Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Privilege of Prayer

Audience with a foreign dignitary requires the following of certain protocols.  If you ever have an audience with the Queen of England there is a strict no touch policy – one may only offer a hand after she first extends her hand.  No other physical contact should occur.  One greets the queen with “Your Majesty”.  

Likewise, when meeting the president, he is to be addressed as “Mr. President.”  Anything less is an insult.  I would imagine meeting either would cause one to pause and reflect prior to the encounter.  

Similarly, prayer is our encounter with God.  Prayer in its simplist definition is talking to God; but developing a seasoned prayer life requires practicing the privilege of prayer.

For the full message shared on 02-26-12 at the  First Church of God - Racine, WI go to:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Clarity, Courage, and Breakthroughs

Have you ever been in need of clarity, courage, or a breakthrough in your life?  I have; and I've found that I'm not the only one to seek one or all of these.  Surprised?  Probably not, but what may surprise you is that the Bible is full of examples of men and women who were seeking one of these three gems.

How are we supposed to find the clarity to know what God desires of us?  Were can we find the courage to do the difficult tasks that seem impossible?  When sin seems to constantly entrap us, what can we do to breakthrough?

The spiritual discipline of fasting is designed to answer these questions and many more.

At the Heart of Fasting is this definition:
             Fasting is the spiritual discipline of refraining from food
 for a period of time to focus on God.

Many benefits are connected with a fast: physical, emotional, and spiritual.

You may have some questions about fasting...
But why fast?  The short answer is because Jesus told those that follow Him to fast.  [“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:16-17]

Why food?  If you think about it food is the one thing that every person desires; in fact, food is one of the top three essentials necessary to survive.  We place such a high priority on food that for some it is an idol.  God is to be THE top priority and by fasting we are reminded of this fact.  Fasts also vary from absolute fasts (not eating or drinking), to normal fasts (refraining from all food and drinking lots of water), to partial fasts (cutting out choice foods from your diet).

How long does a fast last?  Biblical examples of fasts stretch from short fasts of 24 hrs. to longer fasts of up to 40 days.

What is the point?  The point is not to will yourself to complete the task, but to pray and be obedient to God for the length and type of fast in which you partake.  When we fast it is to focus on God, what He desires, what He directs.  You may enter a fast with one goal in mind and somewhere during the course find that God is leading you in a completely different direction.

The Old Testament prophet Joel called the people of Judah seek clarity, courage, and breakthroughs from sin by "Consecrating a holy fast and a sacred assembly." [Consecrate a fast, Proclaim a solemn assembly;      Gather the elders And all the inhabitants of the land To the house of the LORD your God, And cry out to the LORD. Joel 1:14]

I would suggest that if we would like to find clarity, courage, and breakthroughs in our lives we should do the same.

For the full message shared on 02-19-12 at the  First Church of God - Racine, WI go to:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love Your Neighbor

What do we do to express love?  Who do you express love to?

These are just a few of the questions that ran through my mind in preparation for Sunday's message.  Jesus' command to love God and love our neighbor sums up all of Scripture.  So how does this affect the way we live?

We say the words "I Love You."  We give gifts.  We do all kinds of things, but do we really LOVE?  And if we love, do we love EVERYONE?

Loving our neighbor includes loving those that may be our enemy.  In order to love in this way, we cannot do it on our own.  In fact, to love as God desires us to love is impossible if we attempt to love by our own power.  In order to love others, we must first love God.

See, that is the greatest commandment, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." [Deut. 6:5].  When we love God with everything we are, we can love everyone as they are.

And this is the result of loving God, we love one another.  So the question is:
Love God?  Love others.

For the full message shared on 02-12-12 at the First Church of God - Racine, WI go to:

Monday, February 6, 2012

As YOU Wish

It's the first part of February and 'love' is in the air.  Have you really given much thought to that word LOVE?  Oh sure, I love my wife but I also love spaghetti...  Are we talking about the same kind of love?  I don't think so.  In fact, I would suggest that many people don't even know what true love is.

One of my family’s favorite films is The Princess Bride, where the hero and heroine fight for ‘true love’ despite the difficulties life throws in their path.  One of my favorite quotes is when Wesley responds to any of his love’s requests with “As you wish.”  As you wish… shouldn't this be the response of true love.

You see, true love doesn't come from within us, as the world considers love.  True love can only be from God. Apart from Him it is impossible for us to know what love truly is.  Yes, I know that lots of people have "found" love and refuse to acknowledge God.  Atheists, Hindus, Muslims, and others would likely boast of having love, but do they. Can they?

This is what God says:

  • 1 John 5:2-3 – “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
  • 2 John 6 – “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.  This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.”

If love = observing, keeping, & walking according to the commandments of God (the word is obedience) and we choose NOT to obey how can we say we love?  Jesus is the epitome of love.  He demonstrated love when He died on the cross for the sins of men while we were actively rebelling against Him. (Rom. 5:8).  He provides us an example of love in His submission to the heavenly Father: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” [John 6:38].This is true love.  

To make sure we understand love Jesus explained, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. This is the great and foremost commandment.’” [Mt. 22:34-38].  When we love God with ALL our heart, soul, and mind, it means we say, "As you wish." to every command that God gives us.  True love gives God everything: wherever, whenever, whatever.

For the full message shared on 02-05-2012 at the First Church of God - Racine, WI go to: