Category: Sunday Sermons

Close the door

Sunday Sermon 8.1.20

Early this morning, this phrase came crashing into my heart and upon my mind, “Close the door”.

I hadn’t heard a door slam, nor had there been creatures invading us; the weather wasn’t threatening, neither were the circumstances. So why the imprint of this phrase on my psyche?

While pursuing its import, two main points developed before me.

We, adult humans are faced with 35,000 decisions each day with 226.7 of them alone, having to do with the food we eat (or don’t). That means, if we spend 7 hours sleeping each night, (and we assume no choices are made in our sleep, a BIG assumption) then, that means we make 2,000 decisions per hour or 1 decision every 2 seconds!

That’s alot of choosing, options, brain stress and distractions!

Many of those decisions are unconscious, but they are still decisions that the brain encodes 10 seconds before we even consciously, and with awareness make the actual decision. The brain has decided and then the conscious thoughts justify the decision. The decision is made in the neurocircuitry of our brain by predicting outcomes ahead of time. Then we actually make the choice in real time.

All of that research was published long before Covid and still remains true. But with Covid, those decisions have been confined to a smaller setting – our home, or the area we spend most our life in.

There are so many influences, voices, reports, demands, people, speaking or often yelling at us with directives. And what is spoken as truth this week, often morphs into something entirely different next week.

Our heads, hearts, and emotions are bombarded, battered and bruised with the onslaught information, (or misinformation) and in my view, these all are distractions, that must be cut off.

Close the Door point 1CLOSE THE DOOR on distractions that bring you anything but life, faith, hope, peace, and joy.

Turn off, stop listening daily, ignore notifications, stop feeding fear, don’t read it, refuse to own it. Don’t give place in your life to the endless, fearful distractions.

It is one of those 35,000 decisions you can make now, ahead of time and get your brain in the encoding process. Close the door to distractions.

In Matthew 6:6, Jesus told his disciples, to go into their room and CLOSE THE DOOR (and pray). He instructed them to close out distractions, shut themselves in with who really mattered, and focus on what was more important.

I am not saying to close yourself off from the world and only pray, that’s just weird and ineffective. I am saying, in order to be strong and effective in your mission on earth, you must learn to close the door on distractions while focusing on what is important.

Another place we see “close the door” in the Bible is in 2 Kings 4.

A widow, with two sons was facing creditor problems involving the seizing of her sons for repayment. She was desperate, so she sought out the prophet Elisha. She confessed to him she had nothing of value in her home (to sell) “except a small jar of olive oil.” 2 Kings 4:2

He told her to gather from her neighbors as many empty jars as she could and not just a few. Then she was to go inside her house and “shut the door” behind her and her sons, where they would then pour her oil into each empty jar that they had gathered.

She did as she was told – gathered, shut the door and poured into each jar. When there were no more jars to fill, her oil stopped flowing. Every jar had been filled and were now filling her home. She had plenty to sell, paid off the creditors, and lived off of what was left.

Close the door point 2You have all you need at home (your little bit of oil), you need to pour it out into empty vessels.

Your family and those who enter your home need what you have. You can fill them with your words, actions, kindness, encouragement, prayer, help, correction, insight, love. What you do behind the closed doors of your home is where the “anointing” starts. The outpouring of God’s spirit of love and favor – His anointing oil of the Spirit, starts at home, behind closed doors. Pour out your “little” oil there and see how you little becomes much.

It is my determination to ask the Lord to help me close the doors of distraction in my life, and work within me behind the closed doors of my home to fill up empty vessels.

I want His help in recoding my neurocircuitry and decision making prowess. I want to equip my brain with the positive and faith building data to allow it to predict the most favorable outcomes. This is a decision I have made!

Won’t you join me?

Close those doors, keep pouring out.

Go with God.

Living in the days of Daniel

Sunday Sermon 7.25.20

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

George Santayana

And, those who learn history will often see close parallels between ancient days and modern days. (Debbie Chaney – :-))

Take the prophet Daniel for example. Let’s look at him today and notice the modern day parallels.

Daniel lived some 2,500 years ago, as a member of the noble family of Judah, and was taken captive to Babylon by its king Nebuchadnezzar. He and his family and friends found themselves placed in a re-education program there.

They were now in the minority in the midst of a religiously hostile nation and being pressed upon by the customs of that nation to reshape their values and ideas.

Daniel was a godly, obedient and courageous believer in Jehovah and had even earned the respect and admiration of non-believers.

That’s the backstory, now we enter chapter 1 of Daniel where you will find –

3 R’s

Daniel RESOLVED, Daniel REQUESTED, Daniel was REWARDED

In Daniel’s re-education program, he resolved to not compromise his values. Although being told he has to eat certain things, his heart and values said he would not and he set himself to stay true to Jehovah and his personal beliefs.

