The Power

If God is for us, who can be against us? Paul, the Apostle

Have you ever given thought to the power that Christians have on their side? When we talk about the power of God, we are talking about a power that cannot be defeated. Though the odds seem insurmountable, God's power is always sufficient for the victory.

I don't believe that there has been a time in my life that this fact has been as important to me as it is now. It seems that righteousness is under attack from every direction It is mocked in the media, it is opposed by people in authority - why, a chicken salesman cannot even give his opinion on marriage without having his ears ripped off by those who disagree.

So what are we to do? Trust God! When God is on your side, or more accurately, when you are on His, you cannot lose. This does not mean that you won't have struggles, nor does it mean that you won't ever be mocked and opposed, but it does mean that you cannot lose. That's the power that we trust in! Have you accessed this higher power in your life? If you will, it will change your life and remove the worries that plague those who are trying to get through this life on their own.

For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones. They will be protected forever. Psalm 37:28, NIV

 

The Empty Nest

I wonder how the Robins feel... when their last chick leaves the nest?

I don't know what the birds think about when that last chick has flown - I only know about my thoughts. I think about the time my children were born. I think about the anticipation we had as we held our newborns, wondering what kind of people they would become.

I remember the first days of school - how one clung so tightly to our hands on that first day of school... how another walked ten strides ahead and how we heard her new teacher say, "Now there's a confident Kindergartner!" I remember reading to our little ones, and how one in particular had a way of digging her elbow into my arm as she climbed into my lap.

I remember Katie and Orbie, I remember Green Eggs and Ham and the Berenstain Bears. I remember the days the training wheels came off... and the braces... and the glasses. I remember holding these dear ones in worship, then carrying them out to the tunes of, "But, I don't want a spanking". I remember them swinging their tiny legs in the pews when their feet didn't yet reach the ground...

I remember little league baseball, little dribbler's basketball and two-a-days in football. I remember the triumphs and the failures. I remember going to State twice - once with our oldest and once with our youngest. I remember hearing the roar of the crowd as our middle child wove her dribbling magic through the heart of the vaunted "Nazareth Defense" - the most successful girl's basketball program in the nation, and they couldn't stop my child!

I remember the tears and the laughter, the programs and the graduations... I remember seemingly endless trips to the emergency rooms. I remember the joy I felt when I had the unbelievable privilege of watching my children being born, and the even greater privilege I had when I baptized all three of them and witnessed them being born again!

I remember lunch pails, and unmade beds, and retainers, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I remember skinned knees, and sled rides, and going out for pizza! I remember trips to grandparents and birthday parties and Christmas mornings. I remember the delicious anticipation we had as we waited for the starter's gun to begin the race. 

So you see, while I do not know how the Robin feels when that last chick flies away, I do know how I feel: I feel a mixture of sadness and joy that are almost impossible to put into words. And, while I know that a chapter in this book has now forever closed, I also know that the next chapter has begun. And, I look forward with great anticipation to see what this next chapter holds!

More than anything else I know Who watches over our little chicks, now that they have left our nest... and I rejoice!

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children. Psalms 103:17, RSV

 

Thou Shalt Have No Idols

Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain. John Calvin

One of the greatest problems today is the same problem that mankind has been fighting since the dawn of creation: Idolatry. If you don’t believe that, consider for a moment why God made the forbidding of idols the first command.

If you are like me, you probably thought that idolatry was something that died in the Old Testament times or, if it still exists, does so only in backward, third world nations. But as John Calvin so aptly stated a few hundred years ago, men continually forge new idols in their own brains. Don’t bother them with the facts, for what they think becomes what they believe.

If you don’t believe that, just look at today’s headlines. It seems that all men do is make idols of their own thoughts. Modern man is so sophisticated that he thinks he can take God’s commands and discard them. He thinks it is okay to pervert God’s natural plan for men and women, so he decides that God is wrong when He says that certain relationships are reserved only for marriage between a man and a woman. So fornication, adultery and homosexuality are now championed in the thinking of modern men. And these relationships become idols.

Modern men think that God has no place in cultured society, so our courts have taken Him out of school, out of government, and out of the business world. Then, when God is no longer in control, the popular opinions of men take over. That’s why we believe in a godless evolution, in global warming that makes the planet really cold, and in the idea that we can borrow money from our kid’s that have yet to be born. It’s even why we decide that babies in the mother’s womb don’t even have to be born, if they might interfere with our own selfish plans.

