Wednesday, October 31, 2012

As Christians We Should Shine …… Like A Pumpkin???

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:18

Many holidays we celebrate come from different pagan origins throughout history.  We have adapted them in different ways so we can express them as Christians.  Here is a different way of looking at the jack-o-lantern and how we can relate the carving of a jack-o-lantern to salvation.   

This Halloween I thought it would be refreshing to talk about how we, as Christians, are like pumpkins.  We are like pumpkins in many ways if you really think about it.  We are chosen from the “pumpkin patch” by God and brought in from the field.  God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient. Colossians 3:12 He brings us in, cleans the dirt off and makes us white as snow.  We have quite a few layers of dust and dirt that we have picked up from the pumpkin patch.  But God promises that Old things are passed away and all things are become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Then, like a person would do if they were getting ready to carve a pumpkin, we open our hearts to Him, and He scoops all the yucky stuff we have on the inside out.  This represents sin.  It is hard to believe that He could love us with all that goop inside us, but He does.  Jesus cleans us out and removes the “seeds” of doubt, hate, greed, rejection, bitterness, and fear.  He replaces them with the seeds of faith, hope, and love. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. Ezekiel 36:25-27 God empties out the bad and fills it with the good. 
The power and presence of God in our lives begins to change our countenance like a jack-o-lantern gets a newly carved face.  A joyful heart makes a cheerful face…Proverbs 15:13a.  He begins by opening our eyes like carving the eyes of a pumpkin, and soon the joy and love of God shows on our face.

Shining Through
When Jesus Christ lives in us, He shines through our life for all to see, just like the candle we put inside a carved out jack-o-lantern.  He shines through our heart, our words, our deeds and gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us.  We carve up a pumpkin, and put a light in it that shines through the areas we carve. The deeper we carve, the more the light shines through.  Christians are like that pumpkin.  Christ comes into our lives and provides the inner “light”.  The world with its trials and tribulations “carves” our pumpkin, letting Christ shine through.  The deeper the cuts the more He shines through!  Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'  Let the light of Jesus shine through your cracks and crevices. Be a light to the rest of the world so that they can all see the good works of your Heavenly Father shining through you. 

Scripture to Claim:
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can’t be hidden. Also, people do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand. Then it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine in front of others. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will praise your Father who is in heaven”.    Matthew 5:14-16

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dog's Teeth

Then He told them a parable: "A rich man's land was very productive. He thought to himself, 'What should I do, since I don't have anywhere to store my crops? I will do this,' he said. 'I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods there. Then I'll say to myself, "You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself."' "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared--whose will they be?' "That's how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."

Then He said to His disciples: "Therefore I tell you, don't worry about your life, what you will eat; or about the body, what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing.”  Luke 12:16-23

SPECIAL TODAY! Three dozen nuts for the price of a dozen and a half.  It's a real bargain, Joe. You can’t miss on this deal."  Joe thinks a bit and then picks up a nut and examines it.  He shakes it.  "How long will this special sale last?" he asks.  The answer comes, "Today is the last day - get them while you can."  Joe selects his three dozen nuts.  He opens his purse and hands the shopkeeper the correct change.  Joe picks up the nut sack and goes home.  The shopkeeper smiles as he puts the two dog's teeth in his cash register.

Dog teeth served as decoration and money in different parts of Papua New Guinea and of Papua. Their quantity was restricted because only the canine teeth were considered as money.  The teeth were holed and strung on cords; they were used as necklaces and as headdresses.  The dog teeth strings were also used as bride price.  The Mafulu, a people living on the slopes towards the Gulf of Papua, used dog teeth also to pay for pigs.  The cost of a pig at one time was a chain of dog teeth that equaled the length of the pig from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail.  The use of dog teeth as money ended after 1960.

It is to be assumed that many of these people had a deep desire to collect a great hoard of them.  The driving force behind many a career was the vision of a having a roomful of shining dog's teeth.  Some achieved popularity and high social status because of their wealth in dog's teeth.  How crazy is that?!  The poor fools didn't know that it is silver and gold you are supposed to collect.

