Friday, December 08, 2017

99.9%

Thinking something is nice, but between dreaming and doing, many a good pair of shoes are worn out. What am I getting at? Well, maybe it is time to land our thoughts and take some action?

Let none of us settle spiritually for what we would never settle for secularly. THINK ABOUT IT! For example, if people settled for 99.9% as, "good enough" in the secular arena, every day, hospitals would release twelve newborn babies to the wrong parents. If that scenario happened to you or your family, you would come unglued and rightly so. So, I must ask this question. If 99.9% is not good enough for our personal and secular lives, why is 99.9% good enough for our spiritual lives? We would never settle for some things out there. Why do we settle for things in and at church? LET US NOT JUST THINK ABOUT THIS. LET US DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!

Spiritually speaking, let us not settle for, “good enough.” IT IS TIME TO LAND OUR THOUGHTS!

A man or a woman of faith has two options: Either we obey or we don’t. If you stop to argue with God that is disobedience. If you try to talk God out of it, that too is disobedience. If you offer an alternate plan, that is disobedience.

In John 14:23, Jesus says it all, “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”

Fly ...

God desires that we go for a mental ride to see for ourselves what correct Biblical thinking can do for a person and for a church.

So, let us all fasten our seatbelts for take-off! We as a church must be very aware of our witness – mindful of it if you will! Look with me at Acts 2:47. That very first church, “enjoyed the favor of all the people…” The people who were not a part of that very first congregation sat up and took notice of what God was doing in the lives of His people. Why? Well, the answer is simple. That first church was on fire for God! The unexplainable was commonplace in those days. God was working in their midst and the community could not deny that the Holy Spirit had come! THAT FIRST CHURCH WAS FULL OF BIBLICAL AND GODLY THINKERS!

Church, what does this community see in us?

This is what I believe! We need to see more things -- more happenings -- going on around here that cannot be explained away except by a Sovereign move of a Sovereign and Supernatural God. We need to see more unexplainable activity that can only be attributed to the power of a wonder working Heavenly Father. When the community sees God doing for us, in us and through us things that can only be done by Him, then they will pay heed to who we are and more importantly, to whom God is. I say it is high time for CCOTN to enjoy the favor of all of the people.

What are we waiting for? Take it personally! LET US ALLL BECOME BIBLICAL AND GODLY THINKERS!

The New Year ...

Once our thoughts have passed through a Godly filter, we must be determined … with the help of God’s Holy Spirit … to think that way consistently and not just when we feel like it. Will that stretch us? Yes! Will that stretch our thinking? Yes! Is being stretched a good thing? YES!

How can we develop a little more consistency in regard to our thought life?

Romans 12:2 tell you to, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” That word, “transformed” comes from the Greek word, “metamorphoo,” which gives us our English word metamorphosis! To undergo a metamorphosis is to experience a profound change from one stage to the next. When it comes to our minds, that is EXACTLY what we all need! All of us need to experience a profound change in our thinking as we move from one phase of spiritual maturity to the next. All of us need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds through the power of God’s Holy Spirit so that we can consistently think thoughts that please God.

Do you need a little metamorphoo? Do you have a mind to change? Do not waste the New Year with your same old mind!

Breaking News ...

News Flash! 

Not everyone thinks nice thoughts. I am so glad that I cannot read people’s minds. What thoughts have you thought this morning and do those thoughts need shaped to fit Godly standards? Do your thoughts and your “testimony” mesh? What are you thinking right now? What would happen if we forced every thought and every idea that popped into our head to pass through this filter?

“… Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

One of the most important things in this life are the thoughts we choose to frame because framed things are usually displayed for all to see! Do not frame thoughts that are not holy in nature because the world will see what is on your mind.

Fast?

Life moves fast. 

Demands come our way in overwhelming proportions. Unless you are intentional about getting away from the rattle and the hum of day-to-day living, you will be sucked into a vortex of thoughtless hyperactivity. On a daily basis, all of us must retreat to a space free of interruptions so that we can think. Let us all schedule time to think! Scheduling a time might seem very non-spiritual, but in all actuality, it is very spiritual as that discipline births a habit and that habit gives way to thinking appropriate thoughts because we are spending quiet time in the presence of God.

