Take a Refreshing Bath

26 03 2009

Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous.

It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.

I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone. Stay away from mindless, pointless quarreling over genealogies and fine print in the law code. That gets you nowhere. Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It’s obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off.

—-

Titus 3:1-11 teaches us several things. I pasted it above so you would be able to read in context what I am thinking about this morning.

Taking a shower or a bath is always refreshing after it has been a while since our last one. I would say that I get a washed and renewed feeling out of each shower I take.

God washes and renews us through his spirit and pours out life generously. He restores our relationship with Him and gives us life more abundantly.

I want to take the caution also delivered in this passage. Arguing and debating over pointless fine print never accomplishes anything good. I have been that quarrelsome person at times, but it has never gotten me anywhere.

By persisting in divisiveness we can cut ourselves off. What exactly do we cut ourselves off from? Maybe from Gods refreshing and renewing. Maybe from our restored relationship with God. Maybe from our renewed life in Christ.

My prayer today is this. God help me to be washed and renewed by your Spirit. Let my mind be fixed on you Lord. Restore my relationship with you and deliver me from evil. Help my attitude and speech to always be in line with yours. Keep my feet walking down the right road.

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How to Plow in Cold Weather – Part 2

14 03 2009

Proverbs 14:4 (The Message)

No cattle, no crops; a good harvest requires a strong ox for the plow.

King Solomon is telling us that without a strong ox to help us work the farm there will not be a good harvest.

In many ways we are blessed in our day by the advancement of technology. Where people used to depend on animals to do heavy labor we now depend on machines. This fact shows us that when we are reading the scriptures that we cannot always take the literal word-for-word meaning to heart. If that were the case then this Proverb is false.

I am not really a farmer even though I worked on a farm when I was young. However, judging by the massive fields I have seen in my travels around the central United States I feel safe to say that our generation is bringing in bumper crops compared to the ages before us. All of this is happening without any oxen or cattle to pull a plow.

Cattle in this proverb is looked upon as a tool. An ox was a very valuable tool to the farmer because it gave him the ability to do more work than one person could ever do by himself. Try getting a shovel and hand plowing even just a small patch of ground. You will quickly be looking for a better way of breaking up the ground.

Can we look at this Proverb in a spiritual point of view? You bet. Jesus talked about the different types of ground in a persons heart.

1. Some fell on the road

2. Some fell among the rocks

3. Some fell among the weeds

4. Some fell on good ground

We know that the good ground got in the “good” shape it was in because the farmer plowed the ground ahead of time. The diligent farmer is always watching his fields to make sure they are in good shape.

I have seen fields that have been completly ignored for a long time. They were overgrown with weeds to the point where nothing good would grow in that field. This type of field needs much work before it can grow a good crop.

What is the state of your “ground”? Have you been working your ground to keep it in “good” shape?

When we work the field of our life we have to work smart. Going out by ourself with shovel in hand to till the gound will wear us out very quickly. We need to learn some valuable lessons from the good farmer here.

1. What tools can you use to work your ground into good shape?

2. There are 4 seasons. Each one requires us to work in differnet ways. Plowing, Planting, Nurturing, and Harvesting. What season is your life in?

3. The four grounds are: Hard Packed, Rocky, Full of Weeds, and Good for growing. What shape is your ground right now?





How to Plow in the Cold Weather

13 03 2009

To start this out I am going to reference Proverbs 20:4 in two different translations. Each brings it’s own unique view on this scripture.

The Message:

A farmer too lazy to plant in the spring has nothing to harvest in the fall.

King James:

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.

I grew up working on a farm during the summer and I wasn’t around the farm during the spring planting season. There was one time that I do remember helping my Grandpa plow up his garden so he could plant. I really don’t remember the exact time of year, but I do remember the lesson he taught me.

We had all the modern equipment that any farm had during the early 80’s: Tractors, combines, etc. and we used these all the time. But, there was an old antique plow that had been on the farm for ages. It had metal wheels and a seat in the very back. It was designed to be pulled by horses, mules, oxen, or whatever animal you had.

My grandpa decided to use it to plow his garden since the field plow was too large. It was a small garden and this old plow was the only one that would really do the job. So, he modified the plow and it could be pulled behind a small tractor.

The only problem was that it would take two people to operate this newly rigged piece of equipment. One driving the tractor and another operating the plow. It was my lucky day, I guess, so I got stuck running the plow.

We practiced working the plow/tractor rigging for a while before actually working on the garden. The plow was controlled by several levers, and it had to be steered by the seat. It’s quite funny to imagine me as a twelve or thirteen year old boy trying to steer this plow with my seat, and operate the controls. I learned to appreciate modern farm equipment very quickly that day.

Proverbs 20:4 speaks to us about a lazy farmer who does not want to plow his field. The King James version tells us that his reasoning was the cold weather, The Message says during spring.

As I walked out of my house today the spring temperature was a very cold 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Not exactly my idea of nice spring weather. I think I can safely say that most people would want to be indoors on a day like this.

However, there was a time in history when we could not let the cold weather keep us inside. If it was the time to be planting your crops you could not let the cold weather stop you. You would get on the old plow and get to work.

