Sea Shells

Genesis 1:2 – So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

As I sit here looking out into the vast Gulf of Mexico, I was thinking about the beach by our hotel and the innumerable sea shells that populate it. Most of them have long since broken up and only pieces remain. As this process continues these shells will eventually become sand. God’s perfect plan accounts for every cycle of life for these seemingly insignificant creatures. Who knows where they started out, but eventually the shells that protected them came to rest on this beach. We then use the sand that remains in a myriad of different ways. Happenstance? Hardly . . . . . God’s plan? . . . . . Absolutely!

If God purposed these creatures in such a magnificent way how can we ever doubt His purpose for each and everyone of His children, that means YOU! We are all part of a bigger Story that God has in place. While He cares for each and every one of His children we serve a purpose to fulfill the greatest story that is still being told!

Rejoice in the fact that God created you for a purpose but more than that, he counts you as one of His own!

Isa 44:2 Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen.

Let FREEDOM Ring!

Luke 4:18–19 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The above scripture was spoken by Jesus as he quoted the prophet Isaiah (61:1-2). As you read this passage the correlation to what we face today is undeniable. Today this scripture stands as battle cry for those who seek to spread God’s Word to those who do not know Him or simply choose not to. In as much as this scripture speaks to the outward issues in our world, it was written to speak of the sins that strip us of the Freedom granted by God. David Guzik’s commentary on this passage gives us a very clear picture on how sin is our greatest obstacle to true FREEDOM.

  • To preach the gospel to the poor: Sin impoverishes, and the Messiah will bring good news to the poor.
  • To heal the brokenhearted: Sin breaks hearts, and the Messiah has good news for brokenhearted.
  • To proclaim liberty to the captives: Sin makes people captive and enslaves them, and the Messiah has come to set them free.
  • Recovery of sight to the blind: Sin blinds us, and the Messiah has come to heal our spiritual and moral blindness.
  • To set at liberty those who are oppressed: Sin oppresses its victims, and the Messiah comes to bring liberty to the oppressed.

It’s very easy to associate these sins with our world and those who seek to strip us of our Judeo-Christian values, which are vital to all that is good. Through Jesus Christ, God has provided eternal rescue from all that would enslave us. In turn, we seek to free others from their personal or exterior task masters. However, the free will granted by God allows us to ultimately choose our path. It’s time for all to take a serious look at what freedom really means and where its true origin came.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God…… Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty…… With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” – John F Kennedy, 1961

Galatians 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery

 

Moral Sincerity

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

“Be on your best behavior”, I think we’ve all heard that from a parent before we went to a friend’s house or some other place without them. The title above came from a friend of mine and when he made this statement it really prompted me to think about the motivation for my “behavior”. Moral Sincerity . . . for two words, it says so much. At one time or another, we’ve all had a little Eddie Haskell in us, right? When you think back, there is certainly a time when you were “well behaved” for reasons less than pure. So then, the question turns to, what is the foundation for your behavior?

Why do you behave the way you do? Are you at your best when you’re trying to impress someone, a group of friends, maybe your boss or when it’s only you? Why would we behave differently in these situations? The simple answer, Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. God is with us always and we should live to please Him in all we do. Shouldn’t that be the only motivation we need for good behavior? Isn’t that what my friend meant in saying we should strive for “Moral Sincerity”? If we set our minds on Him, He has promised to take care of the rest. Mathew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

What a simple plan . . . . What a wonderful Father!

Philippians 4:8 – What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Where are You?

Genesis 3:9 – But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

I’m often caught off guard by the humor we find in God’s word. The above verse,  when examined on the surface, is quite funny, but in the end it has a very strong message for us all. Think about it, GOD is asking Adam where he is, . . . . like God doesn’t already know. Obviously God didn’t need to ask Adam this question, so why did He ask it? It was more than likely to let Adam see his own sin. Adam already knew he had done something wrong or he wouldn’t have been hiding. 

Think about your life and how many times you have hidden from your sin. How many times have you hid your sin from others? How many times have you attempted to hide your sin from God? While I can’t answer the first two questions I can tell you that no sin is hidden from God.  1 John 3:20 – whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. He wants us to come to him with our problems. God loves us deeply, so much that he purposely made us to feel shame when we sin. It’s an alarm for us to seek his guidance. 

