Oaths and Vows

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By Jim DeAngelo

My prayer for Elim and all Christians is that we experience the freedom that comes from our Lord, Jesus Christ. I was able to share this Sunday just a few examples of how the spiritual laws of judgments, reaping and sowing, honoring parents, unforgiveness, and oaths and vows have impacted my life and the individuals I have had the privilege to share these truths with.

I found I was blind to many of the strongholds in my own life. I thank God that my wife, family, and others who are close to me recognized my difficulties and were brave enough to share them. I’m grateful that I prayed about them and was able to gain freedom through Christ. As a reminder, we must:

  • Recognize we have sinned against God’s laws,
  • Confess our failings,
  • Repent and turn from the sin that has enslaved us,
  • Forgive the person(s) we judged,
  • Accept God’s forgiveness,
  • Ask the Lord to fill our hearts where we have been controlling,
  • Ask the Lord to bless the other person(s), and
  • Where possible, work to bring restoration with the other individual.

I would encourage you to ask those close to you to give you courageous feedback and to prayerfully consider if and where you need freedom through Christ.

Blessings!

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A Prayer to You

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By Tom Chase

prayer

Have you ever wondered why some people are so open to hearing the message of the Gospel and others are not? I wish I knew the message that each person needed. I wish I could say all the right things that would make a difference!

The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 states,

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

I am reminded then, it’s God who really makes the difference . . . and what a difference He makes!

But in Matthew 28:19–20, we are told:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

So why then has God called me (us) to go and make disciples? Isn’t that His job?

Yes, it is, but He has asked me (us) to be a part . . . to be a disciple! He clearly involves us (me and you) in the process of helping others to be connected with Him!

So then we recognize that God does what God does and we do (or get to do) what we are to do!

He has His part and we have ours!

I was recently listening to Michael Ramsden of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). He was talking about ways of communicating the gospel to people and, as an aside, he said he had a novel approach. It’s called “talking to people.” J Why didn’t I think of that?!

But then he went on to share a story (see this link for the fuller message).

Basically, he relates an interaction between himself and the owner of a hairdresser’s shop. She starts out not even really talking to him but saying, “I wish there was more to life ….” But, as the conversation progresses, Michael begins sharing various points of the Gospel and she stops and writes them all down. She was so open to all that Michael shared. This woman then goes home and shares all that Michael had shared with her. Her husband tells her, “You’re preaching at me.”

What was the difference between the woman and her husband? She was asking questions, but her husband was not.

The phase, “You’re preaching at me!” and the associated attitude resonates with me as I think about people in my sphere of influence with whom I am hoping to share Christ. I really don’t want to just be “preaching” at people.

So, as a result, here are the kinds of things I’ve been beginning to pray:

  • “Lord, help me talk with the people who are asking questions.”
  • Even, “Lord bring people into my path that are asking questions.”
  • And, “Lord, bring questions I can answer with Your help.”
  • “Lord, I don’t want to be just preaching at people.”
  • “But Lord, I do want to share the words of life . . . Your words that You can use to draw people to You.”
  • “Make me sensitive to what you are doing and the questions people are asking. Use me today!”

So now I am waiting to see what God wants to do. I have relationships with people in which I am hoping to share and others that are just in my sphere of influence.

“Help me see what You are doing, God.”

“God, will You do what You do? And please help me do what I should do!”

As I am putting together the closing thoughts of this Last Word, the song by Keith Green, Make My Life a Prayer to You,” is just welling up within me. I stopped and listened. (Maybe you will want to, too.)

I think it expresses what my heart needs and wants to be about. As you listen, maybe you, too, will be both challenged and encouraged.

And may God receive all the honor and the glory!!! Amen.

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The Day I Said, “Prove It” to Jesus

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By Nate Champneys

moneyLately, I have had an “epiphany” of sorts that I would like to share with you. As I have been reading the words of Jesus, the thought has continued to occur to me, “What if Jesus actually meant these things He is saying?” I wrote about one of those moments in my last blog about loving others, but I had another one of these moments as I was reading the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6. I think the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most important statements Jesus ever made as to how we are supposed to live our lives. But I think sometimes we read it like it is poetry, as opposed to hearing it as literal instructions in how we should live. There is so much there, and sometimes we almost seem to think, “Those words sound nice and fluffy and I’m not sure I get it, but I’m just going to keep on reading.”

About every week I take an hour or so and I go to my secret place in the woods at Clark’s Creek Park in Puyallup. It’s just a log up on the mountainside where I spend time sitting, hanging out with Jesus. I ask Him questions. I listen for answers. I write songs. I read the Bible. He always shows up. Every time I go, it’s different, but it’s always good. I was reading in Matthew 6 because I am working on a set of songs based on “The Lord’s Prayer.” So I began to read the Lord’s Prayer, but then continued to the end of the chapter.

