Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Are You Going to Eat That?

Here is the Prezi I used Sunday and the audio can be heard from the player on the right-hand tool bar.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Did You Pray for That?

How often do we pray and truly expect God to do what we ask? When there is someone terminally sick, would we be surprised if they recovered back to their previous health? If we cannot pray to God boldly and bring our petitions before him with confidence, then why even pray? Why do we have a “prayer list” with the sick and military on it if we do not ask God for specific blessings on them? James wrote, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray…Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (5:13-15).

It is easy to pray generally instead of specifically. We hear prayers to help families deal with the coming loss of their terminal loved one. If we pray that way, we are putting the wisdom of man above the wisdom of God and that is foolish (1 Cor. 1:25). Why not pray that the terminal loved one be healed? Do we not think that God can heal the cancer? If not, then stop mocking God by asking for him to guide the one who is suffering into “peace.” If you are not going to pray with faith, then do not pray at all! “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit” (James 5:17-18).

Do we try to protect God in our prayers? If we ask God to “do what is best for the situation” instead of “heal the sick,” we can protect God if the person does not heal. Do not pray “thy will be done” instead of “take the cancer away,” so you can protect God if the cancer remains. Realizing it is God’s will and not ours when we pray is essential (Matt. 26:39), but stop praying generally in order to protect God. Instead, pray boldly, “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 1:15a). Here is a tough question: If the sick do not heal, did God have something else in mind or did we not bring “the prayer of faith” before him? I know and believe that “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…” (Heb. 9:27), but do not use that as an excuse for a lack of faith.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Don't Wash Your Hands" Prezi from Sunday

Here's the Prezi I used Sunday to accompany my sermon. You can listen to my sermon through the player in the right hand tool bar and follow along in this Prezi.

Monday, September 20, 2010

You Swear?

The age old question of trust seems to start at an early age. You can imagine the child jumping into the pool for the first time after they graduate from their water wings and are terrified they will sink like a rock. Some kids have this fear even wearing the water wings. As they inch up to the edge of that pool, you can see the fear in their face. They ask the question any sensible human would to their parent, “Do you promise to catch me?” The parent can say simply “Yes,” but that is not really enough for that terrified child. They need to have the promise they will be caught. It is fun to laugh at the child’s unbelief because you know it will be okay, but do we not show the same doubt in God sometimes in our life? When God says he will do something, why do we doubt?

James wrote, “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (5:12). Where does doubt come from? Doubt is the spawn of fear. The child is scared because they know if the parent does not catch them they could drown in the water. We hesitate sometimes in our lives for the sake of Christ because we are scared of sacrifice. Sacrifice means giving something up. Satan has fooled us once again to think we are barely making it so we do not have any wiggle room to sacrifice for God. Are you scared the sacrifices Christianity calls you to make will not be worth it? Maybe you are scared because you fell for Satan’s deception that you do not have room for sacrifice so you are afraid. Paul wrote, “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). Fear is from Satan.

James echoed his brother Jesus Christ when he wrote about swearing, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No;’ anything more than this comes from evil” (Matt. 5:34). If Christians are not the kind of people that others can believe their word, what does that say about the founder of our faith, Jesus Christ? Next time someone asks you to go beyond your “Yes” or “No” and promise, ask yourself if this is based on their own fear or your track record of keeping your word. Let us live lives that people believe us when we simply say “Yes” or “No.”

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait

The country group Alabama released their “American Pride” album in 2000 which included the song I’m In A Hurry (And Don’t Know Why).  This song is the epitome of the American way of life.  The modern house often is not designed with a front porch because people rush home from work to sit in front of their televisions or go out to work on something else.  Time to just be still is vanishing rapidly.  James wrote, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.  You also, be patient.  Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (5:7-8).  Have you gotten in such a hurry you forgot what you are even doing here on earth?  Let us refocus.

When there is so many things that need to get done, it is hard to be patient while the checklist still has empty boxes.  Have you ever been working on something and could not rest until it was complete?  During the Christian walk, we can get anxious waiting through hard times which James called suffering (5:10).  Anything good is worth waiting for though.  “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.  You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11).  Patience is personified in Job.

Suffering often brings on bickering.  James recognized this and wrote, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door” (5:9).  Suffering will come in the Christian walk, but how we respond to that suffering will depend on how patient we are.  It is easy to get in a hurry in life, rushing around to try and numb the pain that suffering brings.  As far as the coming of the Lord is concerned, all we can do as Christians is hurry up and wait.  We do not know when the Lord is coming back, so all we can do is wait patiently, without grumbling to one another, and live righteously.  Do you have the patience to hurry up and wait?  God shows us patience everyday, let us do the same for him as we eagerly wait for our Savior’s return.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Got Conviction?

Here's my "prezintation" from tonight...

Money, Money, Money, Money…Money!

Why do we put so much value in the $1 bill which only lasts for 18 months before it is taken out of circulation according to factmonster.com? A $5 bill on the other hand lasts two years, $10 bills last three years, $20 bills last four years, and $50 & $100 bills last a whopping nine years. These are just limits though. If a bill is “worn out from everyday use” it is taken out of circulation possibly before it was designated to be. Are you surprised? It is just paper people! What did you expect?

That paper we use as a source of exchange can have so much power in someone’s life that they lose focus of its finiteness. The cash money that you use today will literally be out of circulation in a matter of months. James wrote concerning rich people, “Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days” (5:2-3). James wants to put eternity into perspective for those who lay up treasures for themselves here on earth and in the process neglect to lay up treasures for themselves in heaven. Jesus taught we can know where our treasure is by knowing where our heart is (Matt. 6:21).

So, is having money evil? Paul wrote, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:10). Money is amoral. In other words, it is neither good nor bad. The same money that was used to feed a hungry family could have been used for an illegal drug transaction. The money is not the problem; it is the user of the money that causes issues. When we put our love and faith in money, this is where evil enters into the equation. Having money is never condemned, but ample warning is given to those who possess it, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23)! It is possible for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God because “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). James finished out his warning to the rich by advising them to be fair with people and keep a constant check on their righteousness (5:4-6). Where is your treasure?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Guess What I’m Doing Tomorrow!

I remember growing up one of my favorite days in school was when my class went on a field trip. It did not really matter where our destination was, it just mattered that we got to do something new and get out of the classroom for the day. One of my most memorable field trips was in the first grade and we got to go for a train ride. After the train ride we went to what I remember as the biggest and best play ground ever and had a picnic. I was so excited about this field trip that I wanted everybody to know what I was getting to do. Oh what a presumptuous little boy I was. James wrote, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring” (4:13-14a).

How often do we get caught up in the “big plans” we have for the weekend or summer vacation? Sometimes we get so excited about those big plans that we neglect the bigger plans God may have in store for us. James went on to write, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (4:14b). James really puts us in our place. Let us remember that our big plans are mere specks on the mural God is painting. “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:15). Is it wrong then to be excited about those plans you made for the weekend, the summer vacation, or the train ride in 1st Grade? Absolutely not! James just wants to keep our lives in perspective to the will of God, not the will of man, “As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (4:16).

Now that you know the right thing to do, are you going to do it or are you going to continue in your arrogant boasting about the things going on or about to happen in your life? James sums it up by writing, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (4:17). It does not get anymore plain than that. This can apply to more than just boasting about tomorrow. This addresses the passive Christian lifestyle as a whole. We cannot just sit back and do nothing as Christians when we know what we ought to be doing. So get up and go do it. What will you do tomorrow…if the Lord wills?