Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Yikes! I never knew I would hit on a topic so popular when I blogged about whether it's a sin to get tatooed or pierced. Just over the past 9 days, I've had 18 hits on that topic alone! (That's a lot for me.)
It's interesting to me, what things I anticipate being popular topics that I'm right about, and what things I think will be popular, that I'm wrong about. It's also interesting when I think something will have no great appeal, but it hits a lot of people's hearts.
Sermons are that way, too--when I think I've bombed a sermon and someone tells me that God spoke to them through it, or when I think I've really hit one out of the park, and nobody seems to have listened.
Mark 4:26-28 Again Jesus said:
God's kingdom is like what happens when a farmer scatters seed in a field. The farmer sleeps at night and is up and around during the day. Yet the seeds keep sprouting and growing, and he doesn't understand how. It is the ground that makes the seeds sprout and grow into plants that produce grain.
I love this passage, because it reminds us that we don't understand how the seed we sow sprouts and grows. Just as the farmer must be faithful to plant his seed, so we must be faithful to plant the truth in people's hearts. We don't understand how they will receive it--but God understands it.
Interesting that the scripture says that it's the ground that makes the seeds sprout and grow. In other words, the person who receives the word determines whether the word is going to grow in them. You can't make someone listen to you, or hear what they need to hear. You just have to plant the seed, and trust God to water it.
So--how do you think you're impacting the lives of those around you? Maybe you're impacting them--but not in the ways that you think. It's ok--God gives the increase. Just keep planting your seed!
Monday, June 22, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Now the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”
(1 Samuel 16:1 HCSB )
(1 Samuel 16:1 HCSB )
The people of Israel had once again rejected God’s perfect will for their future. Wanting to be just like all the other nations around them, they asked Samuel to anoint a king over them. As prophesied, what started out well ended miserably. Because of Saul’s disobedience, God rejected him as king
This grieved Samuel, because he knew that every human being is a mixed bag. None of us is all good, or all evil. Samuel grieved the loss of that which was good in Saul. Also, Samuel felt a certain degree of responsibility for Saul’s failure, since he had been the one to anoint Saul as king. So God asked him, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?”
Often, we find ourselves mourning the passing of the past. Either we regret doing things we shouldn’t have done, or we regret not doing what we should have done. Or, we grieve the past by looking nostalgically back to “the good old days” rather than embracing what God is doing in the present. Those good old days can keep us from pressing on to the future that God has planned for us. How often the past holds us bound—unable to be effective in God’s kingdom! God asks us the same thing He asked Samuel: “How long will you mourn for (you fill in the blank)?”
“Fill your horn with oil and go,” God says. In the Bible, anointing oil always represents the presence of the Holy Spirit. God was sending Samuel to anoint a new king. God tells you, “Fill your life with the presence of My Holy Spirit. Go, and anoint the future.”
You anoint the future by getting past the past. You anoint the future by embracing healing, restoration, and peace. You embrace the future by refusing to wallow in either past glory or sins that are forgiven and gone.
In Isaiah 43:18-19 (HCSB) God says, “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
As it was with Samuel, the choice is up to you. Will you wallow, or will you arise? Will you fill your life with the presence of the Holy Spirit, and go to anoint the future?
Monday, June 8, 2009
“I will pour out my spirit on all humanity (Acts 2:17 HCSB)."
When I was in college, I had a friend named Mike. Due to severe Cerebral Palsy, Mike was confined to a wheelchair. I remember helping Mike feed himself, and even go to the bathroom. Mike’s speech was unclear, but if you took the time to listen to him, you discovered that Mike was working on yet another college degree, and that he was an ordained minister. Mike was what many people called “disabled,” but God had a purpose for his life.
Truthfully, every one of us has special needs. You may have an emotional disorder, a physical impairment, or a mental disability, or just plain old Spiritual Deficit Disorder. Yes, each one of us is a sinner in need of a savior. Each one of us has special needs, and we need God’s Spirit to meet our needs.
On the day of Pentecost, Jewish worshippers from around the world were gathered in Jerusalem for a religious festival. Due to disuse, many of them no longer had Hebrew as a language that unified them with their people. Think of the linguistic and social special needs that these people had! They were alienated, even among their own people. And they needed God’s Spirit to meet their needs.
As the Christian believers were praying, the Holy Spirit filled the apostles with Divine presence, miraculously gifting them with the ability to preach in languages they themselves had never learned (Acts 2:1-4). If we are going to minister to people with special needs, we are going to need to be similarly filled with God’s Holy Spirit. We need to be open to do things that seem strange, so God can work through us.
Many thought the apostles were drunken babblers, but Peter’s response was to correct their misconceptions, and declare that what they were seeing was the fulfillment of prophecy (Acts 2:15). This is our job as believers, to correct misconceptions regarding people with special needs, so that everyone can understand them clearly.
We must recognize that God has a plan for everybody. Acts 2:21 says that whoever (read that “anybody at all who”) calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Beyond salvation is service. Verses 17-18 say that nobody is disqualified, whether they’re young or old, male or female, slave or free. Regardless of your special need, or your status in life, if you’re saved, you’re useful to God. Nobody can claim to be useless in God’s kingdom.
Finally, verses 19-20 show that God is a wonder-working God. “I will display wonders,” God says. The same can be true in your life, if you allow God to work in your heart. No matter what your special need is, the Spirit can meet your needs. Then God can use you to meet the needs of others.
Ever feel lost and useless? Disqualified? Never fear. God saves you, qualifies you, and makes you useful, no matter your special needs.