Today in Sunday school we talked about Pentecost and the coming of the Spirit! What an exciting time for the disciples as they finally received the promised gift, that was to give them power to go proclaim the gospel. The Spirit came with such a bang that it could not be denied that it had come. Then you have Peter who went from denying Jesus to being beaten for proclaiming Jesus and eventually would die a martyrs death. Wow how could you deny that the Spirit had come and radically empowered people!
This makes me ask would I know if the Spirit were not in my life? Would you know, if you are follower of Christ, if the Spirit were gone one day?
This morning I started to ponder how easily I back down in fear and run with my tail between my legs. This made me wonder how often or what percentage of my life is really led by the Spirit. I long to live as Peter and to overcome my fears tbrpught the Spirit.
Then you have to ask how much of the church would know if the Spirit were at work? If the majority of the church were led by the power of the Spirit would we not see the church advancing in America?
So the challenge to myself and to you if you like is to go spend some time with the Lord and evaluate your life as to the Spirit’s work in your life? Spend time to see if there Are things in your life that is an obstacle to the Spirit working. Pray for the strength to die to the flesh and to live in the Spirit. Finally, start asking God to overwhelm you with the Spirit that you may become a beleiver who is led by the Spirit day by day! Then we will see the great power of the Spirit! Then we would begin understand how desperately we need the Spirit as a follower of Christ!
Personally I have always loved the song “God Bless the USA” and everytime I hear it I am ready to go into battle to protect this land. A few years ago I heard the song at a fireworks display and it brought tears to my eyes (the truth is, it does not take much, just ask my wife!). Despite being proud to be an American and thankful for each day that I have gotten to spend in this country there is one thing that I wrestle with everyday. THE AMERICAN DREAM!
From the day we are brought into this world as American citizens, we have the american dream drilled into us. Before going any farther I want to explain what I mean by the American dream as I have come to understand it. First it stems from that mentality that we can do it. That we can start with not much of anything and become millionaires. One such man who exemplifies the american dream is Howard Schultz, who grew up in a poor home, scraping to make by and then went on to be the driving force behind Starbucks. That is an amazing accomplishment! The american dream is also that mentality that makes us believe that we can have whatever we want. Many people feel as though they have arrived at the american dream when they have a wife, kids, a house, two cars (one their dream car) and a fat retirement savings. The american dream is completed when we have retired early on in life and then get to play golf and relax everyday (sorry I am a fan of golf).
As a result of the american dream kids are taught early on they need a good education. When they graduate from high school they have to go to a university so that when they graduate they can find a high paying job so that they can begin that path to fufill the american dream and finally retire at 45 in Flordia. Which by the way is defined by how much we acquire in things and money. Is my house as big as your house is my car as nice as your car. Do we have two or three houses. Where did your kid go to college. How is your 401k doing and is the stock market up or down. These are all the things that consume the mind of those pursuing the american dream.
A curse that is what the american dream can be to young followers of Christ throughout the country who have been ingrained with the need to fulfill the american dream! I have found that from early on I have had to fight the american dream. As a believer I am called by Christ to pour myself out for others for the sake of the gospel. The truth is that we can not serve both God and money. The american dream forces many into trying to serve both God and money. This simply can not happen. Just ask people how much debt they are living in and you will quickly find that they are living for the american dream. As children of God we must put this dream to death in order to pursue the dream of God. Namely that His kingdom will expand throughout the world.
What I am not saying is that we can simply look at a persons lifestyle and declare if they are serving the american dream. The reason is because God has chosen to bless some people financially and they can afford to have the things of the american dream. For many though they have chosen to live lives in great debt in order to have the things of the american dream. They are simply living a facide.
So I call out to children of God to be wary of the american dream. Be cautious when making decisions that the american dream is not the driving force behind that decision. Instead make decisions that will allow you to pursue the expansion of God’s kingdom. In reality when you choose to seek God and his kingdom He will provide the abundant life for you. Not neccesarily a material life but an abundantly fulfilled life!
So although I am proud to be an American I have come to understand that I must watch out for the CURSE of the AMERICAN DREAM!
|Worry is one thing that does not take a whole lot of practice to do. It is almost as certain as birth and death. As people we don’t need any one to teach us to worry, we just do it!
I have spent a lot of time worrying over the last week and today the Lord used a little book to convict me of that sin in my life. The book was a bunch of quotes out of books written by Chuck Swindoll made into little devotionals. For me it is one of those toilet reading books. Anyway the page in the book talked about how we as people simply like to worry. At the end he refers to worry as a companion. The more I thought of it the more I was convinced that he was right. Worry is like a teddy bear!
Many little kids use teddy bears for comfort. When nothing else is there they find a great companion in that teddy bear that will never walk away from them. For so many people worry is like that. They need worry for comfort. When nothing else is going on in their minds they use worry as a companion. They find something to worry about even when they aren’t worrying simply for something to do!
As believers we are to find companionship and comfort in Christ alone. Just like a teddy bear will eventually dissapoint a child because it will not interact so too worry will leave the companion with nothing but grey hair and a sour stomach. Instead in those times where their is nothing going on we need to connect with our savior and find intimacy. If we choose to connect with worry it will end up leaving us lonely and sick, robbing us from intimacy with those whom we are close.
Today choose to find intimacy with Christ and friends not worry. It is okay for nothing to go on in your mind. Be okay with being alone and find companionship with Christ. A teddy bear is only good for so long but eventually it will leave its owner empty. With all the worry I have done this week I have accomplished nothing, that is sad! So I pray that God will give me the strength every moment to choose his companionship and comfort over the soft emptiness of a teddy bear!