“MAN OVERBOARD!”

“FOR HE HAS RESCUED US FROM THE DOMINION OF DARKNESS AND BROUGHT US INTO THE KINGDOM OF THE SON HE LOVES.” COLOSSIANS 1:13 NIV A STORY IS TOLD OF A MAN ON HIS FIRST OCEAN CRUISE. NEAR THE FRONT OF THE SHIP, HE WAS LEANING OVER THE RAILING FOR A CLOSER VIEW OF THE SEA BELOW. HE SLIPPED AND FELL OVERBOARD. DOZENS OF PEOPLE WATCHED IN HORROR AS SOMEONE SCREAMED “MAN OVERBOARD”. THE CROWD INSTANTLY STARTED ARGUING ABOUT HOW TO HELP HIM AS HE STRUGGLED TO STAY AFLOAT IN THE DEEP OCEAN. ONE SUGGESTED THE SHIP COULD NOT STOP, SO FOOD SHOULD BE THROWN TO THE MAN SO HE WOULD NOT STARVE UNTIL ANOTHER SHIP COULD PICK HIM UP. ANOTHER SUGGESTED THE MAN OVERBOARD NEEDED A LIFE RING SO HE COULD STAY AFLOAT. FINALLY, ANOTHER PASSENGER TIED A ROPE TO A LIFE RING AND THREW IT TO THE NEARLY DROWNED MAN. AT THE LAST MINUTE, THE MAN OVERBOARD WAS ABLE TO GRAB THE RING WHILE THE PASSENGERS FINALLY WORKED TOGETHER TO PULL HIM FROM THE GRIPS OF DEATH. OUR DAILY LIVES ARE MUCH LIKE THIS STORY. ON OCCASION, WE ARE LIKE THIS MAN OVERBOARD. SOME DAYS WE FALL OVERBOARD. STRUGGLING WITH DEBT, AN ILLNESS, A FAILING MARRIAGE OR A WAYWARD CHILD, WE SEEMINGLY CAN’T STAY AFLOAT. MANY OF OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS OFFER KIND WORDS, PHYSICAL HELP AND THEIR OWN UNIQUE IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS. WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL WHO WE LISTEN TO FOR ADVICE. THE ONE WE SHOULD TRUST FOR HELP IS THE ONE WHO IS CLEARLY BEING LED BY GOD AND IS LEADING US TO GOD. YES,...

“FIRST CHURCH OF PHARISEES”

“FOR I TELL YOU THAT UNLESS YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SURPASSES THAT OF THE PHARISEES AND THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW, YOU WILL CERTAINLY NOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.” MATTHEW 5:20 NIV READ: MATTHEW 5: 17-20 PHARISITICAL. (fare a sit’ ikal) adjective; being as a pharisee, judging others while being self righteous, judging with malice, unforgiving, viewing others as less deserving than themselves MANY MIGHT ARGUE THAT ‘PHARASITICAL’ IS NOT A REAL WORD, WHILE OTHERS CLEARLY UNDERSTAND ITS MEANING. WHAT CHURCH DO YOU BELONG TO? THE QUESTION IS NOT WHERE YOU ATTEND CHURCH SERVICES. THE QUESTION IS: WHAT ARE YOU TRUE HEARTFELT BELIEFS? DO YOU BELONG TO ‘THE FIRST CHURCH OF PHARISEES’? EVERY DENOMINATION HAS A CORE DOCTRINE. WITHIN THOSE DIFFERENT DENOMINATIONS, INDIVIDUAL CHURCHES WILL VARY SLIGHTLY IN ITS INTERPRETATION OF THOSE DOCTRINES. THEN, IF YOU WERE TO POLL THE MEMBERS OF EACH CHURCH YOU WILL FIND SOME WHO ARE MORE RIGID IN THEIR BELIEFS THAN THE STATED DOCTRINE WHILE OTHER MEMBERS HAVE A MORE LENIENT VIEW OF THE SAME CHURCH’S DOCTRINE. WHAT WE BELIEVE DEFINES OUR INTERPRETATION OF GOD’S WORD. SOME OF OUR BELIEFS ARE ‘INHERITED’ FROM THE FAMILY WE WERE RAISED. SOME BELIEFS ARE THE BASIS OF OUR STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURE, WHILE OTHERS ARE FROM THE TEACHINGS OF A PASTOR OR ANOTHER’S INFLUENCE. WE SOMETIMES TAKE OUR BELIEFS AND SHARE THEM WITH OTHERS. THESE TIMES CAN BE A STRONG PROCLAMATION OF OUR FAITH OR A GOSSIPING RUMOR. “MARY DRINKS.” CAN BE INTERPRETED MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. IT COULD BE THAT MARY SOMETIMES HAS A GLASS OF WINE OR IT COULD MEAN MARY GETS DRUNK EVERY NIGHT. “BILL HAS...

