1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV)

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV)

Monday, March 22, 2010

“Loving My Neighbor”

The Parables by Gary Inrig
“Understanding What Jesus Meant”

The books second chapter, “Loving My Neighbor” is
that parable of the good Samaritan.(Luke10:25-37)
The bible scripture leading into this parable has two
primary questions asked of Jesus by the lawyer;
“ What shall I do to inherit eternal life ?”(Luke10:25)
“and who is my neighbor?”(Luke10:29)

So he (lawyer) answered the first question and said,
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all
your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”
(Luke 10:27)
(Deuteronomy 6:5 linked with Leviticus 19:18 stated
in Matthew 22:37-40 again in Luke 10:27.)
And He (Jesus) said to him, “You have answered rightly;
do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:28)

Jesus answered the second question with the Samaritan
Parable and a question; So which of these three do you
think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
(Luke 10:36) And to that question; he (lawyer) answered
said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said
to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

The Samaritan saw the injured person only as a human
in need and felt compassion for human suffering. The
Samaritan cared for the immediate needs and went a
step further and provided for care of someone who
Could not care for himself.

“Your neighbor” is someone; whom you may or may
not know, of your race or not, of your religion or not,
for it is the need of the person which you can meet
that determines who becomes your neighbor.

Our neighbor is that person whom has a need that
we have the resources to meet. The Samaritan did
not go looking for a neighbor, however he did not
turn aside from that person who became his
neighbor, as a person he found in need.

I believe God has made it very clear that only those
that love Him will be accepted in His House. He has
also made it clear that to love Him you must also
love those that He loves.

Eternal life is not earned by works, nor is it by
achievements. Inheritance is a heart relationship with
God. God wants us neighbors to be expressions of
His love in this world.

The evidence of our love for God is our love for those
that God loves. This means We are the neighbors to
all those that God loves. We are the ones to do the
loving thing as those situations are presented.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Parables

The Parables : “Understanding What Jesus Meant”
Discovery House, 1991, by Gary Inrig
Christian Spiritual Growth, Recommended by george

A book of a dozen stories to provide answers to many of our
questions and situations. These are the teachings of Jesus,
so we will hear His Words. These Parables of truth call us
to know our God, and see who we really are.

The first chapter is titled,” Knowing My Father”. Have you
ever had the feeling that not every Christian is, “our kind
of person”? Then ponder these three beautiful parables;about
a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son.(NKJ, Luke;15:1-32)

We know of the feelings of loosing and finding things cared
about. The greater the value to us results in greater feelings
of either pain or joy.

This first chapter focuses on “Luke 15:11-32” the return of
the prodigal son and the appeal to the older brother. This
appeal to the older brother was intended for the Pharisees.

Luke 15:11 to 27; Tells of the wayward son, welcoming and
rejoicing father, also the respectable older brother‘s anger.
Luke 15:28: Tells us the father came to the older brother and
pleaded with him.
Luke 15:31; ” and he said to him, son you are always with me,
and all that I have is yours.
Luke 15:32; ’ It was right that we should make merry and be
glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was
lost and is found.’”
Luke 15:31&32; Is one statement of gladness and joy both for
the father and for God.

Gary Inrig points out a cliff hanger; “did the older brother
enter and celebrate or not ? ” The Lords story shouts to all
brothers;” come home, come in the house”.

The message set before us; to reject the Fathers gracious
treatment of an unworthy sinner is to deceive ourselves
about our need for grace. As long as we reject the grace
shown to other sinners, then we are standing outside of
our Fathers House.

How well we “know God” is revealed by our feelings for those
that are lost and those that are found.

(if you want the next chapter “Loving My Neighbor” just ask)

Friday, March 12, 2010

In His Steps

by Charles M. Sheldon
“What Would Jesus Do ?”
Classic Christian Inspirational Fiction

This story is one of thirty Sermon-Stories written by
Sheldon and was published in 1897.

The story opens with an unemployed tramp looking for
work. He was not a tramp by choice, just another worker
replaced by a machine.

This despondent man is seeking help to locate work from
a pastor of a well-to-do church. All the tramp received
from that pastor was a “hope that he would find a job“.

The following Sunday’s church service begins in song and
then the congregation hears an unplanned guest speaker,
“The Tramp.”

Oh, this Tramp raised a few questions;
What is meant by following Jesus ?
When you sing, “ I’ll go with Him all the way.
“ what do you mean ?

This poor tramp challenges this congregation living their
lives of plenty, while others are going without. He asked
them “ Is this what Jesus would do ?”

