Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pray For Our President

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”. - 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Whether you celebrated all night because you voted for Barack Obama or were disappointed because you voted for John McCain, each of us as Christians has the obligation to pray for our new President. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:1-3: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”.

Regardless of who the new president is, he is not the savior of America – Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Only He can turn this nation around and stop crime and injustice. Only Jesus can bring prosperity and blessings to our nation. It is time for believers to stop complaining or boasting about an earthly man in an earthly office and start praying that the Son of God, the President of the Universe, will empower our new President.

While you will never agree fully with anyone in the Presidency, now is not the time for harsh words, bitter talk or angry statements. I’m not saying you can’t disagree with an administration because of your beliefs and convictions. When injustices, wrong motives, or sin are present in anyone in politics, we as American citizens should make our voices heard to the appropriate people, not just anyone who’ll listen to your complaints. We should also shower the situation in prayer.

The new President will surely need our prayers because he and his administration face huge, serious challenges to the health of our nation and to peace in the world—challenges that neither he nor any government on earth will have the power to overcome without divine aid.

Now is also not the time for blind faith in a man to save our country. Whether you are thrilled or disappointed about our new President, he is still our President and the Bible says we must pray that he and his administration will hear from God and act according to Scripture, not popularity or pressure.

The reason our country is in such bad shape is because men have forgotten God. Past presidents have forgotten that all wisdom, provision, protection, power, discernment and authority come from God. Some have forgotten that our democracy is the product of the Judeo-Christian understanding of God and humanity. The men who shaped this country were the same men who were shaped by God. Without the revelation that man is created in the image of God, our founders never would have recognized the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
There is a clear pattern in scripture: when the people of God turned away from Him and worshipped false idols, the result was always disaster. This is a time to repent and pray. We need our President and his administration to be people who hear from God and make righteous decisions. It’s a time for Christians to lead, encourage, and pray for our new Presidential administration.

If you are full of complaining, murmuring, and bitterness because your choice for President was not elected you are in sin and need to repent and begin praying. If you are full of pride, haughty, and arrogant that your choice was elected, you are in sin and need to repent and begin praying for our new President.

May God inspire, direct and protect our new President. God desires us to pray for his wife and daughters. You should use your worship time, family time and private time to ask God’s blessings on Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and all the men and women who serve and lead our country. I pray the 44th will rely and depend on the 1st – Jesus Christ.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

On A Personal Note...

Ok, probably like everyone else, I have a few New Year's resolutions. I started working out again (twice this week already) at a local gym. I hope to lose a few pounds. I forgot how hard the stair stepper was! I remember running 5-7 miles a day in college with the soccer team. 10 minutes on the stair stepper is madness. Anyway...gotta press through the pain.

I'm trying to grow more in my spiritual life as well, that should be a given, shouldn't it? I'm reading though the Bible this year in the Message. If you've never done that, I would highly recommend it. I've never "studied" the weekly messages from my pastor. I've reviewed them, maybe looking up scriptures and the main point, but never in depth. I started writing the sermon study guides and sermon notes before the sermons for our Life Group curriculum. It has really helped a ton.

We are getting ready for a 21 Day Fast in our church. We are actually doing this with other churches around the U.S. and world. Those churches represent about 400,000 people. I'm getting ready for the fast by cutting out sweets and soft drinks - those are the most addictive for me. I'm doing the Daniel Fast, which is mostly fruits and vegtables on some days and juices on most days. I ordered the Daniel's Fast Cookbook to get some ideas.

I looked back at last year's goals and for the most part, I did good. I am purposely taking off one day a week and that day isn't Saturday or Sunday. It is non-stop for me starting about 3pm on Saturday till 9pm Sunday nights. It takes a lot to make the weekend services, groups and activities run smooth. I look forward to spending that time with my family and doing some projects around the house. I love working on things like the house or yard. It is pretty relaxing for me.

