Wrong Car!

I have always heard of this happening, but I had no idea that someone related to me could do something like this.  And that is ……….. get into the wrong car.  My wife and daughter decided to go out to dinner without me, I guess it was a mother daughter thing.  Yes, I was getting on a plane to speak at a conference down in Arizona, still, they planned this dinner thing right when I left.  We could have gone to dinner together before I got on the plane, right??

So, they decided to go to a nice Chinese restaurant.  When they were all finished, little doggie bags in hand, they headed out the door to get into the car to head home.  The problem???  They got into the wrong car.  Here is what is so crazy about this story.  We have a Chrysler 200.  They were climbing into a Nissan.  Our Chrysler looks nothing like the Nissan.  Our Chrysler is black, the Nissan was blue.  Should I keep going???  These two cars are not even close to looking alike.  When Robbie and Christina told me this story, I was thinking, my family needs prayer.

What’s really crazy about this story is the stranger’s car door actually opened.  If there is one thing I have learned living in Fresno it’s “LOCK YOUR DOORS!”  You never know when some crazy mom and daughter will try to drive your car away.  Get this, they never noticed that they were in the wrong car until they saw the white seats of the Nissan, by the way, our Chrysler has black seats. Wow, it took white seats for them to notice that something was very wrong.

This made me think about all the trouble that people can get into by not being aware of their surroundings.  And to top it off, while we are about to climb into a bad situation, it takes white seats before we notice that we are about to make a big mistake. Did you know that the Bible speaks to us about this very subject?  You should notice the wrong thing as soon as you see it.  We should never come close to crawling into the wrong car, come on man.

1 Thessalonians 5:6, Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  KJV

Lines

Psalm 16:5-6, The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.  The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.  KJV

I know you have heard that saying, “this is my lot”.  It usually has a negative tone, and it refers to the bad things that happen to us in life.  David said, “LORD, you alone are my inheritance, you are my cup of blessing.  You guard all that is mine”.

God designed the lines, He made it happen, He was guarding what I have been given.

There are some that do not value what God has given to them.  We should always value what God has given to us.  We should value our lot, we should value what God has blessed us with!

This is the conclusion that David comes to next: “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (v.6). In this verse we are reminded of the dividing of the land of Israel among the tribes, and each tribe receiving their inheritance.  Then each tribe and family had it’s inheritance too with careful boundary lines between each man’s land.

I want to tell you about this gentleman named, Naboth.  Naboth’s ancestors had been given land on which they had planted a fertile vineyard. It had been lovingly nourished for generations.

So, when king Ahab wanted it, Naboth refused to sell. Here are his exact words, 1 Kings 21:3, And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.  KJV       God gave it to me!

It was not his to sell. It was his delightful inheritance which he had received from his fathers and he would pass it on to his sons after him.

Ahab cried on his bed that his offer had been refused and then Jezebel acted and paid men to accuse Naboth of blasphemy getting him found guilty and stoned to death so that that Naboth’s pleasant place could become the king’s.

He sought to tear another man’s lot out of his hands. He was not contented with his own lot.  Oh, wow, there is another sermon.  The point is, God lays out our boundary lines and they are special.

Some sellout for hardly nothing.  Remember Esau???  God had laid out the lines for his life and in a moment of weakness he gave it all up for a bowl red pottage.

Don’t sell your inheritance in a moment of weakness, remember God gave it to you!

It’s Not What It Looks Like!

Facebook is a crack up.  You have to admit there are some pretty funny videos out there.  Robbie showed me one today that was super duper hilarious. The video was of a small boy, I don’t know, but I think he was around 3 or 4 years old.  And he was begging his mother for some of that Hershey’s  unsweetened baking chocolate.  You know, the kind that taste like horse manure. Now I don’t know how you feel about that, but it seems to me that’s pretty close to child abuse.

I mean really, any kid that sees that can is going to want some of that like right now.  I am a grown man, and when I see that package I’m thinking give that to me now and nobody will get hurt.  Am I right?  So finally, the mom gives in and lets the kid have some.  Of course, the boy gagged on it, powder form smoke spewed from his mouth as well as his nose.  He looked like a chocolate breathing dragon.  Oh my!  His face had that sick feeling look that any kid gets when your mom tells you your Disneyland vacation is over and it’s time to go home.

