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Monday, January 21st 2019

11:59 PM

Hitting the Reset Button Part 3 of 4

After Joseph passed away and was buried in Egypt, a new Pharaoh rose up who did not know Joseph or the relationship His family had with the royalty in Egypt. When the famine caused the nations to gather in Egypt, Jacob's family was invited to stay longer because Joseph was in a position of power.

As the years went by, Jacob's family grew tremendously because they were being fruitful and multiplying. This made the new Pharaoh nervous so he tried to wipe out the Hebrew children and made the adults slaves. 400 miserable years later, Moses leads them out of Egypt and they started the journey home to the Promised Land. Along the way, they grumbled and complained about everything. Many of them wanted to go back home to Egypt because they thought it would have been better to remain slaves than to die in the wilderness. I guess they forgot about the God part and how He was leading them to a better life.

Everybody wants to get to a better place but nobody is willing to take the journey.

God brought the Israelites out of slavery, gave them a new identity as the nation of Israel, and was leading them to the Promised Land. He provided the basic necessities of life and protected them during the journey. They were extremely blessed, but they chose to look back instead of looking forward. They became a hot mess and God ended up hitting the reset button by making them wander in the wilderness until the generation passed away and the new generation was old enough to take over.

They finally make it to the Promised Land and now they wanted a King. God was their King but that was not good enough. They wanted to be like the other nations so God gave them what they wanted. After Saul didn't work out, God hit the reset button again by giving them what they needed instead. God chose David to be their King because he was a man after God's own heart.

Saul's family was no longer royalty because of his unfaithfulness, and David's family became the authority for the nation. David received a promise that his throne would last forever, but he made a near fatal mistake that almost cost him everything.

Anybody who has read Psalms written by David should be able to see how passionate and emotional he was. Being a man after God's own heart, it is natural for David to be filled with passion. This passion was what drove him to be a mighty warrior who went after what he wanted and did not stop until he got it.

Unfortunately, that same passion that drove David to greatness became the uncontrollable lust driving him into a place of terrible toxic thinking that tore his family apart.

There are moments when our greatest strength can become our biggest weakness. A great visionary could struggle with the daily steps needed to reach the goals that were created. A loving heart could set up a person for becoming a door mat. A confident leader could be sidelined by a stubborn spirit. What can we do with those moments? There is not much we can do except for hitting the reset button.

When David was confronted about his sin with Bathsheba, he poured his heart out to God and asked for a chance to start over. Psalm 51 was written as a lament for his sin and a request for a clean heart. God heard the prayer and granted David forgiveness when He restored the throne and kept David's family as the authority for the nation.

If we hit the rest button and pour our hearts out to God, He will restore us and help us overcome our moments of weakness.

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Tuesday, January 8th 2019

12:04 AM

Hitting the Reset Button Part 2 of 4

When we were living in Kentucky, we would make a pilgrimage to Atlanta during the holidays for visiting our families. This was a time to catch up with each other and let the cousins play. We enjoyed being around each other, but there are times when like most families, misunderstandings can cause major issues. I remember one particular trip when we visited my parents in the morning and then Michael's parents that night. I am thinking that it was Christmas, but it may have been Thanksgiving since we were taking a surprise picture for Michael's parents as a Christmas present.

During this time, we had cell phones that did not work as well as they should have, and posting to Facebook using a cell phone was not very reliable. Along with that, Facebook does not convey emotion and intent behind the words written, so there is plenty of room for posts to be taken the wrong way. And this is where the story takes a turn.

While we were visiting my parents that morning, I was joking around with my parents and decided to make a post on Facebook. My post went something like this: "The holidays are a time when you can visit family and then remember why you moved away." It was a hilarious post for those who understood that this was a joke. Unfortunately, this post did not happen at the time I sent it. Remember that posting from a cell phone was not very reliable and intent behind the words are not conveyed. The post was in a que waiting to appear for several hours.

When did the post finally show up? Towards the end of our visit with Michael's parents, I noticed an explosion of emotions as my post that was meant to be a joke with my parents showed up at the worst possible time and Michael's parents thought I was writing about them! Oops! I think everybody should be able to guess that what happened next was a huge attempt to apologize and it took me a while to finally get beyond that mistake.