He did take action however, and requested to be given certain acceptable foods. That took courage and faith. He had and demonstrated both.

In fact, his faith and courage were rewarded with favor and compassion from Jehovah. He was allowed to eat his suggested foods and in the end, he and his friends were better off in every way than the others in the re-education program with him.

Chapter 2 of Daniel presents us with –

3 D’s

DREAMS, DEATH, and DANIEL

King Nebuchadnezzar had a bad dream and because his wise guys couldn’t interpret it, he ordered them all to be put to death. As his servants were rounding up the wise guys, they came to get Daniel too, for he was now a part of king Neb’s wise guy council. Daniel, inquiring what was going on, was told and responded with “wisdom and tact”. Short story, guess who was able to interpret king Neb’s bad dream?? Yup, Daniel.

Yay Daniel, right??

Things were good, for a while. Daniel was promoted, and His God – Jehovah was lauded in the kingdom. Yay!

Enter chapter 3, here we see –

3 I’s and a double I

IMAGE, IDOLARTY, INSOLENCE and an INCREDIBLE INCIDENT!

King Neb got pretty full of himself and had an enormous self image (selfie) built in the center of town. But as if that wasn’t enough, he then made an executive order that everyone had to bow down and worship the selfie. Everyone was to practice idolatry by worshipping him.

Enter principled, god-fearing, non-compromising, wise man – Daniel and his friends In a full out act of insolence, His friends refused to follow the executive order or worship the image of the arrogant king.

Their response was – we do not need to defend ourselves, if the God we serve doesn’t help us, we will still will not serve or worship the empty orders of man. We serve and worship Jehovah only. We will take our chances by standing with him and his favor, not man. Do what you will, oh king Neb.

The king was hot and so he heated up the fire. His men tossed the three men into that fire and lost their lives doing so.

And then the INCREDIBLE INCIDENT!

In the fire, appeared a fourth figure. Looking through the fireproof window, Neb was petrified. How could there be 4, he threw in 3? Again, short story – Jehovah God showed up to defend his wise, faithful and courageous followers. Daniel’s friends not only survived the incredible incident, but demonstrated God’s deliverance and power to a heathen king, palace and kingdom. Yay Daniel and friends. Yay Jehovah!

We are living in the days of Daniel with some exceptional parallels for you and I. Let’s be learners of history.

  • It’s not easy to follow Jesus in today’s culture, but it can and must be done.
  • The re-education program has begun. How are you doing with maintaining your values, and godly obedience?
  • In the midst of the re-education program, what is your resolve? What is your request? How will you be rewarded?
  • Wisdom and tact are hallmark needs in the midst of these bad dreams and death. How are you doing there?
  • Executive order after executive order, idolatry, arrogance – when will it be time for you to respectfully display your insolence?
  • Courage and faith are needed and to those who walk in them, they will be shown incredible incidents! Miraculous events. Unbelievable power of God. Mighty deliverance.

I challenge you, I challenge myself, let’s be like Daniel. Let’s let God be our judge in these days, and see if He doesn’t use us to do something earth shattering.

We are living in the days of Daniel.

Go with God.

Going through the fire?

Sunday Sermon 7.18.20

What fire does not destroy, it hardens.

Oscar Wilde

The difference between a good life and a bad life is how well you walk through the fire.

Carl Jung

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:12

These trials have come to prove the genuineness of your faith, which is of greater worth than gold which perishes even though refined by fire…

1 Peter 1:7

So, my assumption is that you very probably ARE going though the fire, because most of us are, including myself.

The fires of today’s ever changing societal norms, the fires of pressures and stresses on strained relationships, the fires of fatigued and worn emotions, the fires of losses, challenges, faith, and apathy. We are quite literally living in a firestorm that is surrounding us and affecting us on every side.

It would be wise to accept the fires as a given in our life, with a definite purpose.

But it is also wise to accept this promise:

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God…

Isaiah 43:2-3

Remember, Daniel’s three friends who refused to submit to the decrees of the king and were thrown into the fire? (Daniel 3) Very literally, they were thrown into a furnace heated seven times hotter than normal. And yet, they not only survived the ordeal, the king actually saw a fourth man walking around in the fire with them!

Three thrown in, four seen in the fire! That is the promise from Isaiah, that the fire will not burn us because the Lord Himself will be walking with us through the fire. What a promise, what a miracle!

In the very midst of the fire, the Lord is with you. In the most heated exchanges, in the burning and aching hearts, in the crying out of flesh, soul and spirit, the Lord, Himself is with you.

I firmly believe, these days are being used by Him to refine us, process us, and bring the best, most pure from within us.