That was funny.  Let me tell you something that’s not so funny.  We have an enemy and he will dress up a package that looks like the real McCoy on the outside, but on the inside is extreme disappointment and bitterness.  There have been many that have opened up his packages and tasted and the results were devastating.

What have been some of the enemy’s packages?

Have you ever noticed how alcohol is nicely packaged these days?  It’s very appealing to look at.  Yet it has wounded and hurt many people.  How about the way tobacco products are packaged, or how pornography is packaged?  My point is, it looks good on the outside, but once you consume it, you will be heading down a road that only has a dead end.  Remember that the package is not always what it looks like.

Psalm 119:37,  Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. English Standard Version (ESV)

A SURE Thing!

 

2 Timothy 2:19, Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.  KJV

Is there really such a thing as a sure thing???  I mean think about it for a moment.  What can you be sure of today? Can we be sure of anything???  Are there definites?    Is there such a thing as guarantees? Can there be what I call “Surefires”?

Our world is an uncertain world.

This is evident and manifest in the constant changes that we see, as well as the lack of integrity and degrading moral behavior in the lives of people around us.

Do you remember this???  From “Read my lips, no more taxes” to “you can keep your health insurance if you like it”, there are constant changes happening around us all the time.  Constantly evolving around us are the changes in our morality, the way that we dress, the way that we communicate, and especially in the way that we give God reverence.  Nothing ever seems constant.

In view of all of this, is there such a thing as a sure thing???

With God there is, let me tell you ladies and gentlemen! It’s a sure thing with God!  God’s foundation is the surest thing in the universe.  Believe it!

I read a story once that took place at a noonday luncheon at the local Rotary club.

The dishes had been cleared away, and the meeting had been called to order. After the reception of new members and the introduction of visitors, the chairman asked who of those present represented the oldest company in the community.

There was a young man in the back of the room that hesitated a moment, then arose and said: “I believe I do, sir. I am a minister of the gospel. The company I represent was founded some 2,000 years ago. And I am happy to say that it is still flourishing.”

His announcement was greeted with applause, for none of those present were inclined to contradict him. He did, indeed, represent “the oldest company” in the community.

It’s obvious that this company that God is running is a sure thing.  It’s built on the best (His Son Jesus) and it will never fail!  I’m glad that I have stock in this company!

A Wrinkle in Your THINKING

Yesterday, while flying home from Tennessee, I decided to watch a movie while I sat in my little tiny space on the aircraft.  I was bored.  The Disney movie A Wrinkle in Time that I chose was recently released on DVD.  The original book was written by Madeleine L’Engle.  L’Engle who died in 2007, was a devout Christian and said she used A Wrinkle in Time to share her reflections about God.  “If I’ve ever written a book that says what I feel about God and the universe, this is it,” L’Engle reportedly wrote in her journal about the book. “This is my psalm of praise to life, my stand for life against death.”

While watching the moving I realized that there were a lot of analogies to the Christian faith, especially when it came to light and darkness.  However, something really got my attention that actually made me cry during the movie.  Not because the movie moved me to tears, I cried because of what Disney failed to mention. They failed to be true to the author’s intended message of Christ dispelling the darkness.  I felt as though Disney had a “Wrinkle in their THINKING.”

At one point in the movie, one character mentions several spiritual, religious and historical icons. The list includes, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Einstein, Bach, and Gandhi as having fought to defeat the Dark Thing with love, but they excluded Jesus Christ as if Christianity was the one thing they wanted to avoid.  You should know that in the book, however, Jesus is the iconic figure who conquers the darkness.  How can you not mention Christ as one who overcomes the dark thing, when only true love comes from Him?  Maybe the omission of Christianity was to promote the darkness with the New Age philosophy.

John 3:17-21, declares, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”  KJV

The greatest act of love ever shown to human kind was performed on a hill called Calvary.  It’s where Jesus conquered death, hell and the grave and overcame the dark thing (the devil) by dying on a cross for the sins of the world.  If you simply can’t see that Christ is the only one that can defeat the “Dark Thing” then maybe you have a “Wrinkle in Your THINKING!”