Beginning in verse 19, Jesus begins to address the topic of money and possessions. Now, as people who live in the wealthiest nation to ever exist on the face of planet earth, if anyone ever needed to hear what the Son of God has to say about money and possessions, it’s probably us. If I am honest with you, money is probably the thing that my wife and I have had the most conflict over in our marriage. And on this particular morning as I read this passage I felt frustrated. It seemed like lately, money talk had dominated our recent conversations. Jesus talks about the idea of not storing up treasures here on earth and that whatever our treasure is, that this is where our heart will be. Our hearts are tied to what we most value, and because of this inseparable connection between what we treasure and our heart, Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money” (Matthew 6:24). I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Is this me? Is money more important to me and my wife than You, Jesus?”

Now one of the chief reasons I think that we become enslaved to money is that we worry about life and whether there will be enough to take care of our needs. In fear, we want to control our situation. This is why Jesus follows up His words about money enslaving us by talking about worry, and He literally says, “THAT IS WHY I TELL YOU, not to worry about everyday life- whether you have enough food and drink or enough clothes to wear.” “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly father feeds them. And aren’t you more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (vv. 25-27)

We have all heard this verse about the birds. I just don’t know if we really believe it. I tend to think, “Well, birds don’t eat as much as the family of six in my house!” 🙂 But Jesus draws this message to a close with this statement: “Your heavenly Father ALREADY knows all your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Wait a minute: What if Jesus actually meant this? He already knows everything we need and we don’t need to worry?! Our job is to seek our Father first, “above all else,” and He has promised that He will give us what we need.

So sitting there on that log I said, “Jesus, will You prove it? Will You prove this to me?” Now I am not recommending we put God to the test, but honestly, this is where I was at that day. So then I continued to sit on the log and enjoy my time there.

After a few minutes, a little bird came and landed a few feet in front of me, and sat there, looking at me. It then hopped up on the log next to me, picked at something, then flew off. I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s cool. That bird got really close.” I continued to sit and read.

Now in the park there are lots of people around, and so you hear interesting sounds from time to time. I started to hear a sound up in the woods behind me, like somebody striking rocks together. I continued to read, but after a few minutes of listening to this, I stopped and said to myself, “What the heck are they doing up there?!”

Curiosity finally got the better of me and I started to walk up the trail toward the sound. As I approached the sound I realized it was actually up above me, and I looked up to see a beautiful woodpecker with bright red feathers on his head! He was clinging to the side of an old tree and picking at it.

Every time I see wildlife when I am at my spot in the woods I always feel like Jesus put it there for me to enjoy, so I said, “Thanks for this, Jesus! This is really cool!”  I stood there and enjoyed it for a few minutes. As I looked up into the tree, the thought occurred to me, “Man, it is amazing that the woodpecker knows where to find bugs in the trees. How do they know that …” and I stopped short. A light went on in my head: “Look at the birds of the air … they do not store food in barns …” I prayed, “Jesus, are you proving it to me right now?” And He said, “Yep.” So I replied, with a smile, “Well, it’s not exactly what I had in mind, but it’s pretty cool.”

How do you view your money? Do you find yourself constantly worrying about whether or not you will have enough? God accepts you in the middle of your worry, but He loves you too much to let you stay there. Even in my worry and distrust, He is so gentle and so full of grace, while still teaching me as I listen to Him.

As I walked down the mountainside to my car, I came across another bird that stood in the middle of the trail, then flew off. Then another. And another. As I approached my car, I couldn’t help but smile and feel completely loved and taken care of by my Father.

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Influence: What Will You Do with Yours?

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By Martin Schlomer

Everyone has influence! How are you using yours? Think about it! When you spend time socializing, eating dinner, playing games, engaging in serious discussions, do people walk away encouraged or discouraged? Built up or criticized? Drawn toward Jesus or empowered to indulge in their fleshly desires? Are you unsure? Then be courageous and ask them. What do you want them to say?

Your influence—through your words and example—will be a catalyst for life or for death, flourishing or mediocrity, pressing toward making a positive difference or maintaining the status quo. In Proverbs 18:21, Solomon writes, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Here are two important observations: influence can be positive or negative, and we have the power to choose which one it will be. May we choose well, because we will either enjoy the blessings or bear the consequences of this choice. So, I ask you again: When you spend time with people, do people walk away inspired, indifferent, or worse?

I spent a few hours this week with Mark Phillips. I love this man! I always walk away inspired. I hear his heart, listen to his words, watch him engage others as he seeks to live a life shaped by the gospel, and I walk away renewed with hope. I could add more names of those whose influence gives me courage and clarity. Who would be on your list? More importantly, who would put you on their list? What will be your legacy?

Everyone has influence! How will you invest yours today? This week? This month? This lifetime? The time has come to decide! My choice has been shaped by Paul in Colossians 1:28-29, which I have personalized here. “I will proclaim Jesus, admonishing every person and teaching every person with all wisdom, so that I may present every person (including you) mature in Christ. For this purpose—to the best of my ability—also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” What is shaping your choice?

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