Articles

Following Jesus In Our Work Luke 9:23

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2014 by grosey

Pastor Steve spoke on Sunday about the dominion of daily Work, the Drudgery, dignity and duty of daily Work. He then turned to something above our work.

What struck you from the message on Sunday?

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. 25 What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels.

“Too many churches are looking for decisions. Jesus is looking for disciples.” What is the difference?

What do you think is the difference in a half-hearted follower of Jesus and someone who is all in?

1. Deny Yourself (Luke 9:23)

1) What are the first 2 words of this verse (23)?

2) How do they affect what Jesus is saying? Is He trying to force anyone to follow Him?

3) How does Jesus describe being His disciple in this verse? We always say salvation is free, but is there a cost?

4) What does it mean to deny oneself? (Greek, “deny” means to lose sight of yourself, or to forget yourself).

5) How does denying yourself differ from works-based salvation? Is this something we must do in order to be saved, or because we have been saved? And what is the difference in the two?

6) Discuss the view of self-denial in Australia

2. Die to Yourself (Luke 9:23-24)

7) What did Jesus mean by, “Take up your cross?” What was the cross used for in His time?

8) How does verse 24 go on to describe dying to yourself?

9) How do you lose your life, practically speaking, in order to save it?

10) In this passage, Jesus is basically boiling life down to 2 choices: You can keep your life for yourself and eventually lose it; or you can lose your life to Jesus and eternally keep it. Compare these 2 choices. Be practical!

3. Devote Yourself (Luke 9:23-25)

11) What else does this verse say we must choose to do daily?

12) What does it mean to “follow” Christ daily?

13) Jim Elliott, a missionary to South America, said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Discuss this statement.

14) What does it mean to gain the world, yet lose your soul (verse 25)?

Articles

Faith on Monday Our Finances

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2014 by grosey

 

Ian spoke to us this week about our Finances.  What struck you most from the message on Sunday?

What do you need to work on?

Passages Matthew 6:25-34

1) What are some of the most common things people worry about?

2) Why do we worry about these things?

3) What are some of the side-affects of worry in a person’s life?

4) How does worry relate to a person’s relationship with God?

1) There is a phrase that Jesus repeats 3 times in this passage (verses 25, 31 & 34). What is that phrase?

2) The definition of the word “anxious “(or worry) in this passage is a combination of two smaller words. It means, “to divide the mind.” Discuss how worry divides the mind.

3) Read Matthew 6:19-24 to get the context for our focal passage. What is Jesus teaching in these previous verses?

4) Why do you think Jesus spoke these words before He urged His followers not to worry?

5) In verse 21 Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The word treasure here means, “a place where good and precious things are stored.” Discuss this verse. What does the heart have to do with worry?

6) Why do you think Jesus says in verse 30, “Oh you of little faith?” How is faith related to worry?

7) In verses 25-32, Jesus builds a case for not worrying. What evidence does He give that we shouldn’t worry?

8) How does Jesus conclude this section on worry in verse 33? How does this compare to how he started it in verses 19-21?

How do you believe God wants us to steward our resources?

• Do you believe the tithe is still a valid measure or standard for giving? Why or why not? Looking at the example of the New Testament church that gave back to God generously, what should our attitude toward giving be?

• Why is the church a good means for giving back to God? How can the church steward your offerings for the Kingdom of God in a way you yourself could not accomplish?

• How do we use our resources in a way that shows we want what God wants?

• How do we know what God wants? Does He tell us what He wants?

• Do we really believe that we want what God wants? How do we turn our own wants and desires into His wants and desires?

Articles

Its Your Choice Deuteronomy 30

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2014 by grosey

Stephen Pile wrote a book entitled, “THE BRITISH BOOK OF HEROIC FAILURES.” In August 1975 three men were on their way in to rob the Royal Bank of Scotland at Rothesay, when they got stuck in the revolving doors. They had to be helped free by the staff and, after thanking everyone, sheepishly left the building. A few minutes later they returned and announced their intention of robbing the bank, but none of the staff believed them. When they demanded 5,000 pounds in cash, the head cashier laughed at them, convinced that it was a practical joke. Then one of the men jumped over the counter, sprained his ankle and fell to the floor in agony. The other two tried to make their getaway, but got trapped in the revolving doors again. All three spent twelve years in prison serving a term for terminal ignorance. But, perhaps the funniest and saddest story of failure is a story that occurred in 1978 during a fireman’s strike in England. It made possible one of the greatest animal rescue attempts of all time. It also tops the list of all time events in which failure was snatched from the mouth of success. Valiantly, because of the fireman’s strike, the British Army had taken over emergency firefighting. On Jan 14, they were called out by an elderly lady in South London to rescue her cat. They arrived with impressive haste, very cleverly and carefully rescued the cat, and started to drive away. But the lady was so grateful she invited the squad of heroes in for tea. Driving off later with fond farewells and warm waving of arms, they ran over the lady’s cat and killed it.

All of us can look back on our lives and remember failures that we have experienced.

I was talking with a young man recently who said he would “rather go to jail for murder than for something else.”  I thought.. “I’d rather not go to jail at all.” 

The decisions we make culminate in the Destiny we endure.  Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 30

When all these things happen to you—the blessings and curses I have set before you—and you come to your senses [while you are]in all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you,
2 and you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and all your soul by doing everything I am giving you today,
3 then He will restore your fortunes, have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.
4 Even if your exiles are at the ends of the earth, He will gather you and bring you back from there.
5 The Lord your God will bring you into the land your fathers possessed, and you will take possession of it. He will cause you to prosper and multiply you more than [He did]your fathers.
6 The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants, and you will love Him with all your heart and all your soul, so that you will live.
7 The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you.
8 Then you will again obey Him and follow all His commands I am giving you today.
9 The Lord your God will make you prosper abundantly in all the work of your hands with children, the offspring of your livestock, and your soil’s produce. Indeed, the Lord will again delight in your prosperity, as He delighted in that of your fathers,
10 when you obey the Lord your God by keeping His commands and statutes that are written in this book of the law and return to Him with all your heart and all your soul.

11 “This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach.
12 It is not in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’
13 And it is not across the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’
14 But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it.
15 See, today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity.
16 For I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live and multiply, and the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you do not listen and you are led astray to bow down to other gods and worship them,
18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish and will not live long in the land you are entering to possess across the Jordan.
19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,
20 love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the Lord swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

 

 

1. THERE IS THE PRINCIPLE OF A WILLING CHOICE

While I believe firmly in the doctrines of predestination and election,  I do not subscribe to the idea that we are passive onlookers on our own lives.  I understand that individuals and kings and nations decide and and responsible for their own decisions.  And yet somehow  Proverbs 21

1 A king’s heart is a water channel in the Lord’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses.
2 All the ways of a man seem right to him, but the Lord evaluates the motives.

