Peace not Prosperity

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Tonight is a bit of a multi-part writing. I hope you’ll bare with the extra length of this thought.

The verse I chose for our reading today I want to point out something about; it does not read, in any translation except for the NIV, “to prosper you”. Rather is says for peace or welfare in every other major translation; take the time to research it if you’d like. In fact, I hope you do. This is a huge reason that one must be very careful when studying God’s Word of exactly what we are reading.

Now, I realized a few moments ago, out of a sound sleep, that six years ago today (10/28/04) God forever changed my life when I had to have a second back surgery. What was supposed to have been 8-12 weeks recovery time turned into permanent retirement due to unforeseen complications with my condition. The first time I had to have back surgery was pretty life changing, too, but this second time left me with a rather unstable and fragile condition that, barring God’s direct intervention once again, will not change. I say all this for background information, not to complain or look for pity.

Through these physical changes God has brought unto me peace and looked out for my welfare giving me “an expected end”. And I praise Him for it. Had He not wrought about the changes He did in the manner He did I don’t know where I’d be today, perhaps not even alive to write this. But in looking out for my welfare and to bring me true peace He did what He did, or allowed it, however you want to look at it and I’m so grateful He did!

Today I no longer work for a Chevrolet dealer but for the King of kings. Today I have the utmost peace and joy deep inside me from my relationship with my Lord Jesus. And I’m privileged to preach His Word and edify His people the best I know how, through the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Now that, my friends, is One Who is looking out for the welfare of His child, giving him that “expected end” or hope, not “prospering” him.

Thank You Father for looking out for me, for leading me, and for being faithful even when I’m not.

Remember me when you pray…

God bless,

Greg

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New Territory

This past Sunday night, the 24th, was my appointed Sunday evening to preach. The Lord had given me the text, John 2 on the first miracle, several days in advance so I had plenty of time to study. The message was on the old verses new covenants, and then the marriage that began His ministry and the one that will conclude it.

The content led me into some verses from the book of Revelation. If you’ve read some of my previous posts you know that this is not my strong point, so to speak. After the service I told one of my brothers that k had ventured into uncharted waters in that sermon. But the Lord lead me there so I went, not with great comfort but with confidence in Him.

Of course on the way home the devil began his rotten and devious work, telling me what a terrible job I’d done and that no one was able to make heads nor tails out of what I said, etc. Thankfully Monday God saw fit to provide me some encouragement through folks that had heard the message and received some thing from it.

As I reflected on this message and the texts that I was given to use I realized something: God had put me out there in those “uncharted waters” to stretch me and to grow me. I’m well aware that He has a purpose behind every thing He does. But I’m so glad that at times He lets us see a bit of that purpose, as a way of telling us “Child, I did that for you and here’s a little of why I did…”.

He is so very good, all the time!

Pick-Up Games

Psalm 119:72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

When I was younger I never looked forward to sports in gym class too much. There were always so many kids in the games that is made it much less fun and really less physically profitable; when you’re playing softball with 35-40 kids you don’t get much playing time or exercise. But oh how I loved the pick-up games after school! Often times there weren’t enough of us to field two teams. But that didn’t matter to any of us: we all got play that much more!

Just a little while ago Billie and I got home from a small group Bible study at church. It was such a blessing to get together with some of our brothers and sisters and dig into God’s Word as a group. I think these smaller, informal studies are a lot like those pick-up games we used play after school; with the fewer number of folks involved, those that attend seem more inclined to “get in on the action”. I think often times we are a little inhibited during Sunday school, I mean no one wants to offer up an answer in front of the whole church that they are a little unsure of. But in a smaller, less formal setting we are much more apt to dive right in. And doing so we learn so, so much more, both individually and as a group.

If you’re not involved in a small group study I encourage you to get involved with one. And if your church doesn’t currently have one, start one up! You’ll be surprised by the interest that you’ll find others have. And I am certain that you’ll be blessed and learn a lot in the process.

Jig-Saw Puzzle

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

At my church we just finished week three of a multiple week series studying the Book of Revelation. I have to be honest with you- I’ve never been much of a prophesy-guy; it’s just not “my” area. Now, that isn’t to say I don’t have a desire to better understand it; I do. And that’s also not to say that God won’t light me afire for prophesy; He might. But up to this point it hasn’t been a major focus for my study time.

Regardless of if God gives me a greater interest in this area of Scripture or not, I have gleaned quite a bit in our study so far. There is one single sentence that has given me the most light so far, not just in this study but for all of Scripture and I’d like to share it: The Bible is like a jig-saw puzzle, you have to see how how the whole thing fits together to get the picture. A lot of time I think we forget this fact. From the first verse of Genesis to that last word in Revelation, Scripture all points to Jesus. If we will keep this in the front of our minds when we read and study we will get so much more out of God’s Word.

Me Time

Matthew 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

The last few weeks, months, really, have been very hectic for me. I’ve had a lot on my plate and my mind. Just to name a few things, we had the stress and anxiety of our daughter’s wedding, I got sick, pneumonia, just before the “big event”, and announcing my call to preach, among other things, all added, shall I say, a little extra to my acid reflux.

Over the past few weeks I had been putting so much thought and time into other things I let “my” time with God kind of slide onto the back burner. This week He gently reminded me of this. And I’m so thankful He did!

Sometimes we can get so busy with “stuff”, even good thing like praying for others and trying to be a help to someone, that we neglect our own spiritual health. The Lord showed me that I had allowed this to happen and that I was suffering for it.

While we always want to be a help, to edify when we can and to intercede for others, we have to remember that we need our time every day in our prayer closet just for ourselves. As Pastor Danny said, nothing can take the place of the fellowship we have one-on-one with our Lord. And it is imperative that we not neglect that daily time.

What Matters

Acts 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

In our Sunday school class we have been studying the book of Romans. This week we discussed the latter part of chapter two. This got me to thinking about how blessed we are to be under the New Covenant.

No longer does our nationality matter in God’s eyes. In fact, where we come from, our name, relatives, skin color, or any other physical or earthly thing makes any difference in our standing before Him. There is but one thing that matters: Have we accepted Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord? Nothing else will or does matter. But, oh how much it does and will matter on the day we have to stand before Him and give an account of our lives!

Bumper Bowling

Matthew 7:13-14
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

It has been many years ago but I remember when the concept of “bumper” bowling first came about. At the time, and it may be different now, they placed very long inflated tubes in the gutters, running nearly the entire length of the lane, to help keep the ball from falling into them. The idea was for those less skilled to be able to knock over more pins and have more fun at the game.

Since the bumpers didn’t quite go all the way, then, from the very start to the very end of the gutter it was possible to still get the ball in “the channel” and score nothing on that roll. I’ve also seen people throw so wildly and so hard they got the ball stuck and even jumped the ball over the bumper and gutter into the other lane! So, these guides weren’t fool-proof, so to say.

God has a path for each of us, kind of like the bowling lane I spoke of above. Scripture refers to it as the straight and narrow way. In His Moral Law, often referred to as the Ten Commandments, He has given us a set of “bumpers for life”, too. These Laws are designed to keep us on the right path, His way. But like the bumpers in bowling we can run a foul of them if we aren’t striving to keep our lives on the path He set out for us. Similarly, these guides won’t get us all the way to the “score”, into Heaven. No amount of keeping any of God’s Laws will save us, only His grace by our faith in Jesus alone will get us to the ultimate goal: eternal life with our Lord.