Read The Instructions

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 1:22-24 (NLT)
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

Several years ago, when Melissa and Daniel were babies, we bought a new bookcase for our living room. It was one of those one that come in a box and you have to take out all the parts and put it together. It comes with this handy document called instructions. Now being the red-blooded, American male that I am, I decided I could figure this out with out any stinking directions. You can probably see where this story is headed! As you can imagine, it didn’t go well. It ended with me putting it together wrong, and Tina told me I was never allowed to put stuff like that together anymore. There is a spiritual side to this story. We have been given instructions for life called the Bible. God gave them to us to tell us about His salvation and how to live in this life. Just like me and the instructions for the bookcase, we too often decided we don’t need God’s instructions. The results are also much like my ignoring the bookcase instructions, and we make a mess of our lives because we refuse to read the Bible. However, we can’t just read God’s instructions and not follow them. Once we read them we have to do what it says. Are you reading God’s instructions? Are you putting them to practice in your life?

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Two Ears One Mouth

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 1:19 (NLT)

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Waiting to be interviewed for a job as a wireless operator, a group of applicants paid little attention to the sound of the dots and dashes which began coming over a loudspeaker. Suddenly one of them rushed into the employer’s office. Soon he returned smiling. “I got it!” he exclaimed. “How did you get ahead of us?” they asked.

“You might have been considered if you hadn’t been so busy talking that you didn’t hear the manager’s coded message,” he replied. “It said, ‘The man I need must always be on the alert. The first one who interprets this and comes directly into my private office will be hired.’” (www.sermons.org, “Hearing & Listening, opportunity, paying attention”).

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Dealing With Temptation

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:
James 1:12 (NLT)
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

A number of years ago, the Douglas Aircraft company was competing with Boeing to sell Eastern Airlines its first big jets. War hero Eddie Rickenbacker, the head of Eastern Airlines, reportedly told Donald Douglas that the specifications and claims made by Douglas’s company for the DC-8 were close to Boeing’s on everything except noise suppression. Rickenbacker then gave Douglas one last chance to out-promise Boeing on this feature. After consulting with his engineers, Douglas reported that he didn’t feel he could make that promise. Rickenbacker replied, “I know you can’t, I just wanted to see if you were still honest.” (Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, 22). Eddie Rickenbacker claimed holiness in his hour of temptation. You know the feeling too. It may be the temptation to cheat on your tax return by not identifying all your income so that you get a bigger refund check; it may be to make promises about your product (that are false) to induced someone to buy it; it may be to watch a program or commercial on T.V. that is morally indecent; or it may be to stare at a woman that is provocatively dressed. By the way, the intent of women’s clothes designers is to entice you through their product to look–lust! The truth is that temptation is a part of our everyday Christian life. Christ was not exempt; neither are you. You will be tempted and always will be tempted. Holiness of character depends upon your resisting these temptations.

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Money And The Church

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 1:9-10 (NLT)
9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field.

Here is a funny, and yet, sad story:
A well-worn one dollar bill and a similarly distressed twenty dollar bill arrived at a Federal Reserve Bank to be retired. As they moved along the conveyor belt to be burned, they struck up a conversation. The twenty dollar bill reminisced about its travels all over the county. “I’ve had a pretty good life,” the twenty proclaimed. “Why I’ve been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the finest restaurants in New York, performances on Broadway, and even a cruise to the Caribbean.”
“Wow!” said the one dollar bill. “You’ve really had an exciting life!”
“So tell me,” says the twenty, “where have you been throughout your lifetime?”
The one dollar bill replies, “Oh, I’ve been to the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church ….” The twenty dollar bill interrupts, “What’s a church?”

In Christ,
Pastor Mark

Opportunity For Joy

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

James 1:2 (NLT)
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

This verse in the beginning of James’ Epistle has always been one of my favorites. It seldom brings to mind two Christian brothers from my past. The first, whose name, ironically, is also Mark, whenever something bad would happen in your life would laugh and say, “Count it all joy, bro!” The other was my first District Superintendent, Paul Martin. Paul would walk into the district offices and ask, “Are you happy?,” to which he would always get varied responses depending on how things were going. He would then respond, “It doesn’t matter! Do you have joy?” Paul had a very good handle on what James is saying here. The Biblical concept of joy is very different from the concept our world understands. We often mistake joy and happiness, and the Bible sees them very differently. One commentator had this to say, “Happiness is a subjective state, whereas James is instructing us to make a more objective judgment when he says consider it an opportunity for great joy. “Happiness” might encourage readers to expect a carefree life or a constantly cheerful mood. Neither of these is what James has in mind. He acknowledges the presence of extremely unhappy experiences in his readers’ lives. At the same time, and with no perception of any contradiction, James counsels these readers to rejoice during those very experiences of hardship (Stulac, IVPNT: James, 35). The point is this, happiness is dependent upon circumstances which change like the wind, but joy is dependent only upon the Lord, who does not change…ever! So my friend Paul was quite correct, it doesn’t matter if you’re happy, but do you have joy?

In Christ.
Pastor Mark

A Mother’s Journey

Mark Office

Greetings In The Name Of The Lord

 Proverbs 31:28-29 (NLT)

28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:

29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

 

The young mother set her foot on the path of life. “Is this the long way?” she asked. And the guide said: “Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning.” But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years.

So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams. And the sun shone on them, and the young mother cried, “Nothing will ever be lovelier than this.” Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, “Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come.” And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children, “A little patience and we are there.” So the children climbed, and when they reached the top, they said, “Mother, we would not have done it without you.” And the mother, when she lay down at night looked up at the stars and said, “This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today, I have given them strength.” And with the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth, clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: “Look up. Lift your eyes to the light.” And the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the mother said, “This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God.” And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And the mother said: “I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them.” And the children said, “You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates.” And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: “We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence.” Your mother is always with you. She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she’s the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks she’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not well. Your mother lives inside your laughter. And she’s crystallized in every tear drop. She’s the place you came from, your first home; and she’s the map you follow with every step you take. She’s your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you… Not time, not space…not even death!

Happy Mother’s Day!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

I Am The Resurrection

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Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:

John 11:25-26 (NLT)

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

Vernon McGee once pointed out, ”Martha believed in a resurrection. But listen, it makes less demand upon faith to believe that in a future day we shall receive glorified bodies than it does to rest now on the assurance that they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. It is easier to believe that the Lord is coming and the dead will be raised than it is to believe that tomorrow I can live for God. It is so easy to comfort people who are mourning and say, ‘Well, you’ll see your loved ones someday.’ That doesn’t take much faith. It takes a lot of faith to say, ‘I have just lost my loved one, but I am comforted with the assurance that God is with me and He does all things well.’ You see, although Martha knew from the Old Testament that there would be a resurrection from the dead, she didn’t believe that Jesus could help her now.”

In Christ,

Pastor Mark