MANY ARE CHOSEN BUT FEW ARE CALLED

16 08 2017

 

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I recall hearing Pastor Warren Wiersbe of Moody Church once say, “We shouldn’t worry because our government won’t allow children to have Bibles in school. They’ll make sure that they get free Bibles when they go to prison.” While he said this tongue in cheek, there is still very eye opening sober truth attached to it. Currently, our prisons are so crowded that the government doesn’t know what to do. But if every family that claimed faith would start living what they say they believe at home and if the men and women of our communities would stop worrying about being so politically correct that they act so wrong they are hardly ever right, perhaps we could stop some of the nation’s crime by nipping it in the bud before it ever got a chance to blossom. To build a strong foundation for a just and socially healthy society, we must be aggressively intentional about investing quality time in our sons and daughters way before the cement has begun to harden and dry.  

There is too much saying one thing and doing another going on all around us. We are into making big spiritual speeches that lack any specific steps to put substance to those sentences. God doesn’t want your words. He wants his will to become your way! I am not a big fan of people making speeches before the game ever begins. Prove it on the field. Show up for the daily battle. Be victorious first and then be vocal about it after! Save your declarations after your sincere dedication has already made a significant statement.

 It is about time that Believers begin believing and Leaders get responsible about their mentoring and modeling. Are we are going to invest what time we have left on this earth by repenting of our sin and admitting how far we have fallen from what God had called us to be and to do? Or will we choose to just sink back and settle for staying busy by keeping up the facades and doing cosmetic adequate touch up jobs of outer image repairing? If we are not hopelessly devoted to the Lord we will end up haplessly deceived by our self centered hearts. Someone who does not have the Holy Spirit living inside of them can not follow their heart with any hope of a positive result. For without Jesus running the show, a person’s ego will always choose to be “Me First,” over allowing God to be “He First!”

 What is truly going on in your home? If your house is a good deal like many other homes today then according to statistics, money is the god the family worships, children are good at stealing from their parents and lying about what they do, and family honor is a lost art and the true God is unwelcomed and unwanted. Pursuing pleasure will always be a temptation for all of us and if it becomes number one, it will eventually preempt us from seeking the prize of knowing Jesus and putting him above everything else!

 When “It is Written” becomes “It is Wasted,” life results in “It’s Not Worth it” and it just gets worse from that point forwards. What is important when we get serious about reaching for goals and accomplishments is that we allow God to lead us and we don’t try to manipulate God by us supposedly leading Him! One of the enemy’s most subtle devices is to cause Christians to become dissatisfied and disgusted with life’s circumstances and the area of service that God has given them. “I should be better known.” “I should be in public more.” “I should be paid more.” “I should receive more praise.” It is very subtle, but far too often Christians will not do a job because they think it is beneath them; or they will leave a church because no one pays enough attention to them; or they will pout because someone else is more important than they are. If who we are and what we do is not about pleasing God, than it is being done for all the wrong reasons for all the wrong results.  

 It must grieve the Lord today to see people worshiping the idols of ministerial “success”: statistics, buildings, and reputation. In today’s “consumer society,” self-appointed preachers and “prophets” have no problem getting a following and peddling their religious wares to a church that acts more like a Hollywood fan club than a holy people of God. The purpose of man’s empty religious efforts is to get access to God so that humans can get God to do what they want. The goal of true faith is to give God access to your heart so that he can get you to do what he wants. Religion’s true purpose is to get God to serve you. The gospel faith’s purpose is to get your heart to serve him.

 Money can’t buy you God! Sin may be fun for a season, but the party is eventually over and bills must be paid for and if Jesus has not paid it all, then we die bankrupt. There are many things that can occupy our time and that you can be sure that there always will be. There are good things we can devote our lives to, but the most important things are the God things.  When you do decide to step out from under your own passing fancy to commit to getting your agenda in line with Heaven’s to do list, your schedule won’t automatically clear. It never does. Instead, expect and look for God to show up. He will give you extra wisdom, energy, resources and strength. While all those are cherished additions, the greatest treasure of all is that God will give you unlimited access to himself. Anyone ready to follow Jesus?





