The most important thing is "to pray. However, you chose to posture yourself, bottom line is to pray. The point being made here is, (January 3rd message) yes it's more intimate as you spend time with God on your face (meaning on your knees), as opposed to any other way. As time and place permits I think as growing Christians this is a good place to be in your spiritual life and in your prayer life. Understandable, not everyone can, physical disabilities may not allow us to be on our knees or not for a very long time.
Don't pray like me, instead, pray like Jesus, look to Him as your example and follow His steps.
I have been preaching/teaching on the "Strategies of Satan" for the past several weeks at the church I serve, although it's not the first time I've done this. This certainly is by far the most I've witnessed the works of darkness at work in our world. Not only in my circle of family, friends and church but outside as well.
As I began this Sermon Series I always warn the people to be on the alert because Satan will try everything and anything to distract them from the things of God and even God Himself. Not to my surprise many come to me with real life situations of distractions and while this is never the intention some people walk away from God. (If you can imagine thatâ€¦) My intention in preaching along these lines are to prepare God's people in how Satan comes at us, being able to recognize this and being able to fight back.
The tragedy that took place in Orlando is the work of Satan, for so many lives to be destroyed and many more effected in this horrific way could be none other than the work of the Devil. For Christians and certainly as a Pastor we may not believe in nor stand for the lifestyle but never to the extent of a Mass Murder. As a Christian, we love people, we may not agree with a lifestyle but we love the people. We do not have to agree on the same ethical morals but to commit murder against those who choose to live different is unacceptable and wicked in itself.
Let us pray for all those affected, and specifically pray for the salvation and transformation of people who do not know God through Jesus Christ.
One of the hardest things to do as a Christian (namely because of our sinful nature) is to accept persecution. Should a Christian retaliate and if so when do we retaliate, how much is enough.
We Westerners usually think along the lines of physical persecution when we hear the word persecution, certainly it means that, but it also takes on different forms. One could be persecuted in the sense of being harassed, simply because of their faith in Jesus. Listen to what Jesus says in scripture in Matthew 5:10-12 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Yes I know, sure leaves us scratching our heads asking uh? Jesus says Christians are blessed/happy, He says "be glad and rejoiceâ€¦" Uh? Further down in verse 44 in the same book and chapter Jesus says "pray for those who persecute youâ€¦" This is not our natural inclination, instead we want to strike back! Jesus says "yes, strike back by praying for themâ€¦" In fact His way for Christians to retaliate is "â€¦Being salt of the earthâ€¦" and furthermore calls Christians to be "light of the worldâ€¦" and in fact that those who are Christians and who experience persecution He says "â€¦you sit among the prophets who also were persecuted before youâ€¦" Matthew 5:11.
I think we understand that there are limits and at some point decisions are made for war, to which evangelicals know as a Just War Theory and rightly so. Ethically speaking, the lives of others matter and there becomes a call to protect and in so doing even Christians may have to go to war.
On a smaller scale but real nonetheless Jesus says of His disciples in John 15:18-20 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
So when someone is on your case for belonging to Christ take it with a grain of salt. Retaliate yes, but the way Jesus said to, â€¦"Be the salt of the earth as well as a lightâ€¦" Remember, it only gets better from here.
Who understands is what I often silently scream to myself! Who understands the pain, the hurt, the confusion and all of these empty feelings that I feel. It seems like everyone is going on with their life except me, it seems like everyone is okay, except me. It seems like no one understands what I'm going through except me but I often asked the question "Doesn't anyone understand"?!
January 1989 I fathered my first child, my junior, and of course and I was a very proud father and so in love with my son, my newborn and my firstborn. As a parent and by nature (God-given of course )we are protective of our children, wanting to protect them from the evil that's in this world, from the pain they may endure from a fall, or broken heart as they experience life. Unfortunately we cannot, no matter how hard we try protect our children from every hurt, pain etc... Although we covet the desire and the will to do so. We begin to live life as best as we can but every parent has this thought in the back of their minds, "I hope I never get that call." The call that every parent dreads that something tragic has happened to one of their children. Who would understand the pain and loss I would encounter, is there anyone that would understand.
