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Sermon of the Week 
Sunday, March 29 2020

It’s good to know, when you’re in a place you’ve never been, that there are folks who have been there before you and can give you insights. We call them support groups and they come together to offer mutual help and information to make the transition as profitable and useful as possible.

The bible is a great support group to anyone who is in untested territory. 

It’s amazing how everything can change in a day. As Dorothy said to Todo, in the “Wizard of Oz”… It certainly doesn’t look like Kansas anymore”… 911 changed the world as we know it, and here we are again, washing our hands and searching for toilet paper, learning new terminology, like “Social Distancing” and elbow bumps instead of hugs and handshakes. 

Many in the bible had their own quarantine periods, and they found that it redefined their lives in drastic ways, and when God brought them out, they were different people than when they went in. It was as though the worst thing that happened to them, became the best thing for them and for all who were connected to them .

Certainly we could apply Genesis 50:20 “As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good…”

So as I was reflecting on those who have come before us, as our support group, I begin with.. Elijah. Here’s a man who was quarantined in a cave, by the brook Cherith…where God told him to go and stay in a time of famine.

1 Kings 17:1 “Now Elijah, who was a Tishbite from Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” 

So you know the story, how he went to a cave by the brook and was there 31/2 years… We know that it was that period of time because we are told in James 5:17 “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years.”

In Luke 4:25 it says "Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land”.

We know that after declaring that there would be a famine upon the land, Elijah was told to go to Zarephath where a widow would sustain him. The miracle of the multiplied meal and oil, was enough to provide for her and her son, and for Elijah and all the neighbors, for 21/2 years. 

Ahab probably didn’t give much thought to Elijah’s word about a famine until the early rains didn’t fall in what would be ourMarch, and the latter rains didn’t fall in what would be our October, the first year, and didn’t fall in the second year as well. By then, Ahab was searching for the prophet to end the famine, but God warned Elijah and told him He would hide him by the brook Cherith, in a cave that was there. 

The promise which we can receive as part of this quarantine story, is that God will sustain us, when we are in a situation that does not allow us to meet our own needs…                                                                                         Notice that God did a miracle for the widow, so she could supply Elijah with what he neededfor over 2 years. And when he was at the brook, God sent ravens to bring food, (that had to be a lot of ravens, bringing food every day, for another year)….

I believe God is declaring that He will bless others so they can bless you. He will bring your supply from places you don’t have a clue is even possible. He will sustain you, when you have no means to sustain yourself. 

Our God has never gone to His cabinet and found it empty. He fed

two and a half million Hebrews for 40 years, in the Sinai wilderness, and there was none sickly or feeble among them. 

And He has a miracle for you!!! Though we walk through the valley, He is with us, His rod and His staff are with us, He restores our soul! He is doing some of his most powerful workthere when things have taken a turn and put us in unfamiliar territory.                                                                    He’s at work in Elijah’s life in at least three ways: protection, provision, and preparation.

Because the prophet spent his quarantine time seeking God’s face, and hearing His voice, the brief time between when he left the brook, and the time he was chauffeured into heaven in a chariot of fire… was his most productive time ever. 

First, he prayed and the famine stopped, then he anointed two kings over God’s people, then he appointed Elisha as prophet in his stead, who did twice as many miracles as Elijah. These fourthings had lasting generational affects upon the people and the land.

Let me go to the next Quarantine I was made aware of…. David the shepherd king, was quarantined in a cave called Adullam. He was forced into the place of separation. The cave of Adullam became the gathering place for those who loved David but who were weary of Saul’s oppressive, ungodly rule. As long as David remained in the king’s house, there was no pressureon any one to separate themselves and take a stand. But, the moment that David was forced into exile, those around him could not remain neutral any longer. 

Therefore we read, “Every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” (that means about 1600 people, counting women and children). 

Look at this, when David took a stand, about 1600 people decided they could no longer live a compromised lifestyle. And they were willing to live in a cave of Adullam, than live in Saul’s palace. 

“Adula” means “to change direction” and Adullam means “a place of refuge” “a place to retreat before advancing”. 

We never know how many people we are influencing. We don’t understand how many are waiting for us to sell out to God and His call in our lives, so they can make the decision to take a stand as well. 

When I decided as a teenager, to cast my lot with the Lord, come what may, I could never have imagined that thousands of folks, over these 60 years would answer the call and become pastors, evangelists, teachers, apostles, deacons and workers in the ministry.

Someone is waiting for you to make the separation, to take a stand, at your Adullam. Your place of retreat before advancing….

In Joshua chapter 24 Joshua stood before all the people and said….

v14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away all the things that your fathers allowed to keep them from serving the Lord. v15 Choose this day whom you will serve, whether to serve other gods as your fathers served in the land where you dwell, or the Lord God Jehovah. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I wonder how many are waiting for your all out, sold out to God declaration….

Another Quarantine which I read about in the bible occurred while the Hebrews were in the land of Goshen, which was set apart for them by the Pharaoh at the request of Joseph, when he brought Jacob and the rest of his family to Egypt to escape the famine. We are told that Joseph and the pharaoh of Joseph’s day died, and another pharaoh came into power who enslaved the Hebrew nation. For 400 years they served in bondage. When God was ready, he sent Moses to liberate them, but it took a series of plagues to convince the pharaoh to let them go. The final plague was the death of the firstborn throughout Egypt. And so the quarantine was ordered by God in all of Goshen.     The blood of the Passover lamb was to be slain by each family and placed upon the doorposts of their homes and the lamb was to be eaten, until the plague had passed over. 

No one was to come in or go out. 

Throughout the quarantine, the firstborn of every family died, but the Hebrews remained untouched in their homes. Wow, this tells me that not only do we claim the blood….we must eat the lamb. 

During communion, we are instructed that the wafer represents the body of Christ and the cup of grape juice represents the blood he shed. 

St. Augustin. Referring to Holy Communion, said, “Behold what you are, and become what you receive.” 

I don’t know what that means to you but it says to me, Become the body of Christ in the earth…. Didn’t Paul say 1 Corinthians 12: 27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it. “28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, and those with gifts of healing, helping, administration, and various tongues”.… We are separated and at the same time embedded in humanity and reserved for His purposes…                                                                                                           So through the emblems of Christ’s body and blood, we are commissioned to speak, act and do as He did. I am separated and quarantined by the body and blood of Jesus, to follow in His footsteps, touching, listening, loving, caring, and releasing healing to the hurting, the broken, the lonely, the disenfranchised, the needy and searching.

Just a quick flash back….The name Goshen, in the Hebrew language means “to pour forth”….. This tells me that God sees not only the place of quarantine, but He has planned all that takes place when you move forth from that place, time, or experience. God saw the end from the beginning. He saw your future before you had a past. He knew what you would be before you even were. God has planned your “pouring forth”. 

Isaiah 58:8 “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard”.

Isaiah 55:12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing”.

Oh, let there be a breaking forth……

Certainly, as we speak of those who have experienced Quarantine… we would be negligent to fail in remembering Noah. Here’s a man who went into the ark for 40 days and 40 nights and when he came out, the whole earth was a different place. 

Someone wrote “When this is over, may we never again take for granted a handshake, a hug, full shelves at the store, conversations with friends and neighbors, a crowded theater, Friday night out, the taste of communion, the school rush each morning, a visit to the doctor or dentist, going to watch the team play, coffee with a friend, having a meal at the restaurant, and attending church. When this ends, may we find that we have become the people we really want to be, that we had hoped to be, that we are called to be and may we stay that way. May we appreciate that we have become better for each other, because of the worse that we have come through!

Hebrews 11: 1-2 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.”

Our faith will lead us to do things, say things, and believe things that many times seem foolish or silly. How can we believe many verses in scripture when we don’t understand them completely.                                 Doubting and not understanding are two completely different things. Noah didn’t understand why he needed to build this huge boat (the ark), but he had confidence that the one who told him, knew what he didn’t understand. In a time when rain had not been seen in his lifetime, God told him to prepare for the rain. Enough rain to float this huge boat he would build. 