We have all been on a trip where we misinterpreted directions, took a wrong turn or just took off without looking where we we going. Inevitably, we admit we’re lost and stop and ask for directions. In the physical sense this is a humbling experience but a pretty easy “fix”, but only when we admit that we are “lost”. Let’s apply this scenario to our lives. When things get off track, do you seek direction or do you try to find your own way?  It’s hard to admit to ourselves and others that we are “lost” but the sooner we accept it, the sooner we can get back on track. Luke 19:10 – For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. Much like Adam’s situation, God already knows when we are lost and is just waiting for us to “pull over” and seek His direction.  So, I have only one question for you to consider, Where are you?

Psalm 119:169 – May my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word.

The Most Worthy Cause

Acts 5:29 – But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

“You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.” These were the words of General Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered to all Allied forces just before the greatest battle of all time, the invasion of Normandy, or D-Day. The invasion, while very well planned had many things working against it, weather, the involvement of troops from many Allied countries and the coordination of many separate offensives. However, when it came time to proceed, regardless of the obstacles, the decision was made to go forward with a plan that would change the outcome of the war and the world today. The men that were a part of this endeavor, especially those who landed via amphibious craft on the open beaches, were very aware that they could die. We owe so much to these men and the countless others, in subsequent wars and battles, who have risked and given their lives for our freedom.

When you think back to the time after Jesus left the Apostles to sit on the right hand of the Father, these men faced great odds. They were given a similar order from Jesus,  And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation., Mark 16:15. These men knew the odds they faced but they also knew what it meant and more importantly who it was from. So they did and in the process they risked their lives time and time again to deliver the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Eventually, all but John would be put to death for proclaiming the Gospel.

History is footnoted with the courage of great men and women for many noble causes but is there any cause more noble, more important than preaching the Gospel of Jesus? We live in a time where proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus indeed takes courage. Do you proudly proclaim where you stand in this ongoing battle? If not, why not? The many men and women, who we remember today, gave their lives for your freedom, which was first given to us by Jesus. Our country was founded on the principles that He taught and spread by his Disciples. We owe them everything!

Acts 5:41-42 – Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

 

Motherly Love

Psalms 9:10 – Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you

Mother’s Day . . . . domestically speaking, and deservedly so, there is no other day in our society that is more revered. From the minute we are brought into this world our Mothers provide for us in so many ways. When asked who do you trust more than anyone else? most people answer, “my Mother”. This is no surprise, as most of us have a deep personal relationship with our Mothers.

Believe it or not, Jesus knows who you are and wants to have the same kind of relationship with you, that you have experienced with your Mother. In the same way that your Mother has been there for you, Jesus can be there too. He can provide, comfort in times of despair; . . . . assurance, when there seems to be no reason for any; . . . . sound advice, if you’ll only ask; . . . . and greater joy than you have ever experienced. Other than baking cookies, he can be all that your Mother is, and so much more.

It’s only natural that we trust our Mothers, for they brought us into this world. So why is it that we can’t or won’t trust Jesus? For many, it’s hard to trust someone that you don’t know. The good news is that you can know Him today and he is waiting for you right now.  A relationship with Jesus will do wonders for every aspect of your life. Your Mother has undoubtedly come to your rescue one or twice, but I urge you to take some time to get to know the only one that can truly SAVE you, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 66:13 – As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;

Comfort Chain

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Last week while getting ready to work out (which I do during my lunch hour) I was approached by a man whom I did not know. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that he was mentally impaired. Anyway, he asked me if I liked the Rangers and we had a small conversation about how well they had been doing. Then he held up his finger as to ask me to wait a minute. He came back and handed me a folded piece of paper. Without looking at it, I put it in my locker and proceeded to work out. As I ran I continued to think about what had transpired. When I finished I went to my locker and opened up the folded paper. It was a very simple pencil drawing of some flowers, the sun and a bird flying that he had made in his group’s activities. I looked around and found that his group was still there. I thanked him for the picture and learned that we shared the same first name. I was really moved by our brief encounter and the joy that it brought me.

