Easter - 2018

Monday, March 30, 2015

A New Perspective!

Mark 11:11 states: “Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything.”

We find another often overlooked detail in the clamor of Palm Sunday in the last verse  At the end of this incredible day. He is at the Temple and the commotion is everywhere and he sees the money changes and the lack of people paying attention to what is right in the eyes of God. The people are out of perspective of God’s provision, direction, and ultimately relationship.

Perspective is defined as: “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view:”

Jesus does not set up a command center in Jerusalem that night … He leaves the city and goes to the suburb of Bethany…we assume to spend the night with His beloved friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Jesus was not the kind of Messiah the people of Jerusalem expected, and yet they were right to greet Him as a king. Jesus, God’s son, enters he bring the perspective of mercy. He won’t release the people from Roman occupation or take revenge upon their enemies, but He will offer them redemption!

A young couple rented a vacation cottage for a week. One afternoon the husband looked out a window at the swimming pool and exclaimed, "Let's change our clothes and go get some exercise!" His wife, who was washing the dishes in the kitchen and looking out the window watching some people play tennis, quickly agreed. While she dressed for a tennis match, he put on his swimming trunks. The window a person chooses to look out at the world often determines that individual's perception of reality. 

Jesus said in Matthew 6:33-34; "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

When Jesus enters our perspective is changed to seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness. 

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When Jesus enters He brings healing!

When Jesus enters He brings healing … Here Comes Jesus!… turning over the tables.

Matthew 21:14 “The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.”

Preacher/author Tony Campolo tells a story about being in a church in Oregon where he was asked to pray for a man who had cancer. Campolo prayed boldly for the man’s healing. That next week he got a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said, "You prayed for my husband. He had cancer."

Campolo thought when he heard her use the past tense verb that his cancer had been eradicated! But before he could think much about it she said, "He died." Compolo felt terrible. But she continued, "Don’t feel bad. When he came into that church that Sunday he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God.”

She said, “He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up. He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger grew towards God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. It was an awful thing to be in his presence.”

But the lady told Compolo, "After you prayed for him, Jesus came and gave him peace.  Peace had come over him and a joy had come into him. Tony, the last three days have been the best days of our lives. We’ve sung. We’ve laughed. We’ve read Scripture. We prayed. Oh, they’ve been wonderful days. And I called to thank you for laying your hands on him and praying for healing."

And then she said something incredibly profound. She said, "He wasn’t cured, but he was healed."

While Jesus may not heal certain physical infirmities that we have, He does want to bring healing to our spirits. I’m not saying that Jesus can’t bring physical healing, it’s just that we don’t see that happening all the time. And hopefully, all of us know that our ultimate healing will come in heaven.

Romans 5:6 states: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” You and I are ungodly without Jesus and His healing.  

Here Comes Jesus!… turning over the tables.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Jesus enters He calls for prayer!

When Jesus enters He calls for prayer … Here Comes Jesus!… turning over the tables.

Matthew 21:13 "It is written," he said to them, "’My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ’den of robbers’."

Our house should be a “house of prayer” but often it’s a house of confusion and conformity. Confusion, because we allow the rush of the day to invade us to the point where God is shoved out and we have no time to talk to God.

Conformity, because we are conformed to the surroundings around us instead of drawing aside to have some quiet time with God. But God wants us to be a people of prayer. Not simple, surface prayers, but prayers that penetrate our own hearts and the heart of God.

The early African converts to Christianity were faithful to pray. Each one reportedly had separate spots in the thicket where they poured out their hearts to God. The several paths to these spots became distinctly marked; and when any one began to decline in prayer time, it was soon apparent to others. They would then kindly remind him, saying, “Brother, the grass grows on your path.”

What about you? Does the grass grow on your path to God? For the Christian, prayer should be one of the most natural things we do every day, every hour of the day.

Phil. 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Karen is the best minister’s wife…she is a prayer warrior. We pray as a family in the morning and before we go to bed. Now Karen hears the fire whistle and she is praying. I hear it a night and think, “Oh great, this is going to wake up the children.” Then I hear Karen praying for the firefighters and those in need of help. We are driving down the road and she sees a car on the side or an accident and she starts to pray…She is lifting in intercession and she is guarding the heart with prayer.

When we pray… Here Comes Jesus!… turning over the tables.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Peace in our fear!

