“More Than Conquerors”

May 22

“More Than Conquerors”

Octavain, the nephew of Julius Caesar, was one of the greatest conquerors of all time. He was granted the title Augustus, meaning exalted, by the Roman senate During his rule, the Roman empire expanded into Hungary, Croatia and Egypt as well as securing Spain and Gaul. He added more land than Julius Caesar and was worshiped as a god in Rome. Into this conquering culture, Christ came into the world and Christianity was born. The Jewish people were well aware of the Rome’s power, since they were subjugated under their dominion. However, in juxtaposition to Rome’s rule, the promise of the gospel message was a unique power. A spiritual power. Conqueror. The word is used only once in the Bible in Romans8:37. Paul, a Roman citizen, boldly affirmed “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” It is a compound that not only means to conquer, but as Lindell and Scott put it “to prevail completely over.” Vine says it means “to gain a surpassing victory.” Hendricksen says “we are super-conquerors. We are winning a sweeping, overwhelming victory.” In a world filled with pain. Suffering. Sickness. And death. When Every day somewhere relationships are ruptured. Spirits are disquieted. Souls as distressed. Hearts are broken. We may not feel like we’re “super conquerors.” But we can be! Here’s how! (1) Live in God’s Presence. James said, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Jesus promised “I am with you always even to the end of the world. Mt 28:29. When we suffer temporary set-backs, we can know that we are in the presence of God. What a great encouragement, comfort and consolation. One man said, where was God when my son died?” The answer is: The same place he was when His son died. If you feel forsaken, Jesus knows how you feel. God is not a spectator of our pain, we are in his presence. And in the end, we will win! (2) Learn from God’s Promises. The Psalmist affirmed that God would be with us. That he is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.” God promises help. Comfort. Hope. He says, “I...

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“Vapors of Blessing”

May 15

“Vapors of Blessing”

  JOURNAL Thoughts:  Friday 8:45a.m. 02/15/2015 Vanity. In the book of Ecclesiastes   the Preacher or ‘Searcher’ ; Solomon uses this simple word over 25 times in this short introspective book.  He opens his writings with this phrase. “Vanity of Vanities” Ecclesiastes 1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; ALL is vanity. And even in the last chapter of the book he concludes with the same phrase. “Vanity of Vanities” (Ecclesiastes 12:8) Solomon’s view of life at this time was one of deep and troubling soul-searching. The man was the ‘Bill Gates’ or ‘Warren Buffett’ of his day, for in chapter 2 He tells us  whatever  his eyes or Heart desired he obtained it (Ecc. 2:10). He was in a desperate search for the meaning of Life by purchasing and buying all the material things plus experiences he could have—He held NOTHING BACK in this frantic pursuit for ‘The Meaning of Life’. All of life is VANITY was one of Solomon’s major conclusions in this book. A better translation of the Hebrew word VANITY, here , (Ha-bel) , would be literally ‘BREATH’. In other words Life is but a mere vapor or Breath, exhaled  and dissipating quickly with hardly a thought of that passing. In that regard, that LIFE PASSES QUICKLY I would agree, especially as I approach my 60th year. Twenty  years ago to me, seems to have ‘flashed by’ like the snap of ones fingers .It  is as if with each passing year my life spins by faster and faster. The Apostle James said it this way… ‘Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.’ With all this in mind today I am learning more and more to be grateful for the ‘Small things’; those small blessings that come my way each day . For me, the biggest source of ‘small blessings’ are my two granddaughters; Jeslyn, age 7  and Natalie  age 10.  As an example, It just dawned on me this past week what a joy it is each weekday to escort my granddaughters down the street to get on the bus for school. I...

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“Yogi On Life”

May 14

“Yogi On Life”

Former Yankee great and baseball Hall of Famer, Yogi Berra, turned 90 on Tuesday. Berra was known, not only for his  All Star career, but his “Yogi-isms,” funny quips about life and baseball. His family, friends, and fans gathered to celebrate his remarkable life and career, and to recall some of his famous “Yogi-isms” Several years ago, Sports Broadcaster, Brent Musburger, told a story that one Fall day Yogi was burning leaves in his yard. Suddenly the wind picked up, and it was getting harder to get the fire line under control. The flames got a bit more aggressive and headed toward a storage shed on the property. So he ran in to call the fire department for help. “Hurry!” Yogi shouted into the phone. “I got a fire over here that’s gettin’ outa control.” It was well before the days of Caller ID and GPS directions, so the dispatcher asked, “How do we get to your house, sir?” There was a brief pause. Then Yogi replied, “You still got them red trucks, ain’t you?” When asked about his quips, Yogi once said, “I don’t mean to be funny. Them sayings, they just ‘come out.’ I don’t even know I said ’em! I really don’t.” However, many of his sayings speak to valuable life lessons that are worth reflection. “You can observe a lot by watching” Yogi was right! Too many times we stumble through life without really watching where we are going. What we are doing. Or why we are doing it! The Bible is filled with exhortations to “be alert.” “Be vigilant.” “Be watchful.” Author, J. Oswald Sanders put it this way, “Eyes that look are common. Eyes that see are rare.” “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Life is filled with decisions. Daily. Some are big while others are seemingly small and insignificant. However, every decision carries some consequence. And each requires a choice. Indecision will drain your power. Paralyze you. And render you ineffective. “It’s déj vu all over again.” Yogi once explained this quote came from the early 1960’s. It occurred when he watched Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle hit back-to-back home runs. However, it reminds me of a statement by...

