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Sunday, May 29, 2011

An Open Appeal to Writers and Poets

To my fellow writers and poets,

I humbly submit this as an appeal to you to do more.  Do more with what you have been endowed with as natural gifts and abilities as well as the developed and enriched skills that you have worked on for years. 

Do good with what you do, offering creative writing classes and assistance to at-risk youth and juvenile offenders, court schools and alternative schools, even group homes.  Donate copies of your books and publications to be placed in site libraries at senior centers, charter schools and community libraries.  Partner with local youth-serving nonprofits to raise money through poetry slams, spoken word events, open mic shows and similar ventures.
Let us still be creative artists, but let us work towards becoming difference-makers.  Let us become activists as well as artists.

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When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
- Hosea 11:1 (NIV)

The prophet Hosea does not seem like a likely candidate to offer a prophecy on Jesus Christ.  Nevertheless, this biblical prophecy about the Messiah emerges from the object lesson emerges from this minor prophet.  God uses Hosea just like he can use any us to accomplish anything that He desires to do.  I learned after reading Andrew Murray's God's Plans for You that God can use us in all sorts of ways.

Those of the faith are the "called out." God calls us out from among the world to stand out among the world.  He causes us to live differently.  He calls us out to make us useful. 

God calls on us to use us.  After making us useful, He can choose to use us for His glory.  He can call on us and He should be able to count on us.  If God gave you an assignment like He did with Hosea, could He count on you to through on it?  Would you bring glory to God by how you handled it?

Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.- Psalm 115:3 (NIV)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Encircle New People

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. - Acts 2:42-47 (KJV)

The people of God are called to serve God by living out their new faith in a new way.  Each believer is called to live as a "new creation" according to 2 Corinthians 5:17. The early church was full of the Holy Spirit fresh from the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.  These believers gathered and shared with one another in all sorts of ways.  They had fellowship and prayed together, enjoying worship and fellowship with one another.

And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

As new converts come into the church today, we need to encircle them.  As we encircle them,  let us embrace them with the love of Christ.  We should encourage new believers to learn all that they can about Christ as He appears in the Scriptures.  We must do our best to support these new believers in growing in Christ.

If we offer our love and support to the new people who come into our midst, we must trust God to strengthen us further to handle more people coming into the church.  The more people who come in will require the people of the church to do more, too.  We will need to be able to handle people coming out of prison and recovery programs just like people returning from college and those coming off of welfare and unemployment.  Let us learn to be useful and fruitful, "maintaining good works" as we do so.

A Message in Malachi

Ye have wearied Jehovah with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? In that ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of Jehovah, and he delighteth in them; or where is the God of justice?- Malachi 2:17 (ASV)

If you have heard many of the sermons encouraging individuals to "bring all of the tithes into the storehouse" and receiving a blessing that you do not have "room enough to receive," you most probably are familiar with the message of the Book of Malachi to some degree.  It has been used to urge the reluctant to release their hold on money and let God have His due as the Lord God who changes not.  It has long been used as a one-way directive from the pulpit to the pews regarding the submission of one to the Lord's calling for tithes and offerings.  Unfortunately, this is not the entire message of Malachi.

The Minor Prophets: Micah-Malachi Volume 2 (Expositional Commentary)What Preachers Never Tell You About Tithes & Offerings: The End of Clergy Manipulation & ExtortionMalachi speaks to the priests and the people.  The prophet has a message that deals with the coming of the Lord and His messenger as well as the failure of God's people and His priests to keep their covenants and obey His ordinances.  Read the entire message of Malachi to get the full meaning of it.  Don't take someone else's word for it.  Read it for yourself.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Healed and Helped

NIV Thinline Bible6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.- John 5:6-8 (NIV)

Expect A Miracle, My Life and MinistryThe Greatest Adventure Stories From the Bible: The Miracles of JesusOral Roberts is quoted as sharing how Jesus desires to heal the whole person, not just the part that is ailing them.  Jesus asked the man who laid among many invalids such as the blind and lame did he want to be made well.  He did not ask if the man wanted to get his feet healed or to get help moving into the pool as the angel troubled the water.  No, Jesus asked the man about his desire to be made whole.  Jesus asks this of the lame man by the pool.  The lame man lacked initiative to the point where he did not ask anything of Jesus.  When asked by Jesus, he just went into his sob story about not having anyone to push him into the pool.

Wilt Thou Be Made Whole?: Healings in the Gospels Jesus did not ask that.

Despite the man's response, Jesus healed him.  Jesus helped him.  Jesus performed a miracle in the midst of the lame and the sick.  He did so for this man and commanded him to do something for himself, too.

Jesus expects the same of you.  He wants you to get up off your duff and do something.  He's not healing you from your wounds for your own good.  He's not helping you just for the sake of helping you.  I have said it before and I will say it again: God wants something for us and He wants something from us.  Perhaps, some of us are not getting what God wants for us because we are not giving God what He wants from us.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Share Christ

Zondervan NIV Study Bible40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. - John 1:40-42 (NIV)

Sandals in the Dust-Lives of the 12 ApostlesAndrew, the brother of Simon Peter, demonstrates the urgency of sharing Christ with others, especially friends and family.  He heard John the Baptist speak of the Lamb of God and immediately found his own brother.  He told him about Christ and he took him to Christ.  He did not leave it at simply sharing Christ as a conversation.  He led his brother to where he could meet Christ himself.
How to Share Christ ConfidentlyWe need to understand how to share Christ and show people the way to Christ.  We can still introduce people to Christ.  We can still lead people to Christ.  We must be sure of our relationship with Christ and sure to share that relationship with others.
Make sure that you make an effort to share Christ with those whom you love.  Don't delay.  Be sure to share Him honestly and openly with others.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Taught in Prayer

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Training of the Twelve by A.B. BruceWe find, accordingly, that prayer was a subject on which Jesus often spoke in the hearing of His disciples. - A.B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve 

Jesus taught His disciples in prayerHe demonstrated how to pray in what we have come to commonly call "The Lord's Prayer" or "The Model Prayer." In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord discussed prayer aspects such as when and how to prayHe offered warnings to not pray like hypocrites, seeking to be seen or heard praying before others.
The Beatitudes and The Lords Prayer: Matthew 5:1-12 Matthew 6:9-15 Sermon SeriesThe Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth: The Jefferson BibleAs A.B. Bruce shares in his classic Christian book, The Training of the Twelve, prayer was a subject that Jesus shared with His disciples often.  In light of this, the Christian believer must earnestly seek out the Lord's instructions on and model of prayer.  You may not pray the very words of Jesus, reciting and repeating them over and over, but you should certainly spend some time meditating on these verses rather than just simply memorizing them.  The red letters of the New Testament offer the believer both edification and enlightenment in prayer as our chief resource in communicating with God the Father.

How to PrayFind your way into a new realm of prayer.  Discover more about prayer and how to pray in order to become more committed to praying.  Go to the Lord's Word and seek His guidance on prayer.

tBecoming a Man of Prayer: A Seven-Week Strategy Based on the Instructions of JesusGuidepostsMen of Integrity
Amen Me!