REMEMBERING APRILE IN AUGUST!

8 08 2017

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I officiated the Funeral last weekend of a dear childhood friend of mine named Aprile. She had asked me when the time came if I would be there to facilitate her Memorial Service. I promised that I would. We grew up in the same neighborhood up in the northern part of our beloved New Jersey in a town called Cedar Knolls which is part of Morris County. It was a simpler time in a very close knit community where we could stay out all day and never have to worry about being in any danger. Everybody knew each other and there was a camaraderie we all shared that doesn’t exist in the same manner in our world today.

 Aprile is a tough cookie. She battled cancer harder than anyone I have ever known. I would say she kicked it in the can. What should have wiped her out over a year ago couldn’t take her down. She was an inspiration to her family, her friends and any other fellow human being that was blessed enough to have had Aprile shower them with her selfless personality all the months of the year. And while ultimately her body faltered, Aprile’s spirit crossed the finish line in total victory. She’s a warrior and a winner and we are proud card carrying members of her forever Fan Club.

 I hate when people say that “God never gives us more than we can handle.” That phrase is utter nonsense and a bold face lie. So much of life falls into the “It’s way too big for me” category. It’s because this journey through the years is so overwhelming that we are forced to cry out to God for strength, help and hope because we know we are toast when left up to our own devices. Faith in heaven and healthy fellowship with friends on earth are the key ingredients to any one’s survival kit. Aprile excelled in all the areas that mattered most which is why not having her around anymore is such a tragic loss to us left behind. Death can be a real drag, can’t it? Not for the Graduate to Glory but for those of us still stuck in a creation that is caught in a circle of constant chaos.      

 Nobody had to make up nice words to say about how Aprile’s touched their lives. There were no uncomfortable periods of silence or the meaningless sharing of lifeless clichés. Aprile approached everyone and everything with her unsinkable optimism. And she was the type of person who would have you sharing about your own issues before you might catch her complaining about her own. One of her Oncology Nurses in attendance raved on and on about how Aprile’s character, countenance and courage touched her in a way that no other Patient ever had. Why does God take the strong and leave the weak behind? Or maybe it just seems that way. Maybe those like Aprile stand head and shoulders above the rest that when they leave us, the hole is the size of the Grand Canyon.

 I think cancer sucks and death is a dirty rotten deal. As a Minister, I hate funerals. They can be so shallow and in many ways barbaric. The fact that we attempt to pull it all off in a matter of hours is crazy. Life is more precious than any personal possession that this world may offer. How can you sum it all up in one session? The answer is that you can’t and you won’t. Time doesn’t heal anything. It only reveals how fragile everything is this side of eternity. When are we going to wake up and strengthen the treasure that remains forever?   

 God meets us where we are and not where we pretend to be. We need to abandon our tendency to perform and put on a good show. Let’s stop getting so upset about our expectations not being met that we keep our eyes wide open to the daily opportunities that God gives us to meet us right where we are! If we are hesitant about mourning, we prevent Jesus from transforming it into dancing. If we never learn how to lament, our laughter won’t mean as much as it should. I beg Christians to be more honest about communicating their true and honest emotions to God when life is not going as planned. Whether we’re hurt, frustrated, confused, betrayed, overwhelmed, sad, or disappointed, there is no wrong in keeping it real. It gets messy and we are flustered by the mustard. It’s a moment to get real with God when you’re hurting so bad your insides bleed and all you can do is cry out for His help. It’s a prayer that says, God, I’m hurting—will you meet me here? This is not a language limited for the super spiritual. This is the invitation to us all.





THE BIBLE IS NOT A MENU!

3 08 2017

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God detests graven images. They mislead people. They give false views of God, and nothing is more destructive than that. But our greater problem is not carved idols, but mental idols. We form mental pictures of God. People constantly say, “I like to think of God as the great Father in the skies. I do not like to think of him as a judge.”