I’ve had a lot on my plate at work, too much to expand on here. However, the comfort that I received from that encounter led me to see how even “the least of these” can offer comfort. I can’t pretend to know if there was any motivation by my new friend to comfort me, but God knows what we need and when we need it most. This enables us to offer the same to others when we know they need it most. Adam Clarke once said, “Even spiritual comforts are not given us for our use alone; they, like all the gifts of God, are given that they may be distributed, or become instruments of help to others.” I certainly received a gift of comfort that day.

There’s no question that by our standards my new friend is afflicted, but like He has done so many times with the unlikely, God used this man to give me comfort and perspective. I pray that we all can find comfort in our afflictions, knowing that God loves us. Moreover, that we return that comfort in His name, unashamedly, to those around us.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 – Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

 

FREE INSIDE!!

Romans 5:15 – But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

When I was a kid I loved going to the grocery store because back then there were some great toys to be found inside cereal boxes. What a great deal, you could procure your favorite cereal (Quisp or Captain Crunch for me) PLUS you got a FREE toy inside!! I have fond memories of those trinkets, many of which I have collected in my adult life. It was the cereal that kept me going, but the free toy got me fired up!

In my quite time during this Holy week I correlated this childhood memory with Jesus’ sacrifice for you and me. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection and by our proclaiming Him to be our Lord and Savior we receive the promise of an eternal life in His Kingdom. Romans 10:9 -If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. This is the cereal.

Above and beyond the greatest thing he could ever give us, he not only provides the grace and mercy that sustain us every day of our lives, but also the gift of Peace. John 14:27 -“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. This is the Free toy inside!

Through our committed relationship with Jesus we receive Peace, that when cultivated leads to wisdom, which leads to a life of Joy that we can share with others!!

So open your ”box” of Salvation today and see what else you’ll find inside, It’s FREE and it WILL surely set YOU FREE!

James 3:17 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

 

Astronomical Guidance

Psalms 147:4 – He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

Lately I have noticed a lot of people posting their Horoscopes Facebook. I assume we have all looked at our Horoscope at one point in our life but when you think about it, what can something like that really offer you? What are some other things of this world that people look to for guidance in their lives? Tarot cards, Fortune Cookies, Tea leaves and Psychics to name a few. Most of these are no different than flipping a coin, the results are random and once in a while they seem to give the correct advice. Psychics aren’t much different . . . and they’re a dime a dozen with some change left over.

Do the stars have significance? Certainly! They are mentioned over 50 times in the Bible. They are revered as one of God’s most wonderful creations. They were and still are to some degree, used by man to navigate from one place to another. However, God did not create them to navigate our lives. He has given us the greatest book ever written to do that, The Bible.

So why are we so quick to look to worldly sources to help us make decisions? Why would you consult the local paper’s Horoscope before you open Proverbs? Why would you place your fate on a deck of cards before you sought God’s will for your situation? I think the main reason is that WE want to control our destiny, thus we seek answers via things that make us feel good about what we are doing. When we seek God’s will, we’re apt to be convicted and the answer can become very different than our worldly heart desires.

God loves us all so much that he sent his son to die for us. Just like he knows all the stars in heaven, he knows the number of hairs on YOUR head (Luke 12:7). Do you know him intimately? That question can be answered with where do you go for advice first? Your Bible or Today’s Horoscope?

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

 

“MASS” EFFECT

1 Timothy 6:12 – Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Our church recently celebrated the life of one of our founders (All Dillon). He was 83 yrs old. I did not know this man personally but here’s what I do know. He and the other founders of our church initially met at Mrs. Sheaffer’s school in Arlington, TX. There were approximately 40 people who attended services. Let me just fast forward to today . . . . Our church has a membership of over 4000 and growing every week, Our church supports several missions throughout the world, Our church is debt free and promotes the same amongst its membership, our church has an Upwards Sports program that has hundreds of children participating and bringing their parents to church. All that aside it’s the following that is number one at Crossroads Christian Church, Bringing people to Jesus! Thanks to its founders, that has always been and will always be the primary purpose of our church.

Again, I did not know this man personally but because of his dedication, I and countless others know Jesus today . . . . What a legacy! and an example of how one should live their life in service of Jesus. There’s no question that Mr. Dillon certainly had a “Mass” Effect on many people . . . .

Mathew 26:21 – His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace – Acts 20:24