How much for a one way ticket to heaven?

Scripture Psalm 49 ;

7 No man can redeem the life of another
       or give to God a ransom for him-

 8 the ransom for a life is costly,
       no payment is ever enough-

 9 that he should live on forever
       and not see decay.

 10 For all can see that wise men die;
       the foolish and the senseless alike perish
       and leave their wealth to others.

 11 Their tombs will remain their houses [a] forever,
       their dwellings for endless generations,
       though they had [b] named lands after themselves.

 12 But man, despite his riches, does not endure;
       he is [c] like the beasts that perish.

 13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
       and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
       Selah

Observation

We can not redeem ourselves, nothing we could ever do is good enough to earn our salvation, and without the grace of God we are all heading for the same end, destruction and the grave.  But for those who put their trust in the Lord, the grave is not the end of the journey, it is only a door which they pass through as they enter into the blessings of everlasting joy.

Application

I’m reminded of a funny scene in Wayne’s World that great movie from the 90’s that had us all repeating this great catch phrase.  Wayne and Garth are backstage and they meet up with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and they fall down before him and say, “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy! ”  Steven looks down at them and says “You’re worthy, you’re worthy. Get up!”

They may have been worthy to stand before Steven Tyler, but none of us are worthy to stand before a Holy and Just God on judgement day.  And we will all do so, each one of us has a divine appointment with God and we will each have to reconcile with the fact that we ourselves are unworthy and deserve to be cast out of His presence. 

There will be many who will try to reconcile their guilt through their own merits and actions.  They will point out the good things they have done in their lives and how they have helped many, and served others.  They will say, “look what I’ve done is nothing compared to many others, I may have done some wrong things but that doesn’t make me a bad person, I’m just like everyone else.”  Some who have relied on their own wisdom will be shocked that they are in the presence of an intelligence that is beyond any earthly comprehension and explanation and will fall before God in anguish and dismay at their own stubbornness and hard-heartedness.

Those who WILL be able to stand before God on that day will be the ones who stand not on their own merit or work, but on the atonement of the Savior.  Those who have given up on themselves to live for Him will be the ones who enter into the eternal joy of fellowship with the Father because they have accepted the gift that He provided as a way back to Him.

Our scripture this morning says “7 No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him- ”  No MAN – but the good news for us today is that what is impossible for man, is possible for God! 

Halleluah – Jesus Saves!!!

Prayer

Father,

  Help me to surrender daily to you, let me die to myself so that I may live more for you, and strive toward the example of Jesus for my life.  Help me to understand that there is but one way to stand before you on the day of judgement and that is not on my own merits, but on Faith in your Son who died for me and for all.  And grant me the boldness, wisdom, and words to relate this truth to those whose hearts you are preparing.

I lift up a special prayer today for MEL, MCL, CH, PLB, MB, RB, MB, – they are all special to me and I know also to you, please touch them and let them feel the presence of your Spirit right now!

Love Michael

Yieldedness

It is not my power, might, strength, morality, good works, or wisdom that saves, but God alone, and His Spirit that is to guide.

Bad Company – Coming Soon!! to a heart near you…

Scripture:   1 Cor. 15: 31I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
   “Let us eat and drink,
      for tomorrow we die.”[d] 33Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

Observation: People who we spend time with, who we respect, we tend to imitate, without realizing it, the more we are around them, the more into their likeness we become.

Application: It is important for us to understand this concept, that the more we are around someone, the more they rub off on us.  It’s not something that is intentional, it just happens.  The more time you spend with a person who you are fond of, who you respect, the more like that person you become.  You adopt their ideas, their mannerisms, even their vocabulary.  So it’s important for us to be aware of the kind of people we invest ourselves in. 

    This is not to say we should avoid anyone who isn’t living up to our moral standards by any means.  Jesus taught us to go to those who society would reject, and to love them and not to be afraid to be around them.  However if you notice, Jesus didn’t linger with those people.  He was there to teach, to love, to lead; He was not there to join in.  I know that may seem like a fine line to walk but its not really.  Jesus had no trouble sitting down to eat and drink with sinners, but when He did, he was there for a purpose of teaching and shedding light in the midst of that darkness that had them surrounded.  He was there as a beacon to the outcast and lost.   He was being an example of what He implored His disciples and the multitudes to be in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  It’s actually one of the biggest parts of our Christian mission to minister to the lost of the world, and you can’t do that unless you are around them.  But that doesn’t mean that you bring an overnight bag, and pitch a tent in the yard.

