Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father’s Day


John 14:8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied."

I have thought long and hard on just which role is the hardest to fulfill in life. I have come to the conclusion that the most difficult thing to be in this life is a father.

It could be in part due to the fact that generally fathers are more logical and less emotional than the average mother. Perhaps this leads fathers to find it harder to express themselves or make the small talk necessary to build and maintain close relationships. Or maybe it’s just the fact that unlike a mother, a father cannot know the bond that comes from having a child grow inside their womb or suckle their breasts, drawing every ounce of life from that dependent relationship.

Nonetheless fathers are rightfully given the ultimate responsibility to provide for, protect and defend the family while often left with a sense of being out of the real family loop unless and until the family needs provision, protection or defense. Fathers naturally begin the relationship with their children at a great disadvantage and many never manage to make up the distance no matter how hard they try. Perhaps the most misunderstood and least appreciated runner in this race of life is the father.

Fathers come in all three sizes:




Sorry, but they don’t come in perfect! At least earthly fathers don’t …

Not everyone here today can put themselves in the shoes of a father nor see life from a father’s perspective. However, every person who has ever or will ever live can see from the perspective of a child. Perhaps this is one reason why many of God’s first and strongest words concerning fathers are written to children.

I don’t know if it is possible to be a good father but I do know it is impossible to feel like a good father, unless the wife and children give them honor and respect according to God’s Word.

For this reason I am so grateful that my mother demonstrated the virtues of a Godly woman by both showing and demanding our father be honored and respected in our home. Though all of the years me and my 3 siblings were at home, it was unquestionable who the head of our house was and how our father was to be treated.

This was true without regard as to the many stresses and difficulties of life placed on our family by my father’s alcoholism. My mother and each one of us children carried extra burdens because of my father’s decisions and through it all were taught great and Godly lessons such as patience, kindness, faith, love and forgiveness.

As a result, when my father quit drinking in the mid 70’s, over 2 years after the last one of his children left home, there were no irreconcilable differences or heated arguments or harsh words to get over – we were all able to immediately embrace his new found sobriety as a blessed family.

In all of the years I remember from my childhood and young adulthood, two things never lacked: My father never lacked the honor and the respect that was due him as my father and; Neither I nor any member of our family ever lacked the provision, protection or defense of a father when and if we needed. My father died a proud man, proud of his wife, his two sons, his two girls and the 9 grandchildren he loved so much. He also went to his heavenly reward, although suddenly and without warning, nonetheless knowing that every member of his family was proud of him. He knew this because we left nothing unsaid … instead of it being all his responsibility to make up the gap life can sometimes leave in relationships, we each learned that it was our responsibility to keep those gaps bridged.

I’m so glad my mother demonstrated in life and taught me to believe and embrace the Word of God as my individual responsibility without excuse. Here are a couple of scriptures my mom gave me in times she knew both me and my dad needed more than life expected us to get from our relationship.

The first one she taught me right out of the Ten Commandments

Deuteronomy 5:16 Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

She also read me the same scripture out of the New Testament to give me a continuing respect for God’s will.

Ephesians 6:2 "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise:

My mom let me know that without regard as to what anyone else did or did not do, I was still responsible to God for what I did and I could either make things better or I could make them worse. Life was my choice …

Like most children I wanted my father’s approval and I wanted him to be proud of me. No doubt my mom saw this yearning in me and so she took extra time with me to help me deal with some disappointments I felt growing up with the added pressures we faced. However, in all the time we spent together I never once heard her utter any unkind or critical word about my father.

Through the early years of my adult life I know I made some decisions that my father could have considered stupid however, even after he quit drinking and started paying more attention to family, he never made me feel stupid – he just loved me and gave me his wisdom on anything I asked him about. All in all, it turned out to be a pretty good relationship. However, it would never have survived on a ‘one way’ street.

It’s the same this morning concerning our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our relationship with God will not endure nor will it grow to become all it is meant to be if it is only a ‘one way’ street relationship. Certainly God is our Father and it has to be the most difficult role in the universe.

God stands ready to fulfill His responsibility to provide for us, protect us and defend us. At times He must feel somewhat outside the loop of our other relationships and it may even seem to Him that we only include Him when we need provision, protection or defense.

I know that others around us can seem so much more close to us than does our Heavenly Father at times. However, in truth – He is as close to you as you will let Him be.

Without regard as to the bad decisions we make or even the sin in our lives, God is proud of us and when it is all said and done, He wants an eternal relationship with each and every one of His children. Sure we might not always understand His actions or at times we may feel that He could have or should have done something differently – however – we must never allow ourselves to speak a critical or unkind word about God either in our own hearts or to others.