There are times when your actions may end up in a place where you never meant for them to go. These are the moments when hitting the reset button is the only option if you want to get beyond the mistake.

Many people know the Bible story of Joseph and his brothers. Jacob won the "Father of the year" when he gave Joseph the coat of many colors as a symbol of the favoritism that drove his brothers crazy. What made it worse was when Joseph would wear that coat anytime he went to the fields to check on them. Did he really have to wear that coat?

As you could probably guess, the brothers took their revenge on Joseph by throwing him into a pit and selling him as a slave. Joseph ended up in Egypt and spent many years as a slave and a prisoner.

At that point, Joseph could have held a grudge and seek revenge against his brothers. He could have turned his back on God and lost his faith because of what happened. But instead of being bitter, Joseph chose to get better. He quickly became a trusted servant until he was falsely accused and thrown into jail. While he was locked up, he became a trustee in charge of fellow prisoners, and eventually ended up in front of the Pharaoh. He allowed God to work through him as he interpreted dreams and warned the Egyptians that a drought was coming.

Since Egypt made preparations for the drought, they were the only place that had food so the rest of the area nations had to travel to them in order to survive. Jacob sent his sons to Egypt in order to get food, and that was when the brothers found out that Joseph was in charge of the distribution! This was a great opportunity for Joseph to seek revenge against his brothers, but he decided that there was a better way.

When the opportunity for revenge appears, there is a better choice that can be made. Even though revenge may be the right move, hitting the reset button can be a game changer.

Check out what Joseph said when his brothers approached him for help:

(Genesis 50:19-21), "(19) But Joseph said to them, 'Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? (20) As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (21) So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.' Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them."

Joseph decided to hit the reset button so his brothers could move beyond their mistake. Perhaps we should try that too when we see the next opportunity to seek revenge.

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Tuesday, January 1st 2019

12:23 AM

Hitting the Reset Button Part 1 of 4

As the new year begins, we have the opportunity to reflect upon our previous year and make decisions to change our lives for the better. This is a time when we can hit the reset button and start over. In my house, there are some electrical outlets called ground fault circuit interrupter outlets, and they are designed to protect whatever is plugged in during a power surge or other condition that would present an electrical hazard. A GFCI has been known to save house fires because they cut off the power that is causing an appliance to overheat or at worst, sparks that would be flying because of a short.

These outlets contain a small circuit breaker with 2 buttons: Test and Reset. It is a good idea to hit the test button on a regular basis to make sure the breaker is working properly. Whenever the breaker is activated, you have to hit the reset button to resume power once the problem has been corrected. In a similar way, there are moments in life when we may have to hit the reset button. Something goes wrong and a particular area needs attention, so you have to shut down long enough to correct the situation and start again.

Hitting the reset button is our built in defense against our mistakes.

When looking at the Bible, we can see many times when God had to hit the reset button. Beginning with the Garden of Eden, we can see how God created paradise where we could live with Him in perfect communion, but Adam and Eve made a huge mistake that caused God to take action against us.

In Genesis 2, God laid out the rules for living in the Garden so Adam and Eve were without excuse. They had one rule, and they broke it. God told them that they could eat from every tree in the garden except one, and that one tree ended up causing them to fall. How often have we been guilty of committing a similar crime? Instead of enjoying the other trees in the garden, they focused on the one tree that was forbidden.

Way too often, we tend to focus on the one forbidden fruit instead of enjoying the blessings we have already received.

When we fall down, how do we get back up? We need to hit the reset button. God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden, but He did not stop caring for them. He made clothes for them and allowed them to stay close. When Cain and Abel were born, we see sacrifices being made which shows us that God was still near them and accepted their gifts for Him.

For this reason, I have a theory that the Garden of Eden was not destroyed yet. In Genesis 3:24, we see that God placed cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life. Why would He have to guard the way unless it was still available for Adam and Eve to find? Could it be that God planned to let them come back in after they corrected their actions that led to being kicked out? Of course, we know that they never went back in so they must not have made the necessary changes.

God kept the Garden of Eden available until the flood destroyed everything.

When man became so evil that God could not stand being around them anymore, He wanted to just cancel the project instead of hitting the reset button. Fortunately for us, Noah and his family changed God's mind by remaining faithful to Him. Thanks to their faithfulness, God hit the reset button and gave us a chance to restore our relationship with Him. After the flood, the world was reset, and now we have another chance to get it right. Did we finally get it right, or did we mess up again? To be continued...