The tramp collapsed in front of this congregation and he
dies within a few days . Members of that congregation,
then pledged for one year to do everything in their daily
lives asking the question, “What Would Jesus Do ?”

The Tramps words changed their lives and continue
challenging the lives of those that hear those words.
“What Would Jesus Do ?”

Do You Walk in His Steps ? Do You Walk Your Talk ?

“I pray, that the dust from His sandals will fall upon you.”

By brother george

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

TOO BUSY NOT TO PRAY

by Bill Hybels
“ Slowing Down to Be with God “
IVP Books 1988-2008 Christian Life / Prayer
“A Classic on prayer for over twenty years”
.
The Bible being the greatest book ever written; so why all of these
other books filled with scripture, why ? Certainly not for substitu-
tion of the bible, but they do provide clarifications, explanations,
and additional information. A good Christian book supported by
biblical scripture can move you closer to God. This Book, has
many treasures, that will move you closer to God. I am sharing
some of those treasures, that I have found valuable to me.
.
Pastor Bill says, “I still practice maintaining consistent time and
place to pray, organize my prayers as “ ACTS “, and listen for the
Spirits promptings for God's direction and wisdom. Now “ACTS” is
an “acrostic” whose four letters stand for; Adoration, Confession,
Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
.
By praising and worshipping we demonstrate respect to our
heavenly Father. Professing forgiveness of others and confessing
repentance for our errors. Expressing appreciation and gratitude
for those blessings we already received. Supplication, let God
have control of circumstances as He is the only real God. Having
an organized balanced prayer is another step closer to God.
.
Pastor Bill, also keeps a prayer journal and he frequently reviews
past prayers And how they were answered. Writing your prayers
specifically (you can leave out unnecessary detail and redundancy
as He knows your circumstance) The journaling will focus your
mind on God and allow you to examine your life. This will keep
you from inadvertently repeating the same errors. Using “ACTS”
as a pattern will keep your prayers in balance.
.
All I have written so far, Pastor Bill covered just in his “ intro ” to
this book. He also said he believes God has a role for each of us
to play. The needs around us, get off the bench and into the game.
I started my journal following Pastor Bills suggestions.
-Give God the best part of your day (mine is 6 to 7 am)
-Have a meeting place with God away from distractions(my porch)
-Pray earnestly from the heart with a balance prayer. (ACTS)
-Write a page, begin with yesterday to examine your life and pray.
.
Pastor Bill Hybels says,” When you get serious about prayer, then
it is time to make the Decision; “I will learn what disciplines are
necessary to fuel my prayer life, and I will practice these regularly
without fail.” I encourage you to benefit from the treasures to be
found in this classic book on prayer. brother george

Beyond Jabez

by Bruce Wilkinson
" Expanding Your Borders "
Christian Prayer; Pub. 2005, Multnomah

This author’s skillful writing craftsmanship weaves
Into “ Beyond Jabez ” his successful writings such
as “ The Prayer of Jabez ” and “ The Dream Giver ”.

Wilkinson provides the readers with many examples
throughout this book, of how God answered those
“ People who Prayed ” including the writer himself.

He explains and clarifies misconceptions surrounding
beliefs about God’s Blessings, Boundaries, Powers,
and Protection. Also described and explained by this
author are insights for types of Blessings, Territories,
Miracles, and Protection that God offers.

Wilkinson describes the temptations confronting all of us
and suggests the best way to keep from sinning is to avoid
temptations. Exercise self control over every thought that
you permit your mind to think. God warns us about the
consequences of sin so that we will seek God’s protection
through prayer.

God, ”Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory,
That Your hand would be with me,
And that You would keep me from evil,
That I may not cause pain !”
1 Chronicles 4:10 (NKJV)

This book suggests that we can learn to recognize a
“ Jabez Moment ” just by being constantly alert for
opportunities, through which we can touch a life or
do something for God’s purpose. God’s desire is that
He wants to release His power through us. God wants
you to enjoy His blessings and for you to share those
blessings with other people.

“Every day, pray for and give thanks for God’s protection
and many blessings.”

Let GOD be GOD

by Ray C. Stedman
(Edited from sermons on the book of Job)
Discovery House Publishers "2007"

The book titled "Let GOD Be GOD" by Ray C. Steadman was based on a

series of sermons he preached on the Book of Job. Ray Stedman offers his
understanding of what he believes God is telling us through the Book of Job.
My interest was captured in chapter ten and held through chapter eleven ,
covering the chapters of "32 through 37" in the Book of Job. This is where
Elihu speaks the “Word” that he believes was given him by the Spirit of God.
Is God speaking to us through the Book of Job and are we hearing God's
words ? Read Elihu's words carefully and consider if you believe God is
answering some of the important questions in our life. Why is God often
silent, when we need Him the most ? What is God's purpose for my pain
and loss ? Why does God allow the innocent to suffer ? Is there a redeemer
and life after death ?

