Look at Me! I’m Suffering! Luke 23:34

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But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
Luke 23:34

Last year we looked at the willingness of Jesus to forgive others as He hung on the cross.  This year, I was struck by his willingness to intercede on the behalf of others as he suffered.

While I was looking at the story of our Lord I kept thinking, had this been any one of us, we would have been screaming from the top of our lungs, “Look at Me; I’m suffering!”  “All eyes on me!”  “Look at this crown on my head!”  “Look at the nails in my hands and feet.”  “Look at them gambling for my clothing.”  “Look at Me!  I’m Suffering!”  But, not our Lord!  In the height of His suffering, He opened His mouth towards heaven and sought mercy and grace for those who were abusive towards Him. images (3)

What about you?  In your journey towards the mark, are you in the habit of considering the state and need of others before your own?  If your like me, and I am assuming you are, our personal plights often come with blinders at best, most often a sleep mask!  We are so caught up in our own circumstances that the pain, suffering and needs of others can take sit on the back burner, getting minimal if not any attention.

Not only do many of us ignore others in the middle of our ordeals, we call attention to ourselves, highlighting our struggles, calling for the compassion and empathy of others in a way to cope and compensate us as we travel through.  Though Jesus could have made a legitimate, and I mean LEGITIMATE CASE, that the world revolves around Him, we must realize that the world does not revolve around us.

Jesus was not a narcissistic, and neither should we.  We are neighbors!  We are fellow members of a larger community, though we find ourselves paired with smaller groups  and individually loved by God.  Our God is the creator of all mankind, and desires to be the Savior of all, though all have yet to acknowledged His existence or His sacrifice.  It is this knowledge that must keep us pressing to reach out to all people, and displaying our love for all His creation.

 

Let us follow the example of our Lord.  Remembering others even as we are experiencing the pain and struggles life presents us.  Let us gain confidence and peace such that we show compassion to those who lack the connection to God, and the security of being justified by His sacrifice.

Fight of Flight (Judges 14:5-6)

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Judges 14: 5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father
and mother.  As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly
a young lion came roaring toward him.  6 The Spirit of the LORD came
powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands
as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor
his mother what he had done.

Are you prepared to Fight?  or Are you preparing for Flight?

As I read this passage, I thought about the many who have not prepared to fight the many lions on our journey.  I first thought of the natural portion given to us called “adrenaline”.   God has uniquely designed our bodies with a “fight” or “flight” system powered by adrenaline.Adrenaline

In key moments, our minds will be called upon to make the distinction as to what should be done in key situations.  In this, the adrenaline produced can give us the strength to “fight” or for “flight”.  This distinction is an assessment that happens on the spot and determines the best way to respond to any given situation.

I thought about the response of Samson, a man of God who as a Nazarite, accepted his vow to live for the Lord.  While others took the vow by choice, Samson was chosen before birth, but had to accept his appointment to live for the Lord.  His response to the roaring lion was based upon his knowledge of Who God is and Who He was in God.

Vineyard; No Problem

Even before addressing the Lion, I was first captured by his position.  His journey to investigate his future wife took him through a vineyard.  As a Nazarite, he is not to drink or eat anything from the vine.  As he travels, it seems as though the presence of the vineyard does not phase him.  He has become so disciplined in this area of his life, that he seems to advance, not even distracted by what he sees.  This comes with a lifestyle of denial and focus to be disciple.  I wondered if I and other could get there?  To be like Samson in this moment or like our Lord in the wilderness.  Samson placed his vow to the Lord before his commitment to please his flesh, considering his pleasure secondary to pleasing God.  If only we could get here!

How close are you?  Would you be snacking from the vines as though walking through Cosco or HEB?  Truthfully most of us would have been full of grapes, stumbling from the wine, and crawling into the Temple with our sacrifice, shaving our heads and starting our vows yet again.

Will you keep your vows?  No you aren’t a Nazarite, but as brides of the Divine, we have a commitment as a disciple to live a life of discipline, denying our self, and pressing towards the mark of righteousness placed for us.  We must position ourselves to be used by the Lord by living out or vows not before man, but before a righteous God!

Are you positioned? 

In this, I took a close look at my life; asking myself am I prepared to be used by the divine?  Sadly, I concluded No; not completely.  I examined my health, and determined that my lack of discipline in eating and drinking, presents to God a temple that is partially prepared to carry out my calling.   Are you positioned?