What is God saying to you, that you don’t understand, but you’re willing to trust that He knows what you don’t. And you trust Him, that in His time He will bring understanding as you step out in confidence. 

Moses was the first to see a whole new world, as a result of His confidence in God.

Can you be confident that your entire family will be saved. Can you be confident that God can change everything… That he can turn it around. A new job, a partner for life that He planned for you, that what seemed like the end of something can still be a new beginning!

What an incredible compliment from God, that Noah received…                Genesis 6:8 But Noah found Grace (favor)in the eyes of the Lord.

v9 Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Let me close these thoughts on Quarantine with Matthew 4:1“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights..” Jesus was tempted in three areas, physical, spiritual, and concerning His purpose. We are essentially physical and spiritual, but we also exists for a purpose. 

With each area of temptation Jesus answered, “It is written”…

When you’ve fasted 40 days, everything looks like food… and Satan said turn these stones into bread, and Jesus said, “it is written, man shall not live by bread alone”… Jesus is telling us that there are many things we could do, but it would not be best for ourselves, for others or for what God has planned for our lives….This is the area of physical temptation… or the desires of the flesh….

I drink all the whiskey I want to, I cheat on my wife all I want to, I steal and cheat and lie, all I want to… I just don’t want to!!!                                       This is an area of temptation where we use spiritual things to gratify the flesh… Seeking the gift instead of the giver. We can start operating independent of the will of God, or just stop checking with Holy Spirit all together. You’ve made up your mind and you lower your head like an old bull, and charge ahead!                                                                                       I don’t want just a visit from Jesus… You know what I’m talking about (Whew, look at those chill bumps, oh, I got a visit from the lord!)                  I want to walk with Him, talk with Him, and hear Him say that I am His own. When I get up in the morning, “Good morning Jesus”…. When I go through my day, “Thank you for being here with me Jesus”…When I go to bed, “Thank you for being my light and my peace”….I need to love the lord more than the appetites and desires of the flesh…

Then Satan then took Jesus to the highest place of the temple and said, cast yourself down from here and the angels will catch you. Jesus said, “ It is written, Do not tempt the Lord your God”. This test is in the area of the emotions, or presuming…. Everything that is good, isn’t necessarily the best. 

Paul tells us, 1 Corinthians 10:23 “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is edifying. v24 No one should seek only his own good, but the good of others”.…

There are churches that practice snake handling and when they survive a bite, they stir up the crowd, saying how God protected them. That’s like saying “I’m a fool, so God will protect me”…..

Many times people will use scripture to mean something separate from it’s intended purpose…. That can be like playing Russian roulette.. One guy was wanting scripture for what he should do, so he closed his eyes and opened his bible and stuck his finger on a verse. When he opened his eyes, he read “Judas went out and hanged himself “…

Next we see that Satan took Jesus up to a high mountain and said if you will bow down and worship me, I will give you the kingdoms of this world”. 

Jesus said, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” Then the devil left Him, and angels came and ministered unto Him. This test is in the area of the “Ego”…

It’s about doing God’s work my way… (I did it my way)

A Christian man saw no harm in smoking marijuana. His pastor told him that scripture tells us not to come under the power of anything but Christ… He said “well God made it, so it must be OK”, The pastor took out his handkerchief and picked up some dog droppings and said, here have a shot at this, after all, God made it, so it must be OK!!!!

It’s about trying to find a short cut, instead of total obedience…. You can’t command someone else’s junk yard dog, and you can’t say “Get away from me Satan”, if you’re out of the will of God….

I know a guy who quit smoking, but kept a pack of cigarettes in his pocket. When I asked why, he said to show it doesn’t have any power over me any more…. (HUH!) It has power over you, cause you can’t throw them away!!!

It is written, is the key to overcome all temptation. It is written, will make the devil flee. It is written will keep us in the will of God every time!

The greatest degree of social distancing is about to take place. There will be a separation of all those who have received Christ, from all those who have not. Things are being fulfilled at a quickened pace. Jesus told us to be ready, at such a time as you think not, He’s coming to gather His people to Him, to spend eternity with Him. 

Those who don’t know Him will be left behind. Their loved ones, spouse, children, friends, will be taken, and they will be left. 

That is one social distancing, you won’t want to be part of…. 

Right now, the question is, are you ready, are you sure you’ll go when He comes. If not, pray and receive Him today. Make it right today.

1 John 2:28 “And now, I tell you, abide in Him, that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed of Him before his coming"

Posted by: AT 09:51 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, March 20 2020

Since my message title has an animal in it, Did you know that A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

All Polar bears are left-handed. 

The flea can jump 350 times its body length. That's like a human jumping the length of a football field.

Did you know that Butterflies taste with their feet.

Elephants are the only animals that can't jump.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. 

Starfish don't have brains. 

I found it interesting that this Corona-virus looks like it has porcupine quills coming out from all around it.(check out a picture) Perhaps it should have been called the porcupine virus….

A national survey was done and it asked people what question they'd ask if they could only ask God one thing. The number one response was: "Why is there suffering in the world?"                           Praise God, someday we'll see it all with great clarity, but for now *…..things are foggy. We can't understand everything from our finite perspective and at times we may feel we’re walking in a fog, trying to make some since of it all.

*……A woman was lost in a blinding blizzard. She couldn’t see a thing so she pulled to the side of the road just as a snow plow was coming up behind her and she decided to follow it. When the plow turned left, she turned. When the plow turned right, she turned. One hour later, the plow stopped and the guys got out of the truck to leave. She asked them why they were leaving and they told her they were done plowing the parking lot. 

If we follow the light, of God’s word, when we are surrounded by these porcupine experiences and people, that light will lead us toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.

I’m sorry to have to tell you folks, but God’s perfect plan for all of our lives, includes some dances with porcupinepeople and experiences. These dances are part of every Christian’s growth and development.

When my daughter was little, she had a doll with a string in the back, and when you pulled it the doll said, "I love you." Did that doll love my daughter? Of course not. It was programmed to say those words. But even though Porcupine people may say they love you, they’re not in your life for love, they are there to grow you and develop you. When you learn the lesson, their reason for being in your life is done and it’s time for you to move on…..

You may have had a rough start but you don’t have to have a rough finish.                                           

It’s not always easy to get beyond all the porcupines. But believe me, the pain of letting go is much less difficult than the pain of missing your destiny by not learning the lesson.

Scripture tells us to be imitators of Christ. That means we will have to deal with some porcupines.

The Corona virus is like a porcupine that wants to shoot it’s quills of fear into you. Hey friend, you don’t carry an umbrella to stop the rain from falling, but you carry it to keep the rain from falling on you! Fear and panic can be all around you but it doesn’t have to get on you!

We’ll have to walk through a garden of Gethsemane; times of abandonment, and times of dealing withporcupine Judas who will betray you.

Jesus knew His porcupine was going to betray him but He still called him friend (He was necessary to fulfilling his mission). He was saying “I’ve already gotten beyond what is trying to bring me under it’s power, I’ve already moved on to the next step in this upward journey…. In the end I’ll wear the victor’s crown”.

Like Joseph you’ll come out elevated by what wanted to eliminate you. Joseph went thru one porcupine experience after another. Betrayed, falsely accused and imprisoned, isolated and rejected.

He could have come up with excuse after excuse to camp out in where he was and he would have lived covered with porcupine quills.

But he didn’t have an excuse mentality. He kept shaking off the quills of disappointment, the quills of shattered dreams, the quills of injustice and being used and abused .

Psalm 30:11 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: You have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; You have turned my sorrow into joyful dancing. No longer am I sad and wearing sackcloth. You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance; you have taken away my sorrow and surrounded me with joy”.

Joseph stopped dancing with the porcupines and got a new dance…. He came out vindicated, promoted, and in a place of honor.

Don’t get stuck huddling with porcupines…—Reliving the negative, picking at the wounds of misfortune, and allowing infection to spread in the wounds.