Malachi and Zechariah both spoke of a time when the Lord would refine his people like silver and gold, when the Lord would sit as a refiner and purifier. (Malachi 3:2-3; Zechariah 13:9) Yes, this was referring to Israel and it’s historical captivity and rebuilding. But things that happened in Old Testament times happened as an example for us, too. With lessons and applications for us. 1 Corinthians 10:6

I submit to you, the purpose of the fire(s) is to refine us. To purify us.

I recently spent some time studying the process for refining silver, gold, platinum, and palladium. That process is extensive! At my count, it contains no less than 32 steps! Check out some of these words used in the refining process:

  • gun
  • dynamite
  • hauled out
  • brought to the surface
  • primary crusher
  • secondary crusher
  • cone crusher
  • water to separate
  • acid added
  • filter press
  • black powder
  • 50% silver, 50% waste
  • dried out
  • placed in oven
  • silver and waste separated
  • poured out
  • settles to bottom
  • waste skimmed off
  • sold to refinery
  • weighed
  • flux added
  • placed in crucible
  • able to take the heat
  • placed into melting furnace
  • transformed
  • molded
  • remolded
  • re-cooled
  • smaller
  • placed into acid solution
  • all impurities dissolved
  • results = 100% pure

If you and I are silver or gold and we are in the fire, then look at this amazing process. Look at the purpose of the fire. The Lord, as the refiner is processing us to be 100% pure, remolded into the image of Jesus. All impurities and waste burnt away in the crucible and only pure silver, or gold remains.

We are being tried in the fire and shouldn’t consider the ordeal we are in as some strange thing. It is the process of purification and stripping away all that is waste. He has not left us, He is with us in the process and is directing the entire operation in our life.

Check back at those words, that process, it’s an extensive and painful process.

He is making of you and me, a vessel of honor, pure and solid.

Trust Him, through the fire.

Go with God.

Feeding the wolf

Sunday sermon 7.11.20

The story is told of an elder Cherokee man telling his grandson of the battle that goes on inside of every person. He said there are two wolves battling.

One is evil- it represents anger, envy, jealousy, regret, arrogance, self pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

One is good – representing joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

After hearing about the battling wolves within, the grandson asked his Grandfather, “Which one wins?”

“The one you feed”, was the response.

Consider that for a moment in regards to your soul and spirit. Which one wins with more frequency in your life? Your soul or your spirit.

The one you feed, is still true.

Our soul is who we are; our mind, emotions and will. Our spirit is the home for God’s spirit and makes contact with God.

We find ourselves living between these two howling wolves. The soulish one, where we live according to our emotions, fears, understanding, senses and reasoning; and the call of the spirit man urging us to line ourselves up to God’s Word and standard.

The Apostle Paul states it this way,

I do not understand what I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:15-16

Yet, he also challenges us in Galatians 5 –

So I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (soul). For the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the spirit what is contrary to the flesh.”

Galatians 5:16-17

The one you feed will grow, become stronger and influence your decisions and take over your life. It will become the lens through which you see everything, including your abilities, dreams and purpose.

My heart has been crying out lately for people to arise and feed their spirit.

Your spirit is yearning for food. Crying out like that musical, “Feed me, (Seymour)”. Your spirit needs nourishment. What are you feeding it? Is it starving?

For some that means beginning at step one and igniting your spirit by allowing God to make it alive by being saved, reborn.

Others will need to spend more time in the Word, prayer, study, outreach. Some need to shake off the passiveness and and extend the kingdom more assertive and boldly in their lives.

There are those who need to make some things right, get things in order, deal with issues truthfully.

As you feed your spirit, you are actually cutting off those soulish desires, habits, and thoughts, shutting down those out of control emotions. And, your hungry lil spirit man is enlarging.

If you’re looking for a great spiritual meal right now, you may want to spend some time in Romans 8 and Galatians 5. Then take whatever steps you need to each day to intentionally feed and grow your spirit.

Pray, read, talk with others, study, reach out, help others – these are all healthy ways to feed your starving spirit.

You will find new strength, insight, passion, purpose, faith, and boldness as your spirit grows and your emotions are trained.

In your howling battle within, which wolf is being fed?

Cheers to you.

The Heart of the Father

Sunday Sermon 6.20.20

Everyone of us have at least one thing in common and that simple truth is we each have a biological father.

That father, his presence or absence, strengths and weaknesses; all he is and all he is not, have shaped our thoughts, ideas, expectations, confidence, predictions, trust and image of what fatherhood is and what fathers do.

In addition to the biological father, some have had the imprint of another father (or fathers). Other men, who have impacted the views, feelings, impressions and perspectives of how a father acts, speaks, relates, teaches, and loves.

Our family, that sacred place where fatherhood is modeled, is the seed bed for how we see, relate to, respect, fear, honor, and love our father. In our families we learn to anticipate with joy our father’s presence, dread and fear his presence or any number of measurable feelings in between.

