Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Adhering to the message of God

We need to adhere to the message of God. I’m not just talking about the Word of God, because we can all read the Word of God and study the Word of God. But adhering to the message of God is more than just the Word of God.

It comes in different forms. It can come in people, different events, thoughts, ideas, and it can come in the Word of God. What we need to do is to be able to adhere to the message of God.

Psalms 94:16 says, Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?

As Christians we have to stand. It’s time for us to rise up and adhere to the message of God. Because by adhering to the message of God, we can fulfill His will. You see, its time for us to rise up and take control, instead of sitting back and being taken control of.

I Samuel 3:10And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth. 11And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. 12In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. 13For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. 14And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. 15And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision. 16Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. 17And he said, What is the thing that the Lord hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee. 18And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good.

Before I get into the text, I want to go back because there is something to be learned in the events leading up to this. You see, Hannah was Samuel’s mother. She was barren, and longed to have a child.In fact, in I Samuel 1:11 she vowed a vow. O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

First we see that she made a vow. She was serious about having a child. In these days for a woman to be barren, it was like a reproach was brought upon her. This was about as low as a woman could get. And actually in verse sixteen she says, Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial.

Daughter of Belial derives from the term “sons of Belial” which meant worthless. It referred to that person as being wicked. Such people were absolute reprobates.

She didn’t want it to be thought of God or anyone else that she was barren because of something she had done against the Lord. And she loved her child so much, parents know this, but she was willing to give this child at a very young age to the priest. Think about that for a second, mothers. You are barren, you may never have the opportunity to give birth again, but still yet you give that child to God completely.Its sort of like what we do when we dedicate our children, it’s a solid vow. Making a vow is important to God. In Ecclesiastics 5:5 the preacher states Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

It’s very serious to God when you make a vow and go against it. Now there may be times in our lives that God wants to give use a message to give to someone else, but he’s not going to give you that message if you have vows that are broken.Why? Because you are untrustworthy to God. Have you ever had someone to promise you something and they renege on their promise? Then they promise again and they do it again. Eventually you’re going to lose trust in that person. Well, it’s no different for God. He won’t depend on you if you break vows to Him.

It’s very important to Him if you keep those vows, and he will bless you for them. In fact, in I Samuel 2:21 He blesses Hannah for keeping her vow. ­And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters.

Looking back, this message may not have been given to Eli if Hannah chose to go against her promise to the Lord. Because it is Samuel, her son, that gives the message unto Eli.

Going back to the text that we read in I Samuel 3:10, you will notice that this is the third time that the Lord called Samuel. You see, the first two times he did not hear the message. That’s the first thing we have to do, we have to hear the message of God.

The first two times He called, Samuel heard the call but did not hear the message. He knew someone was calling him and look at what he did, he went to Eli thinking it was Eli that was calling him.There are times that we can’t hear the message. We can hear the call, but not the message. Kevin (my brother-in-law) and I were at a WVU football game back in November, and someone had called on his cell phone. So he has the cell phone up to his ear. After he got off, I asked him what she wanted, knowing it was his wife. He just shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know, I couldn’t hear her.”

The phone was right at his ear, but for the noise and buzz that was going on around us he couldn’t hear the voice that was right by his ear. The same thing happens with God when he tries to speak to us. We are surrounded with all of this noise in our lives that we are unable to hear the voice of God when he is right at our ear.

You see, sin will clutter up your brain and your thoughts to where you can’t hear to what God is trying to speak to you.But you see what Samuel did; he sought out a man of God. He went to Eli, and that is what we have to do when we think God is calling to us, we have to turn to men and women of God.Don’t seek out those of the world, but those of God. This way that when you hear the call, you can also hear the message.

Whenever Samuel does hear the message he was prepared. He answered, Speak for thy servant heareth. We have to be ready, and getting that sin out of our lives we are ready to hear the message.