The Place Called Wits’ End

Psalm 107:27, They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.  KJV

It’s kind of funny to find such a common phrase in such old writings.  The writer of this Psalm refers to this massive storm that is experienced out at sea and compares it to the troubles that we may have in this life. He calls it “wits end.”  Most of us thought that only our kids could take us to wits’ end!  Apparently, it’s not just our kids that can take us to such a place.

The dictionary defines at wits’ end as a place where you are very upset, or at the limits of one’s emotional or mental limitations.

As Christians, when you think about storms in your life, I bet you don’t think about thunderstorms or snowstorms. You probably think about dealing with a difficult or broken relationship, going through a financial crisis, unpleasant or painful health problems, the death of someone you love, being laid off from your job, or possibly dealing with rebellious children.

Sometime in our lives we are all going to face these kinds of storms.

In this Psalm, The scene here changes repeatedly. The Psalmist turns from those that wander in the desert, from those who are in prison, from those who are sick, to those who encounter the perils of the sea.

Here in this place called wits’ end, you have all the problems of the storm and the sea. If you have never been there before, then you might not ever know about the ups and downs that can occur.  The struggles of trying to stand when everything else is moving.  My thought here is about being tested when the waters are rough or when problems come. You realize that everyone has problems from time to time.

It was Mark Twain that said, “The only people I have ever known to have no problems are in the cemetery.” The more problems you have, the more alive you are.

There was a gardener that took great pride in caring for his lawn. But one year it grew full of dandelions. He tried every method and product to get rid of them, but nothing worked. Exasperated, he wrote the Department of Agriculture explaining all he had done. “What shall I try next?” he wrote. “Try getting used to them,” came the reply.

Here is what I have learned in this study.  “And are at their wits’ end”, the original Hebrew suggests, “All their wisdom is swallowed up.” This means that, they have no skill to guide the vessel. All that has been done by the wisdom of naval design in erecting it, and all that has been derived from experience in navigating the ocean, seems now to be useless. They are at the mercy of the winds and waves; they are dependent completely on God; they can now only cry to him to save them. Often this dependence on God, occurs in a storm at sea, when the most skillful and experienced seaman feels that he can do no more.  You need to understand that you can never gain experience without going through some storms.

There is an English proverb that says, “A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner.”

So, there is some good that comes from these rough seas and storms.  And the storms we face in our lives maybe are meant for some greater good.  And when we come to this place where everything is coming against us, we can look to God, He will see us through.  This is the place where we can no longer steer the ship.  The place we call “Wits’ End”, is the place where we learn to trust God!

My Promise Land

Have you ever stopped to think about the promise land?  The promise land was the place that God had promised to the Nation of Israel. Because of all the enemies along the way, it would be an extreme challenge for them to get there.  God has promised us a promise land too.  We call it heaven.

Let me remind you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that there will always be plenty of enemies that will try to stop you from getting to your promise land.

One of my favorite comic strips is Peanuts.  One day Lucy and Linus were sitting in front of the television set, when Lucy said to Linus, “go get me a glass of water”. Linus, looking surprised said, “why should I do anything for you, you never do anything for me.”

“On your seventy-fifth birthday”, Lucy promised, “I’ll bake you a cake”. Linus got up, headed for the kitchen and said, “life is more pleasant when you have something to look forward to.”

Linus was right, life is more pleasant when you have something to look forward to.

That’s why the Christian life is a blessed life.  It’s a life of overflowing hope. Before salvation, the Bible described us as ‘without God and without hope.’ (Ephesians 2:12) But now, we ‘rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’ (Romans 5:2)

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s really no problem to face those obstacles and struggles knowing that I have something to look forward to.  I have my hope fixed on eternity with Jesus, my promise land.

Midnight

I’m sure that you have already heard the story of the French police officer that died after offering himself up in exchange for a hostage in a deadly supermarket siege recently. We now know that he served in Iraq in 2005 and was also a member of the presidential guard, among other notable achievements.

The officer, identified as Lt. Col Arnaud Beltrame, 44, died of his injuries after he took the place of a female hostage when a gunman went on a rampage at a Super U supermarket in a southern French town.  This was clearly an act of terrorism.