Fatherhood affects childhood outcomes from infancy to adulthood; including physical, emotional, academic, social and behavioral outcomes.

Along with those outcomes, consider these statistics:

  • Father involvement using authoritative parenting with loving and clear boundaries and expectations leads to better outcomes in every way for children.
  • Children who feel close to their father are twice as likely to find stable employment after high school, less likely to have teen birth, less likely to spend time in jail, and half as likely to experience depression
  • The quality of father-child relationship matters more than the specific amount of hours spent together
  • High levels of father involvement correlate to higher levels of sociability, confidence, and self-control
  • Children with actively involved fathers are more likely to earn A’s in school, and less likely to repeat a grade in school
  • 24.7 million children live absent their biological father
  • 39% of students grades 1-12 live in homes absent their biological fathers
  • more than 1 in 4 children live without a father in their home

And of course there are the statistics regarding fatherhood from the National Fatherhood Initiative that state, children without fathers in the home are:

  • 4 x greater risk of poverty
  • 7 x more likely to become pregnant
  • more likely to have behavioral prpblems
  • 2 x greater risk of infant morality
  • more likely to commit a crime
  • more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol
  • 2 x more likely to suffer obesity
  • 2 x more likely to drop out of high school

Fathers are vitally important and how we view our father has impacted how we view our Heavenly Father. We see God, our Heavenly Father through the lens of our childhood/adolescent father awareness. Good, bad, ugly, right, wrong, our image of God has been shaped by our father image.

There is no judgment or comparison here, simply a statement of facts. That image has shaped how we see God as our Father.

But here are some valuable truths that reveal what our Heavenly Father is truly like, what his character truly is and what makes his heart pound. In Luke 15, we find these awesome insights into the Father’s heart and we see how he responded to his son:

  • when insulted and humiliated, he still distributed the inheritance to his younger son
  • his son took all and left
  • his son wasted his $$ on reckless living
  • his son was totally spent, empty and hungry
  • his son became desperate
  • in humiliation, the son wound up homeless, in a pig pen
  • alone and abandoned the son came to his senses
  • the son considered the servants at his dad’s place
  • he desired to return home as a servant and practiced his speech to dad
  • he admitted he was wrong
  • he set out to return home dirty, debased and unworthy

The Father’s reception:

  • from a long distance the father saw the son coming down the road (he was actually waiting for him to return and looking anxiously for him – after a long time)
  • with great compassion – he saw his son dressed as a beggar, but returning
  • the father raced out to meet the son, swept him up in his arms, hugged and kissed him in tender love
  • as the son started his speech, the father interrupted him and said, “Son, you’re home now”.
  • the father called for the servants to bring his very own robe and placed it on his son
  • then he called for the family ring and placed it on his finger (this allowed the son to conduct family business)
  • he then called for shoes to be placed on the sons feet (slaves went barefoot, but not his son!)
  • the son was home, now it was time to celebrate
  • a feast was prepared and celebrating began
  • the father’s heart was bursting with pride, happiness and love for his beloved son who was once dead was know was alive!

You see, the father’s heart is one of unconditional love. Always believing, hoping, loving. It is everlasting and unrelenting. The father’s heart hears our cries. The father’s heart is full of pride. The father’s heart has a plan for us. The father’s heart will provide and care for us. The father’s heart will protect us.

Your Heavenly Father is: loving, kind, compassionate, giving, faithful, merciful, strong, forgiving, good, righteousness, caring, sovereign, shepherd, ever-present, refuge, gracious, healer, powerful, one who saves, helper, and makes all things new. (I have verses for each of these if you want them.)

Our Heavenly Father shows pity, shows mercy, chastens whom he loves, loves us and is not only just but justifies us.

Our Heavenly Father gives life, loves his children, protects, provides, teaches and trains his children.

There is no man on the planet that can come close to modeling your Heavenly Father, but Jesus. But then, he wasn’t from this planet, was he?

So whether your father was a saint or a sinner, we can give thanks, this Father’s Day, for a Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly, unconditionally, and with all of his heart. He receives us, welcomes us, rejoices with us, forgives us, and celebrates with us.

God is love.

Abba Father = Daddy God, Happy Father’s Day.

Cheers to you.

What Do You See?

Sunday Sermon 6.13.20

Look at the image. What do you see?

Look at our nation, what do you see?

I’d like to suggest when looking at the events and happenings within our nation that you consider the opposite of what you see, as truth. What do I mean?

First, we must establish that the prince of this world is the devil. His is the spirit that rules this world and is at work in it. Ephesians 2:2; John 14:30; John 12:31; John 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4

Jesus nailed it strongly, when he said to his audience, in John 8-

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

John 8:44

What do you see in the image above? A man? The word Liar?