  Listen,  –  I’m not condoning judgment upon people, I’m not condoning elitism among the Church, but I am saying that we need to be aware that if we are hanging around people who are unbelievers and we are friends with them, and we are socializing on a regular basis, then we have to be extra careful to let our lights shine, and not be misled from our own faith.  There have been people in my life who I have been very close to but I have had to walk away from regular relationships with in order to sustain my faith and continue on the right path.  And I know that it isn’t easy to walk away from someone who we consider to be a friend.  But if you can’t bring them with you, you can’t allow them to hold you back on the journey which God has set your feet upon.

  Paul was warning the Christians of Corinth about those who didn’t believe in the resurrection, those who thought it to be mere foolishness, and he said that Bad company corrupts good character.  And those were wise words for the Christians there, they were living in a society that was very diverse, there were people of many different faiths around them all the time, there were zealots, and philosophers, and pagans, and intellectuals at every corner. It was a society of people who would, if possible persuade them away from the notion that God sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins and then raised Him again from the dead on the third day, thus conquering our spiritual death and setting us in a right standing relationship with God if we would only believe and put our faith and trust in Him.

Well my friends times have moved on but, as the old saying goes,  the more things change the more they stay the same.  We are living in a world today that is similar in these ways to the society of Corinth in the 1st century.  So many ideas are out there, and many of them are much easier a path to follow than Christ on the cross, there are systems of faith that have no restraint, and no restrictions upon a persons conduct, and they are popular because they are the easy path.  But those of us who know the truth, who’s eyes have been opened by God’s grace, understand that the easy path is not always the right path, and that God never promised us a life of comfort and unrestrained self-gratification.  The way of the cross is often difficult, it is a way that will break you, it is a way that will cause you pain and heartache, but it is THE way that leads to heaven.

Prayer: Father God,

   Help me Lord to do the things that I need to do in order to keep my heart attuned to Your will, and my feet focused on the path You have placed me upon.  Let me not stumble by the wayside nor be led astray by my passions.  Help me to drop what I need to drop, and to pick up what I need to pick up in order to serve you with my whole heart, body, soul, and mind.  I thank you Father for your mercy, I thank You for your unending patience with me.  Forgive me when I slip and put me back on the path that leads to the goal of heaven.

Love Michael

Yield:  Some things are hard to let go of.  Lord give me the strength to walk away from those things that keep my heart from focusing on you, even when those things are close friends and long term relationships.

Send your warriors home, God’s got your back!

Scripture: Judges 7:2The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

Observation: When God gives you a miracle, He wants you to give Him the glory.

Application:  When something difficult is before us, how quick we are to turn to God for help and deliverance.  We say “Lord please help me through this, lead me through this valley.”  And often times God does just that. 

The problem is, that after we’re through the problem we are unthankful, and carelessly continue on without giveing God the proper praise. We get back to our busy schedules without ever witnessing of His power to those who need to hear about it, to build up His people and glorify Him. 

I was talking with a friend not long ago and he was telling me about things he had found with his metal detector.  He told me about how while he was on vacation in Florida one year he had helped a young girl to find a lost ring that she had dropped from a balcony at a hotel.  And when he found it and handed it to her she was so excited, she looked up at her parents, on the balcony above, and yelled, “Look, he found my ring!”  She ran off and never said a word of thanks to my friend, and he never saw her again.

I’m sure it was her excitement that made her absent minded in thanking my friend.  I can’t help but wonder if later on she didn’t think about her failure to thank him and feel bad about neglecting to do such a simple thing as say thanks.  But it was too late, they had already parted ways never to see each other again.

I know that there have been many times in my life that I have been the recipient of overflowing blessings from God.  Some of them I prayed for and He answered, and some of them were provided for me even before I realized how much I needed them.  How often I have forgotten to give God the proper thanks for what He has done for me.  But the good thing is that unlike the situation with my friend and the young girl in Florida, I have not parted company with God, and I can still thank Him now for things I may have neglected in the past.

Isn’t it good that we can look back today, and give God glory for the blessings and miracles He has given us in this life.  As you go into this Sabbath, keep it Holy by thanking God for those unrecognized movements of His Spirit in your life.  Remember those things you have forgotten that He has done for you and give Him the glory for them now.

Have a Blessed Sunday!

Prayer: Heavenly Father,

   I know that you have carried me through many situations and when I reached the other side, I just jumped out of your arms and ran off about my way without a word of thanks to you.  I ask you for forgiveness for my un-thankful heart.  And I look back now and Shout to the Whole World

“GOD IS A MIRACLE WORKER – GREAT IS HE – HIS GLORY AND MAJESTY IS HIGHER THAN THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN – HIS UNDERSTANDING IS DEEPER THAN THE SEA AND HE IS WORTHY OF YOUR PRAISE FOREVER AND EVER”

I love you Lord!  Let my life today and every day be a reflection of your Glory!

