Easter - 2018

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Pilgrims and a Journey toward Thanksgiving!

On Sept 16, 1620 2 ships set sail from Plymouth England, The Speedwell and the Mayflower. The Speedwell encountered much difficulty as they began their journey springing many leaks in the ship. So when the 2 ships went to Port in Plymouth England, the Speedwell decided to go no further and 42 passengers from the Speedwell joined the 60 passengers and 30 crew members aboard the Mayflower..

Of the 102 passengers on board the Mayflower the majority were devout Christians. They were coming to America to shake lose from the bonds of the church of England so they could worship God as they believed scriptures taught.

And with great excitement and expectations that set sail for a new land... It wasn’t long before the trip became difficult for several reasons, as noted by William Bradford an historian on the Mayflower, who would later became Governor of the colony for 33 years.. Many of the passengers became sea sick as huge waves would crash over the deck of the ship... The nights were cold, damp and dark... Remember there was no indoor plumbing or electricity. They encountered many fierce storms which shook the ship with tremendous force. So fierce that many times they could not even keep the sail out and the force of the wind -- eventually cracked and bowed the main beams when they had just went over the half way point across the Atlantic. And although the passengers and crew wanted to turn back, Christopher Jones, the ships Master, assured all the vessel was "strong and firm under water." He ordered the beam to be secured. It was hoisted into place by a great iron screw that, fortunately, the Pilgrims brought out of Holland. AND Upon raising the beam, they "committed themselves to the will of God and resolved to proceed." These 100 people; cold, wet -- on wooden ship in the middle of the ocean -- put their hope, trust and lives into the hands of God. The battered ship finally came within sight of Cape Cod on November 19, 1620. Two had died at sea and two had given birth. The Pilgrims scanned the shoreline just to the west of them and described it as, "a goodly land wooded to the brink of the sea," William Bradford writes, "AFTER LONG BEATINGS AT SEA THEY FELL WITH THAT LAND WHICH IS CALLED CAPE COD; AND THEY WERE NOT A LITTLE JOYFUL..." They were filled with AWE that they had survived…in that moment they praised God for their past, the present and what they saw in their future!

The day the Pilgrims signed the May Flower Compact, according to William Bradford, "they came to anchor in the Bay, which was a good harbor...and they blessed the God of Heaven, who brought them over the fast and furious ocean... and a sea of trouble. And they read the following from the Geneva Bible (the Bible the Pilgrims used) "LET THEM, THEREFORE PRAISE THE LORD, BECAUSE HE IS GOOD AND HIS MERCIES ENDURE FOREVER."

This coming Thursday we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day... Many will be busy cooking turkeys, making stuffing, baking pumpkin pies.... and watching football games. And that is fun stuff -- it is important to get together with loved ones...Yet, it is more than that…it is about giving thanks in AWE of the Lord God Almighty.

We usually picture the first thanksgiving in America, as the time when the Pilgrims and the Indians got together for a great feast. But I tend to look at that time when on the sea battered Mayflower anchored in the bay at Cape Cod, a group of weary and worn men and women were on their knees praising their God in heaven for bringing them safely through the treacherous sea to this new land, as the real first thanksgiving. They were living in awe of God. Giving is all in AWE because of their past, because of their present, and because of their future.

Happy Thanksgiving! You know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 24, 2014

Giving in AWE redeems the past!

“Awe” is an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful. In our Text Paul commends the Corinthian believers by praising their achievments in faith, speech, knowledge, passion, love… it is looking at your past and giving God the glory for where you have been and what He has brought you through. In looking at the past, Paul reminds the followers of Jesus not to give up being as faithful in giving.

Giving in Awe recognizing that the past is the past and we can give in awe in order to redeem the past. It is God that has carried us and it is God that has forgiven us and it is God that deserves the Glory for our very survival.