Keep moving forward. God will get you where you’re supposed to be and He will have the final say. .

Who do you turn to when you run into a porcupine?                                                          From the depths of a Nazi death camp, Corrie ten Boom wrote these words: "No matter how deep our darkness, he is deeper still." Before every tear we shed, He has shed it first.”

The same suffering that causes one person to turn bitter, to reject God and to become hard and angry and sullen, can cause another person to turn to God, to become more gentle and more loving and more tender, willing to reach out with compassion to help other people who are in pain. 

Some who lose a child to a drunk driver turn inward in chronic rage and never-ending despair, while anotherturns outward to help others by founding Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

When you make the choice to run into his arms, here's what you're going to discover: you'll find peace to deal with the present, and you'll find courage to deal with your future.

We are always making the choice to either run away from God       or to run to Him.                                        

Jesus said in John 16:33 "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have overcome the world."

Because of his own suffering and death, Jesus has deprived this world of its ultimate power over you. Suffering doesn't have the last word anymore. Death doesn't have the last word anymore. All the porcupines don’t have the last word anymore….God has the last word!

As a wise man once said, "God's ultimate answer to suffering isn't an explanation; it's the incarnation." God took our place, so that we could be more than conquerors through Him!

Before you were broken, He was broken for us. Before you were despised? He was despised and rejected of men for you. Before you cried out that you couldn’t take any more? He went the extra mile for you. Before you were betrayed, He was sold out for 30 pieces of silver. Before your friends or spouse turned away and deserted you, he was abandoned by his own disciples and was beaten, tortured and crucified alone, for you.

Oh, there is such power for us in Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed”.

Receive your healing beginning today. Draw upon His finished work!!! 

Embrace the gifts and avoid the quills.  We all have some quills…. And we have to be enough like Jesus, to recognize the gifts we have, for they are able to overwhelmthe quills….

It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold.

The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered & protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded all those who had gotten close for warmth.

After a while, they decided to distance themselves from one another & they began to die, alone & frozen. So they had to choose.. Either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the face of the Earth.                                                                                         Wisely, they decided to go back to being together and they survived. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the warmth & heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.

God can use any situation you’re in, no matter how negative or toxic it is, to bring about something good.

In Romans 8:28 God has promised us, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

*……Listen, He wouldn’t have allowed it, if there wasn’t something in it which was for your ultimate good!                                                                                                                 Do you really believe 1 John 4: 4 “You, are from God and have overcome them, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. v5 They are of the world. That is why they speak from the world’s perspective…”                                                                                             He has made a solemn pledge that he will take that porcupine situation and cause it to work out to a good outcome for your growth and development and His glory!

Let me share with you a true story….Six-year-old Tess went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times. Then she made her way six blocks to the drug store. She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention. But the pharmacist was busy talking to a well-dressed man.Finally he said. “And what do you want?”

“I want to talk to you about my brother, Andrew” Tess answered “He's really, really sick, and I want to buy a miracle.”

He has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?” “We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you,” 

The well dressed man who had been talking with the pharmacist stooped down to Tess’ eye level and asked. “What kind of a miracle does your brother need?”

“I don't know, she said with tears. “I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money.”

“How much do you have?” asked the man. “One dollar and eleven cents,” Tess said in a tiny voice. “It's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to.”

“Well, what a coincidence,” smiled the man. “A dollar and eleven cents – is the exact price of a miracle for little brothers.”

He took her money from Tess. “Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the miracle you need.”

That well dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a neurosurgeon. The operation was completed free of charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well. “That surgery,” her Mom whispered. “was a real miracle. I can’t imagine how much it would have cost?” Tess smiled, because She knew. One dollar and eleven cents – plus the faith of a child.

Sometimes we want it and we want it now, but He wants to set up some win/win situations and use you to make it happen. I want it now, but He says I have something greater, if you’ll let me do it my way and in my time….

Let me give you an example of how waiting can put money in your pocket. If you wait until age 70 to begin receiving your Social Security benefits. Your monthly payment will be 32% higher than if you begin receiving benefits at age 65. 

Example.. if you would get 800.00 a month, if you wait it will be 1,056.00…. if you would get 1200.00 a month, if you wait it will be 1584.00 a month! I would say in dollars and cents, that’s worth the wait!

Now while you’re waiting, for your porcupines to finish with you , a good principal to follow is ..

Let God turn your porcupines into portraits of purpose…. 

Corinthians 12:8 “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. v9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10That is why, for the sake of Christ, I will delight in weaknesses, worship in the insults, give praise in the hardships, check my attitude in persecutions, and thrive in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”.…

Remember these words were written by the apostle Paul, who suffered through beatings and stonings and shipwrecks and imprisonments and rejection and hunger and thirst and homelessness—far more pain that most of us will ever have to endure, and as a result, Rome got the gospel, Corinth got the gospel, areas of the world that were in darkness, saw the light of the gospel. I would say that’s a win/win situation, and we are still inspired by the words of Paul to this day. He let God turn his porcupines into portraits of purpose…..

In order to see God’s higher purpose when you run into porcupine *…..people……Ask God to help you to see people through His eyes. (He loves them as much as he loves you) It’s hard to hate someone you pray for every day…

*…..Have you walked a mile in their shoes, and tried to see things from their perspective?

*…..If you have been offended, and it just sticks in your craw, it might be that you must forgive before there can be a breakthrough….

*…..We can set boundaries and still love someone. Loving someone doesn’t mean you have to be that person’s best friend. We can love even the most difficult people by being kind, meeting their needs, and showing them respect.Jesus was only close to 12 people.

Let's say that on the first day of 2020, you had an awful day. You had an emergency root canal at the dentist—and then ran out of pain-killers. You crashed your car, and had no insurance. Your stocks took a nosedive. Your spouse got sick. A friend betrayed you. From start to finish, it could have been the title of a book that you might name “My Porcupine Day”.

But then the rest of the year was just incredibly terrific. Your relationship with God was close and real and intimate. A friend won the lottery and gives you $100 thousand dollars because you were always there for them. You get promoted at work to your dream job." You have twins, a boy and girl and they are healthy and strong. Your marriage is perfect, your health is fabulous, and you have a six week vacation in Hawaii .  Then at the beginning of the next New Year someone asks, "So, how was your 2020?" You'd probably say, "It was great; it was wonderful!" You'd still remember that first bad day, no denying it. It was difficult at the time. But when you look at the year as a whole, when you put everything in context, one bad day could not compare with 364 great days . Maybe you're suffering from a physical ailment or heartache, or rejection and betrayal…. But after 350,000 days of pure bliss in heaven—and with an eternity still ahead—if someone asked, "So, how has your life been?", you'd instantly react by saying, "It has been absolutely wonderful! Words can't describe the joy and the delight and the fulfillment which I have found in the Lord!                                                                                                                  That’s what Paul is talking about in… Romans 8:18 where we read: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us."

Posted by: AT 02:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, March 16 2020

….

Metamorphosis is about change….

Webster’s dictionary says “Metamorphosis is a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances”

One day, a little girl is sitting and watching her mother brush her hair. She suddenly notices that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast to her darker hair. She looks at her mother and asks: “Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?”

Her mother tells her, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turn white.”

The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then asked: “Mom, is that why all of grandma’s hairs are white?”

Webster also says that Metamorphosis is a “change of physical form, structure, or substance especially by supernatural means”… HMMMM let me say that again “especially by supernatural means”…                           Many animals and insects experience change but caterpillars and tadpoles experience radical change….                                                              When a caterpillar enters the cocoon, it’s body liquifies into a gel, and out of the gel comes legs, an exo-skeleton, wings, and a different mouth for a different diet. The butterfly that emerges is totally different than the creature that went in, but the caterpillar doesn’t change its destiny. Metamorphosis only reveals what was always there in the genes of the caterpillar. 

Caterpillars can’t fly. But they were born to fly. Caterpillars eat leaves but they were born to eat nectar. 

