Do We Have Total Obedience?

obedience

“But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.” Matthew 3:15

The baptism of Jesus was an unusual event. We know John the Baptist knew he should have been baptized by Jesus. We know Jesus was baptized to show us we need to be baptized as a public sign of salvation, and to be obedient to God’s will.

We also know that Jesus was doing this to be totally obedient to the will of the Father. This was a picture of His humility.

The Bible tells us, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8

The Son of God showed us what total obedience looked like. It involves sacrificing our will and our rights to perform God’s will in whatever God wants in His kingdom.

If that means, we get walked on like a doormat today—so be it. If that means, we get hurt by brothers or sisters in Christ—Thank you, Lord. If that means, closing our mouths and not giving our opinion—Go, God!

Crazy?

Words like humility, sacrifice, and death are fading from our Christian vocabulary. The celebrity status some Christians enjoy and the rise of social media have taught us to toot our own horn.

We all have something to add to the kingdom but that might not be celebrity status. It might be to simply wake up today and die to our will, to “Take up our cross and follow Him.” There are many things Jesus has done for us and showed us but the biggest thing is dying to us.

Total obedience is saying, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Don’t forget to Pray!

Pastor Rodney 

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How to Keep a Right Spirit

right spirit

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11

Bragging. It’s not a new thing. From kings in the Bible to athletes in a big game, the art of bragging has been around a while.

Some people see nothing wrong with bragging. Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

We’ve even modified bragging. There is a new term now called “humble bragging.” You know, “I am so humbled that they put me on the cover of TIME magazine…AGAIN!

Sadly, pulpits and pews have had a few pride infested words slung around. Our flesh fights our spirit.

We must be careful that we don’t boast about our attendance, baptism numbers, or altar movement. The tempter is always trying to get a foothold in the church.

Here in Matthew 3 John the Baptist is being used by God to prepare God’s people. Repentance was the one-note message JTB preached. Turn from sin and turn to God. An about-face sends us in God’s direction and away from ours.

The converts were massing to hear JTB preach. “Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him.” (Matthew 3:5) Talk about a popular preacher. JTB became the biggest news in the Jerusalem Times.

How did JTB respond?

Like we should. When people shout our praises, we sing Jesus’. “He who is coming after me is mightier than I.” God may be doing His work through me but it’s not about me. Donkeys can preach when touched by God.

JTB’s humility resonates with these words, “whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.” Carrying clothing was the sign of a servant. Carrying smelly sandals would have been the least favorite part of the clothing.

Whenever we get prideful we must ask if we smell like a servant because our spirits get sour with pride. Prideful preaching and teaching forgets the needs of the people who hear us. Our words must be His words. After all, they are His people, not ours.

Let’s pray!

Pastor Rodney

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Pastor, Are “THEY” or “THEM” in Your Church Too?

crowd of people

“They” have been in every church I served and they seem to be members of every church my friend’s pastor. “They” show up in Deacon’s meetings, committee meetings, phone calls, and even in emails.

Who are they?

“Pastor, they are upset. The decision you made, the phone call you didn’t make, the out-patient surgery you missed, they got their feelings hurt. You pastor offended them.”

That’s right “they” have family members named “them.”

They and them have been around a while. They are easily offended and they never give you the benefit of the doubt. They question your motives, shake your hand, and even give a friendly smile.

You may never know who they are because they never talk with you, they go to others and talk about you. And, we never know how many of them there is.

They ruin our sleep, and can even wreck our ministry. Jesus speaks to they and them and how to deal with those people.

1.Don’t Worry

Would it help if Jesus dealt with them too? Jesus told the disciples about them. “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour. What you should speak:” Matthew 10: 19

Is it possible to not worry about them? They will talk, they will complain, and they will hurt our feelings but we aren’t to worry about them.

Sometimes in our churches, they go to other leaders and the leaders don’t know what to do with them. They grew up with them. Now suddenly they are not happy. They need to be heard. Spiritually mature deacons realize these people are the ones who habitually complain.