My favorite part of Christmas is to read Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol" and watch the Musical “Scrooge.” Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, who against his will, takes him back to a time when he was still a young man. Scrooge sees himself proposing to the woman he loved, a woman who later breaks their engagement because she realizes that he has come to love money more than her. As Scrooge watches the scene unfold, we can see the emotions playing out over his face. We can imagine what is going through his mind: What a fool he had been! How his life would have been different if he had married, if his heart hadn’t been hardened by the love of money. Perhaps that young man wouldn’t have become this wretched, bitter old miser.

Consider this: How would you like to be visited by the ghost of your past? How would you like to go back and relive your sins, your mistakes, the foolish choices that changed your life? How would you like to be forced to watch helplessly, knowing what the outcome is going to be, unable to do anything to change the result, feeling the sharp pain of regret at not having taken the other path, or at least wondering what would have happened had your choices been different. Well, for most people, there’s really no need for a nighttime visit from one of Charles Dickens’ three spirits. Because we do it to ourselves…we replay the past, again and again. We see it projected on the screen of our minds. Don’t you sometimes wish you could go back and talk to yourself at those key moments, talk to that person in the movie of your life, warn them, tell them where the road they’re taking will lead?

We’ve all experienced regret over the past. It takes many forms:

·      Regret over marriage. Imagining how much happier your life would have been if you had married someone other that person sitting next to you. Or if you’d never married that person you’re divorced from.
Regret over divorce. Regret over broken relationships of all kinds.
·      Regret over mistakes you made raising your kids.
·      Regret over bad career moves, missed business opportunities, poor vocational choices.
·      Regret at not following God’s call to the ministry, or His call to become a missionary.
·      In general, regret over all kinds of sins and their consequences. [You fill in the blank].

Now, sorrow over sin can by healthy, up to a point. It can help us learn from our mistakes so that we don’t repeat them. This is the "sadder but wiser" phenomenon. It can lead to repentance and forgiveness. But regret is anything but helpful; it’s destructive and debilitating. It allows the sins and mistakes of the past to reach out and poison our present. And if it’s not handled appropriately, it will just lead to more wrong choices and more regret, in a vicious cycle. As Paul writes,

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." -- 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)

Giving in awe over a forgiven past…redeems the past. God loves you and has and is forgiving you in everything you have done. When you respond by living in thanksgiving and awe to HIM…you sacrifice and give. What your giving to the church is the first thing on your mind … it forces you to forget your past and live in the present. 

God is Good... You know I love ya, Don

Friday, November 21, 2014

Falling Between the Chairs!

Luciano Pavariotti tells this story:

"When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song," tenor Luciano Pavarotti relates. "He urged me to work very hard to develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, I asked my father, 'Shall I be a teacher or a singer?' 

"'Luciano,' my father replied, 'if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.' 

"I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it's laying bricks, writing a book--whatever we choose--we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that's the key. Choose one chair." 

If you want to have income, influence, and impact then you have to get serious about your commitment to God and His priorities in your finances. Do your choices reflect a generous and giving heart? If not you might be falling between the chairs.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Making a living or making a life?

Making a living and making a life are two different goals. God’s priority is to be in sync in life. He tells us to lay up treasures in heaven:  1 Timothy 6:18-19 states… “do good, be rich in good deeds, and…be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

This can be a struggle. God’s priorities and ours are often in a struggle.
An Indian chief was telling his young braves about this inner struggle. The chief told them, “It is like two dogs fighting inside of us. There is a good dog who wants to do what’s right but the other dog always wants to do what’s wrong. Sometimes the good dog seems stronger and is winning the fight. But sometimes the bad dog is stronger and is winning.”
A young brave asks, “Who will win in the end?”
The chief answered, “The one you feed.”

As we look over the priorities in our lives, we may be feeding the wrong dog. If your priorities are out of sync with God then you will feed the wrong dog.

You see… it is all about priorities.

2 Corinthians 4:17-19 states it this way… “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Are you making a living or are you making a life? You know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's all about priorities!