Laziness will easily take up residence in our life if we let it. When this happens we will have nothing to provide for our needs when the time comes. The bank account will eventually run dry leaving you scrambling to make ends meet.

I remember many mornings that I really did not want to wake up before dawn and go to work on the farm. I had to because I was a kid and didn’t have a choice. My grandpa on the other hand was a mature adult and knew that there were many things that needed to be done before the harvest season came.

There are days in my life when I really do not want to get up and go plow the hard cold ground in my life. I would much rather be sleeping in a nice warm bed. But reality tells me that if I don’t get up and plow I will end up empty handed in the end.

Our spiritual life requires a Solomon definition of diligence to make it through those cold times. Dedication, prayers, fasting, and study during cold seasons in our life are a requirement if we want Gods word to be planted in the good ground of our life.

Good ground isn’t a naturally occurring element as some would think. The ground was actually cursed because of Adams sin. The ground has to be made good through much labor and effort.

When we have made our ground good then Gods word can fall into place at the right season and eventually bring forth a crop. Don’t get discouraged and lazy during the cold spring mornings of your life. Get up and get to work plowing up the fields. The rains will soon come. If your fields are prepared then you can bring fourth a bumper crop.





Who Do You Claim To Be? Part 2

11 03 2009

The “If You Are” Trap:

Some fall into the “If you are” trap. What I mean by this is when you are confronted with this question your gut reaction is to defend yourself.

If you are a son or daughter of God then satan will try to make you doubt this. He does this using the “If you are…” trap. If you are really a Christian then prove it. Turn stones to bread or do some other spectacular miracle. He pressures you by using the same teqnique he used on Jesus. In other words prove to satan that you are spiritual.

Many Christians get tricked into trying to prove they are spiritual rather than just standing justified before God by their faith. They fear the big “IF” question and then react.

Simply standing in grace makes you less vulnerable to temptation. The moment you begin to give place to doubt, pride will step in and take over. You will begin to say things like: I know I am a Christian because I do this, or I do that.

What WE do will never make us a Christian. For this is where the law failed. Only one person has ever been able to keep ALL the law and He died on a tree. You will be tempted, you will fail him, and you will fall. These things are sure. But when you fall will you fall at the cross, or will the cross fall on you?

Have faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is the power to set you free.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)

8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.





Who Do You Claim To Be? Part 1

11 03 2009

When you ask yourself “Who am I?” what answer do you get? Some will answer I am a bank teller or a sales clerk. Others will say I am an athlete or maybe even a superstar. How you view yourself says volumes to the world around you, and if we are not careful our view of ourself can fall into pride.

It is said of Mohammed Ali that he got the title “The Greatest” by proclaiming himself as “The Greatest”. However, just because someone claims something doesn’t always mean that it is true.

Gaining a true understanding of yourself can only happen when you are open and honest with yourself. When you look into the mirror each morning and see a hair out of place you stop and fix it. So, you should also stop when you see something out of place in your life and take the time to correct it.

Jesus took the humble road in life. Even though he had every right to boldly proclaim he was great He chose rather to let His Heavenly Father speak on his behalf. We see one example of this in Matthew 3:16-17.

16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

It was soon after this that Jesus was being tempted by satan in the wilderness. We find that satan tempted him on what seems to be three different occasions. However, a closer look at these temptations will show there were actually more than three temptations. It is in this revelation that we can learn several valuable lessons.

First satan tempts Jesus in Matthew 4:3

3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Second temptation in Matthew 4:5-6

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: 
   ” ‘He will command his angels concerning you, 
      and they will lift you up in their hands, 
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Third temptation in Matthew 4:8-9

 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Look at how satan asks the first two questions. “If you are the Son of God…” We can clearly see that satan was trying to make Jesus doubt who he was.

God had just proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God in the previous chapter. Now, satan comes to him and says “If you are the Son of God…” This is typical of satan as he is the father of lies. He is the exact opposite of faith, which is doubt.

I find the replies of Jesus full of wisdom. He completely ignores the doubt and doesn’t even address it. You see, Jesus knew who he was and that was good enough. He did not have to defend himself by debating with satan on his Sonship, so maybe He simply chose to ignore satan on this issue.

I recently attended a bible study with a friend of mine. The study was discussing the meekness of Christ. It is awesome to think about how meek and humble Christ is. Christ is the epitome of humbleness and meekness.

Jesus was God Incarnate but yet he was also fully human. Knowing the weakness of the flesh He chose not to proclaim his diety, but rather to humble himself in the sight of God.

Phillipians 2:6-10

 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Maybe that is why God chose to proclaim the Sonship of Christ as he did. For if Christ boldly proclaimed it in the flesh it could have conceived pride. I am thinking out loud here so if anyone has something that contradicts me on this than by all means post it so I can review it.

So, who do you claim to be? When the tempter comes to you how do you answer?

The “If You Are” Trap

Well this post is getting way too long so I am going to continue this in another post. I don’t like reading posts that go on forever so I won’t make you do the same….