When the caterpillar is changed into a butterfly, it is only becoming what God always intended it to be.                                                                                                Tadpoles were always meant to be frogs….Tadpoles breath water with gills, frogs breath air with lungs… Tadpoles eat pond algae, frogs eat insects… Tadpoles have no legs, frogs have 4 legs. 

The call of metamorphosis is within all of us….If you have been hearing a call deep inside that there is more, that’s your Metamorphosis calling to you!!!! It’s God calling you to what you were always meant to be, regardless of what it looks like right now….

We want radical miracles, radical revival, radical visitations of God’s power, radical healings and people radically saved… but we want to avoid radical changes which bring those experiences about….

1 Corinthians 2:16 “For, who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ”.                                                                             That’s an amazing statement—that we who know Jesus as Lord and Savior have the “mind of Christ” within us. In this context it means that we have the ability to estimate the true value of things. To discern and know that whichcannot be seen and known with the natural mind.

In the art world, there are certain people who are fulltime appraisers. They can look at a painting and say, “That’s a forgery. It’s worthless.” Or “That’s worth $70,000 at auction.” Or “That’s a Rembrandt. It will fetch at least $7 million dollars.” Appraisers are well paid because they have the ability to spot the real value of a piece of art or an antique. 

I don’t have that ability. I can look at a painting for hours and never know that it is a forgery by Joe Shmuck or a Rembrandt. But it’s exciting when you learn that something you have is priceless.

That’s why the PBS program “Antiques Roadshow” has become so popular. Every episode features someone who bought a lamp or an old trunk or a painting at a flea market for $40 only to discover that it’s really worth $70,000. We watch the show and then we go rummage through our garage or attic, hoping to find that valuable piece of junk we almost threw away last week. We watch because we believe it is possible for anyone to have that experience.  

Many folks do a number of things to change. Work out at the gym, Crash diets, plastic surgery, new hairdos, new clothes, a new job, or moving to a different part of the country. In truth, all of those things, just change the outside covering. 

But no matter how hard you try, it’s amazing how some people can complement you and insult you at the same time. Recently, when one lady greeted her coworker, she said, “My, You look so good, I didn’t recognize you.”….(Did I look that bad before)HUMMMMM…(what was that supposed to mean) Not everyone is going to like the change in you, but you didn’t do it for them anyway!

You may remember some time ago, I shared about a man who was selling an old warehouse, and it really applies here…. The building had been empty for months and needed repairs. Gangs had damaged the doors, smashed the windows, and thrown trash everywhere.

As he showed a prospective buyer the property, The man was sure to say that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct any structural damage, and clean out all the garbage.

The buyer surprised him by saying “Forget about the repairs,When I buy this place, I’m going to tear down everything that is here and build something completely different. I don’t want the building, I want the property rights.

Peter had a transformative moment when He had an AHAAAAA moment as his eyes were opened to see who Jesus was….

Matthew 16:17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. v18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock (of revelation) I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. v19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”…

Compared with the renovation God has in mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping a warehouse that is slated for the wrecking ball. Spiritual transformation begins by giving God the property rights to build what He sees that should be there. Jesus was saying that He was going to build something in the earth that was not of the earth. It would be a supernatural movement which occupied the lives of believers everywhere. A supernatural butterfly would emerge from these caterpillar disciples….

When we submit to God, the old life is over, He makes all things new. All he wants is the site and the permission to begin building.

Dr. Aletta Bell, was a missionary doctor who served for decades in the poorest province of India. When she was a medical student, she felt the call of God to spend her life in a distant land, serving at Duncan Hospital in Raxaul, on the India-Nepal border. It was the stirring of her metamorphosis. She was amazingly gifted both as a medical doctor and as a gifted leader. She could have had a practice that brought in millions, but instead, she chose an understaffed and under-equipped hospital in a place like India. 

The answer to her choice was simple and clear. Dr. Bell appraised the work of God’s Kingdom in India as being of greater value than having a big home, and the luxuries of that position in America. She simply understood that God was calling and she had to go. Dr. Bell lived in a tiny apartment that was really more like a cubicle. She dressed like the Indian women around her, and she ate Indian food just like they did. Each morning she used an electric coil to heat the water for her shower. Over the years she treated thousands and thousands of patients, most of them living in what can only be described as abject poverty, the vast majority of them were Hindus.

Her metamorphosis brought a radical change in her appointed destiny. You see, she knew what the lord had waiting for her, more than she could think, ask or imagine, as she stood before Him and heard him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord forever”… That’s what she lived for, more than anything….

Romans 12:2  “And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (mind of Christ).

The word for conformed in the Greek is “Schema” which is our modern word for “Schematic”….which is a design or diagram of all the parts of something, a car, a boat, a radio or television and how they all fit together and function. 

So if someone is working on a TV, but has the wrong schematic, they won’t be able to get very far…. 

Satan wants to replace God’s schematic for spiritual growth, with a schematic for death and destruction….. Satan has a plan for us that will lead us away from God if we conform to its design. We have to follow a different design and conform to God’s schematicfor transformation.

Going back to what I said about the art appraiser for a moment. You aren’t born with the ability to know the difference between a Rembrandt and a Joe Shmuck original. 

To be an appraiser takes years of study and a long apprenticeship, and you have to prove yourself along the way. But if you are gifted and determined, if you are willing to pay the price, you can be “transformed” into an appraiser. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen over time.                 

The same is true in the spiritual life. We have the “mind of Christ,” which means we have the ability from God to estimate the true value of things in life. As we refuse to allow the world to squeeze us into its mold, we develop the ability to see things as God sees them. This isn’t instant or automatic, but since it is God’s desire, having a transformed mind is within the reach of every believer.

Just as we are conformed to what’s around us, we are transformed by what we immerse ourselves in. Stay in God’ssupernatural cocoon of transformation. 

Here’s the equation for transformation… T + HH + GE= ST… That stands for “Time plus Holy Habits plus Godly Encouragement, equals Spiritual Transformation”…. It takes time, and it takes dedication and determination to develop habits and patterns of holiness in our lives and it requires that wedevelop relationships with other Christians who will both encourage us and also hold us accountable.. We need others to help us through our change. It’s easy to get impatient with ourselves and feel we’re making no progress…

A fellow was sitting in one of the chairs provided for men outside the ladies’ fitting room. After 30 minutes and 10 changes of outfits, his wife Miriam came out of the changing room one more time. He was getting very impatient, and he looked at her and immediately said, "Miriam, Oh Yeah, that’s the one, it looks great on you! Get that one." She said, "Honey, this is what I was wearing when we came in." 

If we’re patient, men, Little by little we will move from the caterpillars we are to the butterflies God aways intended us to be.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away, everything has become new!”                          I call this The Two-Life Stage of Metamorphosis… You see, when the caterpillar is in the cocoon, it arrives at a place where it is part caterpillar and part butterfly. It is a “Two-Life” (neither fully caterpillar nor fully butterfly)and the butterfly is overwhelming the caterpillar and it begins to look less like a caterpillar and more and more like a butterfly, but the caterpillar keeps trying to rise up and assert itself!

Paul talks about this Romans 7:24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of flesh? v25 Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I serve the law of God, but with my flesh I struggle with fleshly desires”.… (the caterpillar)

This Two-Life struggle is because our flesh (the caterpillar part of us) is not saved. It houses a redeemed soul and spirit, but it must be crucified, subjected, ruled over, overcome and dominated by our redeemed spirit. One day it will be taken off and laid aside. This is also true of the carnal or fleshly mind. It must be trained by the word, and by the mind of the Spirit. It’s about trust, because we trust that He knows how it will be when the metamorphosis is complete, and if He already knows, we can relax and stop the struggle. 

The ultimate aim is transformation, but there is a process which requires dedication. In this journey of transformation, Satan takes advantage of the Two-Life stage, to insert guilt, condemnation and shame. If we don’t understand his tactics, we will give him an advantage and, believe me, he will take it, and hinder our spiritual growth and metamorphosis. The decisions we are making now, will shape the future we will have 10, 20 or 30 years down the road. Change is a challenge, but if we could see what He sees ahead for us, we would gladly make whatever change He asks!

