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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series 15

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Earlier we had looked at the first of Jesus’ Ten Commandment upgrades regarding murder.  We learned that in the Old Testament if I did not take a life from another human being, I was not considered to have broken the commandment.  However, Jesus tells us that if we so much as call someone a fool or in other words use life sucking words about someone than we have committed murder. 

Now we have Jesus’s second upgrade.  In the Old Testament as long as I never have sex with another woman I am generally seen as having not broken the adultery commandment.  Now Jesus goes to meddling with that simplistic interpretation.  He says if you lust you are committing adultery.  Consider what that means. 

If you look at pornography you have committed adultery.  If you fantasize about a woman that is not your spouse, you have committed adultery.  Any time that you dehumanize a woman and degrade her even in your mind you have committed adultery. 

Again, we come to the concept, you must guard your thoughts.  It is easy for our mind to wander to cleavage or short skirts.  I hate to even mention it in fear that it will cause some of you to stumble but silence also has it s power.  When you find yourself struggling, when temptation is calling out to you.  Call out to Jesus. 

If the image is on a screen, shut it down, but I know that it is already seared into your brain, so call out to Jesus.  Consider this, Jesus loves that woman, purely.  Consider this, that is someone’s daughter.  If she is a Christian woman, she is God’s daughter.  Do you really want to fantasize about the daughter of God?  Ask Jesus to help you think purely.  Acknowledge that He has made beauty and cherish that beauty.  Protect it, do not allow others to degrade her with coarse jokes or comments. Rise up.

Jesus takes this command very seriously as He directs us to pluck eyes, rip off hands in other words to take extreme measures.  Do whatever it takes to make your thoughts pure.  Seek counsel, find friends who also struggle and confide in them.  This is a battle.  Be free or be dead in hell.

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Part 4

Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.

Judges 6:34 New International Version (NIV)

 


Are you trying to decide if someone is filled and led by the Holy Spirit?  Are believers drawn to them?  The Holy Spirit calls out to itself within the lives of others of like faith to come together.  I do not believe in unity at all costs, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit brings together men and women of God.  Even if they disagree on certain topics, they discover that they can work together for the causes of the Kingdom of God.  Even those that are normally opposed will feel compelled to join the effort given by the Holy Spirit.  I desire to see this Spirit more and more each day.  Jesus fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might see Your church united and lead our community to love and serve You more.  Help us to be a light to the lost.  Let us share the hope that can only be found in You.

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 Judges 6:34 New International Version (NIV)

 

Are you trying to decide if someone is filled and led by the Holy Spirit?  Are believers drawn to them?  The Holy Spirit calls out to itself within the lives of others of like faith to come together.  I do not believe in unity at all costs, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit brings together men and women of God.  Even if they disagree on certain topics, they discover that they can work together for the causes of the Kingdom of God.  Even those that are normally opposed will feel compelled to join the effort given by the Holy Spirit.  I desire to see this Spirit more and more each day.  Jesus fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might see Your church united and lead our community to love and serve You more.  Help us to be a light to the lost.  Let us share the hope that can only be found in You.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series 14

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Matthew 5:22-26

   Peace.  I offer you peace.  But peace does not happen accidentally.  It requires effort.  Our natural bent is to put it off because it is simply too painful, to uncomfortable to engage in the conversations needed.  “Settle matters quickly.” We make excuses as to why we should wait.

We avoid healthy conflict, but no face mask can prevent the damage that can be done through this practice.  Research shows us that avoiding the conflict leads to a whole host of physical health issues.  Families are destroyed because we don’t address the issues that are in our faces.  Our minds become warped by our thoughts of revenge.  But the most damaging is to our spirit.

Remember we were designed for a perfect life in the garden.  Peace should be surrounding us.  Contentment is in our wiring.  However, sin came in and broke that peace.  Our sin was a declaration of war against God.  When we live in conflict with our brothers and sisters we are in conflict with God.

How often have I been in church, nursing a grudge?  I feel angry and embittered over some slight real or imagined.  In the darkness of my mind I have contemplated evil against my enemy, maybe even while I am there in church.  While you are at the altar.  While I am worshipping and recognize this anger welling up within me, I must go make things right. 

Make peace.  Sometimes you will be wronged, forgive anyway.  Go make things right and then return to church and worship in Spirit and in Truth.