“YOUR GREATEST DISAPPOINTMENT”

“NOW I AM ABOUT TO GO THE WAY OF ALL THE EARTH. YOU KNOW WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND SOUL THAT NOT ONE OF ALL THE GOOD PROMISES THE LORD YOUR GOD GAVE YOU HAS FAILED. EVERY PROMISE HAS BEEN FULFILLED; NOT ONE HAS FAILED.” JOSHUA 23:14 NIV PROBABLY SEVERAL TIMES IN YOUR LIFE, YOU HAVE FELT THE ANGUISHING PAIN OF DISAPPOINTMENT. MAYBE, IT WAS THE LOSS OF A JOB OR FINANCIAL RUIN. IT COULD HAVE BEEN THE DESTRUCTIVE HURT OF A DIVORCE OR A PERSONAL FAILURE. GIVEN ALL THE DISAPPOINTMENTS YOU MAY HAVE KNOWN, THE GREATEST MAY BE THE DISAPPOINTMENT IN A LOVED ONE. PERHAPS, A CHILD WHO MADE A SERIOUS WRONG DECISION AND FOUND THEMSELVES CONVICTED OF A CRIME WAS A GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT. MAYBE, YOU FOUND THE GREATEST DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE UNFAITHFULNESS OF A SPOUSE. OTHERS MAY HAVE FOUND DISAPPOINTMENT IN WATCHING HELPLESSLY AS A LOVED ONE WAS DEVOURED BY ALCOHOL OR DRUGS. WE CAN SUM UP ALL OF THESE IN AN EXPLANATION: “OUR GREATEST DISAPPOINTMENT IS THE UNFULFILLED EXPECTATIONS WE HAVE OF OTHERS.” IT IS NOT THE DIVORCE, OR SOMEONE’S DRUG ADDICTION THAT IS DISAPPOINTING IN ITSELF. THE DISAPPOINTMENT IS THAT WE EXPECTED MORE OF THAT PERSON. OUR EXPECTATION OF THEM AND OUR EXPECTATION OF THEIR ACTIONS WAS LESS THAN WHAT WE DESIRED OF THEM. WHAT ABOUT YOU? HAVE YOU FAILED SOMEONE? HAS SOMEONE VERY SPECIAL HELD OUT FOR THE VERY BEST FOR YOU AND YOU FAILED NOT ONLY YOURSELF BUT THEIR EXPECTATIONS AS WELL? YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. IT MAY SEEM LIKE AN UNBELIEVABLE TASK TO UNDO, BUT ONLY YOU CAN REPAIR THE...

“COVET”

