Walk Straight

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I would say that on average I pray the same prayer every day. I pray some variation of “Lord help me to walk in your ways and not stray to the left or to the right.” I want to be clear that I do not pray this prayer because I am so great but because I am aware of my own frailty. I know that left to my own devices I will stray to the left and the right. I know that when it is up to me I will go astray. I know me.

I also know that God desires to lead me. He desires to guide me. He desires to have me follow. Most of the time God and I are on the same page; we both know I am weak. I say most of the time because there are times when I try and blaze my own trail and when that happens I come back and pray my prayer again but with more determination.

I don’t really have much to say about this because I know I am not alone. I know I am not the only one who knows what is in them. Chances are if you are reading this then you know just as I do that we are prone to wonder. My advice is to admit that and ask for Him to guide you because He wants to. Jesus says “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” 

 

Just a thought,

Mike

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Bottle Lamp

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What do a broken lamp and an empty bottle of wine have in common? Usually, unless you drank the bottle and got mad at the lamp not much, but what if they could be recreated into something new. What if by taking the uselessness of an empty bottle and the parts of the lamp you could make these two things into something new and special? That was my question so I did what anyone with tools, ambition, and no budget would do; I made a new lamp.

The Bible says that when we come to Christ we are a new creation. Specifically, it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” You are not just a new creation but the old is gone. Just like I cannot put the lamp back together and cannot refill the bottle you cannot go back to what you were before. Sure some people try but there is always this feeling inside you that you can’t shake. Something that keeps nagging at you that this is not your purpose.

The reason for this is that the old you is dead. I’m sorry to tell you this but that person died and you were not invited to the funeral. Galatians 2:20 says that we died with Christ and now live by His life (in faith). You cannot go back because that life is gone. Jesus did not die on the cross and rise three days later to make you better. You are not the six million dollar man. He did not want to make you faster, stronger, or more faithful, that was not the intent. No, God wanted to make you new. He was not looking and is not looking to patch you up. God wanted to make you new. Just like the bottle lamp you are not a better bottle you are a new thing altogether.

You still have your memories, your desires, your talents, and all those things. Coming to Christ does not change those things but instead, you are new in that your spirit is alive and your bondage to sin is gone. You no longer have to obey the desires of your flesh. The desires are there and must be conquered but you do not have to obey them. You are new. Think of it like this; if you quit your job and get a new one you still remember working there, you still learned things from that job, and you might even have a little coin left over from that job but that old employer can no longer tell you what to do. You do not have to listen to them even if they call you to ask you questions and try to get you to come back. It is kind of like that. The old you still calls but you don’t need to answer because you have been made new. You are a new creation.

God is in the business of recreating people and making them into new things. He has new purposes and plans for you. He has new dreams to put inside you. He is calling you (the new you) into new things. They might be scary or hard but He is calling you to them because the new you can do that thing by His power. He does not just make us new to sit us on a shelf and look nice. He makes us new to use us. Just like I am going to plug in my lamp and let that light shine, God is going to use you because He made you for a purpose.

Just a thought,

Mike

All Are Needed

I have been thinking quite a bit about James 2:1-4 and while James mentions money in the example I think a common principle is there. I take two things from this passage first, we should not favor one group over another. Not the young or the old, not the rich or the poor, and not the “elite” or “the common.” Each “type” of person has value they can and do bring into worship and each one needs to be appreciated for that. In general, youth brings creativity which is great but with age comes temperance which is often needed with creativity. Rich bring money and the poor bring perseverance (again in general). All are valuable and all are needed.

Second I see that James says that both should be present. James seems to be pointing out that both are in the mix at this congregation and that tells me that we should seek to embrace that dynamic. We should have old and young, rich and poor, experienced and inexperienced. If our gathering is missing any of these then we are missing something

My brothers, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For example, a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor man dressed in dirty clothes also comes in. If you look with favor on the man wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or, “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” haven’t you discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

James 2:1-4

Just a thought,

Mike

Solomon, wise but weary

Just a little Sunday morning Bible Study

Chapters 1 through 10 of 1 Kings record Solomon seeking God and following after God. Solomon was wiser than anyone who has ever lived. He was also rich beyond belief. He had palaces and gold by the tons. It says that he did not use silverware but goldware because he was so wealthy. Solomon had everything but it was not enough for him. In all his wisdom in the end he did not apply that wisdom to himself.

In the New Testament we read in Galatians (6:9) that we should not grow weary, or tired, in doing good because at the right time we will receive a harvest. It is not easy always doing the right thing, and it is not easy to help others but it is right. We cannot grow tired like Solomon did. We cannot give up. We cannot forget the promises of God.

Solomon had an eye for the ladies but especially for the ladies God told him not to take as wives. He followed after their gods and broke covenant with the God of Israel. It always happens this way too. When we start to follow after things we should not they lead us to other things we should follow. There are somethings that are straight sin no questions about it but there are other things too. Things that maybe you should not do because they lead you down a path you should not go. Sin and these things will take your focus of God and end the end lead you down a path where you following after other things that take the place if your calling, your future, and maybe even your God.

Just a thought,
Mike

Ring Ring, Hello

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We have to remember when we read the story of Jonah that Jonah knew God. He was a prophet and if we read through the Bible we see he first appears in 2 Kings 14:25 which means he had been a prophet for some time before he was sent to Nineveh. Jonah knew God and he knew God was merciful and compassionate. Jonah ran from God not because he was afraid of the Ninevites, but because he knew God would forgive them.

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh (the capital of Assyria) because of his hatred for the Assyrians. The Assyrians were enemies of Israel who were a) not to be messed with and b) by all accounts had no interest in turning to God. They were perfectly happy in their wickedness. Jonah as far as he could tell had no business going to preach repentance to a people who would not want to hear and that he did not even like. As is often the case God, however, had other plans.

When we read the Bible we are constantly confronted with the fact that God has plans that differ from ours. In Isaiah God says my ways are not your ways, in Psalms, it says God’s plans stand forever, and in Ephesians, it says He works all things out in agreement with His own will. Even we look at Jesus coming we see that it did not transpire the way the people expected and because it did not come as they expected they could not accept it. Over and over again God shows He has His own plans.

Jonah knew this about God and did not want to go to Nineveh because even though God did not say He would forgive them Jonah knew it was in His nature to show compassion. Jonah knew God well enough to know that about Him and sure enough the people repented and God showed compassion. God still shows compassion too. He has shown it to me and to you even if you do not know Him. We live because God shows compassion. There’s a term called grace that we love and throw around in the church and it basically means unmerited favor or God giving you good when you don’t deserve it.

God’s grace is huge and I think we can overlook it sometimes. Grace means God doesn’t strike you down for the sins you commit or even will commit. Think about this; God knew before you were born you would sin against Him and He still chooses to have you come into being. He knew you would sin against Him and not choose Him and He still loves you. He knows there are people who will never turn to Him but He still calls them. That is a love that is beyond understanding. God might be calling you right now. He might be telling you to call someone else. He might be telling you to go and do something you think is beyond you. He does this all from a place of being merciful, compassionate, and full of grace.

If God is calling, no matter what that call looks like He is calling because He loves you. He is calling because He has plans and they involve you. Maybe you need to go to a far away land and preach the Gospel, maybe you need to go next door and tell the neighbor, or maybe you just need to smile at the cashier. Whatever the case, whatever the call you should answer it.

 

Just a thought,

Mike