As we looked at Adrenaline, we see how its use can both save your life, giving you the ability to fight or for flight, but that in certain cases, the use of it can take the life of one who’s temple is not able to handle the power it provides.  Are you prepared?  Samsoms’ temple had been set aside for Gods’ use and was ready to handle his first assignment.  When the Holy Spirit came upon him, it had complete use of his temple to carry out this super natural feat!  Could you?  Are you positioned?  Positioning is the result of preparation.  Denying himself and being discipline with his eating and drinking, Samson was ready to physically handle the rigors of the fight.  He, under control of the Holy Spirit, tore a lion in half, with the inference being that it was with very little struggle.

Are you prepared? 

The Holy Spirit was able to use not only his body, but was able to control his actions by the connection he had to the Divine.  Resembling his covenant daily, He most likely stood facing the lion with a larger mane that the young lion that attacked.  He kept razor from his head, symbolizing his connection and covenant to the Lord, refusing to break his vow.  His close connection allowed him to be overtaken, and his discipline and life of denial allowed him to quickly submit in the heat of the battle.  Fight or Flight?  For Samson, even before knowing the power he possessed, Flight was not an option.

How will you respond to the attack? Diving

Because most of us are not prepared, we choose Flight!  I want to encourage us to take a stand and to Fight!

What I love about the passage is that Samson was taken by surprise!  Many of us feel being prepared is knowing the exact challenge that we will face, but when you are walking with Christ, and guided by His Spirit, being prepared is not knowing what is a head, but knowing who is your head!  Yes, we are a body; and Christ is our Head.  It is the knowledge of this that allows us to fight as though taking a test as though we had the answer key prior to the exam.

We must stay built up in the Word, increase our intimacy with time in Prayer, Chasten ourselves by Fasting!   

Again, being surprised is not equivalent to be unprepared.  That is, unless we are undisciplined.  The reason many of us have to choose flight is our undisciplined lifestyle.  When we assess the situations we face, we have not prepared ourselves or structured ourselves to carry out the fullness of our calling.  Will you prepare?

I’ll show you a Lion!

Samson stood up to the Lion, knowing that he was not standing by himself.  Yes, you guessed it!  Why take flight from a young lion when you are walking with the Lion of Judah?  You want to see a Lion, I’ll show you a Lion.  You might think I am walking by myself, but I am walking in power with the favor and protection of the Lord.  I am covered by His blood and empowered by His spirit to do greater works that already displayed.

I face all challenges with faith, not responding to the roar of the lion, but to the voice of the King!  It is His voice that presents fear and the respect I have for His love and sacrifice that is the power that allow me to walk towards a challenge as opposed to running away from it.

Which Direction are you Running?

You are either headed back or you are moving forward!  You choose how you use the power you are given.  Are you praying to get out or praying to power through?

handsinsoilDid I do that?

I am grateful that God doesn’t do everything for us or without us!  God powered Samson with the Holy Spirit but allowed him to experience the power and the satisfaction of achievement.  It is an honor and so satisfying to see the things God allowed your hands to participate in accomplishing.  Yes, here I am Lord; send me!  Lord forbid that the Kingdom is built while we are spectators!  I want to point to a brick, a wall, a chair, a person, a ministry, an offering, a miracle that God worked through me to accomplish.

Like Samson, I want to travel and see the work of my hands, celebrating and remembering the power of the partnership I have with God, and reveling in just how powerful I am when fully dedicated and submitted to Him.  Don’t you?  Don’t you want to look at your hands as the tools of the Lord to accomplish His will on the earth, and not just as tools to bring pleasure to your flesh? olympic-victory-celebrating (45) As I look to the floor, I see the prior works of my hand.  Feeding my temple things that have brought harm and have been a hindrance.  Lord forbid that this be the only changed visible to mankind by my hands.   I pray that your hands show more than clothes and cars, houses and land.  I pray that God will use you to produce more than grapes on a vine, but fruit from a life lived that honors God.

 

#PastorJDO3

 

 

 

The Kingdoms’ Electoral College

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I find it interesting that the voice provided by social media has transformed our first culture and now our faith. A medium that could be used for good, has once again been used to divide and conquer our faith. Now Pastors and Parishioners are calling each other out; questioning a persons sincerity, calling and even salvation because of disagreements that should be settled in private and would take all of 30 minutes of discussion a hug and a handshake.