What do you see in the nation? Lies from the chief liar, father of lies – the devil. All counterfeits and polluted truths stolen from our Heavenly Father. Now, what do I mean?

Just take a look at some of the things that have been imposed upon us or spoken and see the truth that is being lied about, polluted or counterfeited:

  • Lie – cover your mouth and face. Truth – this is the Hebrew year 5780, the year of the voice. Speaking out, openly.
  • Lie – lawlessness in the streets. Truth – God is bringing His Kingdom rule and order. He is the Prince of Peace.
  • Lie – lockdown and stay at home. Truth – go, share, tell, save.
  • Lie – close houses of worship. Truth – where 2 or 3 are gathered, there He is!
  • Lie – don’t hug, touch, socialize. Truth – there is power in love, hugs and human contact.
  • Lie – division. Truth – we are all made in His image.
  • Lie – I can’t breath, the life is being squeezed from us. Truth – Jesus came to bring abundant life.
  • Lie – death and destruction. Truth – resurrection life and power through Him.
  • Lie – no large gatherings. – Truth – this year many Gospel stadium rallies were planned worldwide.
  • Lie – no graduations, weddings, parties at all. Truth – He rejoices with those who are celebrating and wants us to be happy and joyous.

Getting the idea?

You can look at what is happening in the political and social world and very often see it as a counterfeit or pollution of God’s truth. That is because the prince of this world is a liar. He only knows how to lie, counterfeit, pollute, destroy, offer fake, bring delusion, destroy, steal and kill.

Apply this filter when you hear and see things and see if it doesn’t ring true. You will be amazed. Think opposites. Think opposite of what you are seeing. Discern between truth and lies.

Then remind yourself that there is One who is over, in everyway, the prince of this world and That One has conquered the prince. I once heard a pastor say, “The devil walks around like a roaring lion. But he doesn’t have any teeth, he can only roar at you but not bite you because Jesus defeated him on the cross. Jesus knocked all his teeth out.” 1 Peter 5:8

The devil is a deceiver, Revelation 12:9, and he wants to make us think his power is great; when in fact it is a LIE! He is a liar.

God, the Father, sent His only Son, Jesus to earth, to conquer sin and death. Jesus then, disarmed those spiritual powers and authorities and made a public spectacle of them by his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, triumphing over them. Colossians 2:15

He (Jesus) is the TRUE power of this world. He reigns over every principality, authority, spirit, prince, and lie of the devil.

Jesus said, “I am the way the TRUTH and the life.” John 14:6

When faced with lies remember who’s behind them. Remember where truth comes from. Look for those opposites and flip the lies on their ear with your truth crowbar.

Recognize the liar. See the truth.

What do you see?

Go with God.

Is There Not A Cause?

Sunday Sermon 6.6.20

What does it take for you to speak up? What lines need be crossed before you stand up? How fast must your heart pound before words emerge? What is your tipping point before verbal communication and action?

Our title today, “is there not a cause?”, is addressing those types of questions; very pertinent questions for you and me as we maneuver through this life and our exchanges with family, friends and society.

We will look at it’s setting, it’s meaning and its application to our lives. Then we’ll pivot to two other related stories before dropping the mic.

The nine foot, nine, giant Goliath, was standing on a hill “defying the armies of Israel”, and the armies of Israel were standing opposite him, on another hill “dismayed and terrified”. 1 Samuel 17:10-11

Goliath was “saying sharp things, bringing reproach, defaming and blaspheming” the armies of Israel and Jehovah. (Original Hebrew meanings)

When along comes a teenage boy, David, who’s been sent by his dad to bring a care package to his brothers on the battle front of Israel. David arrives in time to hear Goliath’s 40th day of sharp defiance and insults, and David begins to ask questions of the soldiers. 1 Samuel 17:16-26

As David heard and processed their responses, his heart began racing, the line had been crossed, the tipping point had been reached and he said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26

After this bold declaration, you would think he would be applauded, but instead, his brothers ridiculed and harassed him, and that is when David said to them, “is there not a cause?”.

That phrase, in its original Hebrew renderings, really means:

“I have a word, a matter or thing to speak; it is nondestructive; and now is the time to share it and this is the exact circumstance for it to be spoken.”

David realized what he held deep within the character of his being and had woven into the fabric of his heart was being ridiculed, defamed, and blaphsmed, and there was something that he could do about it. And he would do it right now!

That phrase (is there not a cause) has everything to do with putting the focus on nondestructive speech regarding a matter – but also emphasizes it being done at the right time and place.

David’s line had been crossed and he knew it was the time and place for what was welling up inside of him. He knew his experience had prepared him for this time and place. He knew he was able and he paid no attention to those who ridiculed him. He just bent down and picked up the stones, hurled one and nailed Goliath’s big ole head. David knew a big headed, defiant giant was a target he would never miss. And he didn’t!

