Friday, August 05, 2011

Each day is a gift from God

8/5/11 Friday
Praise the Lord for another day. I understand deeply that every day I live is a gift from God. I also understand that each day contains battles that must be won, tests that strengthen me, and revelations that will enable me to better explain the word of God to those in need of it. And in those tests I find my enemy, the devil, using those whom have given him access through the hardness of their hearts, pride, envy, and other doors opened through not submitting to the Lord. Here is today’s scripture.
Here's a picture of the car I died in on November 11, 2001

Mark 8:31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." 34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

This was an amazing moment, Peter, the man who would become a rock of the early church, being called “Satan” by Jesus. How can this be? What happened here? It’s pretty simple, in a scary way, for Jesus explained it "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." So in that moment Peter was allowing the devil to influence him. It seems like such a harsh thing for Jesus to say, like a slap in the face, but remember, Jesus is the son of God and sees things much more clearly than we do so He knew the source of Peter’s not being happy about Jesus foretelling He would be crucified.

I have been guilty of this too, and I suspect we all have our moments when we are more concerned about the things of men than what God desires. It is hard in this fast paced world to not be caught up with the minute by minute decisions and directions we must choose and get our eyes off of Jesus. But we need to stop, take control of a moment, to meditate on what is going on, to pray a bit, and to see with God’s eyes. All of us fall short of the glory of God, but it is His love, grace, and mercy that restores us to where we should be. However, that only can happen when we recognize the wrong direction we have wandered into and turn away from that. The bible says we are to confess our sins one to another, one of the many clear instructions we have to communicate, to talk and be involved with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Always, with Christ and God, it is about Love. Not cheap talk like “We love you” without any real action to go with it, but the love that requires some personal sacrifice. Otherwise we are just like what Isaiah prophesied, which prophesy Jesus quoted in Mark 7:6 He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: " 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”. Real love, as described in 1 Corinthians 13, is like this; 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

Was this what we saw and experienced in the little church in Stanton? It is with great sadness I must say “No” but I continue to pray and hope that they will see and understand that for a moment they were not seeking the things of God, but the things of man. I hope for the best, but fear for them should they continue in the hardness of their heart, for God is just and will discipline His children when they go astray.

It was Peter’s words that sparked Jesus’ response, and in the prophesy of Isaiah we hear 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”. So what comes out of our mouths reveals our heart. It is with the mouth we confess our sins and with our mouth we condemn and judge our brothers and sisters.

"Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? 19 For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.") 20 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' " (Jesus in Mark 7)

I will close with this out of James, 3:2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

I have been accused of using the bible to manipulate people into doing what I want. Strange, at least to me, for I am a preacher of the good news of life in Jesus and the bible is my guide for all things of the Lord. Every preacher that is correctly shepherding the flock, also uses the bible. Is it manipulation, or do they just want to lead people to live in a way that is pleasing to God? All prophets speak to exhort, lift up, guide and lead to righteousness. But those who’s hearts were pricked by the word of God, who were exposed by the light of truth, rebelled against what they knew was right and often persecuted or killed the prophets. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I have a busy day ahead. Got permission to burn the pile of brush that has become a haven for rabbits and must hurry to do that before the wind picks up. I’m supposed to go to Lamesa and train for a teaching position with People of Principle, but haven’t heard from them yet so am not sure what’s going to happen. Got to go.

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