Church is not just something “We do”

Hebrews 10:1-10: One thing in worship that we have to be careful of is repetition.  You know, doing the same thing repeatedly and allowing the worship to lose its meaning. I am not saying that churches should not offer communion, should not sing, should not have a sermon; I am saying that as individuals, we have to be wary of losing the meaning of what is going on at the worship service.  Just yesterday at church as the communion was being served; I realized that this is becoming something I just do.  I am not focusing on the reason for communion. I am glad that my church offers communion at every service. That way if I miss a service, I know it will be there the next time.  We do it so we do not forget that Jesus sacrificed himself as a Holy Offering for our sins, In order that we may have eternal life. We do it to remember that Jesus told his disciples that it represents his body and the wine represents His blood. It also says by His stripes we are healed.  It is so vital that we do not become like the Jews in this passage, doing the same thing over and over again because it is required. It takes a conscious effort!  Every time we sing in church we need to remember we are singing praises to God. We are offering a sacrifice to the living God. When we are listening to the sermon we are listening because when we pay attention somehow miraculously, the Holy Spirit speaks through the pastor. Every single Sunday, if we focus on Jesus, the pastor will introduce a new thought.  Something to give us thought throughout the week something to help us Grow as Christians. Every communion is done to convict us each week that Jesus died for our sins, and we are blessed because He is our Savior.  Never allow church to be something that you do once a week. It is there to help feed our souls. Of course one day one hour a week is not enough, but one day one hour a week is enough for us to realize we are not alone. There are others just like us all over the place. Others struggling to walk with Christ, to show His love to the world, to be Lights for the world.

 

1The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,     but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings     you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—     I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 

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Does the Light of Jesus shine bright enough through you?

Mark 4: 21-25:  Imagine a life without any light?  Even a blind person can have the Light of Jesus.  I often find it funny when people are intimidated by me, because it is not me that they are afraid, it is the light in me that scares them.  See I know that sometimes the Light of Jesus in me is hidden by my poor choices.  Often it means that I have not been exactly polite.  Okay, sometimes, I can be downright rude. When I am rude, I am placing a bowl over my light.  When I am not being rude, when I am purposefully allowing the Light of Jesus to shine through me.  Here is the thing about that Light, Most people just see someone who is happy, kind, and warm.  (okay if you have seen me in a rude period, stop laughing).  The thing is when I am letting God’s Light shine through me, then evil sees the Light, and it is bright.  I can see it when the Light is shining, when I know that God’s Light is blazing through me; I see people shrinking away. I saw it once many years ago, I was at church, and Yes, I have covered my Light at church, but not this time; I was hugging people and sharing God’s Love.  I went to give someone a hug, someone new, and they jumped away.  I heard a whisper in my ear, they can see your light, Oh, so I just reached out a hand. but the new person had left.  I turned to see who had whispered, but no one was there.  That is how I learned that people with evil in their hearts can see the Light in people of the Light.  When we let our light shine, it is there for everyone to see or feel; but to those who have evil in their hearts, they can actually see the Light and it scares them.  They shrink away, call the person with the Light crazy, try to discredit them, or find other ways to hurt them.  When they find that they are unable to attack you directly, they will seek indirect routes, like your family, a close friend, your work, or whatever route they find open.  It is because of this that we have to work hard to keep our light shining all the time.  When we keep our light shining, we are witnesses for Christ.  For me it is the occasional bout of rudeness, yes now it is occasional, for others it might be having one on the side, or coveting money, or things money can buy, it might be having a tendency to be dishonest, or going into places that they ought not go. There are so many things that you or I can do to cause the Light of Jesus to be temporarily placed under a bowl. Which every time we sin, our Light is hidden. But we have to strive hard to keep the Light shining and even if you are 4 feet and ten inches tall, (or shorter) you will be intimidating to even a seven-foot tall person who happens to live in the dark.

21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”

24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

Why is it so important to care for yourself? Stop being such a “Martha”

As someone that was a young adult in the 80’s, I find that I have difficulty taking care of myself.  I really believed that I could have a family, career, and take care of everything; all by ourselves.  What a foolish notion.  Some went as far as dressing like men to become more equal in the workplace. We drove ourselves crazy.  We gave ourselves early heart attacks. Yep even I fell into the do it all trap.  Now we have children that feel entitled. Blech.  The problem is when you stop trying to do it all, you really don’t stop.  The next step in the vicious cycle is servant hood. We have cut back on the career, but now we are soccer moms, and the fixture volunteer at church or wherever we decided to volunteer.  Every time someone asks us for a favor or to bake brownies, we are there.

