Sunday Sermon 8.28.21
I feel many have been in a perpetual holding pattern for the past fifteen months. So many things have been placed on hold, deferred, declined, shied away from or just plain canceled. This has affected all areas of life, personal, professional and most seriously spiritual. Many have put off things that are now time to get going.
There is merit in addressing lost jobs, vacations, and the like, but I’d like to focus on lost spiritual ground, spiritual assignments and spiritual standings. What in that arena do you need to get going?
Can you visualize an ox goad?
That wooden tool, about 8 feet long, with an iron spike at one end. It was used by the herder to goad or spur the oxen as they carried the cart. When the ox was poked, it’s response was to sometimes kick against it in resistance. This of course was not only futile but also painful for the ox.
The dictionary tells us that a goad is:
” an agent or means of prodding or urging; a stimuls. Anything that acts to stir or incite.”
Cambridge dictionary says this:
” to make a person or animal react or do something by continuously annoying or upsetting them”
It is my strong, personal sense that we are being urged, prodded, poked and perhaps even annoyed or upset by the sharp end of the goad. We are being encouraged and stirred to do something, change course, and redirect. The prod and poke of the Spirit is urging us to get going.
Let me suggest to you the following acronym that came to me as I considered the goal of the goads.
The Goal of the G.O.A.D.S.
G – get us going (in the power of the Gospel): stirring us to act, move and speak in line with the gospel and it’s truth, light and power
O – optimize the oxen’s strength (our stength!) : the oxen has strength to carry a heavy load and yet it often chose to rest, sit, and stay put. The goad poked him to action and to utilize the strength that he has. We are that oxen oftimes.
A – assess the actual progress : weight bearing oxen had to advance and make progress each day, there was a job to be done and his progress was vital. No forward motion led to a poke or a prod to get them to gain ground an move forward. Progress was expected everyday!
D – direct away from danger, to deter certain actions: the goad often guided and directed that ox away from predators, or any other dangers in the road ahead. That nagging, sharp, annoying voice (goad) was protecting and redirecting
S – spur us on: as annoying or upsetting as the goad can be, it was only intended to spur the ox in the right direction, on the right path, pulling the load is was meant to with the strength it has been given.
I have trouble visualizing an ox kicking against that ox goad. How could its hoof and leg actually manage to hit that pointy, poking, prod? Really?? It’s kinda funny.
But isn’t that what we do? We kick back at those subtle pokes of the Spirit because we know that He is calling us to get moving and get with it. We are being encouraged to do something that what we are not comfortable with and our stubborn as an ox spirit oftimes resists.
But God said, to the soon to be Apostle Paul:
“It is hard for you to kick against the goads”Acts 26:14 NIV
“You are only hurting yourself when you resist your calling.”Acts 26:14 TPT
Dear reader, when we resist the pokings of the Holy Spirit goad, we are only hurting ourselves. We are resisting the very calling He has placed on our lives.
Remember, those promptings and pokings are intended to get us going with optimal strength on a path forward, actually making progress and guarded from danger. That goad is spurring us on and stirring us up.
Geesh, if we were walking fully submitted to the GOAD (voice of the Spirit), we could be doing the same as Shamgar, who is said to have killed 600 with an ox goad. Or perhaps even be as the wise one in Ecclestiates, of whom it is said their wise words were like ox goads.
All I know folks, is it is time for all believers in Jesus to get going! You cannot be doing now, the same things you were doing fifteen months ago! If nothing has changed in your spirit, then you have not responded to the goadding of the Spirit in your life. If you are stuck, it is time to yield to the goad and get going. If you are resisting that goad, you are only hurting yourself. There will be futility and pain.
The world needs you, and the time for ignition is short. The call of the Spirit is strong and is indeed urging you to get going. What are you waiting for?
The goal of the goads it to get us going.
Go with God,
I have to laugh when I’m told by a “young” person that there is “nothing on TV”.
You see, I vividly remember the nights when the TV would turn to static at midnight, then change to color bars until 6:00 AM the next morning. THOSE were the days of nothing on TV. Ha Ha Those were also the days (nights) of making it nearly impossible to stay awake while babysitting. Oh, and getting paid a whopping .75 cents an hour!
I’ve seen alot change.
This week, I proudly boast that I trun 67! So, allow me if you will, to recall some of those changes.
This is the city I was born in, in the early 1950’s, and it’s famous bridge that we frequented.
In those days schools taught memorization, discipline, and the 3 R’s. Books were read and used in the classroom and in homes and we all walked to school each day.