Selah

Yield:  Let what I do be always for God’s glory and not my own.

Slice me another piece of perfection please.

Scripture 1 Corinthians 13 :

8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Observation

We have a part of that which is perfect among us, because we have been given the fullness of His Love.

Application

Love or Charity, we’ve talked about this before.  Love is a word we usually associate with an emotional feeling inside us.  But as we read in this chapter we see Love’s attributes and realize that it is a verb.  Love is an action word.  It has less to do with how we feel, than it does with how we act.  

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus could have said, ” Hey this isn’t right, I just don’t FEEL it.”  That was his emotional state wasn’t it?  (imperfect memory quotes)Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me…”  But then he decided and resolved to let his actions move ahead of his Feelings when He said, “Yet not my desires, but yours be done.” 

Jesus made his Love for us a verb by Doing the will of the Father. This is why the word Charity and Love are interchangeable, Love is more than an emotional feeling, its an action.

But I digress…  – *big smile*   What I really wanted to talk about is this.  We have been given a small taste of something that is perfected in our Heavenly Father and that perfection is His Love. 

We are able to experience Love and or Charity between ourselves because we have been given Love by our Heavenly Father.   You can’t give something that you don’t have, and you can’t have something that you were not given from above. 

Love is one of those good things that God has placed within us and true love demonstrates itself in our acts of Charity toward one another.  We may search for knowledge and understanding all of our lives, but I don’t think we’ll ever be able to fully satisfy that desire until we are embraced by the savior (the perfect one) on that glorious day and He says to us “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”  Then we will be able to know all mysteries, and the great information booth of Heaven will be opened to us. How I look forward to that day!

But until then, we have our Faith in the Father, we have our Hope for Heaven, but most importantly, we have our Love for Him, and for each other.

Prayer

Father,

Make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow Love,

Where there is injury, pardon

Where there is doubt, faith

Where there is despair, hope

Where there is darkness light,

and where there is Sorrow, Joy.

 Love Michael

Yieldedness

I know I will never find perfect knowledge in this life – let me therefore strive for a More Perfect Love.

The Covenant

Scripture:  Judges 2: 1The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.”

Observation:  In a Covenant there are things happening on both sides.  I will do A if you will do B.  But if you don’t do B, I won’t do A.

Application:  The Covenant of God between the nation of Israel can be complex,  there are many laws laid out for the Israelites to follow, but at the same time if you break it down to its basic essentials its fairly simple.

They were to follow God’s commands and if they did that, God would prosper their nation.  If they didn’t follow His commands, then their nation would be destroyed.  And Israel does a very good job of displaying the fickle, undecided, wishy-washiness of the whole of mankind in their actions.  At times they really try and do a pretty good job of following God for a while, and as they do God is always faithful and prospers their nation.  Then after a while they will turn back to their lax ways and not obey God with their whole hearts and their nation suffers as a result of it.

Their covenant was more of a physical covenant than the one that Jesus Christ came to establish, it was more of a covenant on this earthly realm.  But it had a heavenly goal in mind, because when Christ established the New Covenant, we now have an everlasting eternal covenant that will outlast even the earth itself.  And although our covenant is more of a spiritual thing, at its core it is still the same.   There is an exchange – there are things happening on both sides.  If we do A – Then God does B.  But God will not do B, until we do A. 

So what are the ABC’s of the new covenant?  Ha- Ha! – I just came up with that….    

It is a covenant of faith – If we confess Jesus Christ as Lord, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead, we shall be saved.   

Do you see both sides there?   We confess and believe, – God saves.   It seems simple doesn’t it?   But I tell you this my friends, it isn’t simple, not in today’s world of intellectuals and unbelievers.

  We are fighting a spiritual battle today to try and uphold the covenant that God has made with us, and it may be even more difficult for us now than it was for our Hebrew friends of the Old Testament when God told them to take possession of their own promised land.  We are marching into a spiritual land – and we are fighting a spiritual battle every day to gain more ground and tread out the blessings that God has provided for the faithful.

Just as God was faithful when Israel was faithful, and just as He would allow destruction to come upon them when they were not, so is He today in our New covenant.  He is faithful to save us when we have faith, but if we allow our faith to falter, He will also allow us to bring ourselves to destruction.  It is not the power of any man that is able to pull us from the hand of our Savior, it is our own turning away, our own lack of courage to stand firm on the faith of our youth and be steadfast in our belief.