It’s All About Priorities!

I heard about a farmer who called the office of the church asking to see “The Head Hog at the trough.”

The receptionist said, “Sir, if you’re talking about our Minster, you may call him Evangelist or Minister, but I don’t think it would be proper to refer to him as the “head Hog at the trough.’”

“Well, all right,” the farmer said. “I just sold a few sows and was going to donate ten thousand dollars to the building fund, so I was hopping to catch him.”

“Oh, just a minute, sir.” The receptionist said, “I think the big pig just walked in!”

It’s All About Priorities!
A woman was sitting next to an empty seat at the Super Bowl stadium. A man asked the woman about it. The woman explained, “It was my husband’s…but he died and I offered it to the family.” The man said to her, “I’m surprised that another relative or friend didn’t jump at the chance to take his seat.” She answered, “I don’t understand it either. But, they all decided on going to his funeral instead.”

It’s All About Priorities!

A farmer in New Mexico ran this classified ad in the Quay County Sun: “Farmer with 160 irrigated acres wants marriage-minded woman with a tractor. When replying, please send picture of the tractor.” [AP release, June 1978, Tucumcari, New Mexico]

It’s All About Priorities!

A group of friends went deer hunting and paired off in two’s for the day. That night one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the weight of a 200 pound deer. The other hunters asked, “Where’s Bob?” The lone man said, “Oh, he had a stroke of some kind, he’s a couple of miles back up the trail.” The other hunters were shocked and asked why he left Bob laying there to carry the deer instead. “It was a tough call,” the hunter said, “but I figured no one was going to steal Bob.”

It’s All About Priorities!

God desire for His followers to strategically and intentionally schedule our priorities or our priorities will schedule us. God’s priority is that we are in sync with Him and His Priorities.

What are your priorities this Thanksgiving season? You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Great giving is giving prayerfully!

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” In Malachi God encourages His people to trust him and test him on this…it is God that desires for us to have a relationship.

A man took his small son with him to town one day to run some errands. When lunch time arrived, the two of them went to a familiar diner for a sandwich. The father sat down on one of the stools at the counter and lifted the boy up to the seat beside him. They ordered lunch, and when the waiter brought the food, the father said, "Son, we'll just have a silent prayer." Dad got through praying first and waited for the boy to finish his prayer, but he just sat with his head bowed for an unusually long time. When he finally looked up, his father asked him, "What in the world were you praying about all that time?" With the innocence and honesty of a child, he replied, "How do I know? It was a silent prayer."
This is exactly how many of us pray about our finances…we pray silently. God is very interested in you and your gifts and your offerings. A word of caution…He might tell you something that you do not want to hear. My advice, It is better to hear it in this life than wait and regret your unwillingness in the next life.

So - Pray that your gift will be used in a great way, ask God how much you should give to your church and charities, then thank God for what He has used your gifts for, and finally thank God that you are able to give. 

You know I love ya, Don

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Great giving is giving out of your poverty...

Money is just a piece of paper until I do something with it. God is owner of everything. He reclaimed all of life in his death, burial, and resurrection. The tremendous responsibility is then laid on us to act responsibly with the gifts, treasures, and wealth that God has allowed us to be caretaker. God’s people are made great in their giving.

So how do God’s people live in greatness… Zig Ziglar says; “You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”  The same applies to our tithes and offerings… “We don’t have to be great to start giving, but we have to start giving to be great.

Great giving is giving out of your Poverty

Another way of saying it, is “Give until it hurts” or to say, “Give Sacrificially.” In our text God reveals he is the same yesterday, today, and will be the same tomorrow! He has not changed. He is creator of it all and we think we can manipulate it but holding on to our small little piece… if you want to be great, you give out of your poverty.