Unlike earthly fathers, God is perfect in all His ways and in all His decisions. When we need help understanding Him we can go to His Word and always find that He loves us and has a wonderful plan for our life together with Him throughout eternity.

So, what can we take with us from today’s message on Father’s Day? I trust that you will realize that:

· It is our individual responsibility to do our part without regard as to whether or not anyone else does theirs.

· God expects for us to honor our earthly fathers and not disrespect them or their memory.

· Life and relationship cannot endure on a ‘one way’ street. Don’t allow temporal disappointments to become a roadblock to eternal relationships.

· It helps when others encourage us to do right.

Perhaps we all would benefit from once again viewing life as God intended from the eyes of a child.

I’ll close today by wishing all of you fathers, along with God and my dad who is in heaven, a “Happy Father’s Day!”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

God’s Way


Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

God will not be number two – He will only be number one. God will not participate in a polytheistic gathering. If you call the god-roll in your meetings, He will not be there as one of the invited deities.

If Jehovah shows up at a god convention, it won’t be a pretty sight – just ask the followers of dagon, the god of the Philistines, what happened to their idol when they dared to bring the Ark of the Covenant of Jehovah into the temple of their god. (1 Samuel 5)

Or perhaps you can read about Jehovah showing up on Mount Carmel in the midst of about 450 prophets of baal and another 400 prophets of asherah. Fire came down from heaven and the day ended with all of those false prophets dead. (1 Kings 18)

Whatever you do … don’t invite Jehovah God to a god party and don’t call on His name from a list of potential deities in some ungodly attempt to be politically correct – only the ignorant of every religion appreciate that. Political correctness will not get anyone into heaven and polytheism in any form is going to upset every god, all the false and also the One True and Living Jehovah Almighty.

God refuses to just be one of the boys or to play second fiddle in anyone’s life … even when it comes to money! For this reason, when life first began on planet earth, God instructed man concerning the dedication of Tithes and Offerings.

As far back as Cain and Abel, men were making offerings to God in recognition and thanksgiving for His blessings. Some offerings were acceptable to God because they were given in accordance with God’s instructions while others were unacceptable and unblessed.

Such was the case with Cain and Abel which finally led to jealously and resulted in Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. The first murder no doubt stemmed from a disagreement about offerings:

When, how much and with what attitude should we give to God?

Give to God, Yes! – not just to Church and not to a Priest … but to God!

Hebrews 7:8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there He receives them, of Whom it is witnessed that He lives.

Certainly – on earth men receive tithes but in heaven, God receives them.

Genesis 4

1 ¶ Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the LORD."

2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

3 ¶ And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD.

4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,

5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

This is an interesting and insightful account of God’s expectation and man’s interaction with God’s evident blessing. What happened … what was the difference between the offerings of Cain and Abel?

Verse 3 reveals that one of the major differences was that of timing.

“In the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord.”

· Cain brought an offering of what he wanted, when he wanted, just some of the fruit, nothing special either to Cain or to God.

If your offerings mean nothing to you, it will mean nothing to God.

However, if it means much to you, it will mean much to God. And, if it means everything to you and you keep it away from God and choose to not include Him in that which means everything to you, then you have just become a worshiper of money and believe that it can take care of you and your future … but, like everyone else – you will leave planet earth without money … only that which you send to heaven ahead of you will have any effect on eternity.

· On the other hand verse 4 says that Abel brought the “firstborn” of his flock. This too deals with timing and determines which one and when the offering is made.

· Abel brought his offering to God according to God’s timing and according to God’s choice – it was the firstborn.

Basically, Abel did it God’s way and Cain did it his own way … this is why God accepted Abel’s offering and refused Cain’s.

Verse 5 leads us to believe that Cain was surprised when God was not thrilled to receive his tip. Cain had a hard time reconciling the thought that God did not appreciate his willingness and the effort he made to give God anything from what he had worked so hard for. After all, Cain went to a lot of trouble and way out of his way to bring this stuff to the altar, it wasn’t like he didn’t have better and more important things to do. You know how hard it is to work in a field all day long and how much time it takes to provide for your family? God should have been happy with anything he was given, after all … it was more than He would have gotten without Cain’s gift.