His death brings the death toll to four. Authorities said that 15 others were injured in the vicious attack. (From Fox News)

According to Fox News, Beltrame, who traded himself up unarmed, secretly left his cellphone on so police outside could hear what was going on inside the store. When they heard gunshots, they stormed the supermarket, killing the 25-year-old terrorist.

Beltrame was fatally wounded and later died of his injuries.

The dictionary meaning for midnight is the middle period of the night.  The moment in time when it is darkest.  We have moments like that in real life.  I call them midnight moments.

It was a midnight moment for this unknown women that was being held hostage, and her life was about to end.  But Beltrame took her place.  She went free and he gave his life for her.  Love came to her at midnight.

Does that story remind you of anything??  It should.  Ladies and gentlemen, love came to us at midnight.  The worst terrorist of all was holding us hostage.  It was the devil.  Jesus stepped in and took our place and He let us go, and He died for us.

I’m so glad that Jesus came to us at midnight.

Galatians 4:4a, But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son,  KJV

Impossible??

Vince Lombardi was maybe one of the greatest NFL coaches since the founding of the game.  He said once, “We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.”

In all of our impossible situations, it’s important to consider that God’s presence is always with us!  God is always available.  He did promise that He would never leave us or forsake us. Knowing this eliminates impossible from our vocabulary.

Possible happens where God exists. Possible happens where He dwells.  The most comforting thought that I have is the fact that God lives in me and in our PCG.  If that is true, then POSSIBLE HAPPENS HERE!  Possible happens with me!

You see ladies and gentlemen, God is always available for our PCG!  He is here right now this moment!  God was there when our PCG got started, and He will be there when we cross the finish line.  He can be felt, He can be touched and seen in many ways!  God is with us!  You may say, how do you know??  What makes you so sure??  Well, because of what the Bible says.

Do you remember when the angel came to Joseph in a dream??  Joseph was engaged to Mary at the time, and he had learned that she was going to have a baby.  He had thought seriously about breaking off the engagement, but he was afraid that it might hurt Mary with the paparazzi.

Well, that’s when the angel came to Joseph and he said to him, “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Ghost. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this happened to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: found in Isaiah 7:14

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!  She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel, (meaning, God is with us).”

God is the Almighty One. But he is also Immanuel. If you want a brilliant picture of God, you must combine those two names together. He is God Most High, and He is God Most Nigh.

He exists outside of time and space. He is also Immanuel—God with us. He dwells in the heavens, He also dwells right here, right now! While He walks on the Milky Way, He abides in my heart.

As He Governs all of heaven, He governs my life! He speaks to the host of heaven, and at the same time whispers to me in a still small voice. While He accepts the worship of angels and seraphims around His throne, He accepts my worship here in the church!

This is how I know that God is with our PCG!  God is with us, and because of that, POSSIBLE HAPPENS HERE!!!

God is Watching the Apples

I love this little gem of scripture that I recently discovered. It’s found in Genesis 25:11, “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.”

Now you must understand something about this quaint little place called, Lahai-roi.  Its name means, God provides, and He sees me.  It is the place where Hagar and Ishmael thought they had come to their end, but God had other plans for them.  After being left homeless, and running out of water, God reminded Hagar that He had heard her son’s cries.  In spite of their horrible circumstances God was ready to move on their behalf.

God performed a miracle that day and created for them a well of water out of nowhere.  They were rescued, and the rest is history.  It is believed by most that Hagar had given this newly founded well its name.  Lahai-roi, God provides, and He sees me!

I read the story years ago about some children that were all lined up for lunch one day in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. After watching the children take more than one apple, the supervising nun wrote a sign and posted it on the apple tray: The sign said, “Take only ONE. God is watching!”

The children kept moving further along through the line, where at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. One of the children looked at the cookies and then wrote his own little sign that read: “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, God is not just watching the apples.  He is watching me and he is watching you.  It does not matter that we don’t have all the answers. We trust the Word, and we believe the Word.  We know what it says!  God is watching us, and He cares very deeply about us!  God was watching over Hagar and He is most certainly watching over us.  That is very comforting to know.  Lahai-roi!