Jesus had the habit! Mark 1:35 tells us all about it. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

36 times in the Bible, God gives us a hint toward the discipline of getting up early, establishing a habit and spending time listening to God so that we might think Godly thoughts.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Shover Some Snow ...

Back in the day, shepherds usually had their flocks in the field during the spring.

However, the shepherds in the Christmas story were tending to the temple flock used for special Jewish ceremonies. Those sheep were always in the field during the winter. Therefore, it stands to reason that Jesus was indeed born in the wintertime.

I believe that God chose winter on purpose in regard to the birth of His son. Back then, in the Middle East, during the winter months, things actually slowed down.

Ancient Middle East lifestyles grew lethargic as average winter temperatures reached a frigid high of 73 degrees with a low at night of 57. Wow! Break out the blankets. In all actuality, because Middle East Summers averaged 106 degrees during the day and 86 degrees at night, 73 with a low of 57 probably felt like a major cold front. Either way, God chose a slower time … a more lethargic time … for the birth of Jesus on purpose, so that man might be more inclined to reflect on and think about the gift of Jesus and how that gift ought to be altering lives.

Obviously and unfortunately, in this day and age, winter time is just as fast paced as any other time. Maybe even faster because cold temperatures mean nothing when homes and the work place are equipped with furnaces. There are cookies to bake and gifts to buy. There are trees to trim and parties to attend. There are family members to please and snow to shovel. Well, maybe not in Little Rock.

I wonder if it would do all of us a world of good to slow down, reflect and think upon the gift of Jesus? This morning, would it be OK if we were to think about our thinking?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Poinsettia ...

Legend has it that long ago, on a certain Christmas Eve, a girl on her way to the village church walked slowly and tearfully because she had no gift for the Christ Child. As she reached the church, she knelt on the ground to pray and felt a strange sense of comfort and peace. As she stood, she looked down and saw a plant springing up out of the ground that had beautiful red blooms.

She picked that wonderful plant … the poinsettia … and took it to her church and laid it on the altar as her gift to Jesus.

As the years have passed, the practice of giving a gift to the Christ-child has long been forgotten.

The wise men were the first to present gifts to Jesus. Others have done likewise down through the ages as a non-negotiable part of their Christmas celebration. I wonder why that tradition has faded? Could it be that Christmas has become far too centered around getting and not so much around giving … Giving to others and giving to Jesus.

This year, as we celebrate Christmas, let us begin a brand new tradition. Let us all give a gift to Jesus. What gift is that? Let us all make a gift of ourselves! Let us all give ourselves totally to God who gave His very best to us.

Jonathan Edwards sparked America’s First Great Awakening with his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” but his greatest legacy lies in his offspring, which include more than 300 ministers and missionaries, 120 university professors, 60 authors, 30 judges, 14 college presidents, 3 members of Congress and 1 vice president. That legacy, like every spiritual genealogy, traces back to one defining moment in his life. It was Jonathan Edwards’s all in moment.

On January 12th, 1723, Jonathan Edwards wrote these words in his diary, “There is nothing God cannot do in and through a person who is fully consecrated to Him.”

Let us give the Christmas gift of ourselves to Jesus this year. LET ALL OF US GO ALL IN! WHO WILL GO ALL IN WITH ME? SERIOUSLY! WHO WILL GO ALL IN WITH ME?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A New King In Town ...

Bells have been used over the centuries to herald the birth of kings.

Bells being highlighted during the Season of Advent celebrate the greatest King ever born.

Matthew 1:1 reads, “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of (King) David, the son of Abraham …” David is listed first even though, chronologically speaking, Abraham lived first. Why? Because the crucial issue was not, “Was Jesus a Jew (a son of Abraham)?” but rather, the crucial issue was, “Was Jesus a direct descendant of David?” and a future King. Break out the bells baby! Yes! The Christ child born in Bethlehem’s stable, was of royal lineage.

Today, Jesus sits at God’s right hand as the King of the Jews and The King of all Kings! Today, Jesus is not lying in a manger nor is He hanging on a cross. Today, King Jesus is seated on a throne taking very good care of His subjects because that is what a good King does and all of that was made possible on that very first Christmas Day.

This morning, King Jesus sits on His throne at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf. Romans 8:34 is still worthy of celebration, “Christ Jesus ... is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” You know what that means don’t you? In heaven, we have an advocate with God. Day in and day out, Jesus pleads our case before our Father who is heaven. When we need divine intervention, we have a King … King Jesus … who leans over from one throne to another throne and reminds God Almighty that we are one of His children.

