Crossroads

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At a crossroads – which way do I go?
Do I go left?
Do I go right?
I don’t know, for the unknown scares me.
The indecision is almost paralyzing.
The choices are overwhelming.
The pros and cons are confusing.
Nothing is making sense.
I can’t make this decision.
Help me!
Help me!
Is God testing me saying, “Trust Me“?
Is Satan tempting me saying, “Trust yourself“?
I don’t know.
Do I go left?
Do I go right?
Do I stay?
Maybe that’s it, but now I am even more confused.
Help me!
Help me!
I won’t be at peace until I know what to do.
Almighty God, help me.
I am Yours.

I Am Yours

Oh Lord my God,
I called You and You heard me.
I pleaded to You and You receive me.
I inquired of You and You answered me.
For You are my God and I will follow You.
You are my King and I will serve You.
You are my Father and I will obey You.
Send now, oh God, Your Holy Spirit.
Guide me
Lead me
Speak to me
May I not turn from Your ways to chase after worthless desires.
May I not run after vain pursuits.
Show me how I am to serve You that others may see Your glory.
For You are an awesome god who is above all other gods,
For from You and in You is Life.
And so, as I travel this path You laid out for me,
May I keep my eyes on You.
May I not turn back.
May I not second guess you.
Oh Lord my God,
I am Yours.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

This Time

Speeding down the freeway at breakneck speed.
Life rushing by in the blink of an eye.
I barely have time to smell the roses.
I barely have time to enjoy the journey.
Twists and turns
Bumps and potholes
Curves and hills
Dangers all around but I can certainly handle this, right?
Then…
A fork approaches.
Indecision is not an option, but…
Do I go left?
Do I go right?
Indecision has captured me.
Indecision has become my prison.
Help me
Help me!
Dangers are all around but why am I driving?!?
I don’t know the road.
Indecision. Help me!
God, take the wheel.
Go left
Go right
Either way, as long as I am with You.
Now…
Speeding down the freeway at breakneck speed.
This time and every time,
God is at the wheel.
This time and every time,
I’m smelling the roses.
This time and every time,
I will enjoy the journey.

Solomon’s Request

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
1 Kings 3:9 (ESV)

Solomon was wise in his request and thus God gave him a discerning mind (wisdom) to lead God’s people. And this request is also my request, not because I am wise in asking for this but rather I am realistic. I look at the congregation God has called me to lead and I am not so vain to think that God called me here because I am so wise. On the contrary, God called me here because God wants to use me to do something great for His church, and thus all glory goes to God. Yet, I am overwhelmed and scared silly at the task at hand. As I pray each week, Oh God, I am not a good speaker or preacher and thus if this task were left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin, I also plead with God using Solomon’s request:

Oh God, give your servant an understanding mind to lead your church, that I may discern between good and evil, and what your will is; for who is able to lead your great church.

This is my prayer.
This is my request.

And may this be the prayer for all pastors and leaders in the church. May we never be so vain as to think that we are good enough or talented enough to lead in the church. The day that vain ambition takes over in a leader’s heart is the day the church heads down the road to destruction; following a leader that has lost their way. Learn and study Solomon’s request and make it your own.

Grant me a discerning mind, oh God, that I may lead your church rightly;
Grant me wisdom, oh God, that I may seek Your will;

Grant me understanding, oh God, that I may teach others rightly;
for this call is too great for me to do alone.
All glory be unto You, oh God, through Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen

The Pastor -|—

 

Your Will, We Pray

Father God,
full of love and mercy,
You have promised to hear us as we pray
and to give us each day our daily bread,
and for that we praise You.
Teach us to trust You better
and to seek Your will,
so we may see each prayer as answered according to Your holy will.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

To Silence Satan’s Laugh

And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.[John 17:11]

I listened to a sermon recently where the pastor talked about oneness as the Father and the Son are one; using the above text. But something he said really caught my attention. He said that when we, as a church, get caught up in disputes or controversies or anything that takes our eyes off of Christ, Satan laughs.

He laughs.

Why?

Satan laughs because he won as he managed to get the church to take their eyes off of Christ. And ultimately that is what Satan is trying to do with all people. For you see, sin is a turning inward to see yourself as god; trusting oneself over God almighty. And when we look inward, we see only our agenda and our will. And let me tell you, our agenda and our will is not God’s.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. [Isaiah 55:8-9]

And Satan knows this and thus tries get us to focus on ourselves. For if Satan can divert our attention away from Jesus, then the church is not going to be the church as God wants. In scripture, the relationship of Jesus and the Church is like that of a husband and a wife, but only better. But if a wife (the Church) is not focused on her husband (Jesus); or worse yet, looking for another, the marriage is in trouble. And therefore, as the Church, we need to be one with Christ. For it is only by looking to Christ that we see his purpose and will for our lives. And that purpose? Is to be one as the Father and the Son are one. And when we are in one accord with the Father, the Kingdom of God is advanced. We are called to glorify God through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ whereby letting the Holy Spirit add to “the numbers”.

But that won’t happen if the church is turned in upon itself. The Church MUST be Christ focused. The Church MUST humble itself before the throne of God. The Church MUST lay it’s burdens down and trust God to care for it’s needs. The Church MUST remain focused. The Church MUST be one as the Father and the Son (and the Holy Spirit) are one.

And so my prayer for the Church; the congregations I am leaving and the one I am heading to shortly, is that we are one; one in purpose. May our eyes remain fixed on Jesus, so much so, that we give no occasion for Satan to laugh.

All praise, honor, glory and worship be unto God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Pastor -|—

P.S. If you want to listen to the sermon I referenced at the beginning, follow the below link.