A goal or an ideal or an aim that is worthy gives dignity to the activity of one's life.  Some goals are noble - some are just noble sounding.  A few are not even noble sounding: like collecting dog’s teeth.  To some, the goal at the end of the line is favor in the sight of God; to some favor in the sight of man; to others favor in the sight of self.  It is wise to stop and examine one's aim in living and being.
Jesus taught His disciples, "Don't collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don't break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". Matthew 6:19-21

There are lots of “dog’s teeth” in the houses and barns of people today.  The greater wealth is reserved for those who have discovered the riches of friendship with men and fellowship with God.  Check and see what kind of necklace you are making.

Scripture to Claim: 
What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself?  Luke 9:25

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Pick in Hand

He entered Jericho and was passing through. There was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was not able because of the crowd, since he was a short man. So running ahead, he climbed up a sycamore tree to see Jesus, since He was about to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, because today I must stay at your house." So he quickly came down and welcomed Him joyfully. All who saw it began to complain, "He's gone to lodge with a sinful man!". But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, I'll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord! And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I'll pay back four times as much!". "Today salvation has come to this house," Jesus told him, "because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:1-10

Perhaps you have noticed that a geologist is always pictured with a small pick in his hand.  He uses this pick to break rocks so that he can determine of what sort they are.  Why can't he tell by looking at the outside?  He can't tell because even the hardest rocks become weathered, and their color and appearance change.  The geologist must break through this misleading exterior so that he can find the true nature of the rock within.

People often have misleading exteriors.  But it isn't the wind and rain that weather a man; he is weathered by being battered about by disappointments, failure, and grief in a world of anxiety, turmoil, competition, and fear.  Sickness and stress make their marks as do rejection and pressures of making a living.
Rarely, however, do you find one who is weathered through and through.  More often than not a good pick in the hand of a person skilled in its use will uncover the true man beneath a badly worn and weathered exterior.  Peeling away the exterior, we may find a tender heart and a sensitive, wounded spirit at the core.

Zacchaeus, battered and scarred by the world, had in turn battered and scarred others.  But when he met Jesus, the thick outer shell was broken.  Goodness showed itself that day.  No one today has the opportunity of knowing Jesus in person.  Yet, Christ can search the hearts of men and bring healing and hope to battered lives and wounded spirits.  Men so weathered that they didn't know themselves have found themselves through Christ.  As their lives came in contact with the living God, the thick outer shell was broken through.

Looking past the outer shell to the heart of those around us may give us opportunity to see what Jesus sees and minister healing.  Carry a pick with you today and see if you can discover some treasures under the surface.

Scripture to Claim:

The LORD looks down from heaven; He observes everyone. He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth from His dwelling place. He alone crafts their hearts; He considers all their works.
Psalms 33:13-15

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Place of Faith Designated: “There”

Elijah – Faith in Faithless Times
1 Kings 17:1-24
There will be times in every one of our lives when we will experience a need of some type.  What are we to do when needs arise?  While the natural reaction is to worry, we know that this is not God's will for our lives.  God will lead us to places where He will prove Himself to us and test our faith.
A need is not a problem.  A problem is something we can work out with our own abilities and resources.
A need exists when we have exhausted every resource and we are left with the reality of our own inability staring us in the face.
The things that test our faith are seldom announced in advance.
I. The Varied Causes Of Our Needs
A.    Service to God v1-7
B.    Actions of Others and Natural Disasters v9-12
Relationships invite trouble.
C.    The Loss of One We Love v17-18
II. The Complete Supply of Our God
Your need is merely the evidence of God's supply for you in waiting.
A.    God's Past Preparations v3-4
God never tests a man without providing him the resources to pass the test.
B.    God's Present Supply v6
C.    God's Promise for Tomorrow  v14
God's promises are our assurance that God will meet every demand of life - the expected and the unexpected.
III. The Process For Getting Our Needs Met
A.    There Must Be Faith in the Will of God v3
The place called THERE”.   
B.    There Must Be Faith in the Ways of God v9, 13-16
If God could be figured out, He would be too small to help.
C.    There Must Be Faith in the Word of God v14
D.    There Must Be Faith in the Wonder of God. v17-24
When we get beyond "God could and God might", and we come to the place where we become confident that "God can and God will", then we will see our attitude and our situation change.

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