Those days, too, were powerful years for religion. Remember, this was the generation coming out of WWII and their desie to return to roots, family and community were driving forces. 97% of people those days had some type of religious affiliation, whereas today, 77% do.
The role of women has changed, too. In those days most women were housewives, today, 60% of women work outside of the home.
Families then were larger. My husband comes from a family where his mother had 12 siblings, and his father 13 (or was it the opposite, I dont remember). I have 3 siblings, so we were a smaller family in comparision.
Within the home, things have changed as well.
There was one telephone, and it was in what was considered a central location. Everyone in the family used it, although the children had absolutely no reason to (and usually no permission). When those teenage, long and dramatic calls came in, it was not without shouting, and recalls, and call backs – because your parent actually NEEDED the phone. Sometimes even the dreaded “party line” was picked up or listened in to. Now, those were the days!
Communication has changed alot.
Talking on the phone has been replaced by texting. People don’t sit face to face for hours to talk, plan or do much of anything else. Now it is sceen to screen, swipping, scrolling, or blocking. Letter writting is antiquated, and handwriting as a form (pennmanship, when I was going to school) is not really taught anymore. Keyboarding skills and shortcuts are emphasized instead.
Then, there’s the internet, where we literally have the knowledge of good and evil at our fingertips. It is the tree or web that connects us to anything we want whenever we want it. Oh my goodness!
Nightly news has become the daily news cycle. A repetited loop of partisan, talking points with very little informational value and no nutritional benefit. Twenty-four hour news with virtually nothing new reported.
Cars drive themselves now, and that cool Dick Tracy watch you talked to is on my wrist today. Very Cool!
TV has evolved.
Gone are the days of The Lone Ranger, I Love Lucy and Abbot and Costello. They have morphed through Gilligan’s Island, Star Trek, The Partridge Family, MASH, The Walton’s, Cheers, Growing Pains, The Wonder Years, and Magnum PI.
In the early 1990’s in marched the world of witches and vampires with Sabrina, Buffy and others. Then Harry Potter exploded in 2001.
I remember seeing for the very first time on a screen in my living roon scenes that just 10 years ago were unacceptable and morally repudiated.
I’ve seen alot change.
Selfies, fewer smokers, eating healthy, going green and even what it looks like to grow old.
CBS News even declared that 60 is the new 40! So how ’bout that? It simply means people are living longer today and they are healthier. And for alot of them, looking good at 60, too. Life expectancy today is 78.6 years.
“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”John Maxwell
You too, I’m sure have seen your share of changes. It is inevitable. But John Maxwell has such a solid point here, growing through and along with the change is optional. Growth is a choice only I can control.
The old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is one that I have single handedly set out to disprove in my life. Seriously. Whether it’s learning a new skill (like sailing), a new program (like Final Draft), a new vocation (like retail), I am choosing to keep growing and keep up with the changes.
Change is inevitable, often sad, and sometimes infuriating. We have seen alot of it.
Learning which changes to adjust to and grow with and which changes to buck requires wise evaluation. Somethings ought NOT to change and that too is optional and up to us.
I’ve seen alot change and I hope to continue to be wise in my growth through even more, and buck what is unacceptable. Won’t you join me?
Sunday Sermon 6.19.21
What if you were promised everything you could ever need would be given to you?
Add to that the promise of always being productive and useful.
But wait, that’s not all, top it off with you will never fall away.
I was struck this week with these three superlatives.
And my thoughts went something like, “ I am being promised everything I could ever need, in a useful and productive life, that will last forever… what kind of fool would say no to this offer?” Fully realizing there were countless numbers doing just that and I too have refused the offer or at least parts of it at times.
Here’s the context.
Peter, the walker on water, cutting off the ear, denier, disciple wrote these promises in his second letter, and first chapter.
There, in verse 3 he says,
“Everything we could ever need in life and godliness has been given to us.”2 Pet. 1:3
Wait, whaaat? I already have everything I could ever need???
Peter says yes!
How is that so?
Pete tells us that when we come to know Jesus, in Him, we find and have everything we will ever need for life and godliness.
Why do we fight so hard against living a spiritual life? Why do we think we know better and God’s way isn’t enough? Why do we think living for Jesus is hard and boring and not for us?
Getting to know Jesus, spending time with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, reading His word IS everything we could ever need. In HIM, knowing Him, is where we find all we need. In Him is where we find all we need for our life and living godly.
Peter calls this, “the rich experience of knowing Him.” This is the foundation for everything; our needs, hopes, questions, desires… the experience of knowing Him is vast, deep, precious, enlightening, puzzling, amazing, fearful and beautiful all at the same time. All we need is found in Him.