If we look on into it Samuel does receive this message, and looking back you’ll see that Eli’s sons were wicked. Going back to what we said earlier about the term “sons of Belial” is what they were considered. Eli knew this but did nothing about it.

Now when Samuel hears the message from the Lord he is to speak it to Eli, but when the time comes to it Samuel was afraid to do so. In verse fifteen it says Samuel feared to show Eli the vision.

Once we hear the message of God we need to speak the message of God. It may not be just for you, it may be for someone around you. Samuel was afraid to speak that message. But we have to cast out fear with that perfect love of God.

Whenever you go to do something, no matter what it is you need to have an inner desire to get the job done. Whether it’s at work, around the house, or coming to church you have to find that drive to do it. You have to find some sort of inspiration that propels you to do whatever it is you are doing.

Sometimes you might be doing something, and like Samuel you might become afraid, but you have to push past that. You have to find that next gear that takes you past that fear.

The message must be spoken. If you have a brother or sister that is doing wrong you must give them that message. They may be doing wrong unaware or they might just be ignoring it. You have to speak that message, because God gave it to you.

If you are looking for a desire. If you are looking for a drive. If you are looking for the will to do that, look no further then their souls. Is your fear more important then their souls? Is your fear more important then their salvation? Because if you don’t give them that message and they keep on going as they are then that road will lead them to destruction and death.

We have to be able to speak the message. Listen to what Eli says to him in verse seventeen. I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also.

He tells him that God will not only do to you what He said He would do to me, but more on top of that. It’s the sin of omission. You will be punished if you do not speak the message. We have to speak the message.

Don’t be afraid. Know who is at your back. You have the Lord of Hosts. Sure the enemy might be strong, but you have a stronger force behind you.

I’ve been kind of focusing on Samuel and what he had to do with this message, but now I want to shift over to Eli. Now it comes to a point where Eli has a decision to make. He can either accept the message or deny it. This is just as important as hearing and speaking the message. You must be able to receive the message of God.

Someone might come to us with a message, and what is our reaction? Do you stand off and say, “Who is this person to judge me? Who does he thing he is that he can come to me and say these things? He doesn’t know the situation. He doesn’t know what I’m going through.” I’m here to tell you that he may not know, but God does. And that is exactly why you got that message.

Look at what Eli says in reply to the message in verse eighteen. It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth good.When someone speaks a message to you do you receive it? Do you say like Eli, It is the Lord let him do what seemeth good?

Now when Hannah was going to bring Samuel to the priest her husband told her, Do what seemeth thee good.

Many times when that message comes to us, we want to take on the phrase “I’m going to do what seems good to me.” This is where we clash against the will of God. We have to do like Eli said and let things be, as the Lord seems to be good.

Eli could have went against this message. He could have told Samuel to get out. But now, he bowed down to it. In Proverbs 14:12 it says, There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.

If you continue to seek out your own path when that message comes to you, and say that you are going to do it the way that seems right unto you, we read in proverbs what will happen.You see, we have to seek out the path that seems right to God. We might dread it. It might be something that is going to be tough and aurous for us. But if it’s God’s way, it’s the right way. We have to be able to receive that message.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Embrace the Light

Recently my short story Protected was accepted by the Lost Genre Guild for an anthology project of Biblical Speculative Fiction. The anthology will be published by The Writers' Cafe due out in April.

As the April 3rd release for Light at the Edge of Darkness approaches I might as well throw in a shameless plug for my story. Protected serves a multiple layer of purposes. If you ask me why I wrote it, I could very easily pull a reason out of a hat.While the primary purpose was to bring the ongoing battle of spiritual warfare to the light, I chose not to talk about that today. I hope that all readers will come away thinking that perhaps there is a reason for everything, and for every event, every instance there is a greater power at work, dictating the end result of all things.