Sermon by Pastor Gary Jepsen, May 1

Morning devotions ~ What you really need to hear

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. [Matthew 21:21-22]

Oh how these verses have been misunderstood and misapplied.
Oh how these verses have been abused and therefore have caused many people to go astray.

If you believe right and have enough faith you can get what you want and “live your best life now”. This is the mantra of the prosperity gospel (not THE Gospel of Jesus Christ). The likes of Joel Osteen have championed this theology and have garnered many adherents, thus leading many people astray. And the reason these prosperity theologians are so “successful” is that this message is something people think they need to hear.

Give me the secret to success.
Tell me how I can be happy now.
How can I feel fulfilled?
How can I live my best life now?

Everything is about this life, now, and nothing about the life to come. It’s about manipulating and controlling God to get what you want. Throw in talk of Jesus and faith and you have enough to trick people into thinking this theology is legit; from the Bible.

Lord have mercy.

But what was Jesus really teaching in Matthew 21 about faith and prayer? Was he giving us a magic formula to get what we want out of prayer?

Absolutely not!

Two things are being shown:
(1) You may have faith, but you still doubt.
(2) If you truly know God you will ask according to God’s will, not your own. It’s then that you receive what you pray for.

The big difference here is that it is not about your happiness now (your will) but your eternal joy (God’s will). It’s about aligning your will with God’s will. It’s about humbling yourself and admitting that you are a sinner. It’s about realizing that without Jesus you can not get out of this world alive. It’s about realizing that you are meant to glorify God and enjoy him forever. This life may be crappy but you still can have joy; that is if you believe Jesus is your Lord and Savior.

So don’t be fooled by false prophets and self-serving prosperity theologians by trying to reach for and cling to happiness in this life now but rather place your faith in Jesus Christ and cling to the hope of the resurrection. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it is about how you have faith rather than who you have faith in.

Jesus is life and salvation and therefore the source of true joy. That right there will give you peace. And THAT my friends is what you really need to hear.

Have a blessed day enjoying God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Pastor -|—

Eyes of Faith

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
[1 John 5:13-15]

A big misconception I keep running into about the Christian faith is that we can somehow get what we want from God when we pray.

If we live the right kind of life.
If we are kind to others.
If we volunteer enough.
If we serve in the church.
If we bring hot meals to the home bound.
If we are “good” people (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that one).
If we ask in the right way.
Etc, etc, etc…

And when people don’t get what they want they become disillusioned  about God and the whole point of even trying to be a Christian.  The problem isn’t that God is being a bully but that we are not understanding who God is and what our relationship looks like.  We are not understanding our place in this creation and what God has called us to be.  Despite what Joel Osteen says we can’t get what we want from God if we try really hard or have the right attitude.

It’s not about us or getting what we want when we want it, it’s about giving praise and glory to God.

Scripture repeatedly talks about praying according to God’s will.  The problem is that sometimes our will doesn’t line up with God’s will.  In that case we need to pray for understanding and patience.  We need to have eyes of faith to see what God is up to.  We need to understand that we are to draw others to God and we do that by living according to God’s will.

It might not be God’s will that you get that promotion or new job.
It might not be God’s will that your child get’s into that Ivy League school.
It might not be God’s will that healing comes.

But God’s will…whatever it is…WILL be awesome, because, well…it’s from our sovereign God.

So the next time you pray open your eyes of faith and watch God do His thing.  And the more we do that the more we come in line with his will.  And what a place to be.

edh -|—

Your will O God

Almighty and loving God, I do not know what exactly to pray for.  I want to pray for your will to be done but I also want my will to be done.  It’s silly to say this ~ silly even to think this, but I need to be honest with myself for you already know my heart.

That is why I need to ask you to:
Strengthen my faith
Grant me wisdom
Give me patience

For you have a grand plan in place for me.
You have something special planned for me.
You are preparing me for something great.

I just know it O God ~ I just know it.

So don’t let Satan get a foothold in my life. 
Don’t let him distract me from what is important.
Don’t let him keep me from focusing my gaze on you.  For you are my life.

So here I am ~ praying to you. O God grant me what I need. And may your will be done in my life.

Amen

-edh-

Monday morning check in — God’s power and strength

It is weeks like this when I am reminded of my weakness; reminded of the fact that I can not do this alone.  Last Friday my cell phone rang and when I looked at it, the call ID told me it was the funeral director.  That is never a good sign.  Upon answering the phone I was told that G had died on Thursday.  Now get this…her and her husband had been married for 72 years.  That’s right…72 years…that no typo.  I think that is absolutely amazing.  What an inspiration those two have been to many people.  One of the cute stories I have heard about them is that at the young of age 90+ they would sit out on the porch and G’s husband would sing “You are my sunshine” to her.  G is going to be missed by many.

On Saturday I got another call on my cell phone from the funeral director.  This didn’t make me as nervous since we were already planning one funeral.  But this call was about another one…this time out at Belmont.  The deceased lived in Sun City, AZ and is being flown up here for the funeral and burial.  I don’t know this woman but I know the family.

So my week is shaping up like this:  Funerals on Tuesday and Friday mornings; visitations on Monday and Thursday evenings; I have confirmation and Release Time lessons to plan; and Sunday worship and sermon prep…among with other things that come up during the week.  Like I said earlier…there is no way I can do this on my own.  I pray, God Almighty, to give me strength and focus do serve His children and provide the care that they need.  During busy times like this it is easy to let some things slide and not do your best, but when you rely on God’s power and strength, then God’s Will will indeed be done.

Praise be to God!

-edh-