David knew he had a cause. He had the right word for the right occasion, at the right time. He slung it expertly and hit his mark. He earned victory for the whole nation.

There is a similiar story in Esther. She was the Queen of Persia and had hidden her Jewish identity to King Xerxes. Her fellow Jews had received a death sentence, so her Uncle begged her to ask the King for mercy. His words to her were,

” Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”

Esther 4:14

Esther realized she too, had a cause, she had a message to speak and this was the time and this was the perfect place. Now, was the appointed time.

She spoke to the King, a solution was given and her people were spared destruction. The entire Jewish nation was spared.

Our last story, is of King Solomon; he gives us a beautiful image in Proverbs 25:11, where he says,

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is the right word at the right time.”

King Solomon

Solomon was perhaps looking at beautiful arrangement of fruit on his banquet table, when he made the analogy and suggested to us:

  • fitting words are compared to something elegant, beautiful, very tasteful
  • well thought out responses will benefit all
  • rightly spoken words bring refreshing
  • elegant, meaningful words are lasting words
  • rightly spoken words are valuable, treasured, precious

The context of Solomon’s apples in Proverbs 25 falls in a list of words that are NOT beautiful and words that are beautiful.

Not beautiful, not rightly spoken words: strife, gossip, boasting, false witness.

Beautiful, rightly spoken words: reproof, truth, faithfulness, forbearence & gracius words.

Our words and their power are being called on. Causes are calling – in our family, in our friendships and in our society. Fashioning responses to hit their mark is our goal. Rambling, empty, babble is useless. Beautiful, rightly spoken words are our goal.

I pray that the spirit of David stir in your heart and you see your cause and know your time and circumstance to speak.

I ask for the favor of Esther to be upon you and for you to see that your voice is needed for such a time as this.

I trust that your words will be elegant and refreshing and valuable to those to whom you speak.

Because there is indeed a cause.

Go with God.

Pentecost Sunday – the Power of the Holy Spirit

Pentecost was one of the major festivals celebrated by the Israelites in the days of the Old Testament. In it, 50 days after the Passover, they celebrated the harvest. It was referred to as The Festival of Weeks, celebrated four weeks and 1 day, after the feast of Passover.

Stay with me here. This is the secret to your power, as a thriving individual, seeking to please the Lord.

For years the Passover was celebrated and 50 days later Pentecost or Shavout was celebrated.

This Sunday then, 50 days after Passover is that Pentecost Sunday.

So what?

Don’t miss or reject this powerful truth of the word.

Jesus, before He was taken into heaven, told the disciples to go and wait in Jerusalem, until they received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5,8 So, that’s what they did. They went to Jerusalem, 120 of them, prayed and waited for this “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”. Not knowing what to expect, but expecting Jesus to fulfill His promise to them.

In Acts 2:1-4, it tells us the miraculous result,

” When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a violent wind came and filled the whole house they were in. They saw tongues of fire that sat upon each one. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.”

The Apostle Luke, Acts 2

When the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2, it was the fulfillment of the centuries long Pentecost celebrations. He was demonstrating the true harvest celebration. Not just celebrating an agricultural harvest, but a harvest of people. For in Acts 2, we see that there were 3,000 people who were added to the church following that miraculous display. The disciples were empowered with fire and boldness, and 3,000 people were affected that morning and “added to the church.” Acts 2:41

On that Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on those 120, and they became his witnesses, and many were influenced and added to the Kingdom that very day.

That day empowered the disciples and was the beginning of the Christian church. They were transformed and from that day forward they entered their world charged with the power of the Holy Spirit and performing miracles. Read the book of Acts and see their powerful and miraculous witnesses.

Pentecost changed their world and revealed the heart of the Father – to have many added to His family, from every tribe and tongue.

The experience of that Pentecost lasted for years and rocked the known world.

And yet, 25 or so years after it, when Paul was in Ephesus preaching, he asked the Ephesians if they had received the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:2 Their response, “No, we’ve not even heard of the Holy Spirit.” Well, Paul settled that, he asked a few more questions and laid his hands on them and “they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:4-6

Here we are, at least 1,957 years after the book of Acts was written. Have you heard of the Holy Spirit? Are you aware of it’s power in your life? Do you know the Feast of Pentecost is about bringing in the Harvest?

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. Jesus promised Him to you as a helper, comforter, intercessor, one who would be by your side through everything that you face. He is your Comforter, leader and discerner of what is truth. John 14. Jesus told His disciples He was leaving, but He would give them/us another Comforter. The Holy Spirit was what He was talking about.

The Holy Spirit is always with you, will never leave you and will always equip you for what you face. He comes into you at rebirth and fills you at request. You can, by choice be Spirit filled, be Spirit led, guided, and granted spiritual understanding.