God’s Sovereignty so works with our free will that he is Sovereign and all things happen after the counsel of His Will, and we, individually, are responsible.

Could one ever say that his will was ever truly free anyway? We are marred by sin, we have a bias to choose the evil over the good.  We are darkened and guided by all of life’s experiences, including our education, and including the people that are involved in our lives with all of their peculiar worldviews.

Yet..

You are free to choose!

Moses reminds us “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,.. 20 love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the Lord swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

You are free to choose in this matter of your relationship with God.

You may choose to have a relationship with God or you may choose not to.

You are free to choose in this matter of your loves.. you may choose to love the Lord first, or last.

You are free to choose in this matter of your obedience, you may choose to obey God’s Word in all matters of your life, or you may pick and choose. 

But You are not free to not choose.  Everyone decides for or against God.  Everyone chooses life or death. Everyone chooses whether or not they will obey God or not.

But you are not free to choose the consequences of your choices.

You are not free to

One choice, to love and obey God, solves many other choices.

 

2. THERE IS THE PROBLEM OF A WICKED CHOICE

Many people make bad choices.   Perhaps the issue is the wrong motive.

Perhaps somebody would do the right thing, but they wind up doing the wrong thing because they’ve never been shown how to do the right thing.    The problem is the wrong Method.

Perhaps the real issue underlying many decisions is that we are serving the wrong Master.

There was once a very faithful and loyal sailor  serving well in every  journey and venture across the seas.  he was well known for his character, an honest kind gentle man.  One day a British ship stood beside their ship. And this fine young man was hanged.  You see, he had served under the wrong master, the pirate, and was hung for being a rebellious traitor to England.

Ephesians 2 reminds us that our whole worldview can be help captive under a deception;

1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins
2 in which you previously walked according to this worldly age, according to the ruler of the atmospheric domain, the spirit now working in the disobedient.
3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and by nature we were children under wrath, as the others were also.

 

The Consequences of a bad choice are death, deprivation and disappointment.

When our lives are not following the plan God intended, we find ourselves in a mess.  A train runs best on its own railway tracks, as does our life.   When we leave the tracks God has set for us, we find ourselves in a spiritual, moral and perhaps even an eternal Mess.

 

3. THE POWER OF A WISE CHOICE.

Did you notice the similarities between the Old Testament passage and the New Testament passage found in the book of Romans?

The New Testament passage is reminding  us that LIFE is found in Jesus.

Its not far away. Its not distant. Its not confusing. Its straightforward.  He who has Jesus has Life.

 

if you choose Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, you will discover a new direction for your life.

Choose life or death.  Two roads are pictured before us.  Jesus spoke of these two roads, one to blessing the other to cursing;

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it.  14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”

If you choose Jesus, you choose a whole new direction for your life under a new Director.

if you choose Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, you will discover a new devotion for your life.   Love the Lord your God.  this is only possible because we now know how much the Lord loves us.

if you choose Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, you will discover a new desires for your life.  You will desire to remain faithful to Him, to stick to Him, because He is your life.  

John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word,you really are My disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

if you choose Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, you will discover a new dependence in your life.   remain has the concept of abiding, of trusting of depending up on the Lord for guidance direction power presence and strength.  You will discover that the blessings He has for us work.

if you choose Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, you will discover a new destiny for your life.

 

4. THERE IS THE PERIL OF A WORRYING CHOICE

God calls you to a Personal choice.

You alone can make this choice. “Not my father nor my mother but its me oh Lord.”

You alone are held accountable by God for your choice.

God calls you to a Positive choice… he sets before us life.  He sets before us a loving Saviour.

he sets before us a Living Saviour.   He sets before us One who will walk with us through life.

God calls you to a Public choice.  

God calls you to a Prompt Choice.  You must do this and you must do this now.

Articles

Relationships Philemon part 2

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2014 by grosey

Once upon a time, a mean old mountaineer fell sick and died. There were no funeral directors back in the hills then, and embalming was not yet practiced. So the widow and family dressed the body and placed it in the coffin. As the deceased was being carried from the house, one pallbearer stumbled, causing the coffin to crash into a gatepost. The knock somehow revived the old mountaineer, who sat up yelling at everyone in sight. The man lived for over a year and was as mean as ever. Then he got sick and died again. Once more the body was put in the coffin and the pallbearers lifted their burden. As they shuffled by, the long-suffering widow lifted her head and said, “Watch out for that gatepost!” (Merritt K. Freeman, Reader’s Digest, July, 1983.)

But the situation that embroiled Paul, Philemon and Onesimus was more than just someone being a difficult character, it involved a betrayal. It involved a monstrous theft. What was a slave worth in the Roman Empire? Estimates suggest that there were sixty million slaves in the Roman Empire, men and women who were treated like pieces of merchandise to buy and sell. A familiar proverb was “So many slaves, just so many enemies!” The average slave sold for five hundred denarii (one denarius was a day’s wage for a common laborer), while the educated and skilled slaves were priced as high as fifty thousand denarii. A master could free a slave, or a slave could buy his freedom if he could raise the money (Acts 22:28).

Onesimus had hurt Philemon. He had betrayed a trust. He had not only stolen from Philemon, he had put Philemon in a very awkward place.

Philemon to Onesimus

1.       Remember God’s Priority 

As Paul interceded for Onesimus, he presented five strong appeals.

A. He began with Philemon’s reputation as a man who brought blessing to others. The word wherefore in Philemon 8 carries the meaning of “accordingly.” Since Philemon was a “refreshing” believer, Paul wanted to give him an opportunity to refresh the apostle’s heart! Philemon had been a great blessing to many saints, and now he could be a blessing to one of his own slaves who had just been saved!

B. 9 I appeal, instead, on the basis of love Paul might have used apostolic authority and ordered his friend to obey, but he preferred to appeal in Christian love (Philem. 9). See how tactfully Paul reminded Philemon of his own personal situation: “Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Philem. 9). Who could turn down the request of a suffering saint like Paul! He was perhaps sixty years old at this time, but that was a good age for men in that day. Along with Philemon’s gracious character and Christian love,

C. I appeal to you for my child, whom I fathered Paul’s third appeal was the conversion of Onesimus (Philem. 10). Onesimus was no longer “just a slave”; he was now Paul’s son in the faith and Philemon’s Christian brother! In Jesus Christ, there is “neither bond nor free” (Gal. 3:28).  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This does not mean that his conversion altered Onesimus’s legal position as a slave, or that it canceled his debt to the law or to his master. However, it did mean that Onesimus had a new standing before God and before God’s people, and Philemon had to take this into consideration.

D. The fourth appeal was that Onesimus was valuable to Paul in his ministry in Rome (Philem. 11–14). The name Onesimus means “profitable,” so there is a play on words in Philemon 11. (The name Philemon means “affectionate” or “one who is kind.” If the slave was expected to live up to his name, then what about the master?) Paul loved Onesimus and would have kept him in Rome as a fellow worker, but he did not want to tell Philemon what to do. Voluntary sacrifice and service, motivated by love, is what the Lord wants from His children.