The great New Covenant of God stands strong today – the battleground before His people is the fertile soil of our hearts.  Do not let your foot slip my friends.  Stand firm, and if you have allowed the enemy to plant seeds of doubt in your heart.  I encourage you to return to the Scriptures and dedicate yourself to understanding them again.  Be prayerful and ask God to increase your faith.  And know that if you Ask you will Receive!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father,  I know that I have been guilty of allowing the world to seep into my faith.  And I confess that I have been an instrument in allowing it to seep into the hearts of my friends and family as well.  Please forgive me of my unbelief and strengthen and build up the faith of my youth.  Grant me the fire and zeal of my salvation once more in a double portion so that I may demonstrate to all the truth of your grace, and help us all to stand firm on your New Covenant of faith, and the Blood of Your Son in whose name I pray.

Amen.

Yield:    I release my need to agree with the world and cling to the faith of God through Jesus Christ His Son.

All may come to His table!

Scripture 1 Cor 11:27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

Observation

None of us are worthy to even eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table.  We are not worthy, yet we are invited, we are not deserving, yet we are counted as heirs.

Application

This little piece of scripture has been instrumental in keeping so many good Christians away from taking communion over the years, and I really feel that it is because of a misunderstanding of what Paul was teaching.

We have to remember that when Paul wrote his letters, he was writing about specific problems that were popping up in the Churches he had helped establish.  One of the problems at Corinth was with the Lord’s Supper. 

Thier idea of the Lord’s Supper, and our idea of it are not quite the same.  To the first century Church the Lord’s Supper was more of what we would call today a fellowship meal.  What we know today as Communion, believe it or not, we owe largely to the early Catholic Church, and the Eucharist. 

People were apparently coming to this fellowship meal in Corinth and were jumping ahead in line and filling up their plates like they were at a one trip only salad bar.  They were drinking so much wine that some of them were drunk, and the people in the back of the line were getting left out, they were left with empty plates and wine skins.

So this is the behavior Paul was working on correcting.  And if you can imagine that happening at a fellowship meal today, you can see where it needed to be addressed in a fairly harsh tone.  I don’t blame Paul for saying what he did.  However I do think that if the Apostle had known that we would relate his words to Holy Communion, he may have chosen a different method of reproach.

In my humble opinion, it boils down to this.  None of us are truly worthy of Holy Communion.  In fact none of us are worthy of anything Christ has done for us.  But out of His love for us He did it anyway, and wants us to receive the blessings He has laid out before us, the blessings that He has paid for with His very blood.

When you are asked to partake of Holy Communion, don’t refrain because you are unworthy – we all are.  Come examining yourself, that you are supposed to do, but COME.  Examination of our souls is part of the practice, it’s part of how we receive God’s grace, its our way of earnestly repenting and seeking Jesus.  When you come, remember what Christ has done for you, and celebrate the life of your savior.   In Communion we take into ourselves Christ Body, and His Blood, and become The Body of Christ for this lost and dying world.  Don’t miss out on that blessing because you feel unworthy.  Let Christ MAKE you worthy with HIS worthiness.

Prayer

Father God,

  Although I am far from perfect, and I know that I am not worthy to carry your shoes, or eat crumbs from your table, yet you use me. I praise you that you have chosen the weak to confound the strong, and the foolish to confound the wise.  Guide me as a weak and foolish person to be a strong and wise tool of your will and help me to accomplish Your purposes today for Your glory!

Also Lord – I ask you to watch over my Mother’s odometer as she rolls past the dreaded 66,666 mile marker – may your angels carry her through.    *grin*

Love Michael

Yieldedness

I know I am not worthy – but He is worthy, and by Him I am made acceptable to God!

Thank you Lord!

Scripture 1 Corinthians 10

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Observation

You should always be able to give thanks to God for the things you’re doing.

Application

There is a comedian that some of the younger generation will sadly never know who had some wonderful stories to tell.  I have a particular fondness for him because he told stories about back woods country people by the name of Ledbetter.  The person I’m talking about is Jerry Clower.

He had some really funny stories to tell, but I want to share with you something I heard him say at the end of one of his concerts that I used to have on a record.  He said, “If you’re ever about to do something and you wonder to yourself, Is this the right thing to do? Here is a way to find out.  If you can stop and Thank God for it.  If you can say, I thank you Lord for giving me the opportunity to do this, or for bringing me to this place.  If you can say that to God and give Him thanks for it.  You’re probably alright.  But if you can’t  – Watch out!  You’re about to mess up.”

That is good advice – we should be able to thank God for whatever we are doing, and if we can’t.  If our conscious pricks our hearts when we go to thank our Heavenly Father for it, then something is out of line, and we are about to make a mistake.

Prayer

Father guide me today and every day to do the things you would have me to do.  I thank you for the opportunities you will place before me today.  Help me God to take advantage of each and every one of them.

Love Michael

Yieldedness

I give up my ideas of right and wrong and cling to God’s ideas.  Teach me Lord!