One of my younger friends once told me, If you don’t start taking care of yourself and find balance, you are going into an early grave.  Remember Martha and Mary. Luke 10: 38-42:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a]Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

See Mary understood what Martha did not.  Mary understood that she needed time to recharge her batteries. She needed time to recharge her soul.  Listening to Jesus – wow if I could have been there to hear Jesus in person. But I can’t What I can do is to spend time reading one of the many Christian readers that breaks down the Bible into little tiny bites so we can understand it. We need to spend time in quiet prayer.  How much is up to the individual, but as you spend time in the word, and in prayer, it becomes easier to hear Jesus. This feeds your soul and gives you peace and inner strength. But that is not all.

Not only do we need to feed our soul, we need to find ways to say NO.  Yes people’s feelings are going to be hurt.  But sometimes it is just people that need to learn to help themselves.  The Bible is strong on that point. Romans chapter 7, Paul took work as a tentmaker to provide for himself as to not be a burden. People need to be allowed to help themselves.

But taking time for just me is hard.  I have to remember that my body is the Lord’s temple and that I have to care for my body as well. It really is logical.  I mean think about it, if I do not take care of myself, if I allow my basket to get empty, then I do not have to give to others, to carry on the mission God gave me.  I have to do things that help me enjoy life.

Someone should have stopped the Bacon lady- you know I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget that you are a man. Yeah I should be able to work 8 hours a day, take care of the kids, the house, the meals and then be a rocket in bed. Who really has all that energy? No one.The best part is God did not intend us to be this crazy person.  No he intended us to be his light, his temple. He intended man and woman to be partners.  The mear fact that Jesus told Martha to stop worrying about the little stuff and feed your soul.  Should be enough to know that we have to attend to our own needs. Not to the exclusion of everything else, but so we can do everything else with a cheerful heart. So we can be better servants for his Kingdom.  Because face it, what happens when we try to do too much? WE BECOME BITTER, ANGRY. Can a bitter angry person be an effective tool for God’s Kingdom?  I tried it, it does not work.

 

 

 

 

Serving God/ Fighting for your family

As a Christian we are supposed to put nothing in front of God.  It states very clearly that there should be no other God before Him.  Jesus stated that we are to love God before our family. (Matthew 10:37).  This used to be a real struggle for me.  Because I do not want to put my children in front of God, that is considered idol worship?  What Yes, if you are putting God aside for your children, meaning that you will lie for them, then you are placing your children before God.  Now I know that there are people who have stolen to provide for their children, it is not right, and it is a shame that you have been placed in the position of stealing or letting your children go hungry; and this is not putting your children before God.  This is actually the whole point.  God gave us our children to care for to nourish and to fight for them. We do this the best that we can, even if in some cases it means giving them up for adoption. It took me a long time to realize that God gave me my family and it is my job to correct my children (okay, I knew that one) It is my job to do everything I can to steer my children in the right direction- AWAY FROM THE LIONS DEN. As a wife it is my job to counsel my husband just as he should counsel me.  The difference is if my husband says don’t do that and I do it anyway, I am not falling inline with the Bible.  I can give my husband counsel and he has to chose to take it or not but it is not on my shoulders if he does not. See that is accountability. God holds the husband accountable for his decisions concerning the household. As a wife, I am held accountable if I fail to pray for and counsel my husband wisely.  I also have to trust that my husband is listening to the Holy Spirit and being wise about his choices. Fighting for your family is taking care of the talents or gifts that God has entrusted to you. We fight for our family in many different ways.  Sometimes it means being shrewd and counting every penny, using coupons and price challenging, planning meals around what is on sale. Using every little scrap. Sometimes it means being shrewd and wise with your conversations with your children.  For example the other day, my son said I do not want to hear anything bad about my girlfriend and you can not talk bad about her.  I told him that it is my responsibility to fight to keep him out of the lion’s den, and that if I were wrong, the Holy Spirit will convict me that I am wrong; not him. See I just happen to think that families have stopped fighting for each other. That society is in the dumper because family values have gone down. We allow our children to watch smut on the TV, on video games, on movies. We don’t always teach our children that we should be polite even when the other person is being rude. We don’t teach our children that being fair is important. Take for example when our family went to Disney, there was one ride that my oldest son really wanted to ride. His brother was about 1 inch too small to ride. My husband decided to take him on the ride. I always thought that this was a mistake. However, I thought that I was being respectful and going with his decision. I was wrong.  This one act put a division between my sons, the oldest one thought he was the favorite and the rest of the trip was full of we need to do this my way, dad backed me up on this. As a result the rest of the trip was filled with the oldest son’s ego.  Which explains why the wife has a duty to provide wise counsel because this is her God given responsibility. At that point in time, The oldest son’s happiness was put in front of everyone else and is a perfect example of putting a child in front of God. We put his happiness in front of the happiness of the whole, disrupting the flow of the family. Not a Godly action. Anything we do with our family that favors a member over another is not Godly and therefore placing something in front of God. Yes we will fail, that is because we are human but that does not mean that we should not keep trying to protect the gifts God gave us to the best of our ability. That does not mean that we should not work hard to reverse the damage done when we fail. God gave us a family and caring for them is the Lord’s work.

