I want to grow in character. Another way of saying that is, I want to be a better person. I want to be righteous. I want to be holy. I want to sin less. I want to have pure motives. I want to love people as much as Jesus loves me. I want to be as much like Jesus as is possible. The common word in those sentences is the word “want”. The truth is that the stronger the “want” the faster the change and growth in me will be towards Christ likeness. My natural inclination is to ignore character flaws, justify poor choices, blame others for failure, give myself grace when I sin, and compare myself with others. I don’t want my unrighteousness acts to crush me but the right way to experience God’s forgiveness, grace, mercy, and power to change is to acknowledge that I sinned, confess it to God as a violation of His will, repent, grieve over my sin, and then to express with all my heart my desire to be holy. God says “hunger and thirst for righteousness, pursue righteousness, want it, want it, want it, and I will be satisfied. I spend time each day at the end of the day examining my behavior, thinking about my motives, and working hard not to become content with where I am. It is slow going, but I will not give in and relax and accept the view that “I am just human”.
That was one of the closest games at the end that I have ever seen, and it looks like it should have even been closer, as the refs missed a call at the end. That is the way life is at times, things just don’t go our way. Detroit hasn’t won a game and can’t get a break. I have felt like that in the past, and in the midst of it wondered if God really loved me. The main reason I felt like that in the past is that I forgot that God is totally and completely just and that everything balances out at the Judgment Seat of Christ when God rewards us for the life we have lived and the sacrifices that we have made. Eternity is what matters not this life.
I believe without a doubt the the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God. When I read it I am reading the mind of God. Even though all of the Bible is the Word of God I do have favorite parts because they seem most pertinent to my life. My favorite chapter in all of the Bible is Johnn 17. It is called the “High Priestly Prayer of Jesus”. The entire chapter is the words of a prayer that Jesus prays just before His death. A portion of the prayer is for us today so it is fun to read what Jesus prayed for us then and what He continues to pray for us now. I am going to preach and teach on this chapter for the next 6 weeks. These are going to be very practical sermons that will teach us how to have a growing and powerful relationship with God and to have His power and blessing working in our life. I am excited about this series because I truly believe that I will grow a bunch because of the truth that is in this chapter and I am going to work hard at being honest and transparent enough to learn and apply this truth to my last. By the way my series will have a break in it on October 24th and 25th because on that weekend we will be having a super good seminar on “Evolution and the Bible”. This will be an amazing weekend and if you really are interested in knowing the truth don’t miss this weekend.
I rode my Newly finished Recumbent Trike down to the church (JBC) this afternoon and left it in the foyer of the sanctuary. Those who came to the service tonight and those who come to either of the services in the morning have to walk right by it before they go in to sit down. It was fun showing it off this evening and chatting with a number about our upcoming trip across the nation again, this time from San Diago to St Augustine, Florida. That was pretty blatant boasting, but I have talked so much about the bike over the last several months as we built it that I couldn’t resist. Young kids show off a lot because they are still cute when they do and haven’t been trained yet that it is not good to toot your own horn. Old guys tend to boast a lot because they are winding down and may not do something that good again so might as well be sure people notice. A major reward at the judgment seat of Christ for those who live their life well for Jesus is “Glory”. Jesus will give us glory provided we have not already gotten it here. As adults managing the glory seeking irge within each of us is a major challenge each day. The admonition in scripture is to walk humbly with our God, and “God gives grace to the humble but wars against the proud.”
In the Bible the devil is called the “evil one”. I wonder how evil he is? I wonder if there is any limit or end or measure of the extent of his capacity for evil? I wonder how much he can influence mankind to do evil? I wonder how much control he has over people to cause them to do evil? In the Bible in Revelations 12:12 it says, “woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time”. I wonder what an infinitely evil being with great power who has great wrath and a great hatred of God and takes it out on those whom God loves is capable of and what it will look like in the days ahead as his time gets shorter and his wrath becomes more intense? I don’t know the answers to those questions. I can just wonder and wait and see. But I do know the answers to those same questions as they apply to me personally. The answers are expressed as promises in the Bible towards those who are followers of Jesus. Psalms 18:1-3 is a favorite of mine, “I love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemy.” And John 17:15 is a prayer of Jesus for us “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one”. And at the end ” Revelations 20:2, and He laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and satan, and bound him..” And finally in Revelations 20:10, “the devil was thrown into the lake of fire where he will be tormented day and night forever”. And the cool part is We live with God forever with the total and complete absence of any evil.
I bought an exercise bike that fits under my desk and I can pedal while sitting in my chair. I can pedal while I am working on the computer, writing notes, talking on the phone, and working on my sermon. I am thinking that I should be able to add a couple of hours each day to my pedal routine of about an hour a day now. The exercise bike I now ride on has produced more positive change in me physically in combating Parkinson’s than anything else I have done so I am quite excited about this new exercise bike. I haven’t ridden it yet so everything up this point has been pure conjecture, but the advertisements made it sound very promising. If you come and visit me I may be pedaling away while we talk. Hopefully I don’t sweat so much that I smell to bad.
I was sitting in prayer tonight and recognized that at the end of two days in our “Five Days of Prayer” that if attendance continued the same for the next three days that this would be our lowest attended prayer event. That realization made me very sad. Prayer is what we have been about for 15 years, and now it seemed to be waning terribly. As I sat thinking about it I knew that it was my fault. As I have told literally hundreds of Pastors over the years “everything rises and falls on leadership”. If you start promoting a prayer event a week before it starts don’t be surprised by low attendance, and that is exactly what I did. The devil fights against prayer more than anything a church does, because he has no defense against it, and if there is mediocre leadership he will win. My quote in my seminar on prayer for years has been “if you take a boiling pot of water off of the heat it will stop boiling almost immediately, and if the senior pastor quits pushing prayer it will stop almost immediately.” Funny how I can preach things for years and fail to practice them. Everybody gets tired, and I have gotten tired and allowed myself to get a bit lazy in regards to my responsibility. Our next “Five Days of Prayer” is the first week in December in preparation for our Christmas outreach event. That is two months away, and I am starting this next week to teach, encourage, promote, nag, advertise, about that event and the importance of a church praying so as to experience Gods blessing. It is the only way.