We have a man on “the inside” who is no mere man, but instead, the King of Kings.

Isn’t it true, that our natural thought process kicks us into panic mode when the wind begins to blow?

However, our supernatural God has been informed today of our situation by Jesus … by the King … by the one who intercedes. This morning, I would say remain faithful – stay encouraged – hold fast your profession – even during your times of darkness – because you can approach God’s throne with boldness and confidence all because King Jesus sits to the right side of Jehovah telling Him all about what is ailing you.

Hebrews 4:16 is just as true today as it has ever been, “So let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help us in time of need.” (KJV)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Too Legit to Quit ...

In ancient times, holly and its berries were considered symbolic of Christ’s passion.

The holly’s prickly leaves pay tribute to the crown of thorns that Jesus was forced to wear and the red berries represent the blood of Jesus. Legend says that the holly berry was originally white, but turned red after the crucifixion.

The blood of Jesus is such a big deal.

Yes! It covers our sin, PRAISE GOD, but it also helps us, as Children of God, to overcome the devil. Revelation 12:11 tells us that, “...they overcame (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb...” Today, the blood of Jesus provides us with a connection to God and the muscle of God. The blood of Jesus gives us the gumption that we need to overcome and to meet the challenges of this life head on. Why is that? Because the blood washed Christian knows that no matter what happens down here, as long as we remain faithful, we will end up … up there. Hallelujah! WE CAN OVERCOME!

There is no attitude to negative. No person to grumpy. No bill to large. No disappointment too devastating. No child so lost! No personality to dull. No divorce to draining. No depression too deep. No hurt so painful. No family member too obnoxious. No disease to deadly and no challenge to great to discourage a blood bought believer … and a church full of blood bought believers … who is and are dead set on following Jesus and overcoming the devil.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors (or overcomers) through (God who put on skin and) loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Do not allow the enemy turn you into a quitter.

When all hope seems lost, please remember that there is, “Power, Power, Wonder Working Power in the Precious Blood of the Lamb.” You plus God equals a majority! QUITTERS NEVER PROSPER! Feeling defeated is only a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes things permanent. Today, if the heat has been turned up even hotter in your kitchen, do not give in! Let us all “take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.” I am too legit to quit -- what about you?

Or even better, God is too legit for us to quit!

Monday, November 27, 2017

A thought from the hanging of the greens ...

Because the needles of the pine tree and the fir tree appear to never die … in and out of season … the ancients saw them as a symbol of things that last forever.

Boughs of evergreen trees have long been used to represent everlasting life. The wreaths that we make from the evergreen are formed in an unbroken circle to symbolize God’s continuing care for us. At the end of the day, the greatest story ever told, the story of Christmas, is a celebration of this very thought: God does not show favoritism! Jesus came to provide everlasting life for everyone so that God could care for all of us on a continual basis.

When Jesus died on the cross, He did not limit His life-giving blood to just His favorites. God does not have favorites! Everyone is one of His favorites! God’s grace is available to all … Jew, Gentile, Red, Yellow, Democrat, Republican, Arkansas and Alabama fan. All of us are precious in God’s sight. God loves all of the people of the world!

John 3:16 reminds us that, “…God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Talk about a well-known verse, but I am concerned that we have lost the truth that lies in the word, “whoever”. Whoever! Whoever! Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. God does not play favorites because He loves whoever! Do we love whoever? Do you have favorites? Why is that?

Lepers, the blind, the maimed, the deaf, the diseased, the demon possessed, adulterers, tax collectors and prostitutes came to Jesus and He treated them the same. Can the same be said of us?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Gramps ...


Every afternoon, Grandpa took a nap.

One day, as a practical joke, his grandchildren decided to put some limburger cheese in his moustache. Very quickly, he awoke sniffing. “This room stinks,” he proclaimed! Then grandpa went to the kitchen! He was not there long until he proclaimed that the kitchen smelled awful as well. Grandpa then walked outside for a breath of fresh air. Much to Grandpa’s surprise, the fresh air did not smell so fresh.

Grandpa proclaimed, “The whole world stinks!”

Sometimes the whole world stinks because we have a little thing like limburger cheese distracting us, but truth be told, even when life stinks, God is still good.