WHAT DOES LOVE DO?

“It’s love, it’s love, that makes the world go round.” “What the world needs now, is love.” These were popular songs a few years back. And, how correct they are. The Apostle Paul wrote in the 13th chapter of First Corinthians, “without love you are nothing (zero)”

Since love is absolutely critical in our living, we need to ask, “What does love do?”

First of all, LOVE CARES.
It has been said, “People don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care.  Generally, the church prides itself on doctrine but the non-Christian could care less. They want to see and feel our love. Love is concerned about what is happening in people’s lives. Love is not judgmental. Love neither approves nor condemns. That is left up to God.

Secondly, LOVE LISTENS.
Listening to another human being as to what they think and how they feel is genuinely loving that person. Love does not dictate to another person as to what they should think. Truth cannot be used as a club to beat people into submission. We need to find out where people are in their thinking and lead them from there to what they can become.

Thirdly, LOVE PLACES PROPER RESPONSIBILITY.
Each person must live their own life. Whose else can they live? More crudely, it can be put, “Every tub has to sit on it’s own bottom.” We must learn to hold people with open palms. Like holding a small bird in your hand. If you leave your hand flat the bird is apt to stay. But, when you commence to close the hand, wrap the fingers around the bird, it will feel trapped and try to fly away. So, it is with people. People must hear the Word of God but whether they accept or reject is up to them. We must allow them their freedom of choice, God does.

Our task is to plant the seed of God which is His Word. We must water and cultivate that truth but it is up to God to give the increase. Our responsibility is not to save souls. Our task is to speak the truth with love and God by His Spirit will do the saving, if man responds. Salvation has to be an individual response. God judges people out of motives, intents, struggles of the heart.
David Rupert wrote, “Christians are to be first responders to a hurting world. Our medicine is mercy. The greatest tool in our bag is compassion.”

LOVE PEOPLE INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD THROUGH THE TRUTH OF GOD.

Story to tell to the Nations

“We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right.
A story of truth and mercy. A story of peace and light. A story of peace and light.
We’ve a message to give to the Nations, that the Lord who reigns up above.
Has sent us His Son to save us and show us that God is love.
And show us that God is love.”

Remember, Alfie? He was a man who could not do any right. Everything he touched, he messed up. One day, he tried to commit suicide and he couldn’t do that right. He ended up in the hospital. A friend visited him and asked, “Alfie, why did you try to kill yourself?” Alfie said, “Because there is no good news, if there was good news, someone would have come running to tell me.”

Now, I want to tell you that there is GOOD NEWS. It is God’s love story. How He went down into the shadow of death; there to labor, suffer, in order to give life to mankind. The Good News is that
God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to save the world of people. The Good News is defined as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is not our subjective experiences but the objective truth of God. The Scripture that we preach/teach/tell is God’s power unto salvation. It is through the foolishness of preaching, not foolish preaching, that saves those who believe.

Our task is to plant the seed of God which is His Word. We must water and cultivate that truth but it is God who gives the increase. Our responsibility is not to save souls. Ours is to speak the truth with love and God by His spirit will do the saving, if man responds. Salvation is an individual response. God judges people out of motives, intents, struggles of the heart.

Understand that the message to the world is not come to us, come to our doctrines, come to our church, come to our Christ. Rather, the message is COME, GO WITH US TO Christ, we too are weak and need strength, we too are ignorant and need truth, we too are sinful and need forgiveness. COME, GO WITH US TO CHRIST. Out of hearts of love, declare and demonstrate God’s love for everyone.