“YOU DESIRE BUT DO NOT HAVE, SO YOU KILL. YOU COVET BUT YOU CANNOT GET WHAT YOU WANT, SO YOU QUARREL AND FIGHT. YOU DO NOT HAVE BECAUSE YOU DO NOT ASK GOD. JAMES 4:2 NIV READ: JAMES 4: 1-12 OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, I HAVE COME TO KNOW AND APPRECIATE A WONDERFUL CHRISTIAN FRIEND WHO LIVES 20 MILES ACROSS TOWN FROM ME. WE EMAIL OCCASIONALLY AND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT THE SUBJECT IS PRAYING FOR RAIN. EVEN IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER, WE ARE STILL IN STAGE TWO OF A DROUGHT THAT HAS LASTED FOR OVER THREE YEARS. WHEN WE DO GET A LITTLE RAIN, ONE WILL WRITE THE OTHER OF HOW MUCH RAIN FELL. IN COMPARING, IT SEEMS LIKE MOST OF THE TIME SHE HAS RECEIVED MORE RAIN THAN I HAVE. THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION, BUT A SHARED BLESSINGS OF WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN. THERE IS NO JEALOUSY, NO SELFISHNESS AND NO COVETING OF THE OTHERS GAINS. WE CONTINUE TO BE THANKFUL FOR THE BLESSINGS BOTH HAVE RECEIVED AND WE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR RAIN. DO YOU COVET? WHEN ANOTHER GETS A PROMOTION, BUYS A NEW CAR, SHOWS UP WEARING A NEW OUTFIT OR ANNOUNCES A FABULOUS VACATION, DO YOU SHARE IN THEIR BLESSINGS OR IS THERE A BIT OF JEALOUSY? BEING JEALOUS OF ANOTHER’S BLESSINGS CAN BE COVETOUSNESS. GOD GAVE US HIS 10 COMMANDMENTS. EXODUS 20:17 TELLS US WE ARE NOT TO COVET ANOTHER’S HOUSE, SPOUSE OR PROPERTY. HOW DO YOU FIND BLESSINGS IN SOMEONE ELSE’S GOOD FORTUNE? IT STARTS WITH FINDING THE BLESSINGS IN WHAT YOU DO HAVE. INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON WHAT...

“PROCRASTINATION”

“WHEN YOU MAKE A VOW TO GOD, DO NOT DELAY TO FULFILL IT. HE HAS NO PLEASURE IN FOOLS; FULFILL YOUR VOW.” ECCLESIASTES 5:4 NIV ARE YOU AN EXPERT AT PROCRASTINATION? SOME HAVE PRACTICED THEIR ENTIRE LIFE THE SKILLS NECESSARY TO BE THE BEST AT PROCRASTINATION! WHETHER IT IS PUTTING OFF VACUUMING THE CARPETS, PAYING A BILL OR RETURNING A PHONE CALL, THERE ARE PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL OF US TO DELAY DOING WHAT IS NEEDED. WITH ONLY THREE DAYS UNTIL VALENTINE’S DAY, A NEW OPPORTUNITY IS AVAILABLE TO WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. IF YOU ARE MARRIED, IN A RELATIONSHIP OR HAVE CHILDREN AT HOME, YOU HAVE AN UNSPOKEN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE ON THE RESPONSIBILITY. IT MAY BE AS EASY AS A CARD, A BOX OF CANDY, A VASE OF FLOWERS OR MAYBE A SPECIAL GIFT. DON’T PROCRASTINATE. MAKE THE MOST OF THIS SPECIAL DAY WITH ANOTHER. WHATEVER NEEDS TO BE DONE…DO IT AND ENJOY DOING IT! OF COURSE, THERE ARE THINGS MORE IMPORTANT THAN VALENTINE’S DAY MATERIALISM. PROCRASTINATION DOES NOT GIVE YOU MORE TIME, IT STEALS TIME FROM YOU. WHATEVER YOU CAN DO TODAY, DO IT! WHEN YOU GET AROUND TO DOING WHAT YOU HAVE PUT OFF, THEN THERE IS SOMETHING AT THAT TIME YOU HAVE TO DELAY. YOU NEVER WILL CATCH UP. YOU HAVE TO PUT OFF SOMETHING ELSE FOR ANOTHER TIME JUST TO DO WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE ALREADY DONE! WHAT ABOUT YOUR SPIRITUAL WALK? ARE YOU PROCRASTINATING? DO YOU MISS CHURCH ONLY TO SAY, ‘I WILL GO NEXT WEEK.’? ARE YOU PROCRASTINATING ABOUT STARTING YOUR DAY WITH A CONVERSATION WITH GOD? DO YOU...