Stedman, points out four important observations;
1) God does not rebuke Elihu,( NKJ; Job 38)
2) God does not condemn Elihu's messages,(NKJ; Job 38)
3) Elihu spoke with courtesy and sensitivity, (for 5 chapters)
4) Elihu claimed to speak from Revelation.( NKJ; Job 36:2-4)
He was convinced Elihu's message expressed the core theme of Job.

The beginning of Job Chap. 32, Elihu is saying that, he speaks according to

the urging of God Himself. Elihu wants only to speak according to the will
of God his maker and what God has taught him. Elihu delivers God's reply
to Job, thus we are hearing God's Word and this is the importance of the
book of Job. (NKJ; "Job (32:8)(32:18)(32:22)(33:4)”
Elihu claims authority, (NKJ; Job 36:2-4)

Elihu addresses God’s silence to Job; God answers, but not according to our

wishes or our time table. Elihu points out another reason for silence is God
does not listen to empty pleas and sometimes we are deaf to His voice,
because we do not want to hear the answer God is giving us.
(NKJ) (Job 35:12-14) Elihu suggests many ways of how God can speak

through; dreams, visions, events, painful circumstances, and suffering.
(NKJ)(Job 33:14-21)(Job 33:29-30)

Elihu (E li hu) states Jobs pain and suffering was not a punishment for hidden

sin. God is speaking through pain to get Jobs attention. Elihu is saying that
God is speaking to sufferers and actually uses our trials of suffering to open
our ears and to listen to what He is saying to us. (NKJ; Job 36:15)
Adversity could be your bridge for that closer relationship with God.

Job believes that there is a redeemer coming to give salvation and afterlife.

For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;
after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God.”
(NKJ: Job 19:25-26) Elihu gives the prophecy of a Mediator, Redeemer,
Savior, Born Again, and the Afterlife. “ If there is a messenger for him,
mediator, one among a thousand, To show man His uprightness, Then He
is gracious to him, and says deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have
found a ransom; His flesh shall be young like a child’s, He shall return to the
days of his youth. He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, He shall
see His face with joy, He restores to man His righteousness." (NKJ; Job:23-28)

The Prayer of Jabez

by Bruce Wilkinson
Christian Living-Prayer ; ISBN-1-57673-733-0

The cry of " Jabez " " The Bibles Little Big Man "
"So, God granted Jabez what he requested."
“Why did God answer the prayer from Jabez ?
My impression of Jabez, he was an obedient child of God,
as obedience brings blessings. " More than that, blessed are
those who hear the word of God and keep it !"( Luke 11:28)
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. (1 Chron. 4:9)

His mother called his name " Jabez " saying, " Because I bore
him in pain. " Jabez was born into the tribe of Judah and lived
in southern Israel during the time of Judges. In biblical times a
name was often taken as prophecy about that individuals future.
A literal translation of the word " Jabez " could be he has/will
cause pain.

Jabez believed in his God of miracles and he asked for a miracle.
The biblical meaning of " Bless " is the asking of a supernatural
favor that can only come from God. Let us clearly understand,
when we ask for God's blessing we are asking for something, that
can only come from our Lord. Jabez's request for a blessing asked
for nothing more or nothing less than what God had wanted for Jabez.

How did a giant of faith begin his prayer ?

God, ” Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory,
That Your hand would be with me,
And that You would keep me from evil,
That I may not cause pain ! ”

1 Chronicles 4:10 (NKJV)

You can change what happens in your future through the believing of
daily prayers just like the prayer of Jabez. " Ask, and it will be given
to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
( Matt. 7:7 )

We have to present God with our requests. Jabez's simple prayer,
that produces results ! Those that commit to offering prayer on a
daily basis will find themselves blessed by God.

Forever Christmas

by Christine Lynxwiler
Christian Fiction/Romance (pages 288)
Barbour Pub. 2007 ISBN 978-1-59789-821-8

A lighthearted and easy to follow delightful story for enjoyable
reading with a surprising twist at the end. First, I would like to tell
you about one part, that caught my interest without giving away the
story. The Chicken Florentine Sandwiches in a basket that sold for
500 dollars.