By the way, do you know what the difference is between a tithe and a tip? 5 percent! If you’re going to tip God, at least give Him as much as you will give that greasy haired 17 year old who brings your tray to the table at lunch today … just sayin …

Verse 5 says that Cain was very angry. With whom was Cain angry? He was just angry – very angry … Cain had a bad attitude when it came to giving. Perhaps he had a bad attitude when it came to being told what to do. Maybe he was one of those independent types who feel like nobody has the right to tell them anything – you know the type … prideful, arrogant, angry men … let’s continue with the account:

Genesis 4

6 ¶ So the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

7 "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."

I promise you: If you will just do things God’s way, everything will be OK.

8 ¶ Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

I can imagine that Cain didn’t hear what he wanted to hear and get the support or satisfaction he wanted from his conversation with Abel and so he killed him.

Killing the messenger won’t change the message and destroying the witness won’t make the guilty innocent.

Bad won’t be better just because good shuts up.

Just because the preacher doesn’t preach on tithes and offerings does not make it right to rob from God. And, even if you go to a church that never preaches about sin or if you never go to church at all, the fact that you never hear the message does not make your sin OK with God.

Bad won’t be better just because good shuts up.

You never win a one man race – you may as well have been walking; and, if you are the only one you will listen to, you never win an argument; you just teach others to stop wasting their breath and leave you to your own delusions. These things produce very angry men – why … because there is no peace where there is not peace with God.

Once again – we must learn to do things God’s way.

Genesis 4

9 ¶ Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?"

10 And He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.

11 "So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

12 "When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth."

Cain’s independence and refusal to simply do things God’s way led him into sin. Cain was a farmer and one of the evident results of Cain’s sin was that the ground would no longer yield its strength to him.

What does this mean in real terms? It means that when we choose to do thing s our own way and withhold from God what God wants, withhold even those things He requires from us, which in this case the honor and respect due His name, it will make life much harder than it needs to be for us. Things which could go much easier become more difficult when we withhold our first and our best from God for any reason.

God has instituted a simple way of testing and proving our loyalty and submission to His Lordship. Jesus described the war that existed between Jehovah God and money by saying that no one can serve two masters, either you will love the one and hate the other or you will cling to one and despise the other; you cannot serve both God and money.

God’s Word teaches that a person will put his money in the place he values the most. Where his treasure is, there will his heart be also. What we do with our money reveals what we believe about this life and about the life to come.

Allow me to conclude tonight by sharing a few simple Bible truths about tithes and offerings.

Tithe – 10%

500 years before the Law

The Old Testament is not the Law – it contains the Law

All scripture is given by inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16)

I will give you a tenth of all (Genesis 28:22)

Honors God

Honor the Lord with your substance (Proverbs 3:9)

Supports the Priesthood

Gave him tithes of all (Genesis 14:20)


To Sow our Seed

Give and it shall be given (Luke 6:38)

To Meet a Need

Now concerning collection for the saints (1 Corinthians 16)

If you see a brother in need (1John 3:17)

To Follow the Lead

Sell what you have an divide it to the poor (Luke 18:22)

Out of what you have (2 Corinthians 8:12)

2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

· Not grudgingly

· Not of necessity

· Cheerfully

Cain gave what he wanted when he got around to it – not in accordance with the heart and hope of God. He was not thankful but resentful and angry. Ultimately, Cain had no faith in God – only faith in himself to take care of himself by his own work and wisdom. However:

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

Abel is still speaking – he is speaking to us tonight. Let us have faith in God and do things His way, especially when it comes to money!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Road


Every road leads somewhere.

Genesis 22:2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.

Genesis 22

11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
So he said, “Here I am.”

12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

The sacrifice of Isaac - or not!

Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with only one step.

Sometimes God sends us down a road to get to the end of that road and sometimes God sends us down a road to get to a fork in that road.

The adventure of life is heightened in that we never know which it is unless and until we go down that road.

Don't get locked into failure. Always be ready for a fresh word from God.

We all make mistakes which affect us and others.

Sometimes those things which ill affect us most are mistakes made by others who are tangled with us in destiny.

Conversely, sometimes those things which bless us most have nothing to do with our own accomplishments.

But thank God that His mercies are new every morning and that He always has a best will and plan for our lives.

Take a step and begin your journey towards destiny today.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

One Mind


1 Corinthians 2

16 For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Believers in the Church at Corinth that they should not argue and be divided over the simple and common problems which often destroy relationships in this world. He told them that more was expected of them than of others who did not know the salvation which comes through Christ. He further told them that they had received the Spirit of God and were no longer mere humans but rather they were super empowered to think, feel and act differently – above the carnal frustrations of the old nature.

In this letter to the Church at Corinth as well as in other letters to other Churches, Paul attempted to awaken Believers to their new spiritual duties and responsibilities of life as Children of the Most High God. You see:

God has a history of joining people together in relationship for what they can give to the relationship, not for what they can receive.