The next step is to talk with them. But they seem to always be nameless. Even when pushed a church leader will say, “They didn’t want their name mentioned.”

What? How can I find out who they are? If I can’t talk to them, then how can this be fixed?

Jesus speaks again to this, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.”  Matthew 10:23

Sometimes they become louder than the rest of them. They get their way and we are left wondering why this all happened. Rest assured we are not alone.

Jesus gives another way to deal with them:

  1. Do Not Fear

“Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” Matthew 10:26

Fear paralyzes us. Jesus says that they will be brought out into the light. That’s right Jesus will uncover them. They will not remain anonymous. These people will not stay hidden forever.

We may not see them here but Jesus will have an uncovering party in heaven. The hidden words will be revealed. The secret meetings will be seen.

Please know pastor, names will be taken. The scales will be balanced. We may have to move churches but God will move heaven to make this happen.

They will answer. I’m starting to feel better about them. How about you?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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What is Your Call?

call

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” (Matthew 3:1-2)

John the Baptist was the long-awaited prophet of the Messiah. By all accounts today he was a different sort of dude.

He wouldn’t have made it past most pastor search committees, but he gives us so many glimpses of the glory of God that we can certainly see how Jesus called him, Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;” (Matthew 11:11)

John the Baptist had what we all need, a clarity of call.

If we take a minute, we can see his message—Repent! And, we can also see his mission was to proclaim the Messiah.

We all have the same mission as him. Tell the world about Jesus. But, we do that differently.

It’s the message that we must see. This is the way we are gifted. A prophet will be an in your face, black and white messenger (like John the Baptist). Proclaiming repentance. But, an encourager we tell people about the love of God.

This is the message we have. Born into us when we were born again.

It’s also the problem we have with each other. Prophets tend to think they are right all the time. After all, we do need to repent. Right?

That’s why we must clarify our call. Most of the arguments in our churches and on social media are centered around our different gifts. Without a clarity of call, and the spiritual maturity to see our differences, we may end up being so right we think everyone else is wrong.

We need prophets. We need encouragers. We need mercy, knowledge, administration, and on and on. But we also need the grace to let others fulfill their call.

So, what is your call?

Don’t forget to pray!

Pastor Rodney

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Do you Remember all God’s Done for you?

remember

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’”

“They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”  Nehemiah 1:8-11

After repentance, Nehemiah’s prayer centers on God remember what you said. If we sin you will scatter us, and you did. But in v.9 if we turn to you and obey you, God you will call us to you again. Remember Father and he lists three things:

1)Of His Promises­—(v.8-9)

Lord, you promised if we turn to you and obey you would deliver us.

It’s important in prayer to quote scripture. Not to remind God but to settle it in our hearts.

Lord, you said, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Lord, you said, “Call unto me in the day of trouble,”

Lord, you said “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:”

The promises reassure us.

2)Of His Power—(v.10) “Thy great power.

When we pray we’re not only talking to our heavenly father, but also the God of everything. He said that in V.4.

Oh, God can’t deliver America—we’re hopeless. He delivered Israel at the Red Sea. God can’t save my husband, or wayward child—oh really, God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, God delivered Daniel. God even saved Nebuchadnezzar, an evil king.

3)Of His Plans—(v.11)“who desire to fear thy name: and prosper,”

That reminds me of what God told the prophet Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

God wants to bless us. God wants us to walk in victory. God’s plans are that we live Holy, happy lives and point the way to Jesus.

Do you remember all God’s done for you?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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3 Areas of Repentance We All Need

Repentance

“Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.” Nehemiah 1:6

When Nehemiah got the news that the walls of Jerusalem were torn down his heart broke. His people and his nation were in disarray. Despair drove him to prayer.

Ever been there?

Nehemiah repented for sin which WE committed. He took responsibility for himself, his family, and his people. He says he is praying day and night, he’s earnestly pleading with God to forgive our sin. He lists the three areas all of us should confess as sin before God.