The Bible can be so hard to read

Over the next weeks I will be in a study of Hebrews. I just read chapter one. My first thought was ooy, so I read it again.  The second time did not produce much clarity.  I have read this chapter many times, yet this time, I feel as if I am reading another language. There is something that God sent us Jesus to tell us about the kingdom of God. That Jesus is over the angels and that the angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who inherit Salvation. There is a bunch of stuff in-between which is leaving my head in a fog. I am going to have to devote some time to this chapter. Sometimes when we read passages in the Bible, it is abundantly clear and other times it is literally as if you are trying to read a foreign language. It is my experience that when I really need some encouragement right now, this moment, and I read the verse of the day app on my phone; the meaning the encouragement is right there. Other times, I have time to actually read the Bible and what I am reading makes absolutely no sense at all. It calls for a closer look.  I think this happens because God wants us to really spend time with him getting to know the word and planting it in our heart. He wants us to not need the “bandage fix” as frequently.  I don’t know about you, but that bandage fix, sometimes it is three or four times a day.  What did I do before phone apps? I carried a New Testament with me. When I realize that the Bible is sometimes hard to understand, that it is because God wants me to have a deeper understanding, to get to know Him better, I feel elated. (Okay sometimes I feel annoyed because I just don’t want to do the work). However, in the end I feel elated that my Savior left me a blue print. And just like anything else, we can have a cursory knowledge, or we can choose to study and have an in-depth knowledge.

Practicing Grace- Without God?

Philemon 1: 25:25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. What does it mean to practice grace? Well, it means being of gentle spirit. It means to share God’s love with other people.  There are people who are in my life with whom I have trouble sharing grace.  My sons’ latest girlfriends come to mind.  Both girls are a bit rude.  (one is thankfully gone).  They have absolutely no consideration for other people’s time. They both put down my sons, one much more than the other.  The one that is still around has gone as far as to call my son a baby because she was angry that he was fulfilling his obligation to the household before visiting with her.  It was an agreement we made in exchange for taking them to and fro.  See neither has a driver’s license due to medical conditions. So in exchange for going out of our way to take them places he agreed to take on an extra household chore.  Mostly because she refused to take the bus. The taxi here is extremely expensive a five-mile ride costs about 14 dollars. Since we live outside of town it would be a 50 dollar taxi ride.  She wants expensive restaurants that my son, who is trying to save money to move out on his own can not afford.  When he tells her that he cannot afford the expensive restaurants,  she screams at him that he does not love her.   Both girls lie to get what they want.  And the one has actually yelled at us telling us (repeatedly) that because we refused to take him  on a date with her before he got his chore completed that we were stopping him from being a man. (making comments about stop changing his diapers). I know ridiculous right, because a man fulfills his obligations Right? Both girls worked very hard to change my sons into something they were not. But one is actually worse, she is a sneak and a thief.  I say this because she took my sons visa check card and refused to give it back.  She also is the reason I had to change the locks on my front door.  For some reason she decided that she needed the front door key. I have a much harder time showing grace to the one that belittles my son, argues with him and us.  She refuses to listen to anyone, she will listen to my son after much arguing. I have found no longer able to show grace to her. I find that a girl who yells and screams whenever she does not get her own way-to the point of running down the middle of a road screaming, to be a bit to handle. So how do I continue to show grace to this girl? At this point I really don’t know how, except by relying heavily on God to be a b it nice to her.

However, most people it is easy to find grace even the person that cuts you off in the checkout line when you have three items and they have a cartful. I have learned to grin and bear it and to smile at them.  Afterall they must be in an awful hurry if they cut off someone with three items – Right?

One of the ways we show God’s grace to people I am sure it is not my own, is by being nice even when they are terribly rude.  And yes, up until the running down the street incident I showed that girl grace even when she was yelling and screaming at me. Even though time after time, she put my son down telling him that he is not a man because he did not do everything she wanted.  I was still polite. Even when we were called in to settle this problem between two adult children by her parents, who by the way never allow anyone to get a word in edgewise ( I see where she gets it), I would be polite.  Even when we get up early and they do not and wanted us to stay and “discuss” this situation way past our bed time. We showed them grace and listened. However as I am writing this i wonder is this grace?  I think this is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said to bear one another with grace and love.  But Lord help me, my grace and love has worn out.

