Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Bigger Battle…

Today as I write this, our country will mark with somber reflection, the 12th anniversary of the tragic and cowardly 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville PA. If you are like most people, you remember in vivid detail where you were when you heard or saw the terrible news that a multiple planes had hit the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in DC. You remember those 44 brave passengers on United Airlines flight 93 who overpowered the hijackers and crashed that plane into a field rather than whatever target the terrorists had in mind. Literally there are thousands of stories to be told and reflected upon from the events of that awful day where life in America and how we travel by air changed forever. Those stories must be remembered and retold lest we ever forget the cost of freedom, liberty and security for the nation we love called the United States of America.

On days like today, it is appropriate to move a little slower, take time to reflect, mourn the loss of life and say a prayer for the families of those victims, for ourselves, our families and for our nation as a whole and to thank God for our first responders and military personnel. We are battle weary and worn from 12 years of fighting wars and battles on multiple fronts against terrorists. With all the stress that 9-11 has added to our lives and the financial impact on our economy where we’re scratching out a living, everything costs way too much, and there is great concern on all fronts as to what the future holds; it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger battle we’re engaged in as Christians.

The “Bigger Battle” I’m referring to is for the souls of men, women, boys and girls. Certainly, we are citizens of the greatest country in the world with a duty to our country, but we as Christians need to be reminded we’re passing through this life on the road to eternity and our primary citizenship is in Heaven. We need to be reminded that the Lord Jesus Christ is still the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and that in spite of 9-11, God has not moved off His throne. We need to be reminded that the Gospel still has the power to transform lives and is the power of God to salvation. Satan would have us to believe there is a gag order upon us and we can’t speak about Jesus. Satan is a liar who doesn’t want us to be about our Heavenly Father’s business, living like Jesus who came to “seek and to save that which was lost.”

Dear Christian brothers and sisters, today on 9-11, be encouraged that the Bigger Battle has already been won and Jesus Christ has declared victory over Satan and the forces of Hell. We were horrified 12 years ago and still are at the evil and wickedness the human race is capable of carrying out on their fellow man. Yet I want to encourage you as a Christian soldier, you are God’s agent of blessing to the people around you in your circle of influence. Every day, you have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people you come into contact with because you have living within you God’s Holy Spirit. As you go about your daily routine, the power of God pulses within you with all the resources of Heaven available to you as you walk in the Spirit and seek to honor the Lord. If you make yourself available to the Lord each day, the Holy Spirit will give you many opportunities to shine brightly for Jesus. As you let your light shine, people will be drawn to ask questions about the hope and joy you have. The Apostle Peter encourages us of how to prepare for those natural questions: “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” (1st Pet.3:15).

Tragic things happen in people’s lives every day and yet God has placed believers here on earth as His carriers of hope and blessing. When someone you know in your circle of influence is having a bad day or tragedy strikes them, remember God has you connected to that person “for such a time as this.” You are equipped with the power of Almighty God to simply introduce them to your Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the aftermath of 9-11, I know in my life and I’m certain in other believers, I think we were more sensitive to minister to people around us who were hurting and in despair because of the national tragedy. Today 12 years later there are still lots of people out there that are hurting and in despair and are looking for hope.

 At Ground Zero in New York, two massive blue beacons illuminate the night sky as a vivid reminder of 9-11. Oh dear Christian friends, you are great beacons of light for the Lord Jesus Christ in a dark world. Let us continue to let our lights shine boldly for Jesus so the world will be pointed to Him in the same way those beams in New York point to the God of Heaven who is bigger than the evil of 9-11. Something to reflect on and find encouragement in, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Sunday, September 1, 2013

VIP Status

It’s annoying isn’t it? Driving into a jammed parking lot at the store and there out of the corner of your eye you see an empty parking spot and it’s near the door! So you are beating a path there hoping nobody steals it and just as you are about to turn into it; there’s a sign that says: “Reserved for Employee of the Month” or something similar. You may have had occasion to go to an upscale restaurant or hotel where there are parking signs saying “VIP Parking Only.” Do you ever wonder who those VIP people are? I mean I’ve never had anyone introduce themselves to me and tell me they are a VIP. By the way, VIP is an acronym for “Very Important Person.” Just who are these VIP’s? Obviously the President of the United States is a VIP.

As a youngster growing up during what was called the “Cold War” between the United States and Soviet Russia, there was talk all the time about the “Hotline” between the Oval Office and the Kremlin. It was a dedicated phone line directly between the two leaders of world’s super powers. Maybe from TV & movies, we assume this phone is a red phone sitting on the President’s desk.  If you have access to that line, it most certainly makes you a VIP. What if you had a red phone mounted on the wall of your home that was a dedicated line directly to that red phone on the President’s desk? How empowered would you be to know that you could call the President directly and he would answer that phone anytime you picked it up? No operator, no one screening your call, one ring and the President is on the line to answer your request. I’m pretty sure we’d be taking advantage of that kind of VIP status.

I ask again, just who are these VIP’s? I’m here to tell you that if you are a COG, you are a VIP! What’s a COG? Great question my friends. If you are a believer, a disciple of Jesus Christ, a Christian, you are a COG – a Child of God and that makes you a Very Important Person! You have something better than a red phone mounted on the wall of your home; you have a direct line to the throne room of Almighty God through prayer. When you pick up that dedicated line to God in prayer, you don’t have to go through an operator, a secretary or a recorded message to press 1 or any other key; you have the ear of God Himself.

The Apostle Paul encouraged us in Eph.2:18 saying “For through Him (Jesus) we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Down in Eph.3:12, Paul continued: “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.” The Apostle John, one of the Lord Jesus’ closest friends here on earth – called “the disciple Jesus loved” said in 1st John 5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”  How is that for encouragement? We know that He hears and that we have the petitions we asked of Him when we pray according to the will of God.

So why don’t we take advantage of our VIP status? Maybe Satan has convinced us that God is too busy to respond to our requests or that God doesn’t want to be bothered. There’s a Greek word for that: hooey - Hooey! (I’m kidding about the Greek word!) But our wonderful Heavenly Father, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessed Holy Spirit all want us to take advantage of our VIP status and come to God in prayer. The Apostle Peter affirmed this truth in 1st Peter 5:7 “Casting all our care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

More than any other time, people are stressed out beyond belief. The statistics about stress and the impact of heavy stress on our health is mind boggling. I believe Christian people are stressed out in part because we’re not taking advantage of VIP status by carrying our concerns to the Lord in prayer. When we depend on ourselves and not on the Lord, we get overwhelmed in a hurry and then we’re stressed out because we’re not depending on Jesus.

Will you join me in taking advantage of our shared VIP status and pray? Some of you could join our prayer ministry “Sweet hour of Prayer” on Thursday mornings at 0930 in the sanctuary.  Most of you cannot do that but you can pray where ever you are and any time you would like. Pray for yourself, pray for your family, your friends, and your church family and church leadership. Pray for lost friends to be saved. Satan wants to destroy families and the family of God. If he can keep us from praying and distracted by busyness of life, disconnected from our life line, he can keep us from accomplishing anything of significance for the Kingdom of God. You are a VIP and you have direct access to the throne of God! Let us humbly be VIP’s today and every day by taking hold of the throne of grace in prayer, from my little prayer corner of the world to yours…