The Holy Spirit filled the disciples with boldness. Acts 3:6; Acts 4:8,31

With that boldness, they “turned the world upside-down.” Acts 17:6

Jesus promised that “greater works than I do, you shall do”. John 14:12

So what is it that’s stopping today’s believers from turning the world upside down, from moving in boldness and bringing in the harvest of people to the Kingdom?

Is it that they haven’t even heard of the Holy Spirit? Is it that they aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit? Is it that Pentecost hasn’t been born in them? Do they not care for the harvest?

Now is the season of harvest. Now is the season of hungry people being added to the Kingdom. Now is the season for believers to move beyond “the baptism of John and repentance” and move into the fullness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:4; Matthew 3:6

It is time for believers to rise up, and begin to move in the power of the Holy Spirit. To move in signs and wonders, to move in miracles. To offer prayers of faith in needy situations. To rise up in the Holy Spirit and power and see this world turned upside down.

Why don’t we?

Pentecost is upon us, quite literally. Who will embrace it?

Cheers to you.

A Clear Conscience

” I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

Acts 24:16 NIV – The Apostle Paul

Striving to maintain a clear conscience is honorable, right, healthy and important. But is intentional, deliberate and hard work. Maintaining a clear conscience keeps us connected to others and helps us to override selfishness.

My hunch is that during this season, there have been ample opportunities for selfishness, personal conflicts, and ruffled feathers in our family or at work relationships. So let’s look into our conscience and put the focus on it and it’s partner – guilt.

Carrying around guilt, the weight of one’s own conscience, literally weighs us down. It actually makes us feel heavier. Science has done studies showing that to be true..

Because guilt is meant to play a role in regulating moral behavior it sends signals throughout the body, and the body responds with perception changes, insomnia, loss of appetite, stress, headaches, backaches and a general sense of feeling dreary. Or it responds with the strong motivation to apologize, correct or make up for the wrong. Perhaps, it even does all of those things in your life.

Another writer, describes guilt, or not having a clear conscience this way, “When I kept it all inside, my dishonesty devastated my inner life, causing my life to be filled with frustration, irrepressible anguish, and misery. The pain never let up, for your conviction was heavy on my heart. My strength was sapped, my inner life dried up like a spiritual drought within my soul.” Psalm 32:3-4, TPT King David

The power of guilt is terrifying. The worry of guilt is debilitating. Being consumed with what I did or didn’t do, what I thought or didn’t think, how I harmed another individual, what I said or should have said, all these cause pain and anguish inside of us. “It is overwhelming and a burden too heavy to bear” King David cried in Psalm 38:4

Here, is where our conscience kicks in. Therefore, what is conscience?

Oswald Chambers describes conscience this way, “The ability within me that attaches to the highest standard I know and reminds me of what that standard demands that I do.”

That explains to me why two people can face the exact same moral dilemma and come away with two totally different answers for what is “right’ in that situation. Their “highest standard” is different. Both could even engage in that moral dilemma and state it quite differently – one could feel no sense of guilt or remorse while the other will hold to the belief that they have done something wrong and need to right it, and them self.

We see this played out everyday in our family, neighborhood, church, media, politics, everywhere. As many people as there are, will determine the variety of standards there will be.

So for today at least, let’s assert God’s standard. It is the highest possible standard for my mind and heart to attach to. God’s standard is His perfect law. His Word.

His law is not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 NIV

His law is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, firm, more valuable than gold, and sweeter than honey. Psalm. 19:7-10 NIV

When I apply His Word to my guilt, what happens?

Well, as mentioned above, if I keep silent or ignore any guilt or wrongdoing when in fact there should be guilt because I have wronged someone, then that is where the psychological consequences kick in and the cycle of guilt plays out: 1. should 2. action/inaction 3. guilt

But the other option in the face of guilt and God’s word is – “I acknowledge my guilt and do not cover it up… and you forgive the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5

When we see that the purpose of guilt is to restore relationship and we admit our need for that restoration, we receive his forgiveness, His cleansing and restoration. We admit our need to Him and he forgives us. Psalm 51 In this process, we learn to take action as needed, move on from it and learn from our mistakes. Our conscience is then cleared before God and man.

Clearing our conscience is vital for healthy living. Allowing things to build up, unresolved, unaddressed is of no value to you or your health. Keeping our conscience sensitive to Him means staying open on the inside and addressing needed issues each day.

We are charged in scripture to not let the sun go down on our anger. We are reminded that His mercies are new every morning. This indicates the daily practice of taking out the trash of our cluttered conscience, and not allowing guilt, grudges, or messy life decisions to pile up.

Blessed is the one, whose sin is not counted against him and in whom is no deceit. Psalm 32:2

Having a clear conscience keeps us connected to others and to God.