E. The fifth appeal relates to the providence of God (Philem. 15–16). Paul was not dogmatic (“perhaps”) as he made this telling point: as Christians, we must believe that God is in control of even the most difficult experiences of life. God permitted Onesimus to go to Rome that he might meet Paul and become a believer. (Certainly Philemon and his family had witnessed to the slave and prayed for him.) Onesimus departed so he could come back. He was gone a short time so that he and his master might be together forever. He left for Rome a slave, but he would return to Colosse a brother. How gracious God was to rule and overrule in these affairs!

Love… As was Paul to Philemon, so you and I need to

A. Be sensitive…Try and put yourself in the other person’s place today. Seek to deal with their struggles, to think like they are thinking. Be sensitive to their particular needs. Do not bully them to your side by coercion, compulsion or command. Win them through consideration and cooperation.

B. Be submissive…I’m not suggesting becoming a doormat here. But it never hurts to lose a few little skirmishes here and there in order to win the war down the road. Resign yourself to the fact that you do not have to win every little argument and point of contention. You might be surprised how this truth could set you free. Be submissive. Begin appealing to others on the basis of love which seeks their highest good. If they win, you win too. And, big time!

C. Be supportive…Let others know where you stand and leave no doubt in their minds that when the chips are down they can count on you and your support. When the win-win philosophy is applied in our relationships it brings a bonding and a sense of mutual support we never knew existed. Find someone who is down this week and come to their aid with a word of support and encouragement. They will never forget it.

D. Be sensible…Use some good old common sense in your relationship. Get smart. If the other person is a winner in your relationship, then you win too. Forget forever the erroneous idea that you always have to win and the other party always has to lose for you to be on top of the relationship. Wake up! Be sensible. Win-win is the only way to play the game.

2.       Relinquish The Debt

And then there’s the other hard part about forgiveness. To forgive means to put the hurt behind you, never to drag it up again. We may not be able to forget what happened, but we will no longer hold it against the person we have forgiven.
It’s like the man who was telling his friend about an argument he’d had with his wife. He said, "Oh, how I hate it, every time we have an argument; she gets historical." The friend replied, "You mean hysterical." "No," he insisted. "I mean historical. Every time we argue she drags up everything from the past and holds it against me!"

Forgiveness means releasing the debt Forgiveness means letting go of our hurt pride, our need to get back – to take revenge, and do what is illogical and ever so hard. It means making our relationship with that other person the most important thing in our lives. Jesus rates reconciliation as one of the most important things we can do. He said, "If you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God" (Matt 5:23-24).

Forgiveness means relinquishing the right. It means letting it go. It means not having the last word! It means putting the thing behind you forever. Never bringing it up.

Forgiveness means accepting the person “accept him as you would me.”

3.       Remember God’s Purposes

When we read these words — “Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good” — we are reminded of the story of Joseph and his estrangement from his brothers. Andrew Lloyd Webber, of “Phantom of the Opera” fame, has brought this ancient story to life in his Broadway production, “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Most of us know the story well. His brothers, filled with jealously and resentment, sold him to some nomads in a caravan in route to Egypt. They lied to his father by telling him they had found Joseph’s many colored coat soaked in blood and he had no doubt been consumed by a wild animal. Meanwhile, back in Egypt, through a series of events Joseph went from a prison to the palace to become the prime minister of the most progressive nation in the world by the time he was thirty years of age. Famine came to Israel and eventually brought these brothers to Egypt in hopes of finding food. When confronted with their longlost brother they became filled with remorse and regret and, in the end, a beautiful reconciliation took place. The brothers were the offending party. Joseph was the offended party. The rift in the relationship had gone on for years and years. The brothers were full of repentance. Now the ball was in Joseph’s court. How would he respond after all those years of being wronged and living with the consequences? From the human standpoint most of what happened to him was bad. He was the key to reconciliation. When he revealed himself to his brothers, he said, “Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to save lives (Gen. 45:5) …You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done” (Gen. 50:20). God allowed it…and for a reason! Yes, as Paul says, “Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good.” Is it possible that there is a “perhaps” written across your own experience?

My Grace is Sufficient For Thee

In his Grace Abounding, John Bunyan tells us that there was a period in his spiritual history when his soul was like a pair of scales. It partook of three phases. At one time the right-hand balance was down and the left-hand empty and high; then for awhile they were exactly and evenly poised; and, at the last, the left-hand balance dropped and that on the right-hand was swinging in the air.

At the first of these stages he was being tormented about the unpardonable sin. He reminded himself that, for Esau, there was no place for repentance; and he felt that there was none for him. The scale in which he laid his despair was heavily weighted; the scale in which he placed his hope was empty!

And the second stage—the stage that levelled the balances? `One morning,’ he says, ‘as I was at prayer, and trembling with fear, lest there should be no word of God to help me, that piece of a sentence darted in upon me: My grace is sufficient! At this I felt some stay as if there might yet be hope. About a fortnight before, I had been looking at this very scripture, but I then thought that it could bring me no comfort, and I threw down the book in a pet. I thought that the grace was not large enough for me! no, not large enough ! But now it was as if the arms of grace were so wide that they could enclose not only me but many more besides. And so this about the sufficiency of grace and that about Esau finding no place for repentance would be like a pair of scales within my mind. Sometimes one end would be uppermost and sometimes again the other; according to which would be my peace or trouble.’

And the third stage—the triumphant stage? Bunyan felt that the scales were merely level because, in the balance that contained the hope, he had thrown only four of the six words that make up the text. ‘My grace is sufficient'; he had no doubt about that, and it gave him encouragement. But ‘for thee’; he felt that, if only he could add those words to the others, it would turn the scales completely. ‘I had hope,’ he says, ‘yet because the "for thee" was left out, I was not contented, but prayed to God for that also. Wherefore, one day, when I was in a meeting of God’s people, full of sadness and terror, these words did with great power suddenly break in upon me; My grace is sufficient for thee, My grace is sufficient for thee, My grace is sufficient for thee, three times together. And oh! methought that every word was a mighty word unto me; as My and grace, and sufficient, and for thee; they were then, and sometimes are still, far bigger than all others. Then, at last, that about Esau finding no place for repentance began to wax weak and withdraw and vanish, and this about the sufficiency of grace prevailed with peace and joy.’ And so the issue was reversed; the scale that held the hope overweighed completely the scale that held the despair.