And, if you want to really talk about modern day idols, just take a look at those gods that sit in our entertainment rooms. We look at things on T.V. that used to make people blush. We look at things on our computers that no decent people ever used to look at. We play mindless games on our electronics instead of taking the time to go to worship.

And even we have justify all of these things in our minds as being cultured and sophisticated, they are really no less superstitious than the idols that the ignorant masses worshiped in their day.

There is a cure, though, for idolatry… and that cure is to restore God to His rightful position as Lord and Master of our lives.

Thou shalt have no other god before me. The First Commandment

Week 2: It Seems Too Simple

If you want to have success in really and truly changing in your life, then you will have to be willing to put forth the effort that a failure is unwilling to give.

Think about the things we have looked at this week: Pray as much as you can. Read the Bible as much as you can. Worship with the church as much as you can.  It seems too simple, right. "I wanted to discover the great secrets to a life changing experience and you give me the most basic things that I already know ", you might be thinking - and you would be half right.

You see, these things are simple in the fact that they are not complicated, but they have the ability to change your life in ways that you cannot even imagine if you will add the key ingredient: Commitment! Prayer, Bible study and worship are simple to grasp - they are not easy to continually do.  I have been praying since I was a child, but I am only now beginning to have the deep and meaningful prayers that draw me closer to my Heavenly Father. I have probably read the Bible through over twenty times, but I still discover powerful truths that I have somehow missed for so many years. I have rarely missed a worship in over fifty years, but I am still in awe of the love of Christ every time I partake of the Lord's Supper.

If you want to change your life, you will have to make the decision to do so. This requires a commitment and a level of effort that most people are simply unwilling to give. But, those who seek to live a life for God with an unwavering commitment that is prompted by love will have a great chance at success. It's like two men who want to go to Hawaii: One thinks, "It sure would be nice to go to Hawaii someday." The other man saves up money for the trip, arranges his vacation time at work, calls up the travel agent and makes reservations for the plane and motel. Who do you think is more likely to go to Hawaii?

One final word of caution for those who are ready to commit: It takes time. A baby learns to crawl before it walks and an Olympic sprinter learnsto run, before he competes. You are already committed, so present your humble petition to God in prayer, seeking His help. Then pray every day. Read from His word, every day - it will take time but His plan will slowly become evident to you as you read His instruction manual. Then find a place to worship. You might not find the one described in the Bible right off, so begin your search. Make that search based on the criteria you find in the Bible, rather than your (or your parent's) personal preferences.

Then remain faithful as long as you live. You will struggle, but if you will persist you will succeed. And then, there is Heaven!

Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Proverbs 4:13, NIV

A Kind Heart

Kindness gives birth to kindness. Sophocles

 

One of the great privileges I have as a preacher is in performing wedding ceremonies. Prior to the wedding day, I always have a chance to sit down with the couple and look at what the Bible has to say about marriage. The reason is simple: God created marriage and therefore knows how it works the best. To even consider marriage without examining God's word would be like building a house without consulting the architect's blueprint - it simply won't turn out as the designer planned.

 

One of the most important elements of marriage is the virtue of kindness. I can often tell if a young couple will the have kindness that their new partnership needs as soon as they cut the cake. If they "smash" the cake into each other's face that's okay, I guess, but it seems a rather unkind start. On the other hand, if the new husband and wife carefully and lovingly feed each other that cake, then I have great hope for the marriage - it has started off in kindness! That's the way to begin a new life together, in my opinion.

 

Now I know that this may seem a bit silly, but I can't help it. I am a sucker for kindness. I like being around kind people. I like seeing a big brother take care of his baby sister. I like seeing a big sister hold the hand of her little brother to keep him from falling. I like it when young people help out their less fortunate classmates. I like seeing a young man hold the door for a young lady and I like it even more when he does the same for an older woman. I like seeing gentlemen stop to lend assistance to those struggling with the changing of a flat tire, and I like seeing our sweet ladies take covered dishes to their neighbors in need.

 

In short, I love kindness, because when I witness it I know that I am in the presence of something that is not seen often enough on this side of Heaven. And I think that I am not alone in this... it makes you feel good, too. So, what kindness can we do today?

 

Love is kind, I Corinthians 13:4, NIV

 

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