Unfortunately I received the call that my son was tragically murdered for no apparent reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time at least in the secular view. my son was 30 days shy of turning 24 years young but his life was cut short by an individual who didn't stop to think about the ripple effect and hurt that this would cause to countless of people. As any parent could imagine I was devastated by this news and immediately a part of me died. I knew that nobody could understand what I was going through as a parent, nobody knew the feelings that bottled up in my soul. It didn't matter how many people said they understood and knew what I was going through but I knew that unequivocally they did not understand nor ever will.
I must say that I'm a firm believer in the sovereignty of God and because I belong to Him I know that He is concerned and active in all parts of my life including my family, friends etc. Still, I questioned who understands, there's no one who understands. Keep in mind just because one belongs to God through Christ does not mean they are exempt from tragedies nor the hurt and pain when they occur, Christians are still 100% human. Although we have the comfort that only God's Spirit can bring and the consolation that only He can give, and the strength that only He can provide.
The question still screams silently in my heart "Who understands?!!!" There are only two who could possibly understand, one who has experienced the loss of a child and two, God. When my soul screams "Who understands" I'm reminded that God lost His Only Son to a tragic death that was not His. The most important Being understands, not only because He's our Creator but because He knows what it's like to lose a Son to a tragic death. What's worse is that He was sinless, what scholars call impeccable, He was pure, innocent and sinless. God's sovereignty, meaning although tragic yet God is all-powerful and always in control no matter what. God's Son was brutally beaten, scoffed at, spit upon, tortured finally murdered by an angry mob who shouted for His execution. God Understands pain, hurt, suffering etc. He understands, in fact ironically yet tragically but in God's goodness the Bible teaches that God put the sins of the world on Jesus who knew no sin in order that we might (humanity) stand right before God. (II. Cor. 5)
The price for sin is death, according to the Bible, and therefore total separation from God eternally but in God's goodness and because of His love for His creation He personally puts sin on the sinless One in order that we might be forgiven for our sins, given we place our faith in what God has done for us through Jesus. Every individual is accountable for themselves to God, either we receive what he has done for us in paying for our sin through Jesus by way of repenting or reject God's offer and pay for sin ourselves which is eternal death and separation forever from God.
God Understands! Because of what He has done through Jesus we can be reunited with our family who has previously died having received the forgiveness of God and now lives forever with Him and having placed our faith in what God has done through Jesus, the good news is I'll not only be with God forever and ever but I also will be with my son forever and ever. I hold on to this hope of seeing my son again in eternity, my son confessed his sins before God and receive Jesus as his Savior years ago, although my son was not perfect he's forgiven by a perfect God and I shall see him again. God Understands...
I thank God that He sent Jesus to die FOR ME and RESURRECTED FOR ME, take it personal your eternity depends on it.
ARE CHRISTIANS EXPECTED TO BE THANKFUL?
I know the title may seem like a dumb question, "Are Christians expected to be thankful?" Well let's consider the word "expect", this has the connotation of something we MUST do or be, but shouldn't being thankful come from an attitude of gratitude? In other words shouldn't this thankfulness that we have come from the inside rather than forcing our thankfulness to show up on the outside?
I think Christians OUGHT to be thankful, if for nothing else just simply being a Christian is more than enough to shout from the highest mountain our gratitude for the Lord of glory saving us.
So yes, a thousand times yes, we as Christians are expected and ought to be thankful to our Heavenly Father. Scripture says,
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)
16 Rejoice always;
17 pray without ceasing;
18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Many of the Psalms speak of being thankful;
Psalm 100:1-5 (NASB)
1 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.
3 Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good; His loving-kindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.
Romans 1:21 (NASB)
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
I also believe that if we are truly Christians we cannot help but to be thankful in everything. Doesn't necessarily mean to be thankful for everything but to be thankful in everything. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Calvary Oak Cliff
1822 West Tenth Street
Dallas, TX 75208