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” Having a True BFF !”

Apr 24

” Having a True BFF !”

My 10 year old granddaughter and I recently finished reading a book by , Stan Crader, called The Bridge. Crader gives a glimpse of rural America through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy, Tommy Thompson, during the summer of 1967. It details Tommy’s quest for a Honda motorcycle and the summer jobs he worked to earn it. Tommy recalls his adventures with his school buddies, Caleb, Flop and his best friend Booger and how he helped him through family tragedy. And he reminisces about his first infatuation with a gal named, Wendy.   As summer ends and the next school year begins, Tommy reflects, “It wasn’t until several years later that I realized the value of friends that I made that summer.” God made human beings for friendship. Fellowship. And relationships. We are created for community with other folks. The wise man observed, “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend.” (Prov. 27:9-10). Keil and Delitzsch observe how the ancients perfumed with dry aromas and the sprinkling of liquid aromas “as a mark of honor toward guests and a means of promoting joyful social fellowship.” In the same way, friends provide delight. Give pleasure. Offer counsel. Furnish joy. The Preacher speaks of the kind of friends we need in Eccl. 4:9-12. Two are better than one because they have a good REWARD for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Notice what the wise man says about the value of a real friend. (1) A Real Friend Helps You when You’re Down. How can you tell the between friends and acquaintances? That’s easy. Just get into trouble and see who is still around! You can call them at 2 a.m. and they don’t question you to decide if they are coming, they just...

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“Can You Do MORE?”

Apr 08

“Can You Do MORE?”

Abraham sending his servant, Eliezer, on a mission to find a wife for his son Isaac (Genesis 24) is a beautiful story with many spiritual applications and lessons for us. Probably the most significant ‘take a way’ for me, is what former Pastor now motivational speaker John Maxwell calls ‘The Rebekah Principle’ Eliezer left Haran with a large caravan of 10 camels loaded with expensive gifts and journeyed to Nahor, a distance of about 435 miles. Assuming that a camel can average 25 miles a day, it would have taken 17 days to arrive at their destination. It would seem to be a difficult task to convince a young woman to leave her family, friends and homeland to journey a great distance to marry a man she hasn’t met. The text records Eliezer’s prayer to Jehovah that he would find that right woman for Issac. The one of God’s choosing. As the caravan arrives, Eliezer spots a young woman. Rebekah, filling a water jar and asks for a drink. She humbly obliges and says “Drink, my Lord!” But what she does next is astounding! “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking” Rebekah offered. “So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels” Eliezer “gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.” As the story unfolds, Rebekah was the one chosen to be the Patriarch Isaac’s wife. Consider the astounding generosity of Rebekah. She carried water for 10 thirsty camels! It is estimated that a camel will drink between 20-30 gallons of water! It easily could have taken her 2 hours to carry that much water! And, all for a complete stranger, who only asked for a drink for himself! Rebebek did more than asked. Or even required or expected. She serves as a model for ministry for all time. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus illustrated the principle in practical terms. Palestine was under Roman occupation. A soldier could tap you on the shoulder and force you to carry his bags or equipment for one mile. The Jews...

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“Who Is The Greatest?”

Apr 03

“Who Is The Greatest?”

“He saved others, but he can’t save himself!” – one of many taunts that were spat at Jesus while he hung dying on a cross more than 2000 years ago. Limp. Parched. Bleeding. Hurting. The notice describing the charge and basis for Jesus’ death penalty read: “The King of the Jews”. He was the king of an oppressed people, living under the merciless Roman occupation. They mocked him because, what kind of king bows to death? Here was a self-proclaimed king who not only accepted an unfair death sentence but willingly and humbly permitted the torture. When I think of the great warriors and kings of history – Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great, Richard the Lionheart, the gladiator Spartacus, Genghis Khan – none approached leadership as Jesus did. From my recollection  of history , not one of the great warriors, leaders and kings of old took their army to the frontline of the battlefield and suddenly cried, “Stop!” and, “I’ll take it from here.” None turned their army back to take on the enemy singlehanded; one man against his immense foe. In war there is an accepted advantage in a critical mass of fierce warriors. Less so when the king walks to the frontline and proffers his head, as Jesus did. Who is greater? During the Last Supper Jesus gathered his nearest and dearest, his nerves buzzing with the knowledge of his impending death. The disciples began bickering about who was the greatest. Impeccable timing, fellas! Jesus said, “The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:26-27) This was not a new concept. Jesus taught, “the first will be last and the last will be first” messages throughout his ministry. He had the presence of a king but stooped to wash the dirt-crusted feet of his disciples saying, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example...

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