But our desires have nothing to do with God’s true character.

 I shudder when I hear the way some people speak of God. Quite frankly, it does not make the slightest bit of difference what I prefer to think of God. God is who He is and what He is, and that is why any false image of God of any sort is forbidden. Human concepts of God are irrelevant. God has revealed Himself, and He demands that our understanding of Him conform to what He has revealed about Himself in His Word.

 Our society does not worship before a molten idol, but it does worship an artificial god. Our generation knows almost nothing of the living God who has spoken in Scripture. The great danger is that we, as Christians, begin to bow down and worship false gods as well. So it is essential that every Christian engage in a study of the attributes of God.

 Anything in our lives to which we attach the worth and importance that belongs only to God becomes an idol in our lives. Idolatry is not a relic of the past; it is a constant problem for every believer. That is the first danger point in the portrayal of spiritual anarchy. It is religion without revelation, religious practice without God’s truth. How committed are you to the truth of Scripture? How biblical is your view of God? Is your God molded by the philosophies of the age? A Believer must let God “be Himself” in our lives.

 We filter out either consciously or unconsciously the things about God that our hearts can’t accept. In some ways, this is the main sin of our time. We look to the latest chatter at Starbucks for our doctrine rather than go to the source of the Savior Himself. How often have you heard someone say: “I don’t believe in a God like that,” or “I like to think of God as this?” The most serious way we do this is by consciously and intellectually rejecting part of the scriptural revelation of God. We do this whenever we say: “We can no longer accept a God who does this, or who forbids that.” When we use the term “no longer,” we wrap ourselves in the mantle of so-called progress. In fact, what we are really saying is:

“Our culture’s distaste for this idea means we must drop it!” If God has given us truth, it doesn’t really matter what we think! If we change His words to accommodate our ways, we will eventually forfeit His will!

Have you ever been to a Restaurant? What do you receive when you sit at the table? You get a menu with many choices. The Waitress can’t tell you what you are going to be eating. The Chef doesn’t limit you to his or her favorite dishes. You can decide to dine on whatever you want whether it is healthy or not. You can order five desserts if you want to. You have the final say about what will be served to you.

This is not true at the Family Dinner Table. My Mom was very strict. If she made something for dinner, she didn’t give us many options. We didn’t dare say, “I don’t like this, is there anything else?” Mom made it clear that her kitchen was not a restaurant. If you didn’t like what was on your plate, your only decision was that you were not going to eat at all.

There would be other times that I would really like the main course but felt like it was ruined by something like cooked carrots sitting besides it. I was never given the luxury to choose to eat just the meat and pass on the veggies. If it was served, you were sitting there until it was all polished off. I remember praying not to gag as I was forced to swallow one mouthful of carrots after another. But if I wanted the Chicken, I accepted the carrots as part of the package.

The Bible is not a menu. Believers do not have the luxury to pick and choose what they will dine on and what they will deny any entrance into their bodies. God’s word is a banquet for the soul and if you want to become all that the Lord intends you to be, you must partake of everything that God serves up. God doesn’t care if you like it or if it makes you happy any more than my Mother gave much thought to my suggestions of what she might do with those mushy carrots. I ate it because I had to and I must admit that it did help me grow healthy even if it made my stomach rebel.

God feeds us with divine dishes that provide a balanced supply of all the proper spiritual vitamins and nutrients we need. If we choose to replace the heaven cooked meals with earthly versions of junk food, we will never be strong enough to walk the journey of the life of faith that God has called us to. Church is not a restaurant, it is a family table and the Father knows what you need and what you don’t. Will we submit our appetites to Him?

It Is Written must be the way of life! Even when you don’t like it, the Lord loves you enough to lead you to spiritual maturity. But you have to trust Him and let Him feed you with what is on His stove because Church is not a restaurant- It’s a Family Dinner!!!





DEEP AND WIDE, JUST IN TIME!

24 07 2017

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There was a man one day who was ready to give up on God. He was tired. Life was no longer going well, and he didn’t know if God was going to come through for him like he had once believed. He had gotten to the end of his rope, the last of his hope, and wanted to give up. So he whispered to God, “I quit.”