“Til the Storm Passes By”

“In the dark of the midnight I have often hid my face
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious LORD, hear my cry
Keep me safe till the storm passes by

Many times Satan whispered, ‘There’s no need to try
For there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by’
But I know You are with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storms never again will darken the skies

Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold us fast, let us stand, in the hollow of Your hand . .
Keep us safe till the storm passes by.” Written by Mosie Lister

What a meaningful song in keeping with what most of us have just gone through. Erma played havoc with all the land it passed over. Florida got the blunt of the storm. We in Georgia got a hard Tropical storm with rain and wind. The Florida Keys have thousands in desperate needs. Some described the Keys as “Misery in Paradise.” 25% of the Florida Keys have houses destroyed. People are saying, “We have lost everything.” At least 48 people have died as a result of the storm, including at least 13 in the continental United States. All of us have prayed earnestly for the safety of all the folks in the path of the storm.

May I share some thoughts concerning this situation. What was my prayer? I did not ask that God intervene in changing the course of the storm. I believe that the storm is a matter of natural laws. It follows it own weather pattern. As I told someone, don’t pray for the storm to go away, you just get out of its way. People were given a choice to stay or leave, many did evacuate while others rode out the storm. It was a personal decision. I do not believe that God caused the storm. However, I do believe that the storm was a challenge to our faith. We did what we felt best and trusted God to keep us safe or take us home to be with Him. I caution you to not feel that God has blessed you more because you didn’t get the full fury of the storm when others did.

I think of what Jesus said in Luke the 13th chapter verses one through 5. Jesus said, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no. But unless YOU repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem. I tell you, no. But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Tragedy and suffering is not from God. We must not think that we are better than anyone else just because they suffer more than we. God is not partial. He loves everyone equally. We must have empathy (feel with) all people in need. This world will have its storms and we will suffer from them but the day is coming when the storms will pass and we will be safely home with our Heavenly Father.

Harvey

What about Irma? Max Lucado wrote about “Harvey”, I wonder what he will have to say about Irma? Our prayers go out for the safety of all the people in the way of the storm. His words are good for any storm.

Just a portion of an article by Max Lucado concerning the terrible storm, “Harvey.”

“The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:19-22 NIV).
The creation is third trimester heavy. Birth pangs must occur before a new birth. During the birth pangs the mother keeps focused on the end result: the moment that she will hold her beautiful baby in her arms. She knows that birth pangs don’t last forever; indeed, the more intense the pangs, the nearer the delivery.

Our world is experiencing a rash of birth pangs these days. It is not to me to declare the day the Lord will return. But we know this much: it’s the beginning of the end and the beginning of new beginnings. Calamities and catastrophes must occur before the birth of the new world. In the meantime- practice what they teach in Lamaze classes- take some deep breaths and hold the hand of the one who loves you.
Jesus made this point in one of his final messages. He referred to the increased frequency of disasters and then said: “See to it that you are not alarmed” (Matthew 24:6 NIV). Jesus chose a stout term for “alarmed” that he used on no other occasion. It means, “to wail, to cry aloud” as if Jesus counseled the disciple: “Don’t freak out when bad stuff happens.”
Jesus promised that bad things would occur. But they won’t occur forever.

What rescuers are doing for Houstonians, God will do for you. He has entered your world. He has dropped a rope into your sin-swamped life. He will rescue, you simply need to do what many stranded people are doing–let him lift you out.

Listen to the lessons of Harvey. Let the storm remind you of the value of relationships, people and, most of all, the promise of heaven. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I attended a prayer service at a downtown church. A local minister gave a message on this verse: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8 NKJV).
The minister helped us see all the things Noah could not find because of the flood. He could not find his neighborhood. He could not find his house. He could not find the comforts of home or the people down the street–there was much he could not find. But what he could find made all the difference. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Noah found grace in the eyes of God. If you have everything and no grace, you have nothing. If you have nothing but grace, you have everything.”

©Max Lucado, August 29, 2017

What Harvey Can Teach Us

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high there’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, sky’s are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake where the clouds are far behind me, where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me.
Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly, birds fly over the rainbow, why, then oh why, can’t I?”

This song was sung by Judy Garland who played the part of Dorothy in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” However, unlike Dorothy, Judy in real life never got over the rainbow.
She went through five husbands and in June of 1969, at the age of forty seven, Judy was found dead in her London home.