GRM offers a webinar on Restoring Peace where you can learn to become a peacemaker.  Peacemaker is a role that our world needs today more than ever.

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Episode 3

Judges 3:9-10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

When the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.

When we look around and see that our world is in true need, a desperate need, our God is watching and waiting.  Look to Him, to be our salvation and our hope.  He is simply waiting for us to seek Him, to call out His name.  Today is that day.  Dear Heavenly Father I look to You above all things.  Bring hope and wisdom to our world.  Let us love abundantly.  Let us face our enemies with courage and win them with our love.

He will send a deliverer filled with His Holy Spirit.  I pray that I would live a life that would enable me to be chosen by Him to bring peace and to bring justice but most importantly the message that we all long to hear.  THE KING IS COMING.  Prepare the Kingdom for His arrival.  Be purified.  Choose to love the unlovable.  Choose to forgive.  Choose to speak against injustice.  Choose to call of peace.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series Episode 13

   “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 5:21-22

 In the last blog we talked about allowing the law and the prophets to be a mirror to our hearts.  Most of us feel that we are “good enough” or “better than”.  However, when we see ourselves clearly under the firm teaching of the law and the prophets, we begin to see the intention of the heart.  Yes, we did something nice.  But we did it so that we could get the applause.  Maybe we want bragging rights for our patience.  Regardless the law and the prophets will expose us at least to ourselves.

On the surface as I examine myself, I rarely break the ten commandments.  Some claim that because we live under the new covenant the law no longer applies.  But Jesus does not dismiss the old, he is adding to it.  This passage is the first in the sermon to point this out to us.  Do not murder.  Simple straight forward.  In my lifetime I have never killed, taken life from another human being.  The biggest thing I ever killed was a very sick turkey that was suffering.  It really was an act of compassion that was asked of me by my family.  I found even that sort of killing to be difficult.  As a soldier I have committed myself to defend others and if needed I am willing to take life.  That would be a last resort to save someone else.  But the actual killing of a human, not on my list of past sins.

If we were under the old covenant that many say no longer applies, I would be good to go.  This sin would hold no sway on me.  However, Jesus adds to the law.  My personal history is full of times where I have lost my temper, where anger got the best of me.  Jesus tells me here that I am subject to the judgement.  The Father loves me, that does not change.  But if I lose my temper, He is not proud of me.  He cannot brag on me because I have broken the commandment not to murder.  If, even in my anger, I use my words to cut someone down and insult them; I have murdered their soul.  I have broken the commandment.

What Jesus is teaching me is that I must guard my words carefully.  I must use them to speak the truth in love.  While correction may be required, I must remember that the ultimate end that I am speaking life into them.  I look around at our world today and it is dying slowly from all of the negativity around us.  If someone does not agree with us or votes different than us, we throw our words around and stab at them with little barbs of hate. 

My friends the lesson here is that we must speak life.  Jesus is commanding us to think about how our words will either build someone up or tear them down.  Choose life.  Build up those around you.  Even if they disagree with you, build them up.  Even if they don’t seem willing or unable to understand you, build them up.  Inspire others toward life. 

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Week 2

 So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him. Numbers 27:18

God is seeking men and women that are willing to receive His Holy Spirit to guide their leadership and their lives.  Joshua spent many years under the leadership of Moses and realized most likely early on that the task was beyond his ability.  He became open to receiving the Holy Spirit.  Inviting the Holy Spirit to take leadership of our lives and our leadership exponentially increases the potential of our lives.  These leaders must seek to be filled, anointed and led by God.  Many strive to learn the techniques and skills of leadership and these should not be abandoned, but seek the greater counselor.  He can guide your training.  It is the Holy Spirit that makes the Godly leader effective.  It is the Holy Spirit that gives him or her unprecedented wisdom and insight.

The Holy Spirit will orchestrate a life that ultimately brings Him glory regardless of what seems to be the truth in your world.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount Series

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:17-20

 Many take a large growing church as a sign of God’s favor and His blessing.  It might be.  The preacher might sell many books, have active speaking schedules and even be able to claim worldwide attention.  Their ministry might be done in power with the signs and wonders of miracles, healing and more.  But that is just a maybe.  Those things were true of the apostle’s ministry, sometimes. 