Perhaps that’s you today. Perhaps that’s how you feel because you can’t see God, you can’t hear Him. You feel weary, wasted, wandering and waylaid.  You sense that you have been overlooked in the showcase of life, left in the back row to rot quietly. You feel forgotten. You are totally alone. You want to be loved but only sense loathing.  Even though you once held so much optimism, those days seem like another lifetime alone.

 The man who told God that he was through with faith decided to go to the woods to have one last conversation with the Lord. “God, You disappointed me,” this man feebly cried. “You’ve got me stuck out here, and I don’t know why. I don’t know how long I’m going to have to stay in this prison before my change is going to come. I’m just ready to give up and unless I experience some divine intervention soon, I’m checking out.”

 Just at that very moment, another man appeared as he was also hiking through the brush. After some polite communication, the stranger took a deep breath and shared with authentic enthusiasm, “Look around and tell me what you see.” The man looked around and feeling a bit silly answered that that he saw lots of ferns and also some bamboo. The elder statesman with wide eyed energy exclaimed, “Exactly! Now let me tell you the lessons we can learn about the fern and the bamboo.” The surprised student perked up his ears to listen intently. His tutor continued, “When the fern seed was planted, the ferns grew up very quickly, and they became lush and green and beautiful. But when the bamboo seeds were planted, nothing grew at all during its first year. The same thing occurred with the second year and the third year and the fourth. It wasn’t until five long years later that the very first small shoot of the bamboo came up.” Then old timer’s voice paused allowing all the reality of the illustration to sink in. Then he continued with a question, “How tall is that bamboo you are looking at?” The man answered, “At least a hundred feet tall.” “You are right,” the teacher said. “And the reason bamboo is a hundred feet tall is because during the five years when you saw nothing, things were moving and it was growing deep on the inside. It was growing strong, deep roots down beneath the surface where you cannot see. The reason why it was going deeper first is because it was going to eventually be over a hundred feet tall. It knew how high God had designed for it to be and in order for it to sustain that height; it would have to grow deeper inside where no one could see anything at all.”

 As the man began to comprehend what was being shared, he only turned away for a second and when he looked back, the older sojourner was gone. It was as if he disappeared into thin air. It was in that brief second that the man presumed that he had been visited by an angel. The dark clouds had seemed to vanish and the sun was shining bright once again. In a mere matter of moments, God had lifted up the shade that had held the heart captive in the night.  

When the man got home, he wrote in his journal that night the following life giving sentences. These words literally jumped off the pages. It read, “If God is taking a long time with you on your journey, it is because the Lord is trying to take you deeper on the inside first. He is trying to develop and strengthen you to sustain the destiny in store. His plan for you is high. His calling for you is tall. His purpose for you will one day soar. But just as you can’t build a skyscraper on a chicken-coop foundation, you can’t place a divine destiny on a shallow soul. The higher your mountains, the deeper your valleys will seem. And difficult roads often lead to the most magnificent destinations.”

 If you are attempting to get your fill of the ocean by only sticking your toes in the waves, you have a long way to go. You must be willing to swim out into the depths of God’s open sea of grace for when you get shallow and stubborn; you end up stranded in the sand where the water no longer flows! God still speaks to those who are quiet and wise enough to look up and listen. What might he be saying to you today and who is the messenger of that timely truth? Never underestimate the lengths the Lord will go to get through the density of our pride. If we are too thick of skull, we might very well be too thin of skin. God isn’t finished with a masterpiece that is still breathing fresh air. Let God lead deep and wide today!

 





HELP YOURSELF TO GOD!

17 07 2017

 

Is Christianity more about doing or being? I think that it is actually possible to pull off an external version of faith while still lacking the inner muscle. If you march to a beat where the drummer is not the Son of God calling you to follow Him so you can be with Him, then its time to choose a new pathway. How many times do you hear True Faith defined as having a personal relationship with Jesus? Yet if we examine the amount of time we are investing in sitting at the feet of our Lord like Mary verses serving in the kitchen doing busy work like Martha, we might be unpleasantly surprised!