Before I get off in left field of exactly what I said I wasn’t going to talk about, let me get to the purpose of this blog entry.Though all stories in this anthology can be as different to each other as night is to day, there is a common theme…when forced to the edge of darkness one must embrace the light.As part of Light at the Edge of Darkness Protected embraces the Light through its main character. Mason could very well represent the majority the youthful population from any generation.

Prior to the story Mason finds himself as part of the rejected generation of society, so he turns to the one that he felt he could find acceptance. Unfortunately, many times the rejected find themselves blaming God for their situation so they turn to open arms that lead to a path of darkness and sin. It was no different for Mason.Mason had turned to Zeke, finding approval and soon he was part of something larger then life. Thrust into the age-old battle of good verses evil, Mason must decide which love is true, Zeke and his extremists or the Christians.

The beauty of it all is that no matter how much evil Mason may have done, it wasn’t too much for God to overcome. That is the message of hope in this story. No matter how much darkness you are swirling in, just the slightest bit of light can consume that overwhelming darkness.You don’t believe me? Find yourself in the darkest of places, the kind of darkness that you can’t see your hands in front of your face, and then light a single match. What happens? The smallest flame of that match consumes even the darkest of places.

This is no different for our spirituality. Just the smallest bit of Light (God) in your heart will consume even the darkest places of your past. This is not just an anthology for good entertainment, it’s an anthology inspired by God to teach a valuable lesson to embrace His light. Even the smallest little bit of light can rescue you from the deepest depths of a cold, black sin-tainted past.

Come on now. Don’t just sit there. Embrace the Light.


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Saint Valentine

There are more facts and fables surrounding Valentine's Day than just about any other holiday. One of the most fascinating is the true story of Saint Valentine himself. Although searches turned up a number of saints named Valentine, one is most likely the namesake of our familiar holiday.

He is credited with helping Christians during the persecution by Claudius II, the Roman Emperor in the 3rd Century. The Romans, at the time, made it a crime to provide even aid or comfort to Christians. According to history Valentinus was thrown into a dungeon. His jailor, Asterious, was not overly harsh but the priest had only the barest of necessities of life. His one comfort while in prison was his friendship with Asterious' daughter, his blind daughter, who befriended the kindly priest by bringing him food and delivering messages.

After a year in jail, Valentinus was summoned to appear before Claudius II. The Emperor was so impressed with the young priest's dignity that Claudius attempted to convert him to worshiping Roman gods to save him from execution. Valentinus, however, refused to renounce Christianity and attempted to convert the Emperor to Christianity. Claudius became furious, and ordered that Saint Valentine be beaten with clubs, stoned, and executed.

In the last days of his life, Valentinus, through his faith, restored the sight of the jailer's daughter. He also converted Asterious and the girl to Christianity, an act which would eventually result in their execution as well. On the eve of his execution, the priest wrote a farewell message to the girl and signed it, "From your Valentine." His execution was carried out on February 14, 269 A.D., outside the Flaminian gate in Rome. According to legend, a pink almond tree, a symbol of abiding love, blossomed near his grave.

The valentine has become the universal symbol of friendship and affection shared each anniversary of the priest's execution. The day we affectionately call Valentine's Day.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Five Parts of Prayer

I Timothy 2:1 - "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men."

Do your prayers ever go unanswered? Are you ever left wondering why? Did you ever stop to think that maybe prayers should be more than a yes, no, or wait a while? Perhaps your prayer isn't pleasing to God. You see, we were made for "Him" so our prayers should be for "Him."

Christ displayed this more than anyone. Before every major event in His ministry he stayed in prayer; the baptism, before He selected His disciples, the transfiguration, and Gethsemane.

Maybe we are leaving something out of our prayers that God deems important. Read closely to the five parts of prayer, it could be that you are leaving one of them out.

1. Adoration-the act of worship, profound love or regard. This is number one. Above all things, adoration should be practiced in our prayers. God wants to be loved just as the rest of us. The Lord will look at the heart, he won't have to hear our words. Words are nothing if they don't come from the heart. Adoration will help you get in that heart felt praying zone that makes prayer time amazing.