If it were not that others have passed through an identically similar experience, we should feel inclined to marvel at Bunyan’s reluctance to cast into the balances the tail of the text: My grace is sufficient—for thee! It seems strange, I say, that Bunyan should have grasped with such confidence the four words and then boggled at the other two. And yet it is always easier to believe that there is a Saviour for the world than to believe that there is a Saviour for me. It is easy to believe that

There is grace enough for thousands
Of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations
In that upper home of bliss;

but it is much harder to believe that there is grace and room for one. Martin Luther believed implicitly and preached confidently that Christ died for all mankind, long before he could persuade himself that Christ died for Martin Luther. John Wesley crossed the Atlantic that he might proclaim the forgiveness of sins to the Indians; but it was not until he was verging upon middle life that he realized the possibility of the forgiveness of his own.

It is all very illogical, of course, and very absurd. If we can accept the four words, why not accept all six? If we credit the head of the text, why cavil at the tail? Sometimes the absurdity of such irrational behaviour will break upon a man and set him laughing at his own stupidity. Mr. Spurgeon had some such experience. ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, one Friday afternoon, in an address to his students, ‘Gentlemen, there are many passages of Scripture which you will never understand until some trying or singular experience shall interpret them to you. The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day’s work; I was very wearied and sore depressed; and, swiftly and suddenly as a lightning flash, that text laid hold on me: My grace is sufficient for thee! On reaching home, I looked it up in the original, and at last it came to me in this way. MY grace is sufficient for THEE! "Why," I said to myself, "I should think it is!" and I burst out laughing. I never fully understood what the holy laughter of Abraham was like until then. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was as though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry; and Father Thames said: "Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee!" Or as if a little mouse in the granaries of Egypt, after seven years of plenty, feared lest it should die of famine, and Joseph said: "Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee!" Again I imagined a man away up yonder on the mountain saying to himself: "I fear I shall exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere." But the earth cries: "Breathe away, O man, and fill thy lungs; my atmosphere is sufficient for thee!"’ John Bunyan enjoyed a moment’s merriment of the same kind when he threw the last two words into the scale and saw his despair dwindle into insignificance on the instant

It is so easy for Bunyan to believe that the divine grace is sufficient for the wide, wide world; it is so difficult to realize that it is sufficient for him!

It is so easy for Wesley to believe in the forgiveness of sins: it is so difficult for him to believe in the forgiveness of his own!

It is so easy for Paul to believe in the grace that is sufficient to redeem a fallen race: it is so difficult for him to believe in the grace that can fortify him to endure his thorn!

Is it any wonder that, this being so, Paul felt that his splinter positively shone? ‘I will glory in it,’ he cried, ‘that the power o f Christ may be billetted upon me.’ He feels that his soul is like some rural hamlet into which a powerful regiment has marched. Every bed and barn is occupied by the soldiers. Who would not be irritated by a splinter, he asks, if the irritation leads to such an inrush of divine power and grace?

And so, with Paul as with Bunyan, the grace turns the scales. It is better to have the pain if it brings the pearl. It is better to have a thorn in the one balance if it brings such grace into the opposite balance that one is better off with the thorn than without it.

4. Relate Well

A. Affirm one another (vv. 4-7)
Affirmation is the greatest motivational factor in interpersonal relationships.

B. Accommodate one another (vv. 8-11)
Here is the synergistic principle of a win/win relationship.

C. Accept one another (vv. 12-16)
True reconciliation requires a repentant heart and a receptive heart.

D. Give Allegiance to one another (vv. 17-21)
True commitment is one of the missing elements in many relationships today.

E. Accountable to one another (vv. 22-25)
We all need accountability in our relationships with one another. We will never be properly related to one another until we are properly related to ourselves and this will only happen when we are properly related to our Heavenly Father.

Articles

Philemon How to Be A Refreshing Person

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2014 by grosey

There is a story behind this. Philemon wealthy business owner.

Onesimus a slave, takes off with some money and treasures. Spends it up big in Rome, winds up in the same cell as Paul! Who happened to lead Philemon to Christ.. maybe he recognised him when he got thrown through the door. The Art of Connecting, the building of positive, productive interpersonal relationships, to be found anywhere.

life is about relationships. There are only three in life.

The primary relationship of each believer is an eternal relationship the upward expression God based on God’s grace and resulting in peace.

This is an awesome thought. This is the ability to come into a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus in such a way that we can know Him in the intimacy of Father and child.

Every person has an internal relationship, a relationship with self. I fear that a pandemic of low self-esteem impacts relationships within the church today. Many believers project a poor self-image outward into their relationships with other believers. Biblical teachings affirm that an individual’s self-esteem does not consist of physical traits or accomplishments. As Christians, our self-esteem derives from our identity in Christ. All positive relationships flow develops from the inner self and proceed outward. Paul celebrated his identity in Christ. Although Paul wrote from a Roman prison, he was a prisoner of Christ Jesus rather than a prisoner of the Roman Empire. Paul conveyed three vital principles about a believer’s identity in Christ. First, being a slave of Christ is the only positive slavery. Every individual is enslaved to something else, for example, sin, pride, or passion. Second, a believer does not experience mere “accidents” or “coincidences” in life. Paul was a prisoner in Rome by God’s design and purpose. For years, Paul wanted to travel to Rome to preach the Gospel and impart a blessing to the Roman Christians. In prison, Paul preached to the guards and his example inspired the Roman Christians to diligence in Gospel proclamation (Phil. 1:12-14). Third, the life of every prisoner of Jesus possesses value. By losing self-life, a believer finds life (Matt. 10:30). We are made to communicate positively with each other. We are made for companionship. We are made to be connected to one another relationally.

Furthermore, Paul celebrated relationships within the church, our external relationships. Paul described church relationships in four ways through how he referred to an individual believer. Paul called Timothy “brother” teaching that the church is a family. The apostle called Philemon “friend” affirming the church as a group of friends. He also called Philemon a “fellow-worker.” As believes work together in the work of the Lord, the combined work is greater than the mere sum of the parts of work added together. Paul called pastor Archippus a “fellow-soldier” teaching that Christians are an army engaged in spiritual battle. “It is not good for man to be alone.”

And the bottom line? We will never be properly related to each other until we are properly related to ourselves. Much of what happens in our broken relationships outwardly is simply a projection of what is going on within us. Thus, the truth is we will never be properly related to ourselves until we come into relationship with God, knowing Him in the free pardoning of sin and thus finding our self-worth in Him.

The importance of affirmation of one another (vv. 4–7). Paul begins his word to Philemon with a pat on the back. “Your love has given me much hope and encouragement because you brother have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Affirmation has a liberating effect on others.

The importance of accommodation of one another (vv. 8–11). Here is what is known in the business world as the win/win relationship. Paul says Onesimos was “once unprofitable to you but now is profitable to you”

The importance of acceptance of one another (vv. 12–16).

Forgiveness is the key to mending broken relationships. Two things must take place to mend relationships. One, there must be a repentant heart on the part of the offending party. And, two, there must be a receptive heart on the part of the offended party.

The importance of allegiance to one another (vv. 17–21).

Paul says, “if he has wronged you…put that on my account.” In other words, he is showing that he is committed in his relationship to Onesimus and to Philemon and is willing to stand by both of them.