How did we get here? There have always been disagreements in the church and people have and will often find themselves offended at the actions of their brother or sister. Thus Paul advised in 1 Corinthians 6:6 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Why, public arguments just aren’t cute, neither are they beneficial to the faith.

Fast forward through the jargon!!!!

In the grand scheme of things, we have God’s Word to guide our lives by. It speaks truth to us, and gives us boundaries and correction. It gives us the rules by which He will abide, in that He holds to His Word and does not break His covenant! He decided what was sinful. It informs us that we all have a date set to stand before the throne, where we will be divided sheep and goat! Having stated this, none of us need to pronounce judgement on anyone.

electoralcollegesmallFurthermore, I pronounce myself as deserving of a spot among the goats. Yes, I deserve a spot! In sin, I am truly the Greatest of All Times! Yep; The GOAT! And because of this, I haven’t the time to make calls upon what I believe the results of another man or womans’ walk will be. I like Paul am just trying to keep from getting disqualified, and if I am going to use an example of a wretch or someone who is deserving of hell, it should be me!!!!
Paul didn’t spend his time roasting Peter nor did he waste time judging the Super Apostle! He didn’t even waste time speaking ill of those who persecuted him and rejected him. He stayed focused on the prize and stayed true to His call. He stood on truth as opposed to warring with those who refused to recognize it or even fought against him. He stood by this truth until even those who disagreed found themselves in agreement. And the recount of his time with Peter reminded us to confront our brothers face to face.

Now the title of this post 🙂 I am searching through the scriptures looking for God’s Electoral College. Though Revelations is interesting, I couldn’t put my hand on the list of Electoral College Members or even how to become one. Yet it seems that there are many Electoral College Members in the world, casting their votes for Sheep and condemning the goats! I created what I believe the ballot would look like. Vote-PNG-HD.pngI am assuming that Dez Bryant is a member, thus he keeps throwing up the “X” after every touch down. Maybe Malcolm X was one, hence the name change (I know he was Muslim). I just hope its not most of the people that have Facebook and Twitter accounts. If so, we are all doomed!

And if you have a vote, please tell us! You will never buy another meal or pay another bill as long as you live! You can live the good life!

Hmm, I wonder what happens if the Electoral College doesn’t agree with the Lord?

#PastorJDO3

I’m Just a Somebody….

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“What is wrong with the church?” I was asked in a recent conversation.  Though I can be wordy, and I was, I will sum it up in this phrase, “I’m Just a Somebody…”

 

When I was a kid, one of the top songs on the Christian chart was a song called “I’m Just a Nobody” by The Williams Brothers.  The song told the story of a man who encountered a man that appeared to be an old wino that was on the streets giving his testimony.  The song sat in the belly of transition for the church.  See, the song highlights a man who lacks the finer things in life.  He doesn’t dress, live or drive fancy and places his full value and purpose in life to the spread of the Gospel.

Because of his appearance, he is teased and ridiculed.  He is ignored and assumed not to know what he professes, but they are disillusioned.   While they chase the things of the world, garnering themselves with the latest trends, this man sought to clothes mankind in righteousness by sharing the transformation God had done in his life.

Though the people feel they are insulting him,
the man embodies their judgement and declares,

“I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody,
about somebody, who can save, anybody.”

His words sounded out as a warning to the changing church.  Our seats had become full, and our parishioners garnered themselves in the latest of fashions.  Our Pastor’s moved from hubcaps to Rims from street corner to television programs.  Respect began shifting to the haves, and the have-nots became a silent Kingdom partner.  People began to think of themselves without sober judgement, wearing and hiding behind the power of titles and ministry prestige.  We forgot that it was “…grace and mercy that brought me through. Im living this moment because of you” and began to think it was our intellect and abilities that had elevated us.

