Monday, June 26, 2006

Psalm 73

Hey, everyone! I know it's been a while since I last blogged, but as you can imagine, things with a new baby and work and all have be bogged down. I do have one little nugget I can leave you with!

Sometime today, sit down and read Psalm 73. I did this morning. I did because I recently heard a sermon out of this chapter, and I will give the gist of it here. The Psalmist Asaph was writing here in a lament of how the wicked of this world seem to have it all going for them. They seem to have no problems. He talks about how it seems that they don't have the same troubles that we do. Maybe their kids don't get sick like ours do. Maybe they are in smooth financial waters. They don't seem to deal with illness. Perhaps you've felt that way. I know I have.

Then, something happened to the man of God who penned these words. He got into the presence of God and got His perspective. He realized that though things may seem to be smooth for these ungodly people, God is watching, and He will be just in dealings. Those who are ungodly and wicked will answer one day the the Great Judge of all mankind.

In the end, Asaph praised God. He looked and realized that even though his heart and flesh would fail, God would give his heart the strength he needed.

So, friends, in this short piece this afternoon, be encouraged in your storm. When you have questions as to whether God is really there, then do what Asaph finished his psalm with:

"It is good for me to draw near to God; I hav eput my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works" -vs.28

God bless!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Welcome to Jayden!

Well, he has arrived! May I introduce to to everyone Jayden Michael Richard! Less than a week early, and he weighed 7 lbs. 4 oz., and 19.7 inches long. He was born at 5:36 Tuesday morning. After a day in the Neonatal ICU, he is doing great and came home this afternoon. Pray for us as we try to get our home back to the normal flow.

Well, that's it for today! God bless!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Praying for the Saints

“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” Col. 1:3

This morning, as I made my way to work, I was thinking specifically about what I had read the previous night in my Bible study time. I read parts of chapter 1 of Ephesians, specifically verses 15-23, where the Apostle Paul prays for these believers.

This got me thinking today of the importance of praying for each other as believers. In several places in his letters to various congregations, Paul begins to not only pray for them, but to write out those prayers. Most of those prayers ring of a father lifting up his children in prayer. But in the book of Colossians, it is a little different.

The church in Colosse was not a church that Paul had planted. Rather, it seems that a convert to Christ, who came to the Lord through Paul’s ministry, had started this church. His name was Epaphras. He seems to have been the pastor of this church. Yet, the apostle found it necessary to write to this group of Christians, not only to encourage them in their relationship with the Lord, but to warn them of the threat of an infantile cult called Gnosticism, which seemed to claim that Christ was not divine as He Himself claimed to be. I won’t get into what Gnostics believed, but I will say that I have found it quite similar to Scientology, a cult heavily pushed by certain stars in Hollywood.

But, my focus today is that Paul prayed for them. He didn’t just write letters of instruction to the churches he ministered in and started. He got down to business in the secret place of prayer and lifted them up to God. He prayed for these Colossian believers, not as one who came and saw folks in the city saved because of his work there, but because he had a heart to practice what he preached, namely lifting up the saints of Christ in prayer (Eph. 6:18). He was driven to pray for the saints.

How much more should we? We live in a time where things seem to be going from bad to worse. Times are getting tough. Stress is mounting up. People are getting fearful of what might be coming down the road for them. If ever there was a time to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, it is now. I thank God for those that God has praying for me. I was blessed recently to find out from my good friend Pastor Henry, a fellow blogger, which he and his church are praying for me, as well as other ministers. They are praying for me all around, for my family, and my ministry. For others out there that are praying for me, thank you. You may never know just how your prayers have affected me until you make it home to Heaven. I am blessed!

Friends, isn’t this exactly what Jesus did? He prayed not just for his disciples, but for those who believe through their message. Look, that means Jesus prayed for me and you (John 17)! So, friends, let’s follow Paul’s, and really, Jesus’ example of prayer. Lift up those fellow believers that are all around you. While you are at it, toss one up for me, too! God bless!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Dressed for the Occasion

Well, it's been more than a week since my last blog. Sorry, but I haven't had too much to say lately. That changes today. Read on!