The importance of accountability to one another (vv. 22–25).

Paul says, “Prepare the guest room for me.” When he said that, Philemon knew he was coming by to check up on him and hold him accountable. These challenges worked wonders in my church as we challenged each other to affirm one another, accommodate one another, accept one another, be committed to one another and hold each other accountable.

When you’re alone And life is making you lonely, You can always go downtown When you’ve got worries,
All the noise and the hurry Seems to help, I know, downtown Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go

Downtown, things’ll be great when you’re Downtown, no finer place for sure ,everything’s waiting for you (Downtown)
Don’t hang around And let your problems surround you There are movie shows downtown Maybe you know

Some little places to go to Where they never close downtown Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossanova

You’ll be dancing with ‘em, too, before the night is over Happy again
The lights are much brighter there You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go

Downtown where all the lights are bright, Downtown, waiting for you tonight, Downtown,

you’re gonna be alright now (Downtown downtown) Downtown (Downtown)
And you may find somebody kind to help and understand you Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle

hand to Guide them along So, maybe I’ll see you there We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares and go

Downtown, things’ll be great when you’re Downtown, don’t wait a minute more, DT everything’s waiting for you

Charles Schwab worked for the multi-millionaire industrialist, Carnegie. He became the first man to earn a one million dollar salary in a single calendar year. One might be quick to assume that he knew more about the manufacturing of steel than anyone else in the world. Wrong. In fact, by his own admission there were many others with far greater technical know-how than his. Why then would Andrew Carnegie pay Charles Schwab a million dollars a year? Schwab was paid such a handsome amount primarily because of his ability to motivate others into positive and productive interpersonal relationships. He was one of the first widely recognized motivators and movers of men. Charles Schwab put his secret in his own words — “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess. And the way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of men as criticism from their superiors. I never criticize anyone period. I believe in giving a man incentive to work. So, I am anxious to find praise but loath to find fault.”

A few years ago, the great theologian and country singer Alan Jackson made this claim in a song. He sang:

Here comes a Baptist, here comes a Jew; There goes a Mormon and a Muslim, too.

I see a Buddhist and a Hindu; I see a Catholic, and I see you.

We’re all God’s children; we’re all God’s children; We’re all God’s children. Why can’t we be one big happy family?

The reason we can’t be one big happy family is that we aren’t all children of God. Everyone is a creation of God, but only those who believe in Jesus have God as their Father.

Jesus said there are two fathers and two families. He said these words to the Pharisees, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire" (John 8:44). The fact that those who are not saved are not children of God is also seen in 1 John 3:10. The Bible says, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

1. Make it personal…Paul did. He did not send his word of appreciation to Philemon through a third party. He did so in a personal letter. Affirmations lose their positive effectiveness if we ask someone to tell someone else something we want them to know. In short, do it yourself. A pat on the back must be personal.

2. Make it positive…An affirmation is not an affirmation unless it is given in a positive vein. The best attempt some can make at a pat on the back is to say something to the effect, “Well, you have done your best and I suppose it is better than average.” What kind of an affirmation is that? To be effective it must be not only personal, but positive as well.

3. Make it present…Paul wrote his letter in the present tense. He said, “I hear about you.”Affirmation must be up to date and in the present. It rings a bit hollow and doesn’t mean much to affirm someone now for something they did twenty or thirty years ago. Make it present and up-to-date.

4. Make it pointed…Paul was specific and pointed in his praise to Philemon. General affirmations which say something like, “You are O.K.”, do not go very far. We must be pointed. We must let the other party know specifically why it is we are giving them a pat on the back. When you pat someone on the back this week spell it out for him. Make it pointed.

5. Make it plain…Philemon could understand Paul’s letter. It was not garbled nor couched in any type of linguistic gymnastics. We often hear others excuse themselves by saying, “Oh, he knows I appreciate him.” Does he? Tell him so with a personal, positive, present, pointed and plain word of affirmation.

6. Make it passionate…That is, it must issue out of the heart. Paul patted Philemon on the back for “refreshing the hearts” of others. Phony affirmations are quickly exposed and do not mean much at all. When you pat someone on the back this week, make it passionate and let it come from the heart.

Articles

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Living a Thanksgiving Life

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2014 by grosey

What is the hardest thing in life to do? It might be trying to climb a fence that’s leaning toward you…or to kiss a girl who’s leaning away from you. But really, the most difficult thing in life might be to “give thanks always for all things.”

If Paul had simply said “Give thanks always,” we might be OK with this. But what bothers us is the next phrase, “for all things.” Many hearts are subdued because of tribulation and anguish. How can we come to the place where we give thanks “always in all things”?

Let me ask you a question. Do you have difficulty with bitterness, selfishness, self pity, negativism, or pride? An attitude of gratitude can change those things and literally transform your life.

There are four levels of living. People in the lowest level constantly complain. These folks are always griping and complaining. Rather than being humbly grateful, they’re grumbly hateful.

The second level is just a bit higher. These are not people who are constantly complaining; they just never give thanks for anything. They take things for granted.

The third level are those who thank God for the obvious blessings, when things are going good and everything is fine.

But the fourth level, the highest level, are those who give thanks always for all things.

This is the attitude that will change your life. Today we are confronted by a passage that will profoundly change your life.  Here is God’s answer to a character that draws criticism and crankiness. Here is God’s answer in how you can tune up your attitude, and make life bearable for those around you. I don’t want to grow old to become a cranky bitter old man. You don’t want to grow old and be someone that isn’t loved or respected. These three verses today will change your character.

Three things.. 1 Thessalonians 5 :16 Rejoice always!
17 Pray constantly.
18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1. Rejoice always!

What people need is JOY not happiness. Happiness comes from the word “hap,” which means  “luck” or “happenings.” Happiness rises and falls with what happens in your life, but joy remains  constant regardless of what happens. Joy is an inner attitude of cheer that manifests itself through outward celebration.

Joy is an important word in the Bible. Joy appears 158 times and “rejoice” appears another 198  times. In the Old Testament there are 27 different colorful words to describe joy. Some of the  basic meanings are to “run around with delight;” “to shine like the brightness of the sun.”

Joy is really not a feeling; it’s an attitude. But when you experience real joy, you’ll rejoice,  which is the expression of a feeling. At any time, you can choose to rejoice. You may say, “I don’t feel like rejoicing.” That’s okay; rejoice anyway. Paul was in prison when he wrote,  “Rejoice in the Lord. I’ll say it again, rejoice.” He didn’t write, “Rejoice in the prison.” He said, “Rejoice in the Lord.” The Bible never says, “Rejoice in your bank account.” We rejoice in the Lord. The Bible never says, “Rejoice in your health, or your circumstances’. We rejoice in the Lord.

Are you rejoicing in the Lord? Here’s a test. Sometime this afternoon or this week, find someone  who is close to you, your spouse or a good friend. Ask them, “When was the last time you saw  me really rejoice?”