People stopped thinking of themselves as “nobody” but as “somebody”.  We began to see ourselves as irreplaceable parts in the Kingdom.  As gatekeepers and card carrying members of an elite body as opposed to servants in a field that was being plowed inch by inch by the soles of blood bought witnesses canvasing the neighborhood.  We became a band of righteous men and women and ceased to be a group of men and women saved by grace.

imagesThe humility found in the body of Christ was one that identified the culture of the church.  We were a group of people gathered together via mercy and grace.  It was our knowledge that we were undeserving of God’s love, but recipients none the less of an eternal reward that would not fade or tarnish.  This understanding allowed us to serve in a manner that illustrated the true virtue of Christ that was illustrated by His decent into human flesh and earthly living.  It seasoned our tongue as we witnessed to others, ensuring that the hearer felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit and not the judgement of mankind.  As undeserving recipients, our passion was to ensure that someone else received the same gift, as opposed to keeping His truth to ourself.

This is the spirit that is missing in our global church.  It the difference between a personal relationship/faith and a corporate relationship/faith that hinges on the market value of our Pastors/Clergy.  Though we as men and women of God are watchmen over the congregations souls, responsible for guiding, teaching and correcting,  we are stock options are shares to the Kingdom.   We too are simply “…nobody,tying to tell everybody, about somebody, who can save anybody.

 

 

#PastorJDO3

Choose Peace on Earth

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“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among people
with whom he is pleased.”
Luke 2:14

The 14th verse of Luke says in the 2nd chapter, “…peace among people with whom he is pleased.”  Peace from the Messiah is a progressive peace received by those who choose to follow Him.  Seeking righteousness and choosing love over hate is the fertile soil that allows us to breath and breed peace in our lives.Peace of Mind wooden sign with a beach on background

This is made possible by our commitment to make peace with the world.  We must choose not to live in conflict with one another and must show respect also to all of Gods’ creation.  Think it not odd that God was even concerned with how man treated the animals which he was to consume and the plants which gave him life.  He taught man to respect life by making him a farmer and also a creator himself through womb birth.

Jesus brings us life to the full not just through eternal life, but through the gift of His Word and Walk, which instruct an model for believers how to live among creation and not collapse.  We are now able to encounter people through the lens of Christ, which we inherit through His Holy Spirit anointing our eyes and ears with the balm of compassion.  It is our outlook on life, which now shaped by our faith in God, that should allow us to paz_mundialencounter each set of circumstances with the measure of faith given to us that we might obtain peace through believing which then shapes our choices.

This is best summed up by our Lord who stated that the Love of God as the greatest commandment, followed closely by Love Your NeighborHow is your relationship with both God and man?  Are we applying God’s Word to our lives in respect to interaction with His creation or are we extracting the portions that allow us to gain wealth and prominence?   If you are not in a right relationship with God and man, chances are, He is not pleased with you, and neither are you experiencing peace on earth.

 

#PastorJDO3

Life by the Bee (Drunk in Love)

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Tuesday, we closed out the Life by the Bee series with a casual stroll through her classic, Drunk in Love. Beyonce, newly married, placed her heart and soul into articulating the freshly squeezed passion of wedded bliss. beyonce16

She takes the listener on a journey from a wife, newly introduced to another level of intimacy with her spouse. He memories of their time together, scorch the track, and impress upon the hearer the powerful nature of their loving expression. She recalls in the chorus, that she is “Drunk in Love!” Her words highlight her new life as an addict, in constant wait for the next fix.

Each attendant was asked to think back to their first encounter with Jesus; our Lord. The moment we moved from hearing, to opening our hearts and experiencing the Love of God through Jesus! We rolled the clock back to that moment our heart was broken, and our soul was stirred by the knowledge that God had unconditional love for us accompanied with forgiveness, grace and mercy.

In my heart I store up your words,
so I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Our focal scripture focused on the need to maintain our covenant with God by keeping His word in our heart. We know we must do this by following the instructions given to us in verses 1-10.

It is written, “…happy are those whose actions are blameless, who obey the law….observe his rules…seek him with all their heart, obey his demands…” (Verses 1-3 of Pslams 119).

Keep Your Covenant!

When was the last time our marital covenant with God was the guiding factor in our life? God’s Word is a guide given us to navigate life on earth and also to please our creator. God promises us that we will be happier for following His mandate, if we make Him the sole desire of our heart, and not succumb to the desires of our flesh.

We must Consume and be Consumed!

breathalizerWe must “store up” His Word in our heart! Yes, we must consume Him. He must be “stored up;” running through out veins. To be drunk, we discussed, points directly to not just consumption, but a high level of consumption. Someone that is drunk has had more than their fill. They are well beyond a buzz! They began to see life through the influence of what is coursing through their veins, touching every organ, and affecting each thing that they come into contact with. Every step changes! Even the speech is different!