After one guy heard a sermon on Psalm 52:3-4 about dishonesty, he was convicted and wrote the IRS, a note that said “I can’t sleep knowing that I have cheated on my income tax. Enclosed is a check for $150.00 If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send the rest of what I owe.”                                        

Butterflies and frogs have no choice. Metamorphosis is built into their DNA and just takes over. But spiritual metamorphosis isn’t automatic. It doesn’t just happen to us. It is the result of cooperation and conformity with God’s Spirit working in and through us. 

I was talking to a woman last week who had gone through her own version of metamorphosis. She told me she had two knee replacements, a hip replacement, and a shoulder replacement. These days, you can have all kind of things stretched, pulled, pinched, tucked, tweaked, replaced, enhanced, suctioned and peeled. I thought, wouldn’t it be great, to just take your brain, when you get to 70 or 80 and drop it in a new 30 year old body and just keep on trucking! It would certainly improve my golf game, and I would be outrunning Dara Arnold in the marathon. 

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship. v2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and prove what God's good, pleasing and perfect will is”.                                                                                                                                                                You could actually look at this scripture as a transformation schematic. 

First this tells us to give over control of our body as an offering to honor God…. My professor in Bible College used to say, “The problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar.” We must move beyond surrender to submission. You see when I surrender, I’m in control, because it is still my choice. With submission, it is the Lord’s choice and I simply obey. I surrender if I agree, but I submit, even when I don’t agree. That is a critical part of real spiritual metamorphosis.

Second, it tells us to Resist the Squeeze…. Don’t let the world squeeze you into it’s mold. If I submit my body and my thought life, then He decides who I am with, where I go, and what I do. We want to be used by God but we still want the option to choose. Young people say they want to be different, but they end up different like everyone else!!! 

Behavioral scientist wanted to test conformity. They started with a group of five monkeys in an enclosure, hung bananas at the top and placed ropes for easy access to it. Whenever one of the monkeys started up the rope, they were all sprayed with ice cold water until the one at the ladder retreated. This was done every time one of the monkeys started up the ladder, soon, the rest of the group would attack and punish him. How deeply they had conformed was seen when they continued to react this way even when no water was sprayed.

Then they replaced one of the original five with a new monkey that didn’t know the conformity code, he started up the rope and was immediately punished by the other four. Eventually he stopped trying to reach the bananas and just conformed. (don’t be a monkey and conform, instead be transformed)

Third, Romans tells us It’s time to remodel your brain…

“Be  transformed by the renewing of your mind”. 

The New Living Translation; “…Be transformed by changing the way you think”….. J.B. Phillips’ translation … “let God remold your mind”

One of the Greek words for renewing your mind, is “renovate”….        Paul is talking about a complete renovation. This is not about cosmetic repairs or restoration. It’s like taking a house and completely gutting it. Walls, floors, wiring, plumbing, cabinets, bath and kitchen fixtures, roof, it’s all completely new. Anyone who’d seen the house in its previous condition wouldn’t even recognize it.                                                       This is about changing the value of what is renovated. God sees our value and He knows how to renovate our minds to maximize our value.. it’s all a matter of trust that the one who made us knows us best!

For anyone who says, I can’t do it, I’ve tried, and I just get so far and then I hit the wall…. I can only say to anyone who says I can’t… Do you know all there is to know about everything…. If you don’t, then you can’t say I can’t, because the one who knows all there is about everything, says “all things are possible if you can believe”

What if we could take a part of our life that we didn’t particularly care for and have it erased? Wouldn’t that be great? I mean there are things in my life that I would just as soon had never happened. And that is exactly what God does when you enter into that life-changing decision. All the old stuff of your life, all the things you wish would go away and never happen…It is gone, He doesn’t just forget it… it’s as if it never occurred… and as far as He is concerned it never did.

What a great launch He gives us into this transformation….Listen, if you’re getting hit by guilt, condemnation, and shame, you’re just in your Two-Life stage… Trust Him, the butterfly is overtaking the caterpillar and soon there will only be the butterfly and transformation is where you will be standing!!!Standing in health, standing in sufficiency, standing in freedom, and standing in peace and security!

The ultimate transformation is just ahead… Infinity and beyond isn’t just a Gordon Lightyear thing! When we see Him, we shall be like Him.. This mortal shall put on immortality, this corrupt body shall put on incorruption. We shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. Whatever it takes to reach that ultimate point of radical metamorphosis, IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL!!! To rule and reign with Christ forever, Streets of Gold, mansions beyond imagination, Glorified bodies…. He that endures shall inherit all things…. TRANSFORMATION is preparing the way for metamorphosis !!! Beyond what we can think, ask or imagine!!!

Move on from surrender, where you are choosing, and get over into submission, where He does the choosing!

Posted by: AT 06:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, March 16 2020

(last week we saw that He wants to call us “Children”)….

I like reading bumper stickers, and there are some folks that have them all over their bumper and other places as well….

One said, "everyone has a photographic memory, it's just that some have run out of film". And then there's the bumper sticker for those who are always late. "Their ancestors missed the Mayflower and arrived on the Juneflower instead". Then there's the bumper sticker of the guy who's fed up with it all..."Pardon my driving, I’m just reloading my gun and fixing my gas mask". 

Webster says that Right minded means, normal, sensible, mentally sound, having all your marbles, well adjusted, equitable, ethical, just, with good judgment, conscientious, discerning, level-headed, rational, responsible, well-grounded, both oars in water, playing with full deck ....

Let's check out a couple of scriptures on this subject as we begin....

2 Timothy 1:7  For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound (or right) mind. 

Another scripture which shows a distinction between the mental condition of a believer in Christ as compared to an unbeliever, is in   

Luke 8:35 "Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind.." In one scene of this story, the Gaderene is luney as a bed bug.... and Jesus shows up and he's found dressed nice and in his right mind....If you had met this guy in a dark alley before Jesus You would know the difference!!!

Let's put it this way.... Picture your life as a train going down a track, "The engine is our redeemed spirit, it’s hooked to the car of our will, which is hooked to the car of our thought life, which is hooked to the car of our experiences, which is hooked to the car of our flesh, which is hooked to the car of our emotions, which is hooked to the car of our ..(well you get the idea)

We may be on the right track, but none of us are just the engine, we're all these other cars, which are being pulled along with us.... All of this pulling and all of this resistance can wear you down and wear you out, if you are not being renewed daily in your mind and spirit.....                                We are told in 2 Corinthians 10:5 "To cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."

Solomon was one of the wisest men that ever lived, but he did some things that show us that he was not in his right mind..... We can look at King David, at Noah, at Abraham, at Samson, and on and on we could go..... All of these acted at certain times in such a way that let us know they were not in their right mind. They started riding in the car of flesh, or the car of emotions, or the car of experience, or the car of their will or thought life, and they allowed it to derail their right mind. 

And they would all tell you that it just wasn't worth it....                                      We can all fall prey to this, and begin to major on minors.....Instead of the engine of our Redeemed Spirit pulling everything, we start letting the things we are giving power to begin to have power over us.

When an Olympic runner is in the blocks at the starting line, waiting for the gun so he can break the world record....it's not the time to ask him for an autograph... He will not be distracted by lesser things, because he is single minded and focused, as the race is about to begin......The sprinter has to make sure his shoes are tied securely before the race begins. If he stops to tie his shoes in the race, he will probably lose. He gets rid of all excessive weight and his eating, his sleep, his exercise routine is all about this moment. Part of being right minded, is learning what needs to be done first - then doing it, and knowing what can wait till later! Ready or not it’s all systems go!!

Folks that are always late, haven’t figured that out yet!

DON’T BE A DORY….(you may remember Dory as the scatterbrain friend in the movie “Finding Nemo”. 