But too many today twist Scripture, cherry pick verses here and there in an attempt to justify their false teaching and explain away difficult passages such as, “Take up your cross…”  These same teachers dismiss most of the Old Testament.  Yet, Jesus warns us not to do that.  He is a fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets (most of the old testament by the way.)  This means that if we are to understand Jesus, we must take the time to study to understand God as he is portrayed in the law and the prophets. 

The law is a teacher.  I really did not understand what coveting really was until I read the Torah.  Honestly, apart from the law I think I am a pretty good person.  My soul is dying but I have no symptoms that I am willing to acknowledge.  But when I meditate on His law, I sense my own sinfulness.  I see my own selfishness.  Where when I only look at the New Covenant, I see that I am forgiven.  I find peace with God and others through the saving Grace of Jesus.  That is my only hope.  But as long as I deny the symptoms, I will refuse the cure.  The law and the prophets come together as a standard, as a covid-19 test to inform me of my illness. 

But again, too many preachers today lie about numbers forgetting that lying is a sin.  I have heard it justified saying that the end justifies the means.  They manipulate people with soft music, shame and adjusted lighting so that they can claim “more souls for the Kingdom.”  If they use the tools of the devil to gain an audience and they have twisted Scripture they are not of God.  But since they have not examined their own hearts, they do not know that.  Since they have not set their life alongside the law and the prophets, they don’t know that they are simply spreading their own sinful virus.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7-21-23

The day of the false teacher is here.  Do not be deceived.  Instead, examine yourself and then receive the cleaning of the King. 

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Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit Week 1

 Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you:

For some reason we (the people of God) have divided our world into secular and holy.  Yet this is His world.  We belong to Him.  It is all His.  All the world is holy.  I pray that through this blog series you will begin to see the Holy Spirit directing your every step, in every area of you life.

We have come to believe that living a life filled with the Holy Spirit is limited to church or obviously sacred events.  But the anointing or what is sometimes referred to as the infilling of the Holy Spirit is for our everyday life and work.  Decide today to do all of your work unto the Lord.  Invite the Holy Spirit to grant you the wisdom, understanding and knowledge to do all that your work and life requires.  Allow Him to rule your daily life.  He will cause you to do better work.  He will cause your work to be done more efficiently and with a higher quality than you could ever imagine doing on your own.  Do you have a speech to give?  The same Holy Spirit that inspires great preaching can lead you to give an inspired presentation about architecture, solving world dilemmas and anything else that you are seeking to accomplish through your speech.  It is the Holy Spirit, the gift of Christ that will empower you.  Even the most secular, the most common tasks can be done in power and in overpowering love.

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Sermon on the Mount Series

Sermon on the Mount

Episode 11

  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

For too many in the church today there is a focus on the darkness.  Our denomination decides on what sin is and then we spout hate and division.  Don’t get me wrong here, sin leads to death.  There is no question on that.  Our focus first must be on our own sin.

  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7: 3-5

Socrates is given credit for saying that, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”  Examine your life and cleanse yourself you doubleminded! 

The light of the modern church is dimmed.  We have forsaken the poor and put our focus on large church facilities.  We claim this is the light of the world showing the power of God.  However, remember who it was that promised the riches of the world to Jesus.  Many of these large churches do have large numbers of people come to faith. But how many develop the heart of God to go into the inner cities?  The light must show up to light the way for those who spend their lives viewing pornography, oppressing others, those that are feeling hopeless and more. 

I am not saying ignore sin.  We must call it out.  What I have discovered as I have now routinely examined my choices and my own heart is that ALL of my sin stems from me trying to meet a legitimate need in a way that dishonors God.  More and more I am better able to recognize the need and my temptation to meet it with some sort of idol worship.  The recognition is powerful, and I can turn to God. 

“Jesus I am lonely.  Jesus I am afraid.  Jesus, I don’t know what to do.”  Sometimes I discover that I put too much stock into what people think of me or my identity is wrapped up in some false image.  When I am successful at repenting and turning toward God I can become the light.  I shine brighter.  The light is not on me but is actually on the King.  My God protects me, He defends me and He can do the same for you.  Just trust in Him.  I know you hurt.  I understand because I often hurt too.  Turn to God and ask Him to cleanse you so that you can be a city shining on the hill that beckons people to come to you because you represent hope, healing and salvation.