Today is Thanksgiving Sunday among  our Life Anglican churches.   It is a day we have set aside to reflect back on God’s goodness to us in the past year, and a day to reflect forwards on what God’s faithfulness will look like in the coming year. We have organized this week each year to occur before the end of the financial year,  so that , as part of our thanksgiving, we may make a tangible statement of our thanksgiving to God for this past year.

We Rejoice always in the goodness of the Lord towards us His people.
We Rejoice that Jesus is the Lover of our Souls

Gal 2:20 the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

We Rejoice that Jesus is the Life of our Souls  Col 3:4When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

We Rejoice that Jesus is the Liberator of our Souls  John 8:32You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We Rejoice that Jesus is the Lord of our Souls

2. Pray constantly.
Rejoice always! 
17 Pray constantly. 
18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Listen, friend, if you are too busy to pray, you’re too busy. There is the problem of unoffered  prayer, but what about the other problem, unanswered prayer? We do pray, we do seek God, we do beg, we do try to get right, and ask God according to his will and yet our prayer seems to be unanswered

You are to pray when you are adding up prices in the grocery store line. You are to pray when you are changing a tire. You are to pray when you are singing a song. You are to pray when you are teaching a little one how to read.

We are commanded to pray all the time. But how do we do this? Think of a mother who has a child who is ill with a fever. Finally, the fever breaks and the mother and child settle down for some much-needed sleep. Not a noise from the television, from the street, or from the phone could awaken that mother. But one whimper from her child and she’s awake, right? That’s because even when she is asleep, she is in tune with that child—just as we are to be with God…constantly communing and attuned to His voice.

It’s going to amaze you when you get to Heaven friend. I believe God’s going to call you over and open the door to his storehouse and say, “Look in there. Do you see those blessings that are soured, and spoiled, and rusty and mildewed? Those are your blessings. Those are things I wanted you to have, those are things that I wanted to load you down with, but I couldn’t give them to you. You went your own way warring, and scheming, and planning and conniving, and figuring and you have not because you ask not.”
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, friend, the presumption of un-offered prayer. Did you know that prayerlessness is a sin? It’s a sin. The Bible says, “…God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you…” (1 Samuel 12:23). Did you know the Bible tells us that we’re to pray all of the time? The Bible says, very clearly in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5 and verse 17 that we are to, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)The Bible says in Luke chapter 18, verse 1 that Jesus “spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). And, so you see—look, when you don’t pray, you’re not just simply missing a blessing, you’re committing a sin. You’re doing without the things that God wants you to have, and you’re sinning against the Lord.

There is a great example of prayerlessness in the book of  2Chronicles in the life of King Asa of Judah.
2 Chron 15:2 So he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Asa and all Judah and Benjamin, hear me. The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you abandon Him, He will abandon you. 
3 For many years Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law, 
4 but when they turned to the Lord God of Israel in their distress and sought Him, He was found by them. 
5 In those times there was no peace for those who went about their daily activities because the residents of the lands had many conflicts. 
6 Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress. 
7 But as for you, be strong; don’t be discouraged, for your work has a reward.” 
8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of [Azariah son of]Oded the prophet, he took courage and removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He renovated the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the Lord’s [temple]. 
9 Then he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, as well as those from [the tribes of]Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them, for they had defected to him from Israel in great numbers when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

2 Chron 16:1 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa, Israel’s King Baasha went to war against Judah. He built Ramah in order to deny anyone’s access—going or coming—to Judah’s King Asa. 
2 So Asa brought out the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and the royal palace and sent it to Aram’s King Ben-hadad, who lived in Damascus, saying, 
3 “There’s a treaty between me and you, between my father and your father. Look, I have sent you silver and gold. Go break your treaty with Israel’s King Baasha so that he will withdraw from me.” 
4 Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies to the cities of Israel. They attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the storage cities of Naphtali. 
5 When Baasha heard [about it], he quit building Ramah and stopped his work. 
6 Then King Asa brought all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and the timbers Baasha had built it with. Then he built Geba and Mizpah with them.

7 At that time, Hanani the seer came to King Asa of Judah and said to him, “Because you depended on the king of Aram and have not depended on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 
8 Were not the • Cushites and Libyans a vast army with very many chariots and horsemen? When you depended on the Lord, He handed them over to you. 
9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His. You have been foolish in this matter, for from now on, you will have wars.” 
10 Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison because of his anger over this. And Asa mistreated some of the people at that time.

12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a disease in his feet, and his disease became increasingly severe. Yet even in his disease he didn’t seek the Lord but the physicians.

Asa died a bitter old man.

How often do we rely upon our own wisdom and intelligence or powers, or ingenuity to get ourselves out of problems?  We should seek the Lord first!

There is no sin in your life but what prayer would have prevented it. The Bible says in Mark 14, verse 38: “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation…” (Mark 14:38).
John Bunyan wrote in Pilgrim’s Progress, “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, and sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.” Are you praying? Most of us talk about prayer like we do the weather. I heard about a weatherman who had to leave town for health reasons. The weather didn’t agree with him.

Prayer is like the weather. We talk about it and don’t do much about it. There is no substitute for prayer. Not energy, not enthusiasm, not eloquence, not intellect. There is no substitute for prayer. My life is no greater than my prayer life. What I am that is important is not what I am on this platform, but what I am in the closet before I come here. What you are in your life when you teach your class is linked to your prayer life.
Oh, my dear friends, this church needs to learn how to pray. We are asking God to lead us into a program that is so immense, so big, so unbelievable, that it absolutely cannot be done—will not be done—unless we pray. I believe God wants us to reach the many many new people moving into our area, and we will pray that many will be saved.  And many will be saved. I believe God wants us to have what we need. And, I believe he’s going to give it to us. And, I believe we’re going to be able to raise the money to build these buildings. But, I believe it’ll be God who does it. And, we will have because we shall ask. And, our Heavenly Father will answer that prayer. I’m telling you that if prayerlessness is a sin, then some of us need to repent. And, before you do anything else you need to repent of the sin of prayerlessness. We can do more than pray after we pray, but we can do no more than pray until we have prayed.

I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day.

I had so much to accomplish that I didn’t have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me and heavier came each task.

Why doesn’t God help me, I wondered. He answered, "ha, you didn’t ask."

I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on gray and bleak.

I wondered why God didn’t show me. But He said, "but you didn’t seek."

I tried to come into God’s presence; I used all the keys on the lock.

God gently and lovingly chided, my son, you didn’t knock.

I woke up early this morning and paused before entering the day.

I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.

3. Give thanks in everything

Rejoice always! 
17 Pray constantly. 
18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

We are reminded to give thanks in everything!

Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Ephesians 5:20

Your Gratitude Is Proper
Anything good that you have has come from God. You didn’t get it by luck, ingenuity, hard work, wit, or wisdom. It is proper to thank God for it.

