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Thoughts from a Middle-Aged Believer

Blogging thoughts about the Sermons each week.

A Blog about the Sunday Sermons at Centerpoint

The Bridge is out - May 12, 2022


We all want what's best for our children and will do all within our power to keep them from danger, suffering, and pain. As followers of Jesus, you may have dedicated your child as we did before the Lord. His Grandpa Jerry, a small Baptist church pastor in rural SC, held Jesse up to God. Prayers for wisdom, love, grace, and guidance were offered. There was also a stern admonishment to us, his parents, family, friends, and the local congregation to be a support and godly example for this baby. 


But we humans are imperfect in everything, parenting included. The time comes, all too quickly, and you watch your child step into adulthood. It is heartwrenching to watch your child step away from actively following Jesus to embrace the broad and fast-moving flow of our modern culture. "What did we do wrong?" becomes the question, tearfully crying out to Father God for forgiveness. Father God hears our prayers, catches our tears, and strengthens us.  


Beware. There is a false "light" that is actually darkness actively engulfing humanity today, including our children. It is the fog of deception. We need the light and hope of God's Word to give us direction.


In Pastor Doug's sermon, "The Bridge is Out", we learned about the tragedy of the collapse of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg, Florida, on May 9th, 1980. Thirty-five people were plunged into the bay as that huge bridge section fell into the ocean. Dense fog, torrential rain, and wind gusts made visibility impossible on that morning commute. 


Eternity is a breath away. James 4:14 (AMP):

  

 14 [a]Yet you do not know [the least thing] [b]about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air].


There is only one life that is given to us. Hebrews 9:27(AMP):

  

 27 And just as it is appointed and destined for all men to die once and after this [comes certain] judgment,


One day we will close our eyes here on earth and they will reopen either heaven or hell.

Those of us who put our faith and trust in Jesus, receive His forgiveness, and follow Him will find our home in heaven. But what about our family? Co-workers? Neighbors? What about those we interact with every day? Where will they spend eternity?


Tragedies that end the lives of countless souls sweep over the earth every day. Shootings, war, sickness, drug abuse leading to overdose, hopelessness ending in suicide, the list goes on and on. We have become hard-hearted, desensitized, and emotionally detached from the reality that each individual will stand before God and receive judgment. Every family bears the scars of tragedy. It is part of living in a fallen world. Right? 


The scripture that Pastor Doug shared was Luke 16:19-31. Jesus is sharing about the beggar Lazarus and the rich man. If we go back to the beginning of chapter 16, we see that Jesus is sharing with his disciples about money. The Pharisees are heckling Jesus. Look at verses 14 & 15 (AMP):  


(14) Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were sneering and ridiculing Him. (15) So He said to them, “You are the ones who declare yourselves just and upright in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts [your thoughts, your desires, your secrets]; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God."


Right after this statement, Luke writes of Jesus sharing the parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus. Jesus was proclaiming that their hearts were focused on physical wealth, success, and power. Before we jump on the bandwagon and say, "Yeah, you Pharisees got what's coming to you!", let's examine our own hearts. 


How can we effectively share the love, light, and hope that we have in Jesus? 

What are we to do? How can we stand in the storm and proclaim that the bridge is out and the commuters must stop and turn around? How can we stop our family, friends, and coworkers from plunging headlong into the Abyss?


By loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. By loving our neighbor as ourselves. Genuine, godly, sacrificial love in actions for others. Our lives must be a DOT sign pointing to our Savior who has become the Holy Bridge to the Father.


Have we fallen short? Here is Psalm 51:17(AMP):


  My [only] sacrifice [acceptable] to God is a broken spirit;

  A broken and contrite heart [broken with sorrow for sin, thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise.


Father God, thank You for Your Holy Spirit. Help us to shine bright for you from here on out!

Use us, Lord to rescue the perishing.


In Jesus' Name, 

Amen


The Sword of the Spirit - May 4, 2022


This blog contains my thoughts and impressions on the sermon preached at my home church, Centerpoint Community Church. Its purpose is to encourage and challenge the reader to dig deeper into the scriptures, God's living word to us. Today's installment may contain some phrases that may be confusing concerning spiritual warfare.


What is spiritual warfare? 


As we grow in the Lord, we will experience seasons of heavy battle in the spiritual realm. Satan and his cohort are not delighted that we have chosen to live for Jesus. Their ultimate goal is to destroy us, ruin our testimony, and make us ineffective. Jesus says in John 10:10 (AMP) :


The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]. 


This thief fights dirty. He will use any and everything he can to stop us. Sometimes the attacks will come through humans. Quite often those who are closest to us will unknowingly be used by the enemy. Many times we will simply give in to sin and put the shackles on ourselves.


The message that Pastor Doug shared from Judges 3:12-30 is such a rich example of a call to battle. Decades of bondage to foreign rulers have subdued Israel and stolen not only their provision but their hearts. God’s people were living in the promised land yet they were not free. They had been deceived and lead astray.  


Let’s look at Judges 3:12-14 (AMP):


(12)Now the Israelites again did evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD strengthened Eglon king of Moab against Israel, since they had done what was evil in the sight of the LORD. (13)And Eglon gathered to him the sons of Ammon and Amalek, and went and struck down Israel [in defeat], and they took possession of the City of Palm Trees (Jericho). (14) And the Israelites served Eglon king of Moab eighteen years.


The Lord uses the enemy Eglon as His tool to draw His people’s attention back to Himself. Eighteen years of servitude. 


Let’s think about our walk with the Lord. Do we have anything that is holding us captive and drawing our hearts away from our Abba Father? We can see that there are consequences for rebellion. But the tests that come our way are only designed to help us see how much we need God. He waits to hear our crying and then will send deliverance. This happens in verse 15, God raised up a man to rescue them, Ehud. By the way, the name Ehud in Hebrew means “He that praises.” 

Pastor Doug really brought to life the confrontation of Eglon and how Ehud was able to lead the battle which ultimately lead Israel into freedom and peace.  


As we think about this story, how can we apply it to our lives today? 


We need to learn how to use the sword of the Spirit! Hebrews 4:12 says:


12 For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.


We need to learn how to use this Holy Sword properly. God is love and His Word is the truth. When we speak the truth in His love it goes forth in power and disables the enemy! Remember Ephesians 6:12(Amp)


12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.


Practicing how to use the sword of the Spirit comes from a place of time spent with Him.  


Discovery of how every inch of the blade is razor-sharp. It divides exposes and judges the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Be ready to move into intercessory prayer and fight the spiritual wickedness that is holding people captive in darkness. 


The trumpet is calling us to battle. 


Your Sister in Jesus, 

Liz

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