Anyway, I hope you set some goals and reach them this year.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What Is Weighing You Down?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. . . .
Hebrews 12:1

What is slowing you down in your pursuit of a relationship with the Lord? Laziness? Procrastination? It could even be a few extra pounds (surely not after Christmas). In order for us to move forward in Christ, we have to remove things that hold us back. Hebrews 12:1 says to “strip off every weight that slows us down.” The writer is speaking about pursuing a life of faith that pleases Christ.
So think about it. What is weighing you down?
While I was in college, I befriended several friends from Sweden who were on the swimming team. One of them was really good and I asked him one day what made him so fast. Naturally, he told me it was lots of practice, eating right, and exercise. But then he told me something I thought was weird. He said, “and shaving.” I laughed at what I thought was a joke, but he didn’t laugh with me. He was serious! He said hair on his legs, arms, and chest could slow him down in the water. Talk about sacrifice! He was willing to get rid of whatever made him slower, even something as small as hair. While that may be a strange illustration, it helps bring to light that whatever is hindering us from becoming like Christ must be eliminated – however small or insignificant it may seem.
I think that some of us could benefit from investigating our lives for hindrances to our Faith. There is a lot more junk in our lives than we may realize. If you don't believe me, then try moving from one house to another. Isn't it amazing how much junk you have collected? Just before my family moved, I helped another family move across town. After unloading them, I thought, “I’m sure glad I don’t have as much stuff as they do.” Wow, was I wrong. It’s amazing how much junk we have when we do an inventory. While it is stuffed away in a closet or an attic it is never noticed. The same is true in our lives. We take on things we don't need. Periodically, we needed to clean out this excess weight and let it go.When the race of life gets difficult, we like to blame circumstances, other people, or sometimes even God. But we need to remember that if we stumble or fall, it is our own fault. The Bible says that Jesus' "divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life" (2 Peter 1:3).The Bible also tells us to lay aside the weight and the sin that hinders our progress (Hebrews 12:1). Notice the distinction: we are not just to lay aside the sin; we also are to lay aside the weight.In fact, I would suggest periodically asking yourself this question about the uncertain areas of your life: Is it a wing or is it a weight? In other words, does it speed you on your way in this race you are running? Or, is it a weight—something that slows you down?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Finishing Strong

"I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize. . . ."
Philippians 3:14

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? I know that some of you still have those unfulfilled goals from 2008 – maybe even 2007. While we sometimes do not reach every goal we set, I still think goal setting is great. After all, if you never set a goal, you have nothing to strive towards. Just remember that the Bible says that with God, all things are possible.

There is a story about one man who made some New Year's resolutions. In 2006 he said, "I will not get upset when Sam and Charlie make jokes about me." In 2007 it was, "I won't get annoyed when Charlie and Sam talk about me behind my back." Then in 2008, "I will not lose my temper when Charlie and Sam laugh at me and call me names." In 2009, "I will not speak anymore to Charlie and Sam." As the years passed, he changed his resolutions. While that is funny, it is probably not a good model.

Sometimes we adjust our resolutions as time passes because we are unable to keep them. Instead of losing twenty pounds, we reduce it to fifteen. Instead of loving others, it’s tolerating them. But we don't need a New Year's resolution. We really don’t! Resolutions are broken. Personal goals imply self. Self will let you down and you’ll end up short. You don’t need a personal resolution. You need a spiritual solution!

The spiritual solution everyone needs in 2009 is found in Philippians 3. The apostle Paul helps us understand what our priorities should be. On more than one occasion, he used athletic metaphors to describe the Christian life. In this passage, he compares it to running a race. But we need to understand that it is not a 50-yard dash. It is a long-distance run. That is why we must pace ourselves. Short term goals leave you with short term results. Long term goals require patience and persistence wrapped around God’s presence and power. Let’s say you enter a race. There are ten laps and you start out strong. Lap two…lap five…lap nine…then you quit. It is not all that significant if you have held first place in a race for nine out of ten laps. What matters is the tenth lap. Whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner.

The problem is that a lot of people have a yo-yo or rollercoaster relationship with God. It’s up and down. Either they are experiencing the ultimate spiritual high or they are down in the dumps. We need spiritual consistency. And we need God's help to stay with it. If we want to win in the race of life, then we need to learn to pace ourselves.

This new year, instead of setting personal resolutions, why not try a spiritual solution. Let Christ’s answers to life solve your short-lived resolutions by giving you definite answers and solutions. Don’t give up! Strive to finish strong. Take the race of life one lap at a time with Christ and with your eyes constantly on the finish line.