Your Gratitude Is to Be Perpetual
You’re not just simply to be thankful one day a year. One day is not long enough to thank God for all that He’s given you. His blessings come daily. Psalm 68:19 says, "Blessed be the Lord, Who daily load us with benefits…." Every day God has brand-new blessings for you, and every day ought to find you thanking God. Every prayer that you pray ought to be salted with thanks.

Your Gratitude Is to Be Pervasive
In everything give thanks. Not in some things, but in all things. Every thing, every area of life is to be a the subject of thanksgiving. There’s so much to be thankful for.

Spiritual things — If you didn’t have anything else but Jesus, you would have enough to praise God for all eternity. 
Simple things — You should be thankful for your families, health, food, and even a glass of water. Thank God for the simple things.
Sorrowful things — You can even be thankful for the heartaches, the pains, and the sufferings. Romans 8:28 says, "…All things work together for good…." That is, the thing itself is not good, but it is God Who is working all things together for good.

Do you want to live on the highest level of life? Cultivate the attitude of gratitude always and in all things. I don’t care how bad, difficult, dark, or mysterious things get; take the ultimate step of faith and say, "God, You’re greater than this, and I thank You." You say, "Well, I don’t feel like thanking Him." Don’t thank Him by feeling; thank Him by faith. You’re not told to feel thankful but to be thankful. Nothing shows your faith in the absolute sovereignty of God more than just simply thanking God in every situation.

Your Gratitude Will Be Pleasurable
Thankful people are happy people. "Well," you say, "if I had something to be thankful for, I’d be happy." You have missed the point! You do have something to be thankful for. You have life. You have Christ. You may say, "But my circumstance are not good." The apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote this, yet he was rejoicing in the Lord. Gratefulness turned his prison to a palace, but ungratefulness can turn your palace to a prison. I’m telling you, the attitude of gratitude will change your life.

Your Gratitude Is Possible
Living with gratitude is not a human way to live, not a natural way to live — it’s supernatural. And this kind of thankfulness only comes out of a vital relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whether you’re in a prison, as Paul often was you can praise God. I’m telling you it will change your life. Bitterness, fear, self pity, ungratefulness, and negativism will go out of your life if you will practice the grace of gratitude. It’s possible.

Why should you choose Jesus today?

He will give you Immediate Joy.  1 Thess 1:6 and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with the joy from the Holy Spirit.

You face impending death.  Death can be either a stepping into the joys of heaven for you or the woes of hell.  Paul reminded the Thessalonians of this in chapter 4.. those dying  as Christians go immediately to be with the Lord, and there is much joy there.

We await the imminent return of the Lord Jesus.  This gave the early Christians great joy because they knew their Lord, their Life  their Saviour was going to return to bring them home. Listen to the Joy in it.. 1Thess 5 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

The insensitivity of your heart is a reason to choose Jesus right now.  You may be thinking , what has this  joy and thanksgiving got to do with me?   The longer you put it off, the harder ot becomes to choose Jesus.  Choose Him today and experience the Joy He promises.

Articles

1Thess 5:17 Rejoicing, Prayer and Thanksgiving

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2014 by grosey

 

According to Buddhists, if you want to avoid suffering you should practice these eight disciplines:

1. Right view

2. Right intention

3. Right speech;

4. Right action

5. Right vocation

6. Right effort

7. Right mindfulness

8. Right concentration

According to Buddhism, if you follow these faithfully you will arrive at Nirvana, which is a state of being one with the universe and where you have no desires. That explains the joke about the Buddhist monk who ordered a hotdog in New York City. He said to the vendor, “Make me one with everything.” (think about it). The monk gave him a ten-dollar bill and the vendor kept it. The Buddhist said, “Where’s my change?” The vendor said, “Change comes from within.”

Buddhism won’t get you to heaven. There isn’t even any doctrine of heaven in Buddhism.

Nirvana is reaching a state of blissful nothingness, whatever that means. Buddha couldn’t even explain it. That explains one more Buddhism joke. “Someone gave a Buddhist monk a birthday present.” He opened it and it was empty. He said, “Thanks. That’s just what I’ve always wanted.”

With that introduction, I want to expose you to a much better eightfold path. This path won’t take you heaven. Jesus is the only way, or path, to heaven. He’s the one-way path to heaven. But once you’re on that path, this eightfold path of attitudes and actions will lead to a blessed life.

As Paul comes to the end of this letter, he adds these eight attitudes and actions.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”

1. The Genuine of Joy

What people need is JOY not happiness. Happiness comes from the word “hap,” which means “luck” or “happenings.” Happiness rises and falls with what happens in your life, but joy remains constant regardless of what happens. Joy is an inner attitude of cheer that manifests itself through outward celebration.

Joy is an important word in the Bible. Joy appears 158 times and “rejoice” appears another 198 times. In the Old Testament there are 27 different colorful words to describe joy. Some of the basic meanings are to “run around with delight;” “to shine like the brightness of the sun.”

We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.” (Romans 5:2-4 HCSB)

I’m convinced the reason so many Christians look miserable today is because they ARE miserable. The old Methodist evangelist, Sam Jones, used to say, “There are too many dillpickle- Christians who look like they’ve been dipped in vinegar and left to sour.” A joyless Christian is a contradiction. There are some believers who think the more miserable you look, the holier you are. They act like smiling is a sin and laughing is an abomination.

But the Bible says we have “inexpressible and glorious joy.” (1 Peter 1:8)

You may be wondering how you can find joy. If you have Jesus, you already have joy. In John 15:11 Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Paul was in prison when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord. I’ll say it again, rejoice.” He didn’t write, “Rejoice in the prison.” He said, “Rejoice in the Lord.” The Bible never says, “Rejoice in your bank account.” We rejoice in the Lord. The Bible never says, “Rejoice in your health, or your circumstances. We rejoice in the Lord.

2. The Priority of Prayer

There is no substitute for prayer–not eloquence, not energy, not enthusiasm, not intellect. There is no  substitute for prayer. I came across this the other day; I want to share it with you.

I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day.

I had so much to accomplish that I didn’t have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me and heavier came each task.

Why doesn’t God help me, I wondered. He answered, "ha, you didn’t ask."

I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on gray and bleak.

I wondered why God didn’t show me. But He said, "but you didn’t seek."

I tried to come into God’s presence; I used all the keys on the lock.

God gently and lovingly chided, my son, you didn’t knock.

I woke up early this morning and paused before entering the day.

I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.
Amen? Listen, friend, if you are too busy to pray, you’re too busy. There is the problem of unoffered  prayer, but what about the other problem, unanswered prayer? We do pray, we do seek God, we do beg, we do try to get right, and ask God according to his will and yet our prayer seems to be unanswered

You are to pray when you are adding up prices in the grocery store line. You are to pray when you are changing a tire. You are to pray when you are singing a song. You are to pray when you are teaching a little one how to read.