I think we Believers make a big mistake when we try to substitute doing things for God over just being still and spending quality time with God! Compiling ministry miles like they pad our badge of honor will never satisfy our ailing hearts like just walking with our God in the cool of the day. As a matter of fact, this is why so much of what we do in the Name of Heaven actually lacks divine power because we haven’t invested enough heart to heart time in God’s presence!

As a Shepherd, I haven’t always taken very good care of the Sheep. I mean, I feed them a big meal at the Service and then I send them out without allowing the proper time to digest the dinner. How can we be holy in a hurry? How can we really take in what we have been fed if we have rushed the process and gulped it all down in a single bite? Maybe this weekend, before you leave the table, take the time to let the truth penetrate to the inner depths of your heart and soul. Bring a notebook. Take a walk with God. Be silent. Slow down and see what the Spirit has in store. Believers have been suffering from indigestion for long enough! Sit down and stay a while! Chew your food! Enjoy the company and see if you don’t come away feeling healthier spiritually than you have in a while!

Prayer is the key ingredient if we are serious about stoking the fires of our spiritual connection. But praying is not just a one way conversation where we monopolize the time by doing nothing more than reciting a shopping list that we hope God will deliver upon. We speak and then we listen. When was the last time you heard Jesus speak to you through the Holy Spirit? I’m not talking about using the Bible like a Magic 8Ball where you ask yes or no questions and then let the pages fall where they may. Jesus promised that the Spirit would lead us into all truth. But have you ever tried to communicate to somebody who is already out the door as you are opening up your mouth? We brag about our multi-tasking and we compete with other Christians in the, “Who can look the most exhausted when it comes to presenting ourselves before the Body of Christ Contest?” But doesn’t the very Bible we submit to promise us that those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength and not appear as if they are about to pass out?

Fire Up doesn’t equate to Burn Out! And just carrying your Bible around brings you no closer to the One who wrote it than having your smart phone in your pocket allows you to talk to the friends you say you care about. Remember Eli’s instruction to Samuel when God was calling out in the night? He told the young boy to reply by saying, “Here I am Lord. Speak now for your Servant is listening.” Stop treating God with the same nonchalance you give to the Flight Attendants when they go through their speeches about what to do in an emergency on an airplane. You know when the passengers really perk up? When the flight is in trouble and the lives of those sitting in the seats depends upon following directions. Any chance of experiencing Abundant Life this side of Heaven is strongly linked to listening and obeying the Master! But you can’t pass a test you didn’t study for and God is here to tutor us any time and anywhere we ask. What are you waiting for?

Christian Artist, Kathy Troccoli, will be with us at The Lighthouse Church this coming weekend. She will be in Concert on Saturday Night at 6PM and Sunday at 9 and 10:45AM. No tickets are necessary. Bring yourself and as many friends as possible. One of Kathy’s Songs is called, “Help Myself to You.” The lyrics go something like this:

“Gonna close my door; Gonna shut all the lights; Want to be alone; With You at my side.
Tell me all those things; That I long to hear; In that still small voice; Whisper in my ear.
To be alone with You, Jesus; It’s such an honor for me.

Pour Your life into me; Fill me with Your glory; Let Your love consume me
Oh, to be at this place; It’s an act of Your grace; And there’s nothing that I’d rather do
Than to help myself to You.”

Rather than trying to impress. Rather than looking to stand out and fit in. Rather than going with a consumer mentality. Why not go to church to be with Jesus? Why not go to church to be Jesus to those around you? Jesus is able to give individual attention to a whole host of individuals at the same time and miracles happen when we forget about ourselves, concentrate on Him and live a life of worshipping the One who made you to help yourself to Him.





BASEBALL LIKE IT OUGHT TO BE!

