Week of January 9, 2011
Turn to God
From birth, God looked after Jesus. He selected a mother (Mary) who would be obedient to Him and a husband (Joseph) for Jesus' mother that would also obey God. Initially, Joseph's role was marrying Mary under God's conditions and protecting baby Jesus by finding a place for Mary to give birth and then protecting Jesus from Herod. It appears that the valuable gifts from the scientists may have helped them travel to Egypt, to avoid being killed by Herod's soldiers. Jesus' parents were obedient to God as they raised Jesus. They dedicated Him to God at the appropriate time God required and they observed to Passover every year. These are not religious traditions created by men, they are things that God commanded the children of Israel to do. Apparently He was raised with discipline, as after the one mention of His disobedience, was the statement that, then He "was obedient to them". Even as an adult when Jesus' mother tried to get Him involved in helping when they ran out of wine at a wedding, Jesus objected that it was not the appropriate "time" and his mother seemed to ignore His statement and suggested to the helpers that they should do whatever Jesus "tells you". Subsequently, the obedient thirty-year-old son, Jesus, did what His mother wanted Him to do. One time when Jesus upset people in church and they wanted to kill Him by throwing him off a cliff, God seemed to intervene after they dragged Him to the edge of the cliff, because Jesus then walked away through the middle of the mob unharmed1.
God looks after us. Many times I have been able to see God looking after me, including when He saved my life in Vietnam before I knew Him or Jesus personally. About a year after I started Jesus Center my oldest son graduated from High School and entered the University with so many academic scholarships that he had to pay income tax on them. This enabled me to keep serving God without getting a paying job to have money to send him to the University. God prepared the way years before because one day when my son was two years old, I was reading a book to him and he started reading it to me. At the time I claimed it was because of an educational TV show he watched but children all over the country watched the show and they didn't start reading at two years of age. God prepared him to excel academically before he was school age, enabling him earn many scholarship 16 years later. God was looking after me and preparing before I even thought of serving Him full time. At the time my two year old started reading I was a prosperous businessman but God was preparing for a time when money was minimal and I was just starting as a pastor.
Does God look after everyone? No! Jesus said that God "told me what to say" and one time Jesus said to people following Him that if people would not accept you or listen to you to "shake off the dust from your feet as you leave". On three different occasions God told Jeremiah, "Do not pray for this people"2. Regarding people I cared about, I have experienced that God has told me not to continue praying for them. Why? I do not know but I do know how to have favor with God. God knows your heart and if you are not living the way God wants you to, you can change.
A drastic example of change concerns the people of Nineveh who were so wicked that God sent Jonah to warn them. Jesus reminds us the people of Nineveh "repented and turned to God from all their evil ways". Jesus encourages us to repent or "turn from sin and turn to God". He wants us to leave even the thought of sinning. That is not easy, especially if you are addicted to your sin. A first step is to ask for God's help the way Jesus commanded us by praying daily "Don't bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One". Jesus tells us the most important thing you can do for going to heaven is to "obey my Father in heaven". For anyone to do what God wants, it is important to "put aside his own desires and conveniences" or deny yourself. Be encouraged to turn away from everything that is not of God and do what God wants all the time3.
1. Mt 1:20-2:23; Lk 2:21-51; Jn 2:1-10; Lk 4:25-30 (NI)
2. Jn 12:49 (IC); Mk 6:11 (TL); Jer 7:16; 11:14; 14:11 (NKJ)
3. Jnh 1:1-3:16; Mt 12:14; 4:17; 6:13; 7:21; Lk 9:23 (TL)
note: click here for bible verse and translation abbreviations
A Psalm for reflection "Wash away all my evil and make me clean from my sin!" Ps 51:2 (TE)
Understanding the Teaching: What I share in the teaching is what I believe God wants me to share. All the direct quotes from God are highlighted in royal purple. Of course the words of Jesus are in red. Rather than follow some made up doctrine, remember that Jesus said that every thing He said (Jn 12:49) and everything He did (Jn 14:31) comes from God. All teachings and all opinions should be supported by what we learn from God or Jesus (see the scripture referred to in the footnote). For those who prefer not to take the time to look up a scripture, click on the underlined hyper link to read the scripture. Example, click here for a teaching about love.
Marriage Workshop Moment
To refresh what you have learned in our Workshop or entice you to experience our Workshop
"Remember, all marriages can be better, if you use what you learned."
There are many kinds of stress. Events you can see coming, like a visit, events you cannot see coming, like a sudden illness and ongoing stress, like a job. Stress can affect your body like interfere with sleep, it can affect your mind like make you more irritability and it can affect your relationships like increase arguing. To be set free from stress, first focus on everything good that has happened to you from your earliest memory and as you write them down, praise God for each event all the way to present. Then make a second list and write down every unpleasant memory from the earliest to present, including what is causing the current stress. As you start over from the beginning of the list, imagine that you are handing each subject to God with Jesus' help. If you need to forgive, say, "I forgive ____ in Jesus' name, amen." If it is an on going problem like your job or your marriage as you give it to God, thank Him by saying, "Thank You God for taking this _______ from me in Jesus name amen." As you give everything to God remember that Jesus said, " Give to God what is God's" Mk 12:17 (NI). Everything belongs to God, even the bad stuff and He is more than capable of disposing of trash or cleaning up problems. As you use Jesus' help by using His name remember that Jesus said, "if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" Jn 8:36 (NI). If your spouse is a source of stress, forgive your spouse and give your spouse to God. God is more than capable of improving your marriage and helping your spouse become less stressful in your life. Once you do that and your spouse upsets you, complain to God (not your spouse) and seek God's guidance.
The Better Half "When your partner won't support your efforts to make your marriage better" Without your spouse's support to improve your marriage, you can still pray daily for God's will to be done in each of your lives and your marriage. Jesus said, "all things are possible with God", Mark 10:27 NIV). The above teaching on being free from stress and other memories does not require a spouse's support. If your spouse is a source of stress, forgive your spouse and give your spouse to God. God is more than capable of improving your marriage and helping your spouse become less stressful in your life. Once you do that and your spouse upsets you, complain to God (not your spouse) and seek God's guidance.
Hi Followers of Jesus,
Last week I received an email of the opening prayer before the US Congress on Jan. 5, 2011, by the Chaplain. It was intended to bless me but instead it disappointed me because he concluded the prayer omitting Jesus' name. I'm sure such praying pleases the devil however as the Chaplain is appointed by our democratically elected representatives, it puts our country at risk as Jesus says, "whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven" Mt 10:33 (NKJ). Pray for all people of the US to get right with God.
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Follower of Jesus
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