I recently told my son that showing people grace means that you ignore their negative qualities because we all have them even when we do not approve of their behaviour.  I also added that God understand when we limit our contact with difficult people. He does not want us to be tempted past our abilities. Because we are after all human and sometimes it is hard to show grace. When you are unable to show grace, then it is best to stay away from those people who seriously try your patience. Afterall we don’t need to be walking mats just to share God’s love, there are others out there that are able to tolerate those people that you are unable to tolerate. While we are commanded to go out and share the world. Even Jesus knew that the rich man was difficult harder for a camel to get through the eye of a needle. Jesus could have spent many hours with him and probably helped him see the error in his thinking. But there were too many other lives at stake and too little time.  Does that mean Jesus ignored him- no he sent someone else who had the time and the ability to teach the rich man. So let the ones that you have trouble showing God’s love to someone more capable.

Why we help others

Proverbs 19:17: 17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lordand he will reward them for what they have done.

The question is should we help others because there is a reward, or because we want to have people see God through us?  The truth is most of us do it for the reward.  When in reality we should be doing it for the Kingdom.  Yes, there is still a reward.  When we work for the Kingdom, we are multiplying our fruits. We have to rely on the prompting from the Spirit.  How do we know if it is the Spirit or our own desires?  Well, you have to listen.  There have been times that I have seen people in need and my immediate reaction is to see if I can help.  But then I feel the little prompting saying not this time, there is someone else that will benefit more from helping this person.  So I try to look oblivious. One example is there was a single mom, her husband had recently left her.  She had a sign up stating that her children and her were hungry they requested food.  She stayed only long enough to get what she needed.  At that time, I was on my way to the store. I bought something for her but when I returned she was gone.  I was a bit disappointed, because I really thought I was supposed to help this woman.  I kept the food in my car but added plastic ware that had been just sitting there in my cupboard to the box.  I figured God would show me someone who needed it.  A few weeks later she was back, I gave her the box and she said thanks and told me her story.  She said I hope this is the last time I have to do this.  And added that she thought it would be because her parents had just agreed to let her and the children move in with them.  I prayed with her. She has not been back.  In this case, the kingdom was glorified, not because I prayed with her, but because people allowed God to do it His way. The fruit is multiplied because she will help others.  How do I know, She told me after we prayed that she had been hesitant to move in with her parents because they were “churchy” and she had not been to church for some time.  But she realized it was because of her marriage that she had not been to church.  It woke her up to the realization that God needed to be at the center. When God is at the center, the fruit of our works is multiplied and oh by the way so is our reward.

A fortune made by a lying tongue

Proverbs 21: 2-6: A fortune made by a lying tongue: That means that dishonest business brings dishonest gain and it will lead to ruin, unless wisdom is sought.  You hear it all the time; I received a scam phone call today.  Someone claimed that I won money from Publisher Clearing House, a consolation praise.  The person claimed to be a truck driver and if I called this number to claim my prize.  They had a check and a car waiting for me.  There was one caller that stated if I bought their insurance, I would not have to pay a car repair bill again unless it was X,Y, or Z problem.  I fell for the warranty insurance scam once; it was when I bought my house.  The seller guaranteed that if something were wrong with my house in the first year, I would not have to pay for it; the insurance would pay all but $75.00 dollars a co-pay. My first chance to use it came within the first month. The 30-year-old motor, the one the seller (a really large bank, it was a repo) the seller claimed that it was replaced in the past ten years; the motor died. No water!!! I called the warranty company; Oh things underground are not covered. Then there was an electrical problem, because of the new pump, the house needed new electrical wiring from the wall to the switch box for the well pump.  So I called the warranty company again, you guessed it, because it was due to replacing the water pump, something underground, it is not covered.  By this point, I am thinking of the ways I could get even with the seller.  There are not any of course, it was a very large bank and not a single attorney, and I called about 50, would touch it. I even called them in Omaha. Some of the attorneys just laughed.  One was really kind. He said if this were a person selling the property or even a smaller bank, you would stand a chance, but if we try to go after that bank, I would be out of business, and you would find your credit smeared. Then he said I am sorry, if I could, I would tell the world not to buy one of their repos. The warranty company by the way is now out of business, just like all those fly by night companies. The dishonest bank is still going strong, but I take solace in the fact that when those CEOs and people who do business through lies  will be held accountable. Just like, I will be held accountable if I do not talk to you about Jesus.  See Jesus, he does not lie, he won’t.  I believe that Jesus could lie if he wanted to lie, here is the thing, Jesus he does not like lies.  The best part is he chooses to not lie. He chooses the truth. It states that a fortune made by a lying tongue is fleeting and a deadly snare.  The key word there is deadly.  It is talking about eternal death. Unless there is repentance, it means eternal death.

A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. Haughty eyes and a proud heart— the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin. The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.

 

 

 

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