me without knowing that I was praying at that time (later on Tuesday). The title of the song showed up on my phone at the precise time that I was praying for the challenges that I was facing as well as the challenges that our church family are facing. My soul was rejuvenated, refreshed, revived and encouraged as I reflected on the fact that I had made it this far in life through "Living by faith in Jesus above, trusting confiding in His great love; From all harm safe in His sheltering arm, I'm living by faith and I feel no alarm."  (James Wells-1918)

The Spirit encouraged me to share these declarations with you today:
  We have eaten at the "table of provision."
  We have lived under the "mighty hand of His protection."
  We have been made well by His "words of healing."
  We have been been "forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ."

Do I hear a hearty Amen or Hallelujah from someone today?  I believe that each of us needs to offer our praise and worship to God even more. We can not spiritually afford to offer our time, efforts, praise and energy to the "gods of this world" while at the same time ignore our Heavenly Father for all that He has done for us!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

PRAYER

Today is National Day of Prayer across America. It does not take a Prophet or Preacher to realize that our nation is in need of PRAYER. The larger question may be, "Where do I start my prayer?" The needs are great but our GOD IS GREATER. I am convinced that America is in desperate need of another "Spiritual Awakening." I am thankful for the opportunity to join with my brothers and sisters in Christ all across this nation in a day of Intercessory Prayer. I would like to encourage you to take some time today and gather your family together for a time of prayer. I believe that our hearts will be enriched through the presence of God as we take the time to call out to God for the needs of our fellow man.

I would like to share a portion of a letter that I shared with our church family earlier this week. I am convinced that the "family unit" as we have known it is under attack. The tactics and devices of the enemy is at work to destroy the institution of the family. I am seeing this taking place in various ways with the end result being the desire as well as plan of satan to destroy the family. But I am choosing to raise my voice in opposition to the forces of darkness for my family as well the family of God. 

It is a blessing to know that we have the privilege to walk in the love, grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father. The blessings of God can be quickly "lost" in all of the fog of circumstances that surround us on a daily basis. It is during those moments that we must choose to "look at our position in Christ rather than our condition of life." This was taken from the message spoken by Bro. Mike Gibson last Sunday. I was reminded of those words this morning as I was asking God to direct my steps into the fullness of the spiritual freedom that God has provided for us through our relationship with Christ.

Each of us are faced with our own set of "circumstances and situations." These type of events can either lead us to Christ or the enemy will seek to use these difficulties to lead us away from Christ. No one but us can make the right decision concerning our response. I am truly afraid that many people in our world are making the wrong choice. They are choosing to "drift away" from God rather than "reaching up" and taking hold of the hands of God and allowing Him to provide the strength that they need. Trust me when I write these words. I see this action taking place more and more across the spectrum of Christianity. On the surface it appears that it is "easier to quit rather than fight." This attitude may appear enticing to say the least but what will be the long term result of this action? I believe that it is time for the present day believer to know as well as understand that God is calling EACH OF US to take a STAND AGAINST THE WILES (tactics, strategies, devices) OF SATAN. Each of us must continue to move forward and not surrender our journey of life to the enemy. I ENCOURAGE EACH OF US TO MAKE PLANS TO STAND FOR GOD AND RESIST THE ATTEMPTS OF SATAN TO OVERTHROW AND UNDERMINE OUR FAITH!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Thursday's Challenge

I continue to sense God calling me to draw closer to Him. The continuing development of my relationship with God will position me to hear His Voice and it will position me to respond to His guidance. Conversations with fellow believers are revealing to me that many of them are sensing the same urgency in their spirit. I do not want my spirit to grow indifferent or rebellious toward the "things" of God. I desire for my heart to remain soft, seeking and sensitive toward the heart of God. He is calling but am I making the correct response? 

An old song that I heard as a child has been in and on my mind for the past several days. the song asks this question; "Where can I go, Oh where can I go, seeking a refuge for my soul? Needing a friend to help me in the end. Where can I go BUT TO THE LORD?" (Emphasis added) 

I am very concerned that the present day church is facing a struggle that we may choose to ignore or either look the other way hoping that it will disappear. There is a battle taking place in each of our lives. It is the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is seeking to awaken our hearts but the "flesh" (carnal thinking) is encouraging us to ignore the influence of the Spirit in our lives. Our carnal attitude will go as far as convincing us that we are "good enough" in our present condition and the call from the Spirit is for the "weaker" brothers and sisters in Christ. Don't we realize that type of attitude can create a spirit of self-righteousness and arrogance in our hearts that can produce an attitude that becomes hardened to the things of God? The hardening of our hearts will ultimately lead us down the path of rebellion and disobedience!! OUCH!!

I am convinced that the anointing of the Spirit in our recent services is calling each of us to seriously examine OUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD!! It is easier, simpler, and far less challenging to examine everyone else but ourselves. OUCH AGAIN!! Let me hasten to add that I am speaking to myself as well as to you who are reading this blog. But, lets be honest, do we have the time to be trapped in such foolishness? Don't you think that it is time for the people of God to "rise up" and take authority over the flesh and allow God to finish what He has started in us at our conversion? 

God is calling each of us to realize that we have no other "safe place" to turn other than to God. "Where can I go but to the Lord..." We must rebuke and resist the allure and attractions of the "gods of this world" and turn fully and completely to the Lord God Almighty!! Does God have our heart or only a portion of our heart? I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT THE CHALLENGES OF THIS DAY AND TIME ARE DEMANDING THAT WE IDENTIFY THE LOCATION OF OUR HEART? Jesus said that we are either with Him (taking up our cross and following Him) or we are against Him!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tuesday's thoughts

An old song that I heard as a child has been in and on my mind for the past several days. the song asks this question; "Where can I go, Oh where can I go, seeking a refuge for my soul? Needing a friend to help me in the end. Where can I go BUT TO THE LORD?" (Emphasis added)

It appears that God is using these words to remind me of some Biblical principles  that I need to keep alive in my spirit and life. It is one thing to read the Bible. It is one thing to know some of the content of the Bible. But it is another thing to allow the Word of God to find a place to come alive in our hearts and lives. I truly desire for the Word of God to make a difference in my journey of life and I encourage you to set the same goal in your life. 

These words from Tony Evans challenges my heart today. "You can go to all of the church services you want, read all the spiritual books you want, even do all the Bible studies that you want, but experiencing all God has planned for you comes only through aligning yourself under and abiding in the one who reigns over all, the exalted Lord Jesus Christ." 

Each of must reach the point that we willingly surrender our lives to Christ and allow His Word to resonate in our hearts. The participation with the Word of God will make a difference in our journey of life.

I would like to share some verses that spoke to me this morning:

1 Peter 1:18-19,  knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.(NKJV)
Psalm 61:1-4, Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah(NKJV)

Matthew 6:33, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.(NKJV)

Luke 9:23, “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.(NKJV)