The question, we need to ask, is there really a land somewhere over the rainbow that Judy heard of once in a lullaby?

When we think of rainbow, we must remember God’s promise to Noah after the flood.  The flood came because of the wickedness of mankind.  It grieved God that He had ever made man.  God’s heart was filled with pain. So, the terrible flood wiped out mankind from the face of the earth.  This was the judgment of God. Isn’t it wonderful that one man found favor in the eyes of the Lord and that man was Noah?  God had Noah build an ark into which he and his family would enter and ride out the flood.   The waters covered the earth for a hundred and fifty days.  After the water had gone down, Noah and his family came out of the ark along with all of the animals.  The fist thing Noah did was build an altar, worship God.  God was pleased and said, “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.” Never by a flood will mankind be destroyed. Genesis 8:21  The sign of God’s promise is the RAINBOW.

The beautiful rainbow is a reminder to God and to us of God’s mercy and faithfulness.  It gives us hope, peace after the storm.  Some rain may fall into our lives but it need not destroy us.

Paul writes in First Thessalonians 1:10 “…wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”  Judgment will come but through faith in Christ, we will be saved, “somewhere over the rainbow.”.

 

 

 

Pressing On

There is no short cut to greatness.  Days and years must be spent in purposeful action.  The renowned pianist, Paderewski, practiced 8 hours each day when on tour. Madame Guiomar Novaes, one of the great living pianists, spent two days before a concert in practice for that one performance.  Baseball’s matchless, Ty Cobb practiced base running and sliding until his hips were raw and his uniform stained with his own blood. Winston Churchill, whose speeches are classics, prepared each address with the utmost care. Someone remarked with truth, “Sir Winston has spent most of his life working on his impromptu speeches.”

Being a Christian is a growth process.  We never become a journeyman, a skilled worker.  Christians remain lifelong apprentices, learners.  This is what Kierkegard meant when he said his vocation was becoming a Christian. He felt that no one ever was a Christian but some were on their way to become such.

This understanding is important because it warns us against the arrogance of thinking we “possess” Christ. We do not possess Christ, Christ “possesses” us. Sometimes, we are tempted to congratulate ourselves on our virtues and on the absence of vices in our character. But, this can only be done by closing our eyes to our own incompleteness. None of us have attained unto Christ nor arrived in our Christian life.  The whole business of living is to grow in our relationship with God.   How are you doing?

Listen to Paul as he wrote in Philippians 3: 13-14:  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Keep on keeping on becoming a Christian, Christ like.

 

Courage to Speak..

Article by Kay Moll who is a writer and speaker living in Mason, Ohio.

“God still calls people to speak against evil and injustice.  The message is still not popular.  Audiences are still hostile. And it still requires a tremendous amount of courage to speak.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer condemned evil and injustice in Nazi Germany, knowing that he was putting himself in grave danger.  He could have avoided it.  In 1939 he came to America and could have stayed until the war was over.   But Bonhoeffer believed that he had to return to Germany.  He believed that he would not have the right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if he did not share the trials with the people.  He knew that he had to speak out and believed he could not do so from a place of security.

Bonhoeffer returned.  He condemned the actions of Hitler against the Jews, against the poor, against all those who had no voice.  He was arrested on April 5, 1943, and was executed on April 9, 1945 – just two weeks before Americans liberated the camp where ha had been held and one month before Nazi Germany capitulated.

Bonhoeffer wrote:  “Who stands fast?  Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God — the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God.”

Evil and injustice are all too evident in the world today.  As he has in the past, God will still work through the efforts of men and women who see the injustice and have the courage to speak and the courage to act.”

Edmund Burke wrote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

 

DON’T PUSH JESUS AWAY

Late one night Dr. Leo Winters, the highly acclaimed Chicago surgeon, was awakened by the phone. A young boy had been tragically mangled in a late night accident.  And the wounds were such that Dr. Winters’ hands were possibly the only ones in the city or maybe even the whole region skilled enough to save the boy.

