Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The power of thought…

How much real power is there in thought? For instance, if people around you are coming down with a cold or the flu and the thought crosses your mind that you, too, may be in jeopardy of that same fate, does that actually improve your chances of catching that same sickness? Have you opened the door? Have you given sickness permission just by considering the possibility? Or is it more about whether or not your body has built up a resistance to whatever germ is infecting people at that time? Does it have more to do with whether you have been taking good care of your body by feeding it properly, getting enough rest, fluids, etc. Could it relate to genetics and how well you manage stress? How about good hygiene? Could it be about a combination of any or all of the above? Some people seem to think that if you get a cold it’s because your faith is weak. If you get cancer, it’s because your faith is weak. For me, that begs the question. Why did Paul have the affliction he had? Did Paul try to just believe it away? Nope, he sure didn’t. He did pray, though…he did ask. What answer did he receive? Why did Epaphroditus almost die for the work of Christ (Philippians 2:27)? Was Paul and Epaphroditus’ faith too weak? What about Timothy?  Paul speaks of his frequent illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23).  Was his faith weak? My Christian Interpretation would be that I don’t think so. Illness and affliction are a part of life on planet earth. Notice that children get sick far more often than adults. Why is that? Weak faith, or they haven’t built up any resistance yet? Building up resistance is part of life, too. In Matthew 5:36 Jesus informs us that we cannot make even one hair on our head white or black. Try it. Find a hair on your head, close your eyes and imagine (until you are blue in the face) it a different color (no cheating). Now open your eyes. Any luck? If it’s all about your thoughts…here is a better test. Stop the aging process. Do you want to get old and decrepit? Just don’t buy into it then.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Jesus’ name…

It’s no magic formula. Just tacking on ‘in Jesus’ name’ to the end of a prayer does not insure anything. There’s more to it than that.  Some of the scriptures below not only include the origins of the catch phrase, but an explanation of what’s required of us as well. Notice the conditions for receiving what you ask for: Faith in Him. Asking in His Name. Obeying His commands. Remaining in Him and His words remaining in you.  Doing what pleases Him. Loving one another.  But don’t be fooled!  Though your faithfulness testifies to your love for, faith in, and commitment to Christ, you still have no power.  The reason that you ask ‘in His Name’, is because He is the one doing the miracle!  When someone is healed in Jesus’ Name, it’s a confirmation, it’s a sign to the witnesses, that Jesus is who GOD said He was.  After all, there is salvation in no other name under heaven.  It’s pretty important that people know that. 

John 14:12-15…I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me, you will obey what I command.

John 15:7-10…If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

1 John 3:21-24…Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

James 4:3…When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Acts 3:1-16…One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.  Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.  When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.  Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!"  So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.  Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.  When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.  While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.  When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go.  You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.  You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.  By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

Acts 9:32-35…As Peter travelled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda.  There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years.  "Aeneas," Peter said to him, "Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and tidy up your mat." Immediately Aeneas got up.  All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My, Me, and I…

How good are we at intercession? When someone sins against us personally, how often does that put us right on our knees asking God to please forgive them? I’m pretty certain that the collective answer would be ‘not often enough’. It would appear that the spirit of intercession is really quite foreign to us….as is loving our neighbor as ourselves, and yet that is the high calling. Indeed God’s ways are not our ways. Indeed God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). None the less the command is to be holy (Leviticus 11:45). Note below a few biblical examples of an intercessory spirit and one in which I’m certain God loves. Also, note that in some of the examples, how the person interceding identifies with the sin…includes themselves! Not the traditional, forgive THEM…but rather forgive US!  My Christian Interpretation would be that none of these prayers are about my, me, and I, but rather about the collective good.  How does our prayer life stack up against these examples?

Exodus 32:31-32…So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin— but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written."

Exodus 34:8…Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. "O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes," he said, "then let the Lord go with US. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive OUR wickedness and OUR sin, and take US as your inheritance."

Numbers 16:41-48…The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. "You have killed the LORD’s people," they said. But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the Tent of Meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the Tent of Meeting, and the LORD said to Moses, "Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once." And they fell facedown. Then Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD; the plague has started." So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.

Deuteronomy 9:6…When I looked, I saw that you had sinned against the LORD your God; you had made for yourselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the LORD had commanded you. So I took the two tablets and threw them out of my hands, breaking them to pieces before your eyes. Then once again I fell prostrate before the LORD for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the LORD’s sight and so provoking him to anger. I feared the anger and wrath of the LORD, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the LORD listened to me. And the LORD was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him, but at that time I prayed for Aaron too.

Acts 7:59-60…While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Luke 23:34…Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Our, Us, and We…

OUR Father…

Give US…

OUR daily bread…

Forgive US…

OUR trespasses…

As WE forgive…

Those who trespass against US

Lead US not into temptation..

Deliver US…

Philippians 2:4…Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sharing the blame…

It appears that a country is like a child. It develops, and as it develops, it’s forced to make some changes. What was appropriate when it was young may no longer be appropriate after it fully develops. The trick is transitioning. You see, rarely does anyone want to change. Of course, if the change is directly beneficial to you, then change is easy. But what if the ‘changes’ mean some sacrifices? Any volunteers? Yeah…not many will volunteer for that. In a democracy change can be even more difficult to attain….because it takes a majority to make changes. That’s where the topic…sharing the blame…comes in. In large part, I believe the government is responsible for getting us into this economic mess we find ourselves in. They didn’t react/respond quick enough to the hand writing on the wall (and I mean for the last 50 years). It seems they sat on their laurels…kind of like the American car manufacturers did back in the 70s when the Japanese starting building better automobiles then us. They refused to change until it was too late and needed to be bailed out. The American government seems to be guilty of the same thing. Whether it’s due to corruption, self-preservation (afraid they will lose an election), short-sightedness, ignorance, or laziness…it doesn’t really matter. What matters now is ‘how can we fix it’? What’s it going to take? Are we, the people, willing to change? Are we, the people, willing to sacrifice? If not, and the system does collapse, then we also will share the blame on that day.

I read the news today…oh boy…

Things have changed. I remember when I was a kid, at some point it was just about every little boy’s dream to one day be the president. Remember those days? The president’s office was respected and revered. It was the highest office in the land and, for that matter, the world! Having the president stop by your school and give a speech was akin to the Beatles stopping by. Now, some parents are threatening to keep their kids home from school on the day the president is scheduled for a visit! Have things gotten out of control? You’d almost have to be crazy now to want to be president. What would you be volunteering for? Constant abuse? Continual attacks? Unrelenting scrutiny by the media?

It’s a slippery slope. On the one hand, you want the office to be under scrutiny. A respectful scrutiny, though, might be good. Instead we have a media circus that is powered by ratings and greed while parading as the savior of the world.

I guess I appreciate the ‘news’. But just give it to me…just give me the facts without bias. Don’t try to convince me of what I should think…or that I should think like you. I’m going to base my opinion on the facts. And if you try to force your opinion on me, I’m going to boycott you.