That is why we “strive always to keep a clear conscience”. I hope it’s a conscience held to the highest standard of God’s Word. But that choice is yours.

Cheers to you.

We all like sheep

Do you remember hearing about these three famous, ground breaking sheep?

Montauciel – the famous French sheep? Shrek – the infamous 59 1/2 pound sheep? Dolly – the first mammal cloned?

Here’s a refresher:

Montauciel, who’s name means “climb to the sky” in French, was used as guinea pig for the Mongolfier brothers in the 18th century who were experimenting with hot air balloons. The sheep was put in the basket, along with a duck and rooster and actually flew 2 miles at an altitude of 1,500 ft, before the balloon landed. All passengers were ok upon landing.

Shrek, lived on a wool farm in New Zealand with 17,000 other Merino sheep. These sheep are sheared once a year but Shrek was having none of it! He hid for 6 years as each yearly shearing time came. Seriously! After 6 years, in 2004 he was finally caught and shorn in 20 minutes. 59 1/2 pounds of wool came from him, enough to make 20 men’s wool suits.

Shrek before
Shrek after

Dolly, the sheep, was the first mammal cloned from an adult cell in 1996. She was used for medical research.

Now, I admit that I’m a city girl, but there is a lot to be learned from sheep. So baaaa-re with me.

Check out these characteristics of sheep, both good and baaa-d:

  • Sheep experience emotions like humans. Fear, anger, rage, despair, disgust, boredom and happiness. They actually feel despair when their friends are led to the slaughter.
  • Sheep are intelligent with impressive facial memory skills.
  • Sheep have excellent hearing and can recognize their shepherd’s voice out of a crowd.
  • Sheep have a strong instinct to follow the sheep in front of them – off a cliff or through water, makes no difference. They are hardwired to follow without even thinking.
  • Sheep have poor depth perception; shadows and dips in the ground cause them to baulk.
  • Sheep build friendships and stick up for one another in fights.
  • Sheep are very social creatures and require the presence of 4-5 other sheep when they are grazing in order to maintain their visual link to each other.
  • Sheep find safety in numbers and get agitated when separated.
  • Sheep have excellent peripheral vision fields of 270-320 degrees.
  • Sheep are susceptible to disease such as parasites when they are mismanaged.
  • Sheep wag their tails, like dogs and form bonds with their shepherd.

Throughout history, humans have been compared to sheep. In ancient times kings were considered the shepherds of their kingdoms and the people his sheep.

In the Bible we see this played out with the twist the we (human’s) are the sheep of The Lord’s pasture.

“Know that the Lord is God. It is He who has made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of His pasture.”

Psalm 100:3

Probably the most well known passage in the Bible about sheep and the shepherd is Psalm 23. And that passage is at the heart of this message.

When I was recently reading this passage, I was struck with over 11 things that the shepherd does for the sheep! The entire psalm is one in which the Shepherd takes the initiative and responsibility for the care, protection, provision, supervision and defense of the sheep in his/her flock. Check it out.

Here is the list I made in my notebook of what Our Shepherd does for us, His sheep:

  1. He provides everything I need. I don’t go without anything that I need. He is my friend.
  2. He makes me lie down – whether I think I need to rest or not, He knows I do and makes stretch out.
  3. He leads me – he actually is in front of me leading me to the goal or watering place where I will find rest.
  4. He refreshes my soul – he renews me in my weariness and allows strength to return to me.
  5. He guides me – again he’s waaaay ahead of me, guiding me along the bumpy path.
  6. In the valley, He is with me – when shadows and darkness overwhelm me, He is right there with me.
  7. Both his rod and staff bring me comfort – his rod corrects me and his staff supports me – both bring me comfort and repentance when needed.
  8. In the face of my enemies, he orders and arranges all that I need to be sustained.
  9. He puts oil on my head providing healing, acceptance and sweet fragrance.
  10. He promises goodness and love will always have my back.
  11. AND, he wants to live with me forever! Not just here in this pen on this planet.

Wouldn’t you agree that the sheep have a pretty good gig?

The shepherd totally has the sheep covered. The sheep do so very little and are so dependent on the shepherd. Yet there is a sweet, personal relationship between each sheep and their shepherd that makes the sheep wag it’s tail in happiness and satisfaction when close to their shepherd or listening to his voice.

The precious, tender, reality of these verses demonstrate the Lord’s patient, conscious, willful, loving, strong, and complete care for us – his sheep.

Our Great Shepherd

I was and continue to be overwhelmed by my careful shepherd.

I trust “the wool not be pulled over your eyes” and you too, rest confidently in the complete care and provision of your Great Shepherd.

Cheers to you.

For a complete downloadable Bible study on the 23rd Psalm, go to my Bible studies and click on the file.