We are commanded to pray all the time. But how do we do this? Think of a mother who has a child who is ill with a fever. Finally, the fever breaks and the mother and child settle down for some much-needed sleep. Not a noise from the television, from the street, or from the phone could awaken that mother. But one whimper from her child and she’s awake, right? That’s because even when she is asleep, she is in tune with that child—just as we are to be with God…constantly communing and attuned to His voice.

It’s going to amaze you when you get to Heaven friend. I believe God’s going to call you over and open the door to his storehouse and say, “Look in there. Do you see those blessings that are soured, and spoiled, and rusty and mildewed? Those are your blessings. Those are things I wanted you to have, those are things that I wanted to load you down with, but I couldn’t give them to you. You went your own way warring, and scheming, and planning and conniving, and figuring and you have not because you ask not.”
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, friend, the presumption of un-offered prayer. Did you know that prayerlessness is a sin? It’s a sin. The Bible says, “…God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you…” (1 Samuel 12:23). Did you know the Bible tells us that we’re to pray all of the time? The Bible says, very clearly in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5 andverse 17 that we are to, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)The Bible says in Luke chapter 18, verse 1 that Jesus “spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). And, so you see—look, when you don’t pray, you’re not just simply missing a blessing, you’re committing a sin. You’re doing without the things that God wants you to have, and you’re sinning against the Lord.
2 chron 17: So he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Asa and all Judah and Benjamin, hear me. The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you abandon Him, He will abandon you.
3 For many years Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law,
4 but when they turned to the Lord God of Israel in their distress and sought Him, He was found by them.
5 In those times there was no peace for those who went about their daily activities because the residents of the lands had many conflicts.
6 Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress.
7 But as for you, be strong; don’t be discouraged, for your work has a reward.”
8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of [Azariah son of]Oded the prophet, he took courage and removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He renovated the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the Lord’s [temple].
9 Then he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, as well as those from [the tribes of]Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them, for they had defected to him from Israel in great numbers when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

In the thirty-sixth year of Asa, Israel’s King Baasha went to war against Judah. He built Ramah in order to deny anyone’s access—going or coming—to Judah’s King Asa.
2 So Asa brought out the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and the royal palace and sent it to Aram’s King Ben-hadad, who lived in Damascus, saying,
3 “There’s a treaty between me and you, between my father and your father. Look, I have sent you silver and gold. Go break your treaty with Israel’s King Baasha so that he will withdraw from me.”
4 Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies to the cities of Israel. They attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the storage cities of Naphtali.
5 When Baasha heard [about it], he quit building Ramah and stopped his work.
6 Then King Asa brought all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and the timbers Baasha had built it with. Then he built Geba and Mizpah with them.

7 At that time, Hanani the seer came to King Asa of Judah and said to him, “Because you depended on the king of Aram and have not depended on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.
8 Were not the • Cushites and Libyans a vast army with very many chariots and horsemen? When you depended on the Lord, He handed them over to you.
9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His. You have been foolish in this matter, for from now on, you will have wars.”
10 Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison because of his anger over this. And Asa mistreated some of the people at that time.

12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a disease in his feet, and his disease became increasingly severe. Yet even in his disease he didn’t seek the Lord but the physicians.

Asa died a bitter old man.

There is no sin in your life but what prayer would have prevented it. The Bible says in Mark 14, verse 38: “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation…” (Mark 14:38).
John Bunyan wrote in Pilgrim’s Progress, “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, and sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.” Are you praying? Most of us talk about prayer like we do the weather. Boy, the weatherman really missed it today, didn’t he? I mean the one I listened to,  he missed it a hundred and eighty degrees.  I heard about a weatherman who had to leave town for health reasons. The weather didn’t agree with him.

prayer is like the weather. We talk about it and don’t do much about it. There is no substitute for prayer. Not energy, not enthusiasm, not eloquence, not intellect. There is no substitute for prayer. My life is no greater than my prayer life. What I am that is important is not what I am on this platform, but what I am in the closet before I come here. What you are in your life when you teach your class is linked to your prayer life.
Oh, my dear friends, this church needs to learn how to pray. We are asking God to lead us into a program that is so immense, so big, so unbelievable, that it absolutely cannot be done—will not be done—unless we pray. I believe God wants us to have what we need. And, I believe he’s going to give it to us. And, I believe we’re going to be able to raise the money to build these buildings. But, I believe it’ll be God who does it. And, we will have because we shall ask. And, our Heavenly Father will answer that prayer. I’m telling you that if prayerlessness is a sin, then some of us need to repent. And, before you do anything else you need to repent of the sin of prayerlessness. We can do more than pray after we pray, but we can do no more than pray until we have prayed. Oh, the presumption, the arrogance of un-offered prayer. Are you guilty of that sin?

3 The Attitude Of Gratitude

you have an attitude of gratitude? I’ve discovered people tend to fall into two broad categories. Some people are humbly grateful and others are grumbly hateful. Which are you?

There are some negative people who only want to talk about their problems. It’s so bad that you’re afraid to ask, “How are you doing?”

The Bible doesn’t say “Give thanks FOR everything.” It says, “Give thanks IN every circumstance.” Of course you shouldn’t say, “God, thank you for this cancer.” But you can say, “God, I thank you that you are sovereign, and I thank you that your grace is sufficient.”

Are you the kind of person who always looks for something for which you can give thanks?

Alexander Whyte was a famous Scottish pastor famous for beginning every prayer with a word of thanksgiving to God. There was a particular Sunday when the weather was awful. It was cold and gray with the temperature hovering near freezing. A howling wind was driving the rain sideways. There were only a few parishioners who showed up for church. And they were waiting to see what their pastor could thank God for on such a miserable day. Alexander Whyte prayed, “Lord we thank thee…” he paused, then continued, “We thank thee that the weather isn’t like this every day.”

An attitude of gratitude means you focus on the blessings in your life instead of your problems. Everything good in your life is a gift from God. The Bible says, “Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.” (James 1:17 HCSB)

Edison held over 1,000 U.S. patents in name. He had a positive mindset and an irrepressible energy. In 1914 when Edison was 67 years old, his lab and factory burst into flames and burned to the ground. Much of his work was lost in the fire. The building was worth $2 million at the time, but he had it insured for only $250,000, so he lost much of his fortune. In today’s dollars, the loss would have been about $100 million. Edison’s son, Charles, was 24 at the time. Later he wrote about finding his father standing out in the chilly night, watching the fire with fascination. He wrote, “My heart ached for him—67 years old and everything going up in flames. Then I heard my dad shout, ‘Charles, where’s your mother? Go get her. She’ll never see another fire like this one again.’” The next day, as Thomas Edison walked through the smoldering debris he said, “Son, there’s great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burnt up.” Thank God we can start all over again.” Three weeks later Edison unveiled the first phonograph.

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