Sometimes being Right Minded falls prey to "Excessive choices,competing priorities and second guessing everything".....We live in a day where we have a multitude of options and an avalanche of decisions all rushing at us in the course of every day.  We can easily fall victim to its demands..... Which of the 32 brands of toilet paper should we buy....which of the 767 shades of green should we paint the house....which of the 450 soft drinks on the market should you buy.... etc....etc....Then add to that, a culture that can never get enough and stuff can get really crazy!                                                                                   Don't let all the distractions get their horns in you....

We can all get derailed from our primary purpose with all the excessive choices and competing priorities that life drops on us...How many extras do we have in our lives that we could cut out and find ourselves further along in our journey of faith and spiritual growth....

How many unnecessary things do we juggle that keep us worn out all the time and emotionally frazzled from jumping back and forth. It’s easy to get pulled in …..and juggling when there’s no need to juggle….

Most of the folks I know of who are opinion shapers and spiritual leaders in the world, must get away from the juggling act and spend personal time every day reflecting and meditating so they can filter and evaluate their priorities each day….

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He handed the disciples a huge task before He left them ....He said (Go into all the world and preach the gospel) But first he told them "Go tarry, (put aside all distractions) until you are endued with power from on high". We have to put off some things before we can put on the things that will make it possible to cross the finish line with all of heaven cheering. Scripture tells us to lay aside every weight that would weigh us down, if we are going to finish this race of God’s calling. It’s not what we say, but what we do…

I was looking at the words to some of the old hymns and choruses and I wonder how many have sung, "'Sweet Hour of Prayer" but didn't spend 30 minutes a week actually praying. How many have lifted their voices to, "Go tell it on the mountains" and they haven't led anyone to Jesus in months. How many have sung "I will follow" and immediately got busy worrying about to-morrow! How many times has the church sang about, Christ’s Returning, and yet live as though He will never return.

You can't get on a plane going to Cuba and expect to arrive in Tampa....that's called not being in your right mind!!! You can be sincere and be sincerely wrong!  You'll never get there going in the wrong direction no matter how sincere you are. We can't choose the things God clearly says He isn't pleased with in our lives, and expect His blessing to be on it....that’s insanity (hopefully it’s temporary insanity)!                                                                                                               When you're out hunting, if you didn't calibrate your gun site, you'll miss everything you shoot at. You won’t kill a deer by shooting it in the tail. The word of God helps us keep calibrated and in our right mind! Adjusting the scope is necessary just as it is necessary to adjust your thinking and how you see things, every now and then..I’ve heard it said that “You can’t let success go to your head and you can’t let failure go to your heart”….

Listen, I was out on the golf course some time ago and I was having an average game, but then out of nowhere, I made the best drive of my life, I mean I hit the jacket off the ball... I believe it was almost 400 yards, but then I realized that I had hit the ball at the wrong green....I was sincere, but I was sincerely wrong…                                                                                     A double mind,is not a right mind....When you have one foot on the dock and one foot on the boat, you have to decide quick if you’re going or coming, or you just might end up in the water. When you get on board with things that pull you in two different directions it's hard to make any headway... somethings got to give....When you hear of a leader of the church falling....that's a miss-statement... they didn't fall they chose their way into sin and the slide that derailed them was because they left their right-mind and got double minded! They became divided in their mission, divided in their goals and divided in their values.....They started shooting for the wrong green!

In the book of Ruth, we are told that she was not willing to settle for anything less than Bo-az. She was no fool, she was willing to wait for her Bo-az....But to do that She had to push past ...

Broke-az, Poor-az, Lazy-az, Cheap-az, Dumb-az, Mean-az and Crazy-az, to get to her Bo-az! Stay in your right mind, with the Word of God which is filled with wisdom and strategy for a victorious life!  

Your past can set you up and trap you up in a domino effect....But No matter what our life and our history has been, we can have a right mind... A right mind, interrupts the domino effect that our wrong choices and the wrong choices of others has set in motion.....

With God, a renewed, transformed mind is possible....ALWAYS!

Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to “be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s]”. 

Philippians 4:8: Gives us the key to renewing our minds and it is by focusing on “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

I believe the Lord wants to show each of us what He can do through a life that is being transformed by the renewing of their mind.                              Philippians 2:2  "Be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. v3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others more highly than themselves. v4 Do not look only after your own things, but let everyone also look after the things of others. v5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."

CHRISTIANS DON’T FAST…(now I’ve got you wondering)

A Christian lives a fasted life style….A Fasted life isn't just about getting rid of calories, it's also about getting rid of wrong thinking..... we need to also fast in our emotions, our thought life, and the things of the flesh in order to bring ourselves into balance and have a healthy perspective. A right mind doesn't let the emotions and fleshly appetites have the final say....

Let's say that you make a mistake and mess up at work. The feeling you have as a result may be frustration or disappointment. But your emotions kick in and you let your emotions have the final say, and what comes out of your mouth is...“I’m so stupid. I can’t seem to get anything right, I'll never be able to do this...” We all have feelings but we can't allow our feelings to commandeer our Right Mind.                                                                    What toxic words have you declared over yourself..... It's time to renew your mind. 

Whenever a person starts a fire using a magnifying glass to focus the heat of the sun, they are operating the Law of Concentration...(this guy is using a water balloon). In the Law of Concentration, whatever we focus on and dwell on becomes part of our reality, whether it's negative or positive. What you hate, becomes a strong force in your life, actually attracting the very things you hate. What you fear becomes a powerful force in your life, attracting the very things you fear. There are folks who had homes filled with yelling, and fighting and violence, who can't make the commitment of marriage, because they allow that family background to control their life choices, or their family was broken by divorce, alcohol or drugs, so they fear that those things will repeat in their lives. 

But thank God there is a Law of Substitution...  If the cross of Christ equals the x factor and y equals our insufficiency, and S equals the supply... Then, the law of Substitution declares to us that the cross of Jesus is enough to replace all of our negative fears with positive faith. We can replace hate with forgiveness and love. We can replace lack with more than enough, we can replace sickness with wholeness. We replace wrong thinking with right mindedness....As we practice this law of substitution more and more, we can become experts at substituting the negative and toxic stuff with positive, edifying, productive things. 

I came across this item which is about "Planting the garden of a right mind" that I found very appropriate.....it says that we need to  

Plant five rows of "peas"--prayer, preparedness, promptness, perseverance, politeness.

Put in six rows of "squash"--squash gossip, squash criticism, squash fear, squash negative thinking, squash assumptions and squash indifference.

Plant seven rows of "lettuce"--let us love one another, let us be faithful, let us be loyal, let us be unselfish, let us be grateful, let us be compassionate, and let us be truthful.

Put in eight rows of "turnips"--turn up for church, turn up on time, turn up with a purpose, turn up to contribute, turn up with praise, turn up prepared, turn up to be a friend, turn up with the determination to do a better job today than you did yesterday.

To be right minded is to be Spiritually Minded.....Romans 8:6 says, “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Listen, God has a plan for each of our lives. It is a plan to help us live our best life, with the best outcome ever!!! We are a spirit that has a soul, that lives in a body.

In a congregation where there are deaf persons, the person doing sign language will continue signing during the offeratorialbecause it is just blank space to the deaf person, and the signer is filling in the empty space with the words to the song.....Sometimes we have places in our lives that we could just call blank spaces....Those blank spaces are unfinished things that haunt our minds....when we have blank spaces, a right minded person will let the Holy Spirit fill in the blanks, and go on their way with peace. Don't let your blank spaces mess with your right mind....

David got in trouble in the blank spaces, Samson lost his strength in the blank spaces, Judas became a traitor in the blank spaces, and I see that Solomon who was the wisest man, fell in the blank spaces, when their minds weren’t fixed on God’s word and they made exceptions!

Before classic pianist Clara Schumann, would play her deceased husband Robert's compositions, she would first read his old love letters which he wrote to her, in private. Then, as she was inspired by his words, once again, she was then better able to interpret his music and able to help her audience feel their beauty and power as it flowed through her. 