            Matthew 14:26, “When the disciples saw him waling on the Lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” They said, and cried out in fear.” Just as they crumble… Here Comes Jesus!… walking on the water

Emotional storms within us can be as hard to handle as external physical ones. Grief, fear, and worry can cause us to be in great turmoil. To see us through the rough times of life, God provides His protection and peace. But protection does not mean that troubles won’t occur. Jesus allowed the disciples to experience the fear and anxiety of being in a boat on a turbulent sea. He permitted them to suffer because He has something far more important in mend He wanted to teach them to recognize their own helplessness, His sufficiency, and their need of Him. The same principle applies to us as well.

The peace that God provides is not dependent upon the quieting of our circumstances or the removal of external pressures. Nor does it mean the absence of conflict. The promised peace comes in three ways.

-       First, Jesus Himself becomes our peace. Through His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus has reconciled (that is to make us friends again) with God. We are no longer enemies with God. In God we can rest.
-       Second, When in right relationship with the Father, we have the ability to live at peace with others. Through God, we have the power to choose to forgive, to keep no record of wrongs, and to show love to people who oppose us.
-       Third, the transforming work of the Holy Spirit enables us to experience an increasing sense of inner tranquility.

So, in our fear … Here Comes Jesus!… walking on the water! You know I love ya, Don

Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick ... the rest of the story

Patrick lived in the fifth century, a time of rapid change and transition. In many ways we might say that those times of turbulence and uncertainty were not unlike our own. The Roman Empire was beginning to break up, and Europe was about to enter the so-called Dark Ages. Rome fell to barbarian invaders in 410. Within ten years of that time, the Roman forces began to leave Britain to return to Rome to defend positions back home. Life, once so orderly and predictable under Roman domination, now became chaotic and uncertain. Patrick entered the world of that time.
Patrick was born Patricius somewhere in Roman Britain to a relatively wealthy family. He was not religious as a youth and, in fact, claims to have practically renounced the faith of his family. While in his teens, Patrick was kidnapped in a raid and transported to Ireland, where he was enslaved to a local warlord and worked as a shepherd until he escaped six years later. He returned home and eventually undertook studies for the priesthood with the intention of returning to Ireland as a missionary to his former captors. It is not clear when he actually made it back to Ireland, or for how long he ministered there, but it was definitely for a number of years. By the time he wrote the Confession and the "Letter to Coroticus," Patrick was recognized by both Irish natives and the Church hierarchy as the bishop of Ireland. By this time, also, he had clearly made a permanent commitment to Ireland and intended to die there. Scholars have no reason to doubt that he did. He died on March 17 the day we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick…took the circumstances of the day and turns them to his and God’s benefit. For example, Many see a four-leaf clover as Irish and for St. Patrick’s day. That is not true… St. Patrick used what were all over the hillside of Ireland…three leafed shamrocks to teach about the three aspects of God…father God the Creator, …the Son Jesus, the Redeemer, … the Holy Spirit living within believers, the comforter. 

You know I love ya, Don 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Take time to rest!

Our culture invites us into constant activity and exhaustion.  In our world of unending hurry, we are trained to fear silence and even to avoid rest itself as a sign of insignificance (if we’re not working or doing something productive, who are we, anyway?).  Thank God that this is not what Jesus invites us into.  Any one who reads Matthew 6 or John 15 will have a hard time missing Jesus’ vision of a slow life of trust and surrender.  And the Bible makes is clear that Sabbath, as a discipline we engage for the sake of our souls, is essential for establishing a healthy, whole rhythm for life.  In Sabbath, we acknowledge our limitations.  And we acknowledge that we need a rest far greater than what 24-hour break can provide.

Taken into consideration, the Sabbath rest is an act of intention. God commanded us in Exodus 20: 8-10: Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gate”. Believers should consider the Sabbath as a day of retreat; one in which we honor our Creator, cease from work and remove ourselves for a while from the stress, mental challenges and physical fatigue that labor often brings. We draw away, whether we enjoy our occupation not. Your Sabbath does not necessarily have to be Sunday, but could be any day of the week set aside to come apart from work in order to rest. In doing so, we not only gain physical respite but also experience the blessing of having spent time in the presence and worship of our God. This is why it is so critically important that we worship as a body of believers to encourage and uplift each other to our Creator for restoration and hope.

This discipline restores and replenishes the soul. Rest is important. It has been scientifically proven that lack of rest affects our immune system, our ability to handle stress, our thought processes, and even our ability to work. This discipline of a Sabbath rest not only rejuvenates us spiritually, but physically and emotionally as well. A healthy follower of Jesus Christ is one who takes time to rest. 

You know I love ya, Don 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Why Pray?