Maybe you are a sports fan. Right now, it is baseball season, and we are about a month away from the All-Star game on July 11th. Wow! Time flys, doesn't it? It's hard to believe that the season is almost half-over.

Imagine Barry Bonds, or another ball player, showing up to the game to play in a 3-piece suit. I know, it sounds silly, but just think about it for a minute. As a player and representive of San Fransico, he needs to wear the official uniform of his team. He can't show up however he wants, and simply decide that he will do his own thing.

It's the same thing with us as followers of Jesus Christ. We, in a kind of crude analogy, are on Christ's team. We are representatives of Christ, actually called his ambassadors in Scripture (2 Cor. 5:20). Hear what the Bible says in Philippians 1:27:

"Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel"

Also, Romans 13:13-14:

"Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts"

If you think about it, our conduct reveals what our character is. Jesus said it this way: "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks". What our inside character is will be revealed by what we do outwardly. In a sense, our visible behaviors are kind of like our uniform: it's how people can see and recognize where our allegiance lies. That is why it is important to live a life that glorifies Christ. We may only have one chance to shine our light to someone, showing them our good works we do for Christ, so that they may see that there is substance to our profession of faith. I, for one, do not want to let some bad behavior be the thing that turns someone off to Jesus, because I was hypocritical and my claim to follow Christ didn't match my life. Both passages of scripture are saying the same thing, and the latter passgage in Romans literally uses the the Greek word for clothing oneself when it says to "put on" the Lord Jesus.

In the 3rd Commandment, we are told not to take God's name in vain. What is really interesting is that in Hebrew, the language Moses wrote in, that word "take" is a deep word. There are many ways that word translates into english. One that I noticed from Strong's Bible Dictionary is that it can be translated as the word "wear". How about that? Perhaps in a sense, when we apply God's name to our lives, it's a little like getting dressed? When we claim to follow Christ, others will look at us, and they will look to see if our walk matches our talk.

A good example of this is King David, at a time when he should have been leading his army in battle. Instead, he stayed back, and got into some real trouble. He noticed a woman bathing on her roof (I guess they washed in the supposed privacy of a roof so no one on the ground could see them). But Davids roof was higher, and as he was out for a walk up there, he caught a sight of a beautiful woman named Bathsheba, and he began to lust after her. So he found out about her. She was married to Uriah the Hittite, one of David's warriors. That should have been enough to stop David in his tracks, but his lust was driving him now. He had her brought to his palace, and they committed adultery. He then found that she was pregnant from their fling, and he needed to cover his tracks. He had her husband called in from battle, to get him to go be with his wife, so everyone would think that they are expanding their family. It didn't work, as Uriah was too loyal to his fellow soldiers to enjoy a night at home with the Mrs. while they slept in foxholes.

David then tried getting him drunk, but that didn't work, either. Finally, David wrote a note to the commander, and told him to put Uriah at the front of the battle so that he would certainly be killed. He gave the note to Uriah to deliver to the commander. Look how low David's sin made him sink. Resorting to murder for hire, and sending the message by the victim's own hand! It worked. He got away with it, or so he thought.

One Person saw everything. That was God. he sent a prophet named Nathan to confront David about this. God said this to him:

"because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme..." (2 Sam. 12:14)

Eveyone knew that David loved God. Certainly, even his enemies, and the kings of surrounding countries knew of David's deovotion to God. But his actions not only brought a bad name to himself, but to God. He took, or "wore" God's name in vain. And he paid dearly for his sin.

Friends, I don't mean to lay such a heavy word on a Friday, but this is what is in my heart. Other people are watching us, and we may only have one chance to shine the light of the Gospel to them. Let's not turn them off by bad conduct.

God bless!