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Your Hero Quest

Your Hero Quest Conclusion

The conclusion of the matter

Many years went by when a signal went out far and wide to report the death of Joseph.  Many arrived to visit his home and walk the grounds to see the place where they had buried his ashes.  The place on the trail had been prepared many years in advance.  The marker there said, “Parts of trail may be impassible. Yeah right!”  The marker made all who knew Joseph to smile.  Those who were random visitors would be perplexed.  Shaking his head and smiling Samuel noticed the perplexed look on some children.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” one of the kids asked their mother who also looked baffled.  Samuel continued to shake his head and debated whether he should admit that he was eaves dropping or not.  He wondered if it was his place to tell the story.  Samuel scratched his balding head and nodded to his wife and she too shook her head.  She had heard the story too many times and really didn’t want to hear it again.  However, she did like the expression on Samuel’s face when he told it.  This was his first of many visits to Tranquility.

Clearing his throat, Samuel asked, “I’m sorry but I couldn’t help but overhear the question.  I know the answer if you would like to hear it?”  The little family sat down on a bench.

“When Joseph was a young man he was out on a vacation with his wife, kids and his in-laws.  As part of the adventure they stopped by a state park that had been a routine part of his wife’s childhood.  There was a lake and the day was really beautiful.  They had not come prepared to do any swimming, but someone noticed that there was a nature trail that went all the way around the lake.  After some consultation whether or not the kids could make the 1.2-mile adventure it was decided to give it a shot.  The youngest could be carried a bit and they would take turns if it really came to that. It was not long from the trail head when they saw a sign that said that ‘Parts of trail may be impassible.’  Joseph looked at his wife and kids and another meeting was called.  After some laughter it was decided that if it really was impassible, they could just turn around. They would go as far as they could.  Several times along the trail they came across a log or a small stream of water.  Every time that they came to one of these ‘obstacles’ Joseph would laugh and say, ‘Part so trail might be impassible, yeah right.’  Joseph when he told the story would stop there to say that many times there are signs that seem like the trail ahead will be impassible and that we should simply turn around.  Most of these are fakes and lies.  If God has called you to go around the lake, then go around the lake.  No matter how many signs tell you that ‘parts of trail may be impassible’ you must just say, ‘Yeah right.’  As the troopers continued around the trail, they came to a place that was actually a raging stream flooded by some recent rains.  By the looks of it there was no way to get past this one.  That is when they noticed that the park rangers were in the process of building a bridge and had laid two logs across the stream.  Another meeting was called.  They had already hiked a little better than mile. The children had been carried much of the way.  Everyone was starting to get tired.  ‘Let’s go for it.’  Joseph climbed up on the log and scooted his way across as the family rested.  He wanted to make sure that this was the only part of the trail that was actually impassible.  Coming back and having confirmed that if they got past this that they might get a little wet, but there was only a short hike from finishing the trip.  Joseph scooted with his boys across.  His daughter made her own way.  Soon his wife, taking off her shoes, meanders over the log and safely arrived on the other side.  The in-laws also carefully made their way over.  Joseph would say that there actually is no such thing as an impassible trail.  Sometimes you must get creative to get around, under or over and obstacle.  Over the years I heard him say many times, ‘Parts of trail may be impassible, yeah right!”

Other visitors arrived over the course of the year.  Eric stopped by to pay respects during a visit back to the states from the Uganda where he, his wife and kids had been living as missionaries.  Eric was now disciplined and healthy.  His family was stable and enjoyed the stability that comes from an adventurous and stable family.

Julie was among the first to hike the trail.  Her life was unbelievable.  After five years of running the 50’s restaurant as part owner, her partner turned over the whole operation to her.  She had launched out and added a medieval restaurant that did not succeed.  With the encouragement of her husband she invested in theme dining opportunities of all kinds.  She had one that was a replica of a 1920’s club with swing music that was very successful. The 50s and 80s themes were always popular and did well.  She added in movie themed attractions and now was passing on much of the day to day operations onto her daughter.

Sarah never came to see Tranquility.  Rarely did she even think of Joseph as she now was the CEO of a major hotel chain.  Long since divorced she was lonely and even though she often put a happy mask on everywhere she went, she was secretly miserable.  Her husband Mike though had come many times.  After the divorce he took Joseph’s course and was now remarried and owned a small construction business that mostly did remodels.  He was fully content.

Now you my friend.  What will be your story?  How should we tell your tale?  Invest in yourself and experience a full and complete life.  Invest wisely.