1)Public Repentanceconfess the sins of the children of Israel. He says, “we have sinned against you.”  Father forgive us in America we have forgotten you—we have pushed you out and made idols of money, power, and fame. We worship, worship. We worship us.

2)Personal Repentance—Father “I have sinned.” Personal repentance. What have we placed before Jesus in our lives? Besides work and family, what takes up most of our time? Is that thing an idol? Are we truly repenting of the things that are sin and yet we do anyway?

Someone once said, “Repentance is being sorry enough not to do it again.”

3)Patriarchal Repentance— “both I and my father’s house have sinned.” This is a must. Some people believe their parents to be more right than God.

Here’s a caution: just because our mom or dad said it, doesn’t mean it’s Biblical.

It’s also important here to say we must confess the sins of our family. There is a thing called Generational sins. Exodus 20:5 states, “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”

We pass down traits as parents to children and we pass down sins.

Certain habits that are sinful. You look at a man with a temper and you watch how his children turn out. Abuse—runs in families. Watch a gossiping person, or a judgmental person, in the church, I guarantee it they learned it at home.

We must repent in all three areas before we will have revival. If we won’t repent, who will?

Let’s Pray

Pastor Rodney

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Do We Have a Burdened Heart for Prayer?

burdened heart

Look again at what Nehemiah did when he heard the news about his nation.

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4

When is the last time you wept in prayer?

You began to pray for a brother or sister in Christ or a lost loved one, or the lost in general, and wept while praying? Do you have passion in your prayer?

Is our hearts so in tune with God that other’s burdens become your burdens?

The Bible says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

A missionary and his family were forced to camp outside on a hill. They were carrying money and they were fearful that thieves might rob them. After spending time in prayer, they finally fell asleep.

Several months later, a man that had been injured was taken to the mission hospital. He asked the missionary if on that special night they had soldiers guarding them. The man said to him, “We intended to rob you, but we were afraid of the twenty-seven soldiers.”

When the missionary returned to his homeland, he shared this story with his home church. One of the members asked the date of that night and then responded, “We had a prayer meeting that night, and I took roll. There was exactly twenty-seven of us present.”

Oh, brothers and sisters when God’s people have a burdened heart God does miracles.

Who do you have a burdened heart for today? A loved one? Church family? Our Nation?

Let’s pray.

Pastor Rodney

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Will You Join Me in Prayer?

pray

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4

Webster’s dictionary defines prevailing as having superior force or influence. When we think of prayer as believers, as children of God do you describe your prayer life as having superior force or influence with God?

I believe one thing that will mark a person who has influence with men and influence with God is this: that person will be one who walks with a greatness of prayer.

If we studied the great revivals or the turning point in a man’s life where that believer gave themselves completely to Jesus it is stamped with an event of significant, sustained prayer.

No great awakening in America ever started without God’s people crying out to God. No saint ever became mighty for God w/o first crying out to God for the forgiveness of sins.

Pastor Mark Bubeck a prayer warrior said greatness of prayer can be defined in 2 measurements:

1)Measured by what it does in the life of the one praying.

2)Measured by the visible moving of God in human affairs.

Of all the great prayers in the Bible, Nehemiah’s prayer is one of obvious greatness. Great prayer is ALWAYS A PRAYER FROM THE HEART! Usually, we never learn to pray until it is Desperate prayer. This prayer, in my opinion, is the outline of great prevailing prayer.

Here in our text, we have a remnant of Jewish people who had returned to Jerusalem. They were in captivity and had been let go. In 536 BC Zerubbabel returned with 50,000 Jews and in 20 years had rebuilt the temple. In 457 BC there was a small revival under Ezra. Now it’s 445 BC and the people and city are in ruins.

God was looking for someone who would be obedient and unite His people. God didn’t choose a king, a preacher, or even someone called into full-time ministry. God chose Nehemiah, the cup-bearer of the king of Persia.