Too Many of us are Social Drinkers!!!

Our problem; with Christ, we are mainly Social Drinkers! We are casual with Christ. We consume him in controlled settings and only when others are drinking. It’s not because it is our desire, its because we desire to fit in with everyone else. This is a true problem. You can not store what you do not consume. You can not draw strength from what you don’t have.

We found it key that the actions of one who has consumed alcohol or other substances is defined as being “Under the Influence!”

Are you “Under the Influence?”

Are you Drunk in Love? When we looked at the song, we saw the actions of Beyonce as one who was truly “Under the Influence!” Her day and actions were controlled by the encounter and her feelings and emotions were guided by the relationship that continued to delved into new levels drawing them closer to one another! So too must we be with God. His influence in our life must lead us to sing sweet melodies. The testimony of who He is in our lives must be ready and present on our lips.

Verse 4 stated, “You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.” We must live our life knowing that God has not given us His law as a suggestion for living. He has given it as a mandate that dictates how we should behave. Once we are in covenant with God, His expectation is for us to submit to the will of the one that covers us. He design is for us to be disciples. One that not only accept His sacrifice, but that will make the sacrifices needed to bring our minds and bodies under subjection that we might have life to the full an find ourselves pleasing to Him!

#Pastor JDO3

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Life by The Bee (Flawless)

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Tuesday, we continued the Life by The Bee Series. Last week, we looked at her song “Hold Up” which challenged each member in our Discipleship Group to reconsider the depth of Love God has for us. This week we looked further into the Lemonade Album of 2016 with “Flawless!”

beyonce16Flawless was a powerful song that captured a bold confidence from Beyonce. Her declaration in the chorus of “flawless” presented a bliss and level of satisfaction and peace far above the standard that many before her had been able to articulate or capture.

She listed her many acquisitions that support her claim, leading us to ask the question?

Are we flawless too?
What makes us flawless?
Is it tangible things?
Are our possessions our confidence?

Is flawless simply being satisfied, proud or having the best of something? It is taking care of the things you possess? Is it carefully selecting and purchasing or being gifted things that are beyond the financial reach of others?

We looked at Philippians 1:6 for our lesson:

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hatch begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ. Philippians 1:6

While Beyonce focused on outward beauty, God desires to develop an inner beauty. As discussed, one of the dangers of the song is that it encourages us to place much attention on things, displaying wealth, or meeting and or surpassing the worlds standard of beauty. We have long defined beauty by accessories and feature, as opposed to character and behavior. Jesus became our mark, and His Word stood as our instruction manual. Helping us to live life to the full on this earth, accomplishing things through Him whom is our strength.

beyonceflawless
One thing is for sure:

 

Growth Takes Time

 

Paul said as he looked upon his brothers and sisters. even after hearing about struggles and failures. Even having experienced them himself, he reaffirmed that he was confident in the ability of Christ to change them as he too had been changed. He realized that growth took time! Paul said, “…he (God) which hath begun…” The patience that God has shown with him, had taught him by modeling that we are all unfinished and imperfect. Upon saving us, God begins the work of cleaning us, determined to present us before God without spot or wrinkle.

Don’t Get Discouraged!

Facing failure and stumbling is not only humbling, but it can be debilitating! One can question their progress or even the start from a failure of a struggle, but Paul wrote as a big brother and boldly stated he is “confident!” Confident not in yourself, but confident in Him! He begun the work. It’s His job to complete, but our job to comply!

As exciting as it is to know that God will complete the work He begun, it was even more exciting to know, “….will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ!” Yes, Beyonce has one thing right! One day, we will all be able to say, “I woke up like this!”
innerbeauty

You will Be Flawless!

Though we are the process of being made perfect, we live with the knowledge that perfection will only be achieved on the day of Christ. When He returns for us, we will be removed from these jars of clay and live in our new bodies with will be Flawless! We will live eternity with him, singing His praise, and standing beside Him in victory. Though perfection is close to some and far away for others, we must all be on the same plan of growth, becoming better disciples or soldiers in the army. We must continue to submit our will to Him, that we might be able to meet His approval and bring about His Kingdom on earth.

#PastorJDO3