What kind of fool would say no to this offer?
Peter goes on to say,
“If you possess these qualities they will keep you from being inactive and unproductive”2 Pet. 1:8
What qualities? Are they something unrealistic, hard to do, out of reach?
These are the qualities he lists: faith, goodness, understanding, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mercy and love.
Are they unrealistic? Are they impossible and out of our reach to display and practice in your life?
The promise is if we possess these qualities, they will keep us from being inactive and unproductive.
They are not unrealistic qualities if we are enjoying the experience of knowing Him. If we are in touch with Him, His Word and voice, these qualities should be abounding in our life. If we are out of step with Him, chances are pretty good these qualities will be lacking and so too our productiveness.
Check it, though. If we possess these qualities, we will not be inactive or unproductive. Wow.
What kind of fool would say no to this offer?
The final trifecta promise is you will never fall away. Never! Think of that. Never stumble. This of course is speaking spiritually. Stumbling spiritually is falling down, tripping up.
What’s the prerequisite for this NEVER stumble promise?
“If you do these things you will never stumble.”2 Pet. 1:10
What things? So, what things, exactly do I need to do?
The things listed above-
- Knowing Him
- Possess those 8 qualities
If we are in relationship knowing Him and those 8 qualities are springing from our life, we will never stumble. We will be secure.
Isn’t that so true? Haven’t you found that when you are NOT in relationship with Him and some or all of these 8 qualities are absent from your life, you trip up all over the place?
Why do we fight so hard against living a spiritual life? In it we have all we need, we are active and productive and we won’t trip up!??
In our relationship with Jesus, we have everything we could ever need.
What kind of fool would say no to this offer?
Go with God.
Sunday sermon 5.30.21
What a weird question to ask right? He doesn’t play favorites, and like someone over another, does He? I thought He shows no favoritism and wasn’t a respecter of persons.
What the heck??
Did it get you thinking, I hope so?
Look how this Psalm begins-
“How well God must like you- “Psalm 1:1 The Message
THAT got me thinking too!
My first thought, “Does He like me?”, followed quickly by “WAIT! he doesn’t play favorites. But does He like me?”
This whole psalm and its opening statement reminds me so much of my relationship with my son, and really any parent with their child.
As parents, we love our children, no doubt, unconditionally, in every circumstance, right? We love them period and nothing will change that unquestionable, locked in fact.
There are times, however, when we are busting our buttons PROUD of them. Something they did, said, acted on, became, earned, or decided lit us up a with smile ear to ear, head shaking, teary eyes joy, peace, pride and satisfaction. Deeply sighing, “Yes, that’s my son!” We don’t love them more, we are just so darn proud of them!
I remember as my son was growing up and going out with friends or to activities, my parting words to him were always, “Be wise.” In those two words I was asking him to think things through and make good decisions in everything he was going to do.
I knew the importance of every little decision he was going to make that night, and I wanted him to be wise and think ahead, consider the consequences and be a wise young man, not a foolish young man.
It was his decisions that made me proud then and to this day. I don’t love him more or less for his decisions, but goodness, how proud I am of him when he stands strong with wise decisions. Proud Momma, for sure!
Psalm 1 is that kind of moment. That moment when God says, “Be wise” to us, his kid, and then reveals his pride in us when we make good decisions and are wise.
Let’s look at the entire text of Psalm 1-
“ How well God must like you- you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead-End Road, you don’t go to Smart Mouth College.
Instead you thrill to God’s Word… you are a tree planted that bears fruit every month…never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.”Psalm 1:1 The Message paraphrase
Other translations put it differently but what remains common is that here we see three things to NOT do (to be wise and receive God’s “pride”), and three things To Do ( to be wise and receive God’s “pride”).
Three things God is proud of us for NOT doing:
- Not hanging out at Sin Saloon- other translations say not walking with sinners or in step with sinners. When we decide to not walk in step with or agree with the ungodly influences in this world- GOD IS PROUD.
- Don’t slink along Dead-End Road- others say: share the sinners way or stand in the way that sinners take. GOD IS PROUD of you when you choose to keep out of the way of dead end conversations and life styles.
- Don’t go to Smart Mouth College- other ways of saying it are- sit in the company of mockers. Spending our time sitting and chiming in with what mockers & scorners are chirping about does NOT MAKE GOD PROUD.
He doesn’t love us any more or less, we are His kids and He always, unconditionally loves us. But when we make these three wise choices He is busting His buttons proud of us!
Furthermore, there are three choices that we can make by what we DO that also make Him proud of us.