13 07 2017

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I have been a Baseball Fan pretty much all of my life. The first time my Dad taught me the game, I knew I was hooked. He passed on his legacy to me that included being a devastated Brooklyn Dodger Fan whose heart got broken when the team packed up and moved to Los Angeles in the late 1950’s. With no other National League Team to root for, he adopted the Amazing Mets to cheer for when they came on the scene in 1962. I followed my Dad in this allegiance and began wearing a wardrobe that consisted mostly of orange and blue ever since.

 I adored the loveable losers of the early days in Mets History. I followed them in the newspapers, checking the Box Scores daily. I taught myself how to keep score of a baseball game. I would memorize and then reproduce every Player’s batting stance which in turn made me a switch hitter early in my own career. I begged Dad every year to take me to Shea Stadium, and finally he did. I will never forget the awe I experienced when I first saw a Mets Game in living color because, up until then, I watched them in glorious black and white on Channel 9 WOR Network out of New York. I truly thought I had died and gone to Heaven and when I got Gil Hodges and Tom Seaver’s autograph, I was sent to another stratosphere.

 I used to work with my Dad, cleaning local doctors’ offices on Tuesday and Thursday Nights and Saturday Mornings. His reward to me for doing so was to give me 25 cents, which I in turn would go right out and buy five packs of Baseball Cards. They were only a nickel a piece back then. It even came with a stick of gum that tasted like cardboard, but I would always chew it faithfully when I was on the mound pitching or playing First Base for our Little League Team, Gogel Tires. My Dad shared with me the nightmare of having his Mother throw out all of his cards after he left for the Navy, so you can be sure I was not going to let that happen to me. To this day, I still have all of my Baseball Cards of my childhood. My Wife asks me, “Why don’t you sell them?” I reply, “It would be like auctioning off a piece of my soul.”

 I have tried to get my Sons into collecting Baseball Cards but they never got serious about it like I did. I realize that times have changed and unfortunately with that, so have the players. It is hard for me to watch what goes on these days in the Major Leagues. For example, Ballplayers strike out at an alarming rate.  This would have sent them to the Minors back in the day, but as long as they hit 20-30 homeruns, they are millionaires.  I hate when a hitter can’t make contact to drive a runner in from 3rd Base when there are less than two outs. I roll my eyes when I don’t see the hustle of Pete Rose or the fierce competitiveness of Bob Gibson. I could never imagine Tom Seaver or Nolan Ryan begging to get out of a game with only 100 pitches to their credit. And the amount of time some guys spend on the disabled list is just downright wrong!

 The other night I witnessed an outfielder for the Mets not even attempting to run to first after he struck out swinging but the catcher dropped the ball and it went to the backstop. It was like the player couldn’t be bothered. That would have meant a certain benching back in my day. The Manager explained later that the reason he didn’t run was that he didn’t want to put pressure on his hamstrings when it wasn’t necessary. Are you kidding me? If a GM and Manager are afraid of offending the players enough to correct them, how is this ever going to become a better product on the field? Another player is too injured to be in the night game but not so much that he won’t play a round of golf in the daytime. And yet he will still get far more money in a year that I might ever see in a lifetime. Something is very wrong here but have we reached the point of no return? I would say so!

Much like I abandoned the NBA years ago because it became nothing more than a glorified one on one exercise, I am tempted to seek greener pastures for the American Pastime. There are many days I teach my Son Joel what not to do when we watch a Mets Game together! Business has ruined the Game I loved, but at least I have my precious memories of an earlier time.

 I remember fondly the times that we kids would just play ball in the sandlots every day and didn’t need much adult supervision. I look back to the days when being on a Baseball Team was an honor and a privilege and we players hung on to all the words of our Coaches. We listened and learned and improved. When I fell in love with Major League Baseball, the players were just regular guys who also had to work in the winter just to make ends meet. It was a day when the Game was the thing and not just an avenue for personal glory, advertising endorsements and making an insane amount of money. Not everything improves with age. And in a day where our younger generation needs positive role models more than ever, we are not discovering true treasure out on the diamonds!