The quickest route to the hospital happened to be through a rough area of the city, but with time such a critical factor, the doctor felt it was worth the risk.  He almost made it through the neighborhood…almost…at a stop light, his door was jerked open by a man in a grey hat and a dirty flannel shirt.  “I’ve got to have your car.”  the man screamed, pulling him from his seat.  Dr. Winters tried to explain the gravity of the situation, but the man was not listening.  He sped off in Winters’ car.  The doctor wandered for over 45 minutes before finding a phone.  When he finally got a taxi and made it to the hospital, over an hour had passed.

He burst through the doors and into the nurses station but the nurse on duty only shook her head. It was too late. The little boy had passed away 30 minutes earlier.  “His dad got here before he died.” The nurse told him.  “Please go and see him in the chapel. He is awfully confused. He could not understand why you never came.”

Without explaining Dr. Winters walked hurriedly down the hall and quietly entered the chapel.  At the front knelt the huddled form of a weeping father, in a GREY HAT AND A DIRTY FLANNEL SHIRT…he was the same man who had stolen the doctor’s car.  And, in so doing, he had tragically pushed from his life the only one who could help his son.

Don’t push Jesus away.  He is the only one who can save you.  Jesus said, “I am the Way, the truth, the Life, no man goes to the Father but by me.”
Peter said, “Salvation is found in none other for there is no other name given to men where by we can be saved.”  Acts 4:12
Remember the song, “What can wash away my sin? What can make me whole again?
Nothing-nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Where Are You Going?

David Simpson of Gainesville, GA  shared this story concerning Billy Graham.   This story came from the Chandler and Brownsboro Statesman newspaper in Texas:
In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor.  Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson’s disease. But the Charlotte leaders said,  ‘We don’t expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you.’ So he agreed. After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said, “I’m reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century.  Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets.It wasn’t there.  He looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it.  Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.  “The conductor said, ‘Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.’“Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.“The conductor rushed back and said, ‘Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are; no problem. You don’t need a ticket.  I’m sure you bought one.’   Einstein looked at him and said, “Young man, I too, know who I am.  What I don’t know is where I’m going.” 

Having said that, Billy Graham continued, “See the suit I’m wearing?  It’s a brand new suit. My children and my grandchildren are telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember the suit I’m wearing. I want you to remember this:

I not only know who I am. I also know where I’m going.”

I hope each one reading this today can say the same thing. 1 John 2:25 was written to believers and says it all: “And this is what he promised us-eternal life.”

WHAT A WOMAN…

Irena Sender  Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98)  Warsaw, Poland

During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.  Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried.  She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.  Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.  The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog, and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.  During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.  Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazis broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out in a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard.  After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family.  Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

M.S, Lowndes wrote this beautiful poem:  “RISE UP, O WOMAN OF GOD”

“Rise up, O woman of God in what He has given you.
The things God has laid on your heart.  Rise up, go forth, and do.

Unlock what God has placed within. The potential you have inside.
The world is waiting for your release to expand your wings and fly.

Arise in your God-given gifts.  For this is your finest hour.
Arise in the Lord’s holy might, Ignited and empowered.

For God is calling you to come forth to impact this world for Him,
Don’t hold back or limit yourself. Let His power arise within.

And take His message to the world, to those who have lost their way.
For you surely make a difference if you’d hear His voice and obey.

You shall be strengthened in the Lord as you begin to arise,
Conquering those doubts that pull you down and believe who you are in Christ.

For you shall surely be transformed as, in you, God increases more.
And become a woman of true excellence bringing honor to her Lord.”

It is evident that through the ages women have been submissive and lower than men.  However, when Jesus came He elevated woman to their rightful, equal place along side of man.  We have different roles but none better than the other.  The divine message concerning Christians through the Apostle Paul is this: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, than you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”   Galatians 3:26-29