One might ask, “Why do we need to practice prayer as a discipline?” We have severely impaired attention spans because of our fallen, sinful nature. In prayer we attend our minds to God, and all too often that attention lasts for a few seconds. We begin our prayer with "Heavenly Father," and it is not long before our minds are meandering off; attending to anything other than the One we began to address. It is for this reason that we must undertake prayer as a spiritual discipline — to enable ourselves to attain the single-mindedness necessary to attend to the God-who-is-present. It is also vital for us to understand that prayer, just as every other discipline, is a learning process. We will find ourselves distracted. We will notice our minds wandering among the countless concerns of the day. However, as we continue in the paths of prayer, our meanders will be shorter and less frequent.

Prayer is conversation or communication with God. It involves both speaking and listening. So often we pray as if it were a monologue. But prayer is so much more than talking to God. In fact, the seasoned prayer warrior knows that prayer is more about listening than talking. Soren Kierkegaard said, "A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening." And this makes sense because God knows much more than we do — and He knows it a whole lot better than we do.

Prayer is opening our lives to God for change. Prayer is recognition that God is God and we are not, and so in prayer we yield our desires to God's. Jesus prayed, "Not my will but yours." In prayer we ask God to change the way we see other people, life, and our circumstances. When you look at other people and your situation, see the eyes of Christ. It is then that transformation happens.

 You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

God's Encouragement - Build the relationship

To receive God’s encouragement is to view yourself as God’s friend. We have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  The means by which we build our relationship with God is through PRAYER. Prayer is the communication between God and the Believers. It is through our time in prayer that He speaks to us and we can speak to Him.

The Bible never gives us a specific command for how much time we should spend in prayer. The closest we come is when it says, “pray without ceasing”. The reason why I believe is because if there was a command given we would see prayer as routine and an obligation rather than a privilege and an opportunity to communicate with the Almighty God. Sadly, in the midst of all this busyness people often fail to take time for the things that are most important…prayer, and they wonder why they are discouraged.

Why is it that people in their busyness are usually busy with the wrong and less important things? I have heard countless people that have lament how much time they spent working to the neglect of their families.

Jesus spent a lot of time doing a lot of things, but we see in spite of that there were two things he was never too busy for. He was never too busy for people and He was never too busy for prayer. Countless times as he got flooded with people he withdrew and prayed. Many times we have the mindset that we are too busy to pray, but I want to tell you that we may be too busy not to pray.

I have heard it said, that when we work we work, but when we pray, God works. The best source for encouragement is to take time to pray to the Lord.  Next weekend will be a great source of renewal and encouragement. It is my hope that you are signed-up for the prayer walk, that you will come next Saturday for the Fresh Touch Prayer service (6 PM), and then make prayer a basic necessity to your daily life.

In our unity of spirit and mind, we are reminded that we are to live with endurance and encouragement. The endurance comes in our step by step pressing toward the mark … our encouragement comes in our daily routine of prayer and building our relationship with God.

Ephesians 6:18 states; “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

God’s example is to endure and to seek encouragement…these are both found in pressing on and praying without ceasing. It is then that we will sharpen our axe and be found faithful in our daily lives. 

I pray for you often and you know I love ya, Don

Monday, March 2, 2015

Prayer Experience 2015

What is prayer? Prayer is simply conversing with God. It is communion with God. We converse with people all the time. Husbands and wives talk together. Close friends get together to visit. Prayer is just doing with God, what you do with people all the time. We can’t have a close relationship with another person without spending time communicating with them. It’s exactly the same with God. We can’t have a close relationship with God without spending time talking with Him. 
When should we pray?  Jesus once told a parable to show that at all times we ought to pray and not to lose heart (Luke 18:1). Paul instructed the Thessalonians that they should pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). The apostle Paul would often begin his letters saying that he was praying always for them, that he did not cease to pray for them, and that he prayed for them night and day (Col.1:3; Col.1:9; 1Thess.3:10).

How should we pray? Jesus instructed us how not to pray. He told us not to pray using meaningless repetitions, or to be seen of men (Mt. 6:5,7).
The New Testament teaches us that we are to pray:
  1. With faith:  “All things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Mt. 21:22)
  2. According to God’s will: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14-15)
  3. In the Holy Spirit: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20)
  4. With devotion: “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer” (Rom.12:12)
  5. With thanksgiving: “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving”) Col. 4:2
  6. Earnestly:  “As we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith” (1 Thess.3:10)
  7. Being on the alert for all the saints: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph.6:18)
If you have not already committed to the Prayer Walk, Fresh Touch Prayer Service and Prayer Sunday, please carve time and make it a priority. We make it vision at HCC to CONNECT with Jesus and with each other. Our prayer experience weekend is an optimal time to connect. For more information, go to www.howardchristianchurch.org

You know I love ya...and pray for you often. Don