 So Parents, don’t force your kids to sign up for a sport they don’t even have an interest in. Teach them to listen and learn from their Coaches. Model for them what good sportsmanship looks like. Relax and go have a catch. Never forget it’s a game at heart.  





LURES OR THE LORD?

5 07 2017

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What lures us has the potential to lord over us. We all have our own unique cravings. What whets my appetite may repulse yours. Some days I begin to get a hankering for “Liver and Onions.” Others, I might yearn for a “Pizza Pie filled with Anchovies.” I can already imagine some of my readers responding with words like, “Oh yuck! Not me.” And I totally understand it. God loves us all the same but we have not been wired in unison. Diversity is the spice of life. It is the reason that Crayola makes many colors of crayons.

Many people have told me that they would die if they had to get up and speak before a group of people. Personally, I thrive on it and passionately come alive. But if you made me sit in an office all day and crunch numbers, I believe I would put my head in a blender before the day was through! I can play Baseball but not Backgammon. I can sing but can’t dance. I can talk all day and never run out of something to say. You might practice the old adage that silence is golden. My point is that God dished out strengths in many shapes and sizes. All have one even though all don’t have them all. Are you able to identify where you excel? If you don’t know, are you willing to ask someone who knows you to answer that question about you?

 With the pluses also come the minuses! All God’s children are created with natural talents and abilities and then, with their coming to Faith, are also bestowed Spiritual Gifts. But just because we are given the Spirit doesn’t mean we don’t act stupid every now and then. Last weekend at The Lighthouse, we were studying the exploits of God’s Judge Samson. Let’s just say that Samson was a very stubborn individual who may have been more clueless than cued in to what God was hoping to accomplish through him.

 In Judges 14:15 we read, “On the fourth day, they said to Samson’s wife, ‘Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father’s household to death.” Judges 16:5 informs us, “The rulers of the Philistines went to Delilah and said, ‘See if you can lure him (Samson) into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can over power him so we may ties him up and subdue him…” The Hebrew word for “Lure” means “to find an opening, the point of a person’s greatest vulnerability.” We might refer to it as “The Achilles’ Heel.” The same word is used in the New Testament in the Book of James 1:14 where it says, “Each one is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” The Greek word for “Enticed” adds the imagery that we are drawn to be trapped and caught by specific “Bait.”

It’s the picture of a fish that is nestled away, quietly resting underneath a sheltered place. All of a sudden a cunning fisherman drops the bait. Now a tried and true Fisherman changes the bait depending on the waters and the fish he is looking for. The sad reality is that many a fish will lose its life by trying to feed itself with an artificial dish. Just think about swimming to your finality by attempting to satisfy your inner hunger by chomping on plastic. Something tells me that too many human beings are doing just that as I write this sentence! Bait is specifically designed to the nature of that fish. Bait is meant to entice, deceive, fool and do it in!

Jesus called us to be “Fishers of Men.” But Christians aren’t the only one reaching for their Poles. Hell is also “Going Fishing.” But while Believers are hoping to lure someone to life, the enemy is longing to hook you to hurt you. I believe there is a wall in Hell with Lures that have our names on them. We need to be aware that we are all vulnerable to being duped by the devil. Samson followed his glands over his God. How about you? What has the capacity to take you out in a moment if you attempt to operate within your own power?

 One of my buttons is my inability to shut up and walk away from someone antagonizing me. If an individual challenges my competence in doing something that I know I am passionate about, I become susceptible to a verbal battle. I need to walk away. I don’t. The longer I stay, the better the possibility that I am about to get myself in trouble. When I am being baited, I need to run to Jesus. When I am being lured, it is time to call on the Lord!

 None of us will ever get to a point where temptation will become a thing of the past. Life is hard, but God is good! When we are weak and we will be, it is the perfect point for God to be strong. When we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, He lifts us up so that after the trolling net comes and goes, we are still swimming free in faith!  Whose arms are calling you? Whose arms you running to? Whose lap are you laying your head upon? Stop looking into the mirror to find your purpose and start trusting in the Master!