2. Supplication-to ask humbly by praying. This is why Jesus taught not to pray as hypocrites in the synagogues, and not to use vain repetitions. We are to pray humbly, and not praying to be seen. Prayer should be an intimate relationship between you and God.

3. Thanksgiving-Expression of gratitude. In Philippians Paul taught us to worry about nothing, pray about anything, and be thankful for all things. I feel that it is very important to be thankful of all the good blessings that God has granted us.

4. Intercession-petition of another. Jesus prayed for us in John 17:14-21. So we should take our savior's lead and pray for one another. It is important to lift our brothers and sisters up in prayer, building a wall of prayer can be vital to defeating the enemy.

5. Confession-the act of confessing. God forgives us over and over. Of course, we are to try to overcome the stumbling blocks, but God will continue to forgive us. Why? Because he is God.

So in prayer, just like all things, we should place God first and foremost, then comes others, and finally ourselves. Pray in this order and God will reward you.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Washington's Prayer

Psalm 127:1 - "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

Its clear that when you study the history of our great nation, that Washington's America was one of the few countries in all the world established under the guidance, direction and banner of Almighty God, to Whom was given all praise, honor and worship by the great men who formed and fashioned her pivotal foundations.

When you stop to observe the inscriptions found in public places all over our naiton's capitol, you will easily find the signature of God, as it is unmistakably inscribed everywhere you look. There are scriptures carved on every capital building, even the ten commandments on the Supreme Court doors.

When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4th, 1848 deposited within it were many items including the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society. Such was the discipline, the moral direction, the spiritual guideance given by the founder and first President of our unique democracy. Read the words of our first President's prayer.

“Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's No Mere Chance

I John 4:8 - "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

It's no mere chance that love found its way into the will of God. God created Adam and all the beasts of the field, but it was through Eve that love found its way into the will of God. It took Jacob 14 years to receive Rachel as his wife and once again love found its way into the will of God.

These instances along with many more are just examples of how love finds its way into the will of God. But why? Simply put...God is love. But to understand it is perhaps a little more challenging.

1. We must realize what it is. Romans 8:35-37 tells us it is unbreakable and conquering.

2. We must take it without fear. I John 4:18 states that "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear."

3. We must know it. In order to know the Love of God, we must let ourselves pass all human knowledge and rely on that perfect love.

4. We must get personal with it. We must become crucified with Christ. Know how deep His love is by the severity of His sacrifice.

5. We must walk in it. Walk in the Love of God. What better way to follow Christ then to walk in His love. By doing this we can avoid the pitfalls of the world, and win those to Christ that might have been unreachable by any other methods.

It's true that we may never know the Love of God entirely, but what better way to spend our time on Earth. I would rather spend my time seeking His love than avoiding it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Thorns in the Brush

Proverbs 22:5 - "Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them."

After Adam and Eve sinned, God cursed the land. One aspect of that curse consisted of thorns. "Cursed is the ground...thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth." So why would thorns be a byproduct of that curse?

God told Moses that if he didn't get the "Godless" people out of their land then they would be pricks in his eyes and thorns in his side. Yet another reference to thorns.

In Matthew, Jesus compared the lives of evil people to a thornbush. So why the emphases on thorns?

Simple. Thorns symbolize not sin itself, but the consequences of sin.

How often do you think of the thorn when you see the rose bush? Almost never. It's the same way with sin. The sin looks pretty, like the rose, but the consequence is almost never thought of.

Proverbs 22:5 tells us that thorns are the way of the perverse, and anyone that keeps a careful watch over his soul would stay away from them.

Watch your thorns. Pluck them out and stay clear of their path. Have a care, your soul will live on for all of time and in the end the thorns shall be burned for there uselessness.

Your soul is worth much more then to be burned with the tares. You were created to a higher purpose, and a higher calling. You were made by God and that itself is worth more then the burning of thorns in the brush.