Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Higher Perspective

Have you ever been lost?  If you have a map or GPS, you can probably find your way.  If not, you may find yourself wishing you could have a bird's perspective so you can determine which way to go.     Think about your spiritual life... Do you ever feel lost?  We all do sometimes.  If we only look at life from our own perspective, we may stay "lost" or confused.  However, if we look at life from a higher perspective... God's perspective through Scripture... we find the clearer direction we seek.

To search the Scriptures to find a divine perspective, we must first have faith that God's Word is true.  When we realize that God really does have plans for us, that His ways are really higher than our ways, then our spiritual eyes can be opened to see our circumstances from his heavenly perspective.  See, we may be smart, we may hold college degrees, we may be wise enough to figure out some things on our own, but the truth is, our reasoning and reckoning and figuring all have the stain of sin, and therefore, are imperfect.

GOD IS INFINITE.  The time frame we use to try to understand, analyze, and determine our life's course is limited.  God, the great I AM THAT I AM, on the other hand, knows history from the beginning to the end and knows exactly what the future holds.  Read Isaiah 40:6-31, with emphasis on verses 8-10.

GOD IS OMNISCIENT.  Our understanding cannot hold a candle to His.  We had to learn everything we know, but God sees all and knows all... Including our future.

GOD IS OMNIPOTENT.  We tire physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Our thoughts get clouded.  God never gets tired and His thinking is crystal clear.  He hears all, sees all, and works all things according to His purpose and accomplishes His every Word (Romans 8:28).

Taking all this into consideration, whose perspective would you say that we can more securely trust... ours or God's?  Ask yourself who can see from the past into the future.  Who has the higher perspective in order to decide on the best course to take?  Who accomplishes His every Word?  The answers to those questions are obvious, but trusting in God's perspective is not always easy.  Trust in His Word.  Wait on The Lord for guidance... for the answers you need.  After all, He promises that we can have that "bird's eye" view we want as we "mount up with wings like eagles" (Isaiah 40:6-31).

~Kay Dillard

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Three "I's" of Forgiveness

Consider the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Matthew 18: 21-35

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

What a challenging text! We are to forgive other people up to 490 times? What does this text teach us about practicing forgiveness? There are three valuable lessons to be remembered about forgiveness:

1. First, the IMPORTANCE of Forgiveness...
Jesus stressed the importance of forgiveness by using a breath-taking challenge. He instructed Peter to forgive up to four hundred ninety times. Forgiveness is important!
   A.  First, forgiveness is important because God’s forgiveness of us is dependent on our forgiving others.
   B.  A second reason why forgiveness is important is because our spiritual freedom depends on our forgiving others.  Whenever you harbor unforgiveness in your heart you will be in bondage. You will not have freedom when you try to worship.

2. These verses teach the importance of forgiveness. However, it also teaches the IMPOSSIBILITY of Forgiveness. 
There is a somewhat humorous story line in this passage.  In Matthew 5, verse 21 we read where Peter comes to Jesus with a question. His question was, “how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” (then Peter adds) “up to seven times?”  This is the catch: the Jewish Rabbis taught that forgiving someone three times was sufficient. Peter was offering a generous over-stepping of obligation. If three was the magical number then seven should be going the extra mile, so he thought. Jesus stunned Peter when he suggested (in verse 22) that Peter should forgive 70 times 7 (or 490 times).  Jesus point, there should be no limits on forgiveness.
Forgiveness is impossible without submitting yourself to God. "You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:2-3).

3.  Knowing its importance and knowing it is impossible without God, now consider the INSPIRATION to offer forgiveness.
There is inspiration in the Bible, in real life stories, and ultimately in Jesus Christ.  As he hung on the cross he prayed a prayer of forgiveness, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).  When you forgive, it does not mean that the other person will change… it means that YOU have!   It means that you have used your FREE WILL to obey Christ and extend mercy, grace, and compassion.  It means that you CHOOSE to show leniency, let go of resentments, release unhealthy and unholy emotions, trust God, and submit to His Will.  It means you have chosen strength and humility over weakness and pride.  You have relinquished your right to be right which in itself is an act of obedience to God.

If a big, shiny red balloon represents God’s holiness, how many pins do you need to stick in it to break it? We are ALL guilty when compared to His holiness.  It has nothing to do with what good you’ve done.  It has to do with Jesus Christ and what He’s done, whether or not He is in your heart, reigning in your life… by invitation of your own Free Will.

The Point
Any guesses what the point of forgiveness is?  JOY! The complete and utter JOY of God when one sinner repents. That is the point of the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).  “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

The Challenge
Exercise your FREE WILL to say YES to God… He will empower you.  If we really hunger and thirst for righteousness (Listen, trust, and obey), if we really desire to know God intimately and walk in His ways, then we DIE TO SELF and don’t let anyone or anything get in our way… or stop us from being obedient.

Remember the Three I’s of Forgiveness…
1.  It is IMPORTANT,
2.  It is IMPOSSIBLE without His help, and
3.  There is plenty of INSPIRATION for it.

What’s stopping you from seeking  forgiveness?  What’s stopping you from extending forgiveness?   Ask and believe that you can forgive, then obey.

~Posted by Kay Dillard

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Life is Full of Important Choices

I love to fish... but I'm not very good at it. There are different kinds of bait to use depending on what you want to catch, different times and different weather conditions to consider, and different fishing rod configurations.  Decisions, decisions! My daughter knows we like to fish, so one day she gave us a t-shirt that had a picture of many fishing poles on it.  Under the fishing poles was the caption, "Life is Full of Important Choices." Recently, I ran across that t-shirt in my closet and thought about the message.  The maker of the shirt was implying that which fishing rod you choose to use is one of the MOST IMPORTANT choices that you have to make.  I started thinking about the choices in life and which ones are truly important.