The Apostle Paul further told the Christian that God had given them a new mind – the mind of Christ. In effect, every Believer in Jesus was admonished to think, feel and act the same way – like Jesus!

Philippians 2

1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,

2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

Many years ago I was told a story about two old men who lived in a small southern town. They had worked their years and were enjoying their retirement by mostly just sitting on the front porch of a local general store facing the main street which ran through their little rural community and talking while they watched the cars drive by.

It happened one morning that a young family drove through town and stopped outside the general store. After getting something refreshing to quench their thirst, the husband and wife stopped to talk to these two old men while the children played on a swing under the big oak tree which stood beside the quiet road.

“What kind of people live in this town?”, asked the young man. “You see,” the woman interrupted, “We were forced to change jobs and are looking for a place to relocate our family.”

“Well”, said one of the old men, “Tell me, what kind of people lived in the town you’re moving from?”

“Oh,” they both replied, “The people in that town are very unfriendly, they don’t get to know their neighbors, they won’t even say hello when they see you on the street, their selfish, unkind, and down right rude … we can’t wait to get away from that town and those people.”

“I’m sorry,” remarked the other old man, “but I’m afraid that that’s the very same kind of people you will find living here in this town.” With that, the couple sighed and gathered their children and drove on to the next town looking for the kind of place they wanted to raise their family.

It wasn’t too long before another car drove through the little town and right up to that same general store, since it was the only one on the main road, and a young family got out and went into the store. On their way out, one of them asked the old gentlemen sitting there rocking, “Can you tell me, what kind of people live here in this town? You see, we lost our job and need to move and thought we would look for a place to raise our children.”

“Well”, expressed one of the men, “What kind of people live in the city you are moving from?”

“Oh”, they both exclaimed, “You couldn’t find a better people; they are kind and considerate; everybody is friendly and the neighbors go out of their way to help one another. We really don’t want to move but we are being forced to do something so we can take care of our family.”

“You’re in luck”, said the other old man, “That’s exactly the kind of people you will find living here in this town.” With that the young couple smiled and gathered their children into the car for a closer look at the opportunities that awaited them.

What’s the moral of this story? First: You often get what you’re expecting; and Second: You often get exactly what you give.

In other words, as the Apostle Paul said to the Church in Galatians:

We reap what we sow.

I have observed a phenomenon in life: Some people seem to be surrounded by losers – at least that’s how they feel. But on closer observation, I have often found that to be their own fault.

You see:

* If we never allow others around us to win, we will be surrounded by losers.

* If you never allow your children to win, you may raise losers.

* If you never let your spouse win, you will always be married to a loser.

* If you refuse to help your employees win, you will only ever employ losers.

Philippians 2

4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

It is true that you may never get what you want unless someone gives it to you. However, it is also true that others may never get what they deserve and what they need unless you are willing to give it to them.

Take that little girl who dreams of a knight in shinning armor coming to rescue her to take her away to his palace. Some time back I realized that one little girl would never have her dream unless I became that noble knight sworn to pledge my life for her dream. And, I have found that while I am busy making my wife’s dreams come true, she is busy working to make my life all I ever hoped it would be.

Imagine that little boy or little girl who will never know a loving and caring mother and father unless you determine to be what they need.

If you show me where you spend your time, I can show you what you value. Life is time … and … what you give your life for is what is most important to you – no matter what you say – what you value most will enjoy the most of your time.

When it’s all said and done, all God will have left is family. Family is what is most important to God and family is where God spends His time and gives His life. A father or mother or grandparent does not play baseball in the back yard or go to kids museums because that’s where they have always wanted to spend a Saturday. They go so they can invest their life in their family.

Where we spend our time, especially our quality time, consistently – is what we value most.

I have never attended one person who on their death bed said: “I wish I had just spent one more hour at the office.” Rather, the sad truth is, most weep wishing they could have but one more chance at their marriage or at raising their family or telling their parents or siblings how much they meant to them.

Philippians 2

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

As Believers in Jesus, we must not quarrel over petty differences, divide over carnal opinions, envy one another, and be jealous or unkind. We have the mind of Christ and should walk in peace and unity with our brothers and sisters who also have been given the Spirit of our God.

Can you hear and accept what the Apostle Paul is saying to the Believer in Christ? Will you let the mind of Christ replace your carnal frustrations, philosophies and priorities of life? Won’t you turn from your own path and begin living a new way today … all it takes is one decision and the Holy Spirit will guide your every step.