Jimmy Stewart in the movie Shenandoah plays a farmer who has a bunch of sons. The Boys are of fighting age and the father will not let them go off to fight. The family gets the reputation of sitting out the war. There is a scene where they are all around the dinner table and they bow their heads for prayer. Jimmy Stewart says “Lord we planted this seed, we watered the plants, we picked the food and we cooked it, we did it all ourselves, we worked dog bone hard for this but we thank you just the same amen” 

The prayer is foreshadowing of the Stewart's character that is not willing to give everything up. He is still thinking about Himself. He would have to willing to give up his sons to protect prize Shenandoah.
People who give sacrificially know that they worked hard for what they take home, but they also know that God blessed them and provided for them. When you give sacrificially you are saying “Lord I want you to be God of my whole life, and my giving needs to reflect that.”

People who give sacrificially trust in God to provide. They are not only socially secure in Jesus they are spiritually secure in Jesus as well.

Do you give out of your poverty?

You know I love ya, Don 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What are you willing to give? - "The Neckless"

The cheerful little girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them, a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. “Oh Mommy please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?” Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl’s upturned face. “A dollar ninety-five – that’s almost $2.00. If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you, and in no time, you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday is only a week away, and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma.”

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out seventeen pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill, and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace. Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere — Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy, and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night as he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?” “Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.”

“Then give me your pearls.”
“Oh, daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess, the white horse from my collection, the one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She’s my very favorite.” “That’s okay, Honey, Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss. About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, “Do you love me?” “Daddy, you know I love you.”

“Then give me your pearls.”

“Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper.” “That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you.” And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. “What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?” Jenny didn’t say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, “Here, Daddy, this is for you.”

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime store necklace, and with the other hand, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her the genuine treasure. So it is, with our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to give up the cheap things in our lives so that he can give us beautiful treasures.

“The Necklace” — Author Unknown

What are you holding onto that is keeping you from totally loving your heavenly creator? You know I love ya, Don

Monday, November 3, 2014

What is a Tithe for today?

Leviticus 27:30 says, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.” The Old Testament standard of giving was the tithe, and this principle is found many places throughout the Old Testament. It was among the earliest laws of the Israelites. The idea was that 10% of what they owned belonged to God, therefore it was holy. It was to be set aside for him and not used for common purposes. It was sacred. God was claiming ownership of 10% of everything the Israelites owned. They had worked for their food and money, but it was God who blessed them with crops and herds, and the ability to work. Out of gratefulness to him they were to return a tenth of everything to him. And when they acknowledged God’s ownership of 10% of their belongings God made a promise. Malachi 3:10 says, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’”

You may say, “Yes, that is all very well and good, but that is the Old Testament. What about the New Testament?

Tithing is not even mentioned in the New Testament.” You are correct. The New Testament standard for giving is not the tithe. The New Testament has a totally different pattern for stewardship than the Old Testament. To understand the New Testament concept of giving we have to look at the story of the Rich Young Ruler. This young man came to Jesus in search of heaven, and asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ response was to explain that he must first follow the basic laws of God — the ten commandments. The young man replied that he had kept all of the commandments from his youth. And then Jesus completely astounded him by saying, “Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). The Bible sadly reports, “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

What was Jesus saying to this young man? He was giving the New Testament principle of stewardship, and that principle is this: Whereas the Old Testament taught us that 10% of everything we own belongs to God, the New Testament, and in particular Jesus, is teaching us that all we have belongs to God. The Old Testament was a partial picture of a greater truth. The Old Testament showed us that God had certain claims on our lives, but the New Testament shows us the full extent of those claims. God does not just own a part of me; he owns all of me. To acknowledge this and live this way is an act of worship. The New Testament principle of giving without hesitation is the declaration of how much God is worth in your life. When we come into contact with God we dare not be stingy for we serve a great and awesome God. As an act of worship we acknowledge that he owns all that we have.

Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). The point is not whether you will literally give away all you have, but whether or not you recognize God’s complete and unconditional ownership of all you possess. We are talking about an entirely new attitude toward life. This is true worship.

Is your giving an act of worship in your life? You know I love ya, Don