God is looking for one person with a heart for His people. That’s what we need today. Someone to pray.

Our nation is divided and we can blame whatever political party we choose. But healing our land won’t come from Washington. It must come from God’s people crying out to Him for each other.

Will you join me in prayer?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Two Ways to Grow Spiritually

grow

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” Philippians 3:12

When Christ Jesus saved Paul that was just the beginning not the end. Except for the Lord Jesus Himself, and John the Baptist Paul was one of the most faithful men who ever lived. And Paul is saying I still need to grow.

I’m no there yet. I haven’t arrived. I still need to grow.

Paul wrote most of the New Testament, authored many of the most read books in history, and he’s saying he’s not spiritually where he wants to be.

So he tells us how to focus our lives to be spiritually mature:

1.Follow God’s Plan“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on,”

I am not yet complete, mature in my relationship with Christ so I press on—that means to reach forward to a goal.

Well what is God’s plan? God’s goal for our lives—Spiritual Maturity. He wants us to grow up in our faith and trust in Him. He wants us to become more and more like Jesus in our daily lives.

Leonard Ravenhill tells about a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village. They walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. They asked the man if any great men were born in the village. He said, “Nope, only babies.”

There are no instant spiritual giants in the kingdom of God. Growth takes time. Too many times we as Christians forget that so and so isn’t where he ought to be spiritually.

2. Fulfill God’s Purpose“that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

The phrase “lay hold of,” means to seize or possess. To grab everything God wants for me because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. We must seize the opportunities in life by fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives.

Rich Stearns as a boy was brought up in an alcoholic family. Never enough work or money young Rich decided to climb out of that lifestyle. In the seventh grade he received catalogs from all the Ivy League schools.

He received a full scholarship to Cornell and in college he found the two loves of life, Renee, and Jesus.

Rich had a heart for the unfortunate. He refused to let his bride register for china because as he said, “As long as there are hungry children, we shouldn’t have china or crystal.” At there wedding Rich and Renee’ received fondue pots and Crock-pots, but no china.

Rich with an MBA and a great business mind became the CEO of Parker Brothers. Eleven years later he became the CEO of Lenox China and Crystal.

Funny how a man who had no china was becoming wealthy selling china to the wealthy. His life seemed to be drifting. He thought of retiring and going on the mission field.

Then the phone rang. World Vision a ministry that championed the cause of the poor world-wide, wanted Rich to be the CEO. He took a 75% pay-cut to take a ministry. Rich knew he found the purpose God created him for and World Vision is glad he did.

You will be glad you did too.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Does My Life Reveal Jesus?

reveal

“He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3

Here we see the Risen Savior our Lord Jesus Christ presented Himself to the disciples. The now 11 Apostles and look at 1 Corinthians 15:6, “Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.”

He was seen by over 500 people at one time.

He revealed Himself to them and demonstrated who He was by His death on the cross, His resurrection, the miracles He did, and spent 40 days with them before His ascension to heaven here in v.9. He showed Himself to His disciples.

But, just as the first church did here in Acts, we are to reveal Him in our lives. You ever just sit back and think how good it is to be a Christian? You ever think man if it wasn’t for my Savior what would I do?

When I think of these first Christians, this first church, and what they went through, I feel so unworthy. What they suffered and the persecution they endured what have we done to reveal the Savior?

In 1904 William Borden heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East and Europe Borden got a burden for the world’s hurting people. He wrote home and told his parents God was calling him to the mission field.

When he made this decision he wrote two words in the back of his Bible. No Reserves.

After graduating from Yale he turned down several high paying job offers and he wrote two more words in the back of his Bible, No Retreats.

He completed his studies at Princeton Seminary and sailed for China to work with Muslims. He first stopped in Egypt to prepare for the work. While in Egypt he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month.

Some would say what a waste. Not in God’s plan, because the last two words William Borden wrote were No Regrets.

Someone said, “What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.”

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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