The same is true with believers in Christ, as we immerse ourselves in His love letters to us, we are more capable to share His truth, His love, and His life changing power. 

Isaiah 26.3 " Lord, you will keep those in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because they trust in You". 

That is God’s promise to you this morning concerning the renewing of your mind and the transformation of your life, that we might accomplish our God ordained plan and purpose. When Jesus made any decision, He checked with the Father and did what the Father did. He was able to say, if you've seen what I do, you have seen what the Father is doing....As much as possible, may we all do likewise!

Prayer..... Lord Jesus we receive the mind of Christ, and we receive the thoughts, the feelings, and the purposes of Your heart. We place our trust in You, that we may not lean on our own understanding, but in all our ways, acknowledge You, so that You are directing our paths. We place ourselves under the influence of Your Word so that our minds may be renewed and our emotions may be transformed. I desire to prove what is You good, and acceptable, and perfect will, for then I shall make my way prosperous and I shall have good success. 

Lord, I will not be anxious about anything, because Your peace which transcends all understanding is guarding my heart and my mind. I will think on these things that are worthy of praise and whatever I do, I am trusting you with my plans, hopes and desires. Help me to set my mind on things above and keep records of wrongs as I walk in Your love and forgiveness. In Lord, I commitment myself to live what I have heard and seen in Christ and model my way of living according to Your plan for me. Thank You, Lord that my life is hidden with Christ and I am the redeemed of the Lord, in Jesus' name.

Now speak the blessing of the Lord over those around you before you go today....Let's speak the blessing of Numbers 6:24-26....

" The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace"…. And may the Lord bless you in your going out and your coming in, your rising up and your lying down, your labor and your leisure. The Lord bless all that you put forth your hand to do and cause you to abound and to prosper. May you be blessed in the name of the Lord….

Posted by: AT 06:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, March 03 2020

Speaking of what you’re called, A man met a lady in line while boarding a plane and as they were talking, He asked her name to which she said, “my name is Jane. When she asked his name, he said, RaRaRa Fafafa  el. "Oh, I'm sorry, were you saying Rafael? No, it’s RaRaRa FaFaFa El…. Oh, I didn’t realize you had a speech impediment!" she says. "Oh no, as you can see, I speak just fine. My father who named me, was the one with the speech impediment…..

There is a question that asks, “where does a gorilla sit”? And the answer is “Anywhere he wants to”! Well when it comes to what God wants to call us, He’s not like the gorilla, He asks for our permission and our agreement, to allow His will to be done in our lives. He will not force us to obey, to submit or to agree….

Well, what God is wanting to call us, is found in ….

Matthew 18:3 “And Jesus said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children again, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.

We like to declare that we are “Children of God” … but I want you to think about that for a moment. God wants to call us His “Children”….                             I guess this is one of those occasions, When little is God’s big…. And big things come in little packages… When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said, “I must decrease that He might increase”!!!

Have you had the Holy Spirit tell you to buy someone’s lunch or pay for their groceries, or go over and talk to a stranger. That takes child-like faith to obey, when you don’t know the out come…. But you depend on   the fact that God does….                                                                                               If you know one thing, about children, it is that a little child is completely dependent on it’s parents, for housing, for food, a place to sleep, money for everything, for family and belonging and love…. In other words, for all its daily needs.                             

But there comes a time when every child longs for independence. To do what it wants, where it wants, when it wants, how it wants, and why it wants! (I’LL DO IT MY WAY)!!

Notice again, Matthew 18:3…. “Unless you change and become children again” Wow!

God desires to call us “Children” because it says of us, that we now choose to give up our independence from Him, and we come back to dependence on Him in all areas of our life.                                                               For us to understand that whatever we might do, He could help us do it better! To realize that no matter how wise we become, He is far wiser! To know that whatever choices we make in our lives, He can choose far better! To accept that no matter how much we know, He knows far more. Matthew 6:33” But seek first the kingdom of God (can I say it this way, as God would say it, “Children seek first the kingdom of God”) and His righteousness, and all these things are added unto you”.                                                                                        So, EVERYTHING is added to, the act of seeking first the kingdom of God, like a dependent child who knows its weaknesses, and vulnerabilities and runs to it’s parent or caregiver in time of need…..  

How much could be added to your life, which you long for, yearn for, which you dream of, that is all waiting to happen as you develop a child like, total dependence on the Lord? 

When Matthew 6:33 speaks to us about becoming “children again” in order to enter the kingdom of God…. it’s not talking about going to heaven when we die. 

The kingdom of God, is everywhere and anywhere that He is first, where He leads, guides, instructs, rules and has His way….as we prey throughout the day “LORD HAVE YOUR WAY, I PUT YOU FIRST, LET YOUR KINGDOM COME"!!!!

This year, in the new movie, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." Starring Tom Hanks, we are reminded of the much-loved children's TV personality, Mr. Rogers….The film offers a powerful message of acceptance and understanding. No matter what the audience -- from CEOs, doctors, celebrities, students, educators, and everyone else, Fred Rogers' message was always the same: "You were a child once too." 

I quote from the film’s director….”Mr. Rogers wanted us to remember what it was like to be a child because he believed that in doing so, we could more fully experience and live out our role as a child of God."

(To which I will add, that's some good theology)!

One day the teacher asked her students to use the word "contagious" in a sentence. Sarah lifts up her hand and says, "Teacher, I’ve got one!! A cold is contagious!" The teacher was very happy. Tommy lifts up his hand and says, "Teacher, I have one... Yawning is contagious"... That’s pretty good Tommy!! Finally, Jimmy lifts up his hand and says,

"Oh... Oh... I got one... “The other day, my dad was on the computer and said that he won 100.00 when contagious finished first in the last race!!"

We all know that the openness and sincerity of a child is contagious, the joy and laughter of children is contagious, the passion of children is very contagious….Children are constantly learning, and forever curious.      They aren’t afraid to ask questions, and little children are pure and unpretentious… They feel deeply and they love openly and honestly….

And Jesus said “we need to become children again”…..

During the reign of Lord Oliver Cromwell (1653–1658), the British Government began to run low on silver for coins. Lord Cromwell sent some of his treasury officials throughout the area to see if they could find any more silver. After visiting the cathedral, the investigators reported the following to Cromwell: "The only silver we can find is in the statues of the saints standing in the corners of the church." To which Cromwell replied, "Good! We'll melt down the saints, get them out of the church and put them back into circulation!"                                         

Now that's more good theology!

LORD, MELT US DOWN, INTO CHILDREN AGAIN, MAKE US CONTAGEOUS, AND GET US BACK IN CIRCULATION!

The priority of the children of God, is not to cram silver-coated saints into the corners of elegant cathedrals. Our priority is to put real, live, God chasers into circulation throughout society. The priority of practical Christianity is to make persons from every walk of life " into children of God again"

We may do many things and as a result, we are often labeled by what we do… (fireman, policeman, military personnel, housewife, teacher, student, etc,) but Jesus tells us that no matter what we may do it is important to be known as, “the children of God”….

Philippians 2:7 “but He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant..”

Isn’t it interesting that when Jesus told the disciples to become children again, they were arguing about who was the greatest in the kingdom!

In Jesus day, A child was a person of no importance. Childrenhad no place in the hierarchy of authority and decision making. And Jesus said, 'You need to become as little children, unconcerned about social status or taking positions above one another.                                                                  That’s a difficult thing for adults. We all want to be respected. We all want people to look up to us. We even begin to measure others by our own preferences and likes and dislikes. But Jesus calls us to be socially unimportant, (or to not have social standing as something of great importance to us) like a child.

If we are honest, we spend most of our childhood trying to grow up too fast. We don't want to be children, children have to be obedient, do what they’re told, do their homework before having fun, do their chores, and put up with brothers and sisters while having a good attitude, YUUCCKKK! Who wants to be vulnerable, and powerless, like a child?

