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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Looking Back

Looking Back

This past Thanksgiving, I shared in a combined worship service with Pastor Payne of Full Gospel Church and Pastor Severe of Cathedral of Praise Church. All three (3) pastors gave a 15 minute exhortation:

The Motivation of Thanksgiving – The Parable of The Ten Lepers – Pastor Severe

The Manner of Thanksgiving – 1 Thess 5:18 – Me

The Mandate of Thanksgiving – Psalms 100 – Pastor Payne

The service was high spirited and all three (3) exhortations were challenging as well as encouraging. However, I am stuck on what I believe to be a difficult exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God through Christ Jesus concerning you”.

There is a follow-up question I believe to this exhortation; “Does the bible really mean give thanks in everything?” Let’s think about this for a moment:

- You go to the kitchen to find something to eat only to realize that there is nothing there. Do I walk away saying: “Lord, thank you that I have nothing to eat!”
- You go to the doctor for a checkup only to be called back in with some disappointing news that you only have 6 months to live. Do I walk away saying: “Lord, thank you that I’m about to die in six months!”
- You come into work on Monday morning only to be told that you’re services or no longer needed. Do I walk away saying: “Lord, thank you that now I’m unemployed!”
- Your marriage is headed to divorce court with no sign of reconciliation. Do I thank God that I’m about to be divorced?”

The point is simple yet difficult to understand and practice at times. Yes, the bible is clear that we should give thanks to God in everything because it’s His will for us to be thankful no matter what happens in our lives.

This year has not been the best of years for me. Bad choices, mistakes, complaining, and complacency blocked my ability to be thankful in all things. But when I look over the year, I realize I really do have much to be thankful for. In the midst of adversity, God has been good to me. In the midst of failures, God still watched over me. During a recession, God has been covering me and my family financially. With the loss of friends, God has removed some only to place new ones in my life. In the midst of ministry challenges, God still provides me the power/anointing to preach His word on weekly basis.

Yes, this has not been an ideal year for me but I am thankful. What about you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer.

For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions.
I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior." John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very softly, "May I ask what the turkey did?"


Friday, November 12, 2010

The Joy of Ministry Partnership

In a few weeks it is my goal and desire to preach through the book of Philippians. Here is my homework of background analysis. I pray this study will be enriching for all who hears the messages.

Sermon Series Title: The Joy of Ministry Partnership

Sermon Series Thesis: The letter of Philippians shows that ministry is a joy when leader/people share the same passion in ministry.

Cross References that led to thesis conclusion:

1:5 - "I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now."

1:7 - "... All of you share in God's grace with me."

2:1 - "... if any fellowship with the Spirit...."

3:10 - "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings...."

4:14 - "Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles."

4:15 - "Not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only."

Philip. 2:1-30 (NKJV)
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, [2] fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. [3] Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. [4] Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Author: Paul

Place of Writing: Rome

Overall of Letter: joy and fellowship

Occasion and Purposes

Paul's immediate concerns in writing this letter are:

  1. To recommend to the Philippians one of their number, Epaphroditus, who had come to help him in prison, but had fallen ill and was being sent home.
  2. To let the concerned Philippians know about the current state of Paul's welfare.
  3. To prevent the Judaizers from persuading the Philippian Christians to submit to circumcision.
  4. To encourage the Philippian believers to quiet their dissention and be united.

Through the letter, however, Paul does much more than this. He provides the inspiration and encouragement of a friend, mentor, and fellow believer who finds Christ's strength and peace while struggling with opponents, anxiety, physical needs, and fear for his life. To see how a man, an apostle, meets obstacles and overcomes them in Christ, makes this letter very relevant for our day, too.