Every person is different, so there is not a specific number of daily decisions that applies to everyone, but Time Magazine puts the number in the thousands. There are highly important life decisions, such as those to get married, have children, move, make a major purchase, go to college, etc.  There are major decisions that though they are not life altering, they do affect the outcome of a person's day, such as the choice to get out of bed, bathe, eat, go to work or school, etc.  Also, there are choices that are so minor that the person making them may not even be consciously aware that he or she is making them.
The most important choice we make is whether or not we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, however that is only the first of many important choices with which we are faced daily.  Here are some examples:
*Do we love our children only if they obey us or do we love them unconditionally?
*Do we hold grudges or do we forgive others seventy times seven?
*Do we love our neighbors as ourselves?
*Do we consider God'sWill for our lives when contemplating where we work, live, and fellowship with other believers to worship Him?
*Do we love The Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul, and all our strength?

I dare say that these choices are so much more important than which fishing pole to use, which car to drive, which hair style to have, or which dessert to eat.

Remember the words of Paul to the church of Thessalonica:  "God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth."  Hmmmm, God chose us... shouldn't we choose to accept His love, love Him back, and live according to His Will?

Blog by Kay Dillard

Monday, April 21, 2014

The smell of ...

It is said that the sense of smell is linked to memory more than sight! A few days ago, as I was driving to work, I was hit with one of those aromas that takes you back in time. It was a beautiful day -- the new leaves were all glistening with that early-spring freshness and then I smelled it ... the unmistakable odor of manure! Immediately I was taken back to childhood afternoons, getting off of the school bus with head down in shame, embarrassed that my house smelled bad! You see, in the early spring my father would cover the small garden with manure ... and the garden just happened to be located exactly where our bus stopped. I almost -- should have -- called my sisters to remind them of that "shameful" memory that we share -- it would've brought laughter. Curiously, today I don't find the scent of manure in the spring to be offensive. In fact, the earthly, natural, sweet pungency actually made me enjoy the day more. Maybe it's nostalgia for a simpler, and humorous time in my life, but I think it also has to do with a better understanding of what that smell represents. I know that the manure is going to make fruits, vegetables, shrubs, flowers and trees grow healthy and beautiful (and tasty). I wonder if the manure is a life-lesson. We know that the Lord "douses us with manure" at times. It's not that he wants us to smell bad or bring us pain -- He just wants us to bear fruit. Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us that "the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son He delights in." So, the next time you feel like you are having a "crappy" day ... maybe consider it that Jesus is just applying some "Miracle Grow" in your life. Who knows? You might just find you start appreciating that smell! Pastor Chris

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Guiding Light

You may be familiar with the TV soap opera that is entitled, "The Guiding Light." I couldn't tell you the names of the characters or what it was about, but I did think about "The Guiding Light" this morning when I woke up to do my Bible Study. It was very dark when My eyes opened... all I could see were the 5 little dots of light coming from my DVD player and my home alarm system. Just that little bit of light helped to guide me to the bathroom so I could brush my teeth. Afterwards, trying to be careful not to awaken my mother, I did not turn on any lights as I entered the hallway. It was pitch black dark and I couldn't see a thing... not even the walls that were on either side of me. As I carefully made my way down the hallway, I could begin to see the faint light at the end of the hallway coming from my den. That little bit of light enabled me to make my way through the darkness to get to my destination without stumbling. Isn't it that way with us sometimes? We can't see ourselves out of a situation at first, but when we focus on God instead of the problem, we begin to see a way out. His Light gives us direction, motivation, and hope. Even just little glimmers of His Light, or sensing Him at the end of our tunnel can bring us back the realization of how much we love Him and need Him every step of the way because without Him, we'll stumble and fall. I need The Lord to be my "Guiding Light." I know I don't want to try to do things on my own. I know that I desperately need God in my life. I know that without Jesus as my Savior, I would be truly lost in every sense of the word. What about you? If you feel comfortable doing so, leave a comment about how the Guiding Light of Jesus Christ led you out of a dark period in your life. Your testimony will encourage others! ~Pastor Kay

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Power of a FB Birthday

I just had a birthday. While some of you dread that day of the year which celebrates the fact that you are getting older, I choose to CELEBRATE!! I love my birthday ... I'm not ashamed to say it. I love it because people go out of their way to make me feel special. Whether its an unexpected birthday card or present, a fantastic meal with friends and family, or the loud singing of the birthday song, I always look forward to January 8. A phenomenon began in the last few years that has made it even better -- thanks to Facebook! I love, love, love all of the birthday wishes from my FB friends! It's definitely a common occurrence for those celebrating birthdays, but the fact that the attention is not unique to me doesn't lessen the thrill I feel when I read the remarks of my friends. Some words come from very close friends and family. Some come from friends I haven't seen in years. Some remarks are even from friends that have never been my closest. And sometimes the words are very simply: "happy birthday." But ALL of the wishes warm my heart. You see, when people you love speak blessings into your life, it edifies you in a remarkable way. The FB birthday experience may be simple, but it has an amazing effect! The cool thing? You don't have to wait for someone's birthday or even log on to FB to build up a brother! Your kind and friendly words are incredibly powerful. Why don't you start wishing your friends happiness "every" day? You'd be amazed at the results! So ... thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday last week. You made my day! And may God RICHLY bless you and make your day wonderful!! -- from Chris Bailey