So I asked, what is a Chicken Florentine Sandwich ?
Ok, I will tell you, it is; spinach, mayonnaise, olive oil, garlic, onion,
balsamic, Italian seasoning, provolone cheese, boneless skinless
chicken breast on flat bread. (check it out at your sub-way shop)

The story opens as we are traveling down a highway in Arkansas
approaching a sign that says; ” Jingle Bells” “The town where the
spirit of Christmas lives in our hearts all year long.”

We are entering a relaxing experience of another life in peaceful
little quaint town. For now, I say a girl and boy not yet teenagers
are having a Christmas wedding on the top of Snowy Mountain.
Sadly the snowman Preacher melted and the young girl lost her
pop-top ring in the snowy slush.

This young girl named Kristianna grows up living with her grand-
mother. They both lived above “The Forever Christmas Shop”
that the grandmother owned. Unfortunately this is past tense as
the grandmother passes away and her grand-daughter Kristianna
inherits the shop.

To tell a little about this town, the economy is going down hill fast.
This is due to unemployment cause by the closing of the Benning
Distribution Company. But, can you picture a town with candy cane
parking meters, a North Pole CafĂ©, Santa’s Snack Shop, Candy Cane
Lanes and The Forever Christmas Shop.

The towns mayor owns the old Benning Distribution Building on
Crystal Lake and wants to sell the property. The prospective buyer
“ The Summer Valley Outdoors Corporation ” has investors insisting
that the towns name be changed to “ Summer Valley ” as they also
propose opening a outlet store in town. Both of these would provided
needed employment for this community.

You have the story’s setting and wondering why the town was named
“ Jingle Bells ” a hundred years ago. And for the rest of the story; did
they change the towns name ? what ever happened to the Kristianna's
" Forever Christmas Shop " ? Who sent the present to Kristianna with
a note; ” Praying for you to have a Jingle Bells Christmas filled with
Love, Happiness, and especially Peace ” and did Kristianna ever have
a real Christmas wedding ?

GOD Is Closer Than You Think

by john Ortberg
Christian Growth : Zondervan ; Publication Date: 2005

I consider this book to be a good resource for spiritual growth.
This book offers many teachings focusing on your relationship

with God. The author often utilizes the writings of others to
present gems of wisdom. He is a good story teller, that makes
for easy reading and understanding.

Ortberg tells us that "God wants to be with you" and connecting

with God is for everyone. He supports this by stating, that the
most frequent promise in the Bible is; "I will be with you".

Ortberg describes the days when we feel Gods presence as

rainbow days. That we should learn to store up rainbow days to
remember on the days when God seems distant. God is still with
us on those ordinary days. God wants us to learn to see Him on
those ordinary days and in ordinary places. All we have to do is
invite Jesus into whatever we are doing.

God is not always easy to see, but He is every where and you

have to train yourself to find Him in every situation. You can be
with Jesus at any moment, because He is just a prayer away.
He is available in this moment right now, God is so close only a
thought away .

The author suggests, that we give the first thought and the first

word of our day to the one to whom our whole life belongs.
Acknowledge your dependence on God and ask Him to spend
the day with you. Just do the things you normally do only do
them with God.

Ortberg reminds us that, what ever repeatedly enters our mind

will occupy our mind, eventually shaping the mind, and will
express itself in what you do and who you become. Every
thought moves you closer to God or farther from God.

If you are serious about being close to God, then you will
have
to spend some time listening for Him. Ortberg explains many
ways to practice listening for God. "God is Closer Than You
Think" shows how you can enjoy a vibrant, moment by moment
relationship with your heavenly Father.

"May you always be covered by the dust from Jesus's sandals."

The Life You've Always Wanted

by john Ortberg
Publisher Thorndike Press (large print) 2006
ISBN-13: 978-1-59415-083-8 / Christian Growth

The author asks, are you missing the life that you were appointed by God to live ? Are you having the life you always wanted or are you in need of a life that is worth living ? By giving God the best time of your life, you could have the life you have always wanted.

What is keeping you from growing closer to Christ and having a joyful life ? john Ortberg reveals the Christian life is about more than being forgiven and more than getting to heaven. The goal of this book is to help you grow spiritually and become much closer to God.

Ortberg shares many gems of wisdom mined from scripture, other Christian writings, stories his friends relate to him, and his own personal experiences. This author sometimes bends a few words or a phrase as a liberty of a writer to maintain the readers attention.