When all the responsibilities of ruling the kingdom of Israel, were placed upon Solomon, in 1 Kings 3:7, His first words to God in prayer, were, “Now, O LORD my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know how to go out or come in”. With an attitude like that, God highly exalted him and made him great in every way, giving him wisdom above that of his fellow man….

I also think of Matthew 18:4 “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me”. 

Children fall down, they make mistakes, they mess up and make a mess, and God is saying that how we treat one another will be rewarded when we do it as though we did it unto him. Wow, I mistreat you, I’ve just mistreated Jesus. 

WE honor God’s children because we honor God’s potential in them, His favor on them, and the gifts He is developing and growing in them…. As God’s children we are part of the support group of the family of God, and we are under His watch and care. We don’t shoot at our wounded, and we don’t throw the baby out with the dirty bathwater. 

In one of comedian Woody Allen's routines, he receives a telephone call from a man who says, "We want you to make our Vodka commercial for a magazine." Woody Allen replies, 'I'm afraid I can't do that. I don't drink, and if I did it wouldn't be vodka. It would be dishonest for me to do the ad. I can't be hypocritical." The voice on the other end replies "There's fifty thousand dollars in it." So Woody Allen says, "I'll think about it. Let me call you back."

Then he goes to his Rabbi for counsel. "It definitely would be morally wrong for you to do the ad," the Rabbi advises him. Hearing this, Woody Allen calls the man back and says, "Sorry, I can't do the ad." Three weeks later he sees a magazine ad in which his Rabbi appears, holding up a glass of the vodka”.                                               Well, sounds like the Rabbi didn’t have a problem with the vodka as long as he got his 30 pieces of silver….. like Judas. 

Galatians 6:1 instructs us: “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any fault, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking at yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

Notice that the measure of your spirituality here, is your desire to restore one another, instead of discarding and rejecting one another. If you carry grudges, unforgiveness, I.O.U’s, and are always putting others down and criticizing them….. Don’t take my word for it…. Galatians says you’re not a spiritual person…..SO, STOP IT!!!! 

Don’t be like the church greeter who was fired because he kept asking folks if they wanted the smoking or non-smoking section…

Jesus put it straight, “Take the log out of your own eye, so you can see to take the splinter out of your neighbor’s eye”…..

He told the Pharisees, “He that is without fault, cast the first stone”, and they dropped their rocks and left the quarry !! (the quarry is where you dig for rocks) So, get out of the quarry, and stop digging up rocks to throw!

The Lord’s prayer is clear, that forgiving others is the outflow of being forgiven. So apparently, the problem with not forgiving others stems from the fact that we haven’t forgiven ourselves, even after we have been forgiven….. I believe unforgiveness is a spirit that is sent to torment us until we finally realize we don’t have to put up with it anymore, and decide to not be tormented any longer!

We need to let go, and become as little children again!

I’ve discovered that with children, there is usually no grey, everything is black and white….. A little girl was attending a wedding for the first time, and she whispered to her mother, “Why is the bride dressed in white?”

Oh, the mother replied, ‘Because white is the color of purity, and the bride is giving all her pure love to her groom. It is bright representing happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.’ The girl thought about this for a moment then said, “So why is the groom wearing black?” (you think children aren’t watching?)

Another reason we are given that we treat each other with respect (even those who have wronged us) is because Matthew 18:10 “their angels do always see the face (or the desire) of the father in heaven” Wow, that’s also a huge incentive to become as a little child… Angels are bringing the desire of the father to His children. We should just back off and let the angels do what they do, and fulfill the desire of the father towards the very ones we are having a struggle with….Scripture says “pray for those who spitefully use you”…. Amen? Let the angels do it!

What if we start a personal campaign that is not about catching people in faults, but catching them being good, doing good, serving, helping and encouraging!!! I truly believe that God likes to catch people being good!!! Applaud that, spotlight that, talk about that!!!                              

There is an account in scripture where we see this happening in the life of Peter. He was willing to serve the Lord as a trusting child, in the face of his enemies…. 

Acts 12:6 “The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. v7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. v8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. v9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. v10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. v11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”               I believe Peter was praying for the church and his enemies, when God sent his angels. 

A little girl, was dressed in her Sunday best, and she was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for church. As she ranshe prayed, ‘Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late! Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late!’ And while she was running and praying, she tripped on a rock and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again, and she prayed, “Dear Lord, don’t let me be late, and don’t let that old devil of guilt and accusing, push me down again!

Life bruises us and hurts us so we no longer Give Unqualified love and we stop learning and growing, and start camping in what used to be.

And we become adults!!! We get bored with flowers, bugs, sunsets and the shimmering fingers of light dancing on the surface of the ocean.          

     This sinful world is dedicated to knocking us down and beating and wringing out of us, our tenderness of conscience. Our openness about emotions and feelings. Our Creativity and imagination. Our Wonder, awe, Joy, and Eternal hope. It steals from us our Playfulness and humor, our Trust, our Boundless exuberance and energy. Our quickness to forgive and accept, and seeing the best in life and other people.                             

     We become jaded and disinterested. Adults hold grudges, hang on to their fears, and just stay angry. Adults refuse to forgive and remember every injustice and offence done, and who did it. They lose hope because their hopes have been dashed and destroyed so many time. Adults do things “because they’ve always been done that way” and have trouble imagining anything different than how it used to be and how it was.

Most of the time, Jesus didn’t act very adult, compared to the long faced scribes, pharisees, and priests. He was full of the wonder of life, hope for humanity, and the glory of creation.

Jesus lived with an insatiable love for life, love of God, and a love for the human potential and possibilities. And this love was contagious.

People who saw how Jesus lived began to experience a revolution in their thinking and world view. 

Jesus constantly showed to all of those around Him, how the Father intended all people everywhere to live. 

In other words, those who begin to live life like Jesus are those who see God’s presence and glory everywhere they are, in everything they do. They let God take control, and they see what can happen when He has His way.

They begin to see the rule and reign of God unfold in their own life, with all its beauty, majesty, glory, and creativity. This is what Jesus Himself lived, and this is what Jesus invites all of us to live, as we become children of God again!                                                                                                                                                            “Except you become as little children, you will not enter the kingdom”….    Matthew 23:11 “The greatest among you shall be your servant. v12 Forwhoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”.                         Let us pray in closing….                                                                                                                                                          Lord, we open ourselves to the fullness of Your wisdom and guidance. We receive the knowledge we need at this time in our lives that we might serve You and serve those around us. Our greatest desire is that we may bring glory to Your great Name.  Forgive us for the times we have taken Your presence for granted on our path to growth and development. Make us more aware of the One who made all things and holds all things together. Help us to become children again.

No matter what has happened, I know that beginning today, it can be different. Give me an understanding heart, that I may see the precious lives that you treasure all around me. Lord we cry out in behalf of the people, around us, that their eyes may be open to Your truth so they might receive Your mercy and forgiveness. Help us, that as we walk in love, You would shine through us to dispel the darkness, so that all can come into Your transforming light. 

Father, You are able to bring forth every kind of good fruit and bring our loved ones, friends and neighbors into the peace of mind and spirit, they so long for. Bring this city to revival and restoration. May we be strengthened with Your glorious power so we have the endurance and patience we need, to enabled us to share in the inheritance that belongs to all Your people.  Shine through us and may Your light never dim. Christ with me, before me, behind me, in me, beneath me, and above me. Christ on my right, on my left, when I lie down, and when I rise up. To Him be all the glory,  In Jesus Name…   

Blessing……“May the Lord visit you like Noah, Protect you like Daniel, Heal you like Naaman, Favor you like Moses, Prosper you like Isaac, Grant you wisdom like Solomon, Anoint you like David, Answer you like Elijah, Use you like Paul, Intervene for you like Esther, Fight for you like the Israelites, Bring you forth like Jacob, and Deliver you like the three Hebrew children. May He preserve and prosper you as Job, Give you the world view of Isaiah, Overwhelm your enemies like Gideon, Make a way for you like Joshua, and Fill you with His Spirit like the 120”

Posted by: AT 05:49 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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