- Thrill to God’s Word. We take time and pleasure reading His Word- the Bible. We think about it, we savior it, we seek to understand it and love it. This makes God Very PROUD of us.
- Are planted, standing firm, like a tree in His ways and His Word. Nothing blowing us over or uprooting us, we are strongly planted and nourished by God, just like a tree. We even produce healthy fruit every month for others to enjoy.
- Are always in blossom, never wilting, dry or barren. We are healthy spiritually and produce evidence that nourishes others.
You see, God gets super proud of you when you choose these things. Three to do and three to not do.
The choice is always ours. Walk with those people and do that, sit there and participate in that, go that way….
Actually spend time reading the Bible, think about it, mull it over, stand firmly on those principles of the Word, yield to the growing process of that Word in and through us with evidence being produced from us .
Make God proud of your wise choices.
Making these six wise choices will not necessarily cause God to like you more, cuz He already loves you like crazy. But making these six wise choices will cause Him to smile on you with even more joy and favor and “pride”.
Look at these six again- what choices can you make that will make God even more proud of you, today?
Go with God.
There’s just something iconic about that 1985 song, “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis & the News. For those of you not familiar with is, here it is:
Are we rooted and grounded in love and its power?
In 1965, a song hit the charts, written by that famous team of Hal David and Burt Bacharach, called ” What the World Needs Now”. It was a call that resonates in our hearts today. Here it is:
My heart has been hearing the call for LOVE and the full extent of its power in our lives and society.
A phrase I have been mulling over lately is “being rooted and grounded in love”. What does that mean? What does that look like? What is the power of love that the world needs?
Let’s dive into that phrase –
“Being rooted” of course is an agricultural reference. Roots grow below the surface and in most cases are unseen. Their function is to anchor the plant in place in order to resist the forces of wind and water that come at them.
In addition, those roots take in oxygen, water, nutrients and move them through the plant to stems, leaves and blooms.
Easytogrow.com tells me, “to evaluate the health and long term performance of a plant it is all about the roots.” “Signs of poor, damaged roots will lead to an unhealthy plant with short life and limited blooms.”
So, we see that the roots are the indicator of the plants quality of life.
I’m told that you can tell if a plant is stressed out if you look at the leaves. If they are limp or yellow then those are signs of stress caused either by extreme temperatures, drought, predation or disease.
Lord knows, there are enough stress factors on us plants, right? Are we showing signs of stress, limp or yellowing? Then let’s check our roots, what are we rooted in?
Just think now, if our roots, the roots of our life, were embedded and fixed in LOVE. Only love, all love, exclusively love.
Think what the effects would be if only LOVE was the nutrient coursing through us, feeding us, watering us and growing in us.
May we choose to plant out roots deeper and deeper into love and receive all the nutrients we need so that love grows and blossoms from us.
Oh, the power of love.
The second part of that phrase, is “grounded in love”.
This is a building term, referring to laying the foundation and making a building stable, having it grounded and ready to be built upon.
Yet, I am going to look at the electrical perspective of “being grounded”.
In electrical appliances a grounding wire gives the appliance a safe way to discharge excess electricity. The electrical circuit receives both positive and negative charges in order to operate. If something goes wrong, there will be a build up of energy within the wiring that will be stored there.
Picture that, a build up of positive and negative charges, building up and being stored, unseen within the wiring. What we have here is an explosion ready to happen. An unseen power surge, ready to cause damage. This build up will not be noticed until contact is made and then the excess energy will be released.
A grounding wire in that same appliance will take that build up and send it outside of your home, back into the ground or external housing – hence, a “grounding” wire.
So, when the malfunction happens, rather than having the energy build up in the circuit, it flows back to the ground and turns off the circuit and pending explosion.
Imagine now, you are that appliance, you have been receiving all kinds of negative and positive signals. Something goes wrong in your life and now these charges are building up inside of you. Unseen to others perhaps, but they are there, caught in your circuitry.
When contact is made, with another “conductor”, sparks fly and an explosion and potential fire erupts.
But what if, your grounding wire were firmly attached to an external housing of LOVE thereby allowing love to shut down any circuits from blowing?
Imagine love being your grounding wire. The source of not only your power to shine, but also you ability to sort through positive and negative charges and malfunctions in your life. Love, as the grounding rod or copper water pipe of your life .
Oh, the power of love.
May we be healthy plants with strong roots, firmly established in love. May we also be those lights who are able to withstand overloaded circuitry malfunctions because our ground wire is in love.
What the world needs now is love, the power of love. Love flowing in us, through us, from us.
Cheers to you.