God’s purpose in guidance is not to get us to perform the right actions. His purpose is to help us become the right kind of people. Guidance only comes to those who have made the decision to be guided. Each of your thoughts will take you further from God or closer towards God. You have the choice of who will lead your thoughts and which direction you will travel. Knowing scripture is very good, however the knowing of the spirit frees us from the desire to sin.

You must arrange your life so that sin no longer looks good to you.

Ortberg likens the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly to the transformation by renewal of your mind. Understanding the difference between training and merely trying is the key to the transformation in every aspect of life. Spiritual growth is not a matter of trying harder, but of training wisely. This author uses the example of a marathon runner training consistently to strengthen his endurance for the long run. As we need to practice our spiritual disciplines consistently as exercises to strengthen our endurance for our life long run.

Ortberg refers to the story of Snow White; Each of us have tasted the forbidden fruit, We all have fallen under the curse. But the Prince comes to free us from the curse and when that happens; “Sleeper, awake rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” If you do not have God in the central role of your life, then you have refused to "let God be God"

The kind of servant hood Jesus calls us to; is helping others for our own sake. The true indicator of spiritual well-being is growth in the ability to love God and people. A act of service to another demonstrates that you value them. The Life you’ve always wanted is a life of humility.

God’s Power to Change Your Life

by Rick Warren
Published 2006, Christian Living-Practical Growth
Zondervan , pages 236 ; ISBN-13-978-0-310-27303-5

This book is currently on the top of my list for Christian Growth books.
Please take notice, I am only telling you about the ending of this book.
The last chapter; the conclusion; the practical steps we need to take if
we are serious about having a productive Christian life.

First step, we need roots to make it through tough times. The Saguaro
Cactus has fifty foot roots in all directions so it can live in 130 degree
weather. We need to have roots if we are going to make it through the
dry spells of life. Roots are developed by reading, meditating and the
obeying God’s word. This is how you will develop the strong spiritual
roots that enable you to with stand life’s droughts. God does not promise
a lack of trials, but God does promise eventual victory for His obedient
children.

The second thing we need to do, is eliminate some weeds in our life.
How many weeds are growing in your life ? Are you getting busier ?
Is your schedule getting tighter ? Are your weeds are out of control ?
To name a few; the preoccupation with worrying, making money, and
chasing the good life. Just maybe the cause is that your priorities got out
of balance. Your spiritual life is choking when you do not have time for
your Lord. When you neglect Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship with
other Christians, then it is time to eliminate those weeds in your life that
eat up your time and energy.

Next thing is to realize that God is working in your life. This could be
considered the pruning process. You must realize that pruning is not
punishment. God loves you, and some times that is considered tough
love. How God prunes us is by allowing us to cause ourselves problems
and pressures. God can use every situation in your life to help you grow
if you will Just have the right attitude. We need to cooperate with God
during a pruning process by realizing what He wants us to do. I found
that singing songs of praise to God will improve your attitude of your
gratitude. We do not have to be thankful for all circumstances, however
we are to be thankful in all circumstances.

We all have areas in our lives, that we would like to change. This author
addresses those areas of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Rick Warren provides clear
explanations with simple steps for change in each of those areas. Are
you putting off a change that you know would be good for you ? This
book can get you on track with God’s wonderful purposes for your life.

Walking with God

“Walking with God“ by john Eldredge
“talk to Him, hear from Him “
Pub. Thomas Nelson 2008 Spiritual / Knowing God

The author invites us to join him on his; "Journey to Capture the Voice of God." Eldredge tells us, God created us to know Him, love Him and fellowship with Him. “Our deepest and most pressing need is to learn to walk with God and hear his voice”

The author’s writing reveals his sincerity and desire to be walking with God. John Eldredge, explains how he walks with God and how he hears God's voice. This author offers his stories as encouragement for us to become closer to God.

Eldredge states his belief, that God does speak to us foremost through the Bible. The question he proposes to you to ponder is;
"Why does the Bible tell us the stories of God speaking to His people ?"
Eldredge believes the Bible to be a book of examples of ;
"what it looks like to be walking with God."

Everything in your life depends on the great treasure of your relationship with God. Eldredge tries to bring you truth as he believes and he believes God still speaks. That God speaks through the Bible, the Holy Spirit and though events in your life. Eldredge wants you "to pause along the way at places where God is speaking to you"

Our walk with God takes time and practice and to hear God we must learn to listen.
" for they know His voice" John 10:3-4
" They will hear my voice" John 10:14-16

Every day we are making decisions and we have the choice to make them solely on our own or we can learn to hear His voice and walk with God.

“ Follow God for the right path, let Him lead you, let God be God. “