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Wednesday, September 12th 2018

11:50 PM

To All The Posts I Never Wrote Before

I guess it has been a while since I have not posted since June! Well, in honor of my time away from writing, I decided to share this song I created with the help of a tune from a familiar song to most Willie Nelson fans:

To All the Posts I Never Wrote Before

(Tune of Willie Nelson's "To All the Girls I've Loved Before")

To all the posts I never wrote before

All those opinions left at my door

There were things I could have said

But I just laid in my bed

And sleep better than I have before

 

I wonder how the Lord would feel

With us treating Facebook so real

Offended and upset

After posting we regret

I wonder how the Lord would feel

 

The status quo was always moving

And every time I tried to stay

The status quo continued moving

And I ran the other way

 

The tension can be cut with a knife

Friendships thrown away every night

Blurred lines of right and wrong

I dedicate this song

To all the posts I never wrote before

 

To all the shoes worn on my feet

And chicken sandwiches to eat

Take a stand or take knee

Why can't we let it be

The posts I never wrote before

 

The status quo was always moving

And every time I tried to stay

The status quo continued moving

And I ran the other way

 

I wonder how the Lord would feel

With us treating Facebook so real

Offended and upset

After posting we regret

I wonder how the Lord would feel

 

To all the posts I never wrote before

All those opinions left at my door

There were things I could have said

But I just laid in my bed

And sleep better than I have before

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Sunday, June 17th 2018

7:04 PM

Jesus and the Leaders of the Jews

In my sermon today, I made a comment about Jesus eating at a Pharisee's house in Luke 14:1, and the way the text is presented, it looks like this was something that happened on a regular basis. This shows me that Jesus did not view all Pharisees as an enemy and He did have a good relationship with many of them. One of my classes in college helped me come to this conclusion as I looked deeper in Matthew to see the progression of the tension. Here is a paper I wrote to explain what I found:

Jesus and the Leaders of the Jews

The Gospel of Matthew has recorded many interactions between Jesus and the leaders of the Jewish nation. This paper will highlight the appearances of these interactions using the New International Version of the Bible.

The presence of the Jewish leaders began in chapter 3, with the Baptism of Jesus. In verse 7, the Pharisees and Sadducees came to the place where John was baptizing believers in order to investigate what was happening. A few verses later, Jesus showed up to be baptized. This passage of scripture does not indicate that the leaders left so there could be an assumption made that they witnessed the baptism of Jesus. If this is the case, the voice from heaven could have been present for the Pharisees and Sadducees to hear the confirmation that Jesus is the Son of God. This would obviously cause much need to further investigate the ministry of Jesus as it grew.

In Matthew 4:23, there is a note about Jesus going to the Synagogues to preach, and word about His ministry spread throughout Syria. The large crowd that came as a result prompted the "sermon" that He preached on the mountainside. When Jesus finished the "sermon," Matthew mentions in 7:29 that He taught as one with authority instead of being like their teachers of the law. This new style of teaching may not have sat well with the leaders of the Jews.

The growing popularity along with the new style of teaching has become the basis for the investigation to see what Jesus was doing. In 8:4, Jesus apparently was not ashamed of what He was doing because he sent the man who was healed from leprosy to the priest so he could be brought back in to his community. His ministry was so effective that even a teacher of the law wanted to follow Jesus as is recorded in 8:19.

As Jesus' ministry continues, the investigation began to strengthen as in 9:3, Jesus is being accused of blasphemy as a result of His statement that the paralytic's sins are being forgiven. Unfortunately, these teachers of the law have been viewed as the enemy when at this point, all they were doing was upholding the Mosaic law. Of course, later on there is evidence that show the evil side of the leaders of the Jewish nation, but were there some leaders who actually wanted to defend the law because they took their job seriously? This passage can be viewed as a reaction to Jesus contradicting the sacrificial system of the forgiveness of sins instead of enemies fighting over whose theology is best.

The Pharisees were really getting suspicious because of the people Jesus reached as is found in 9:11. Further rebellion is present in 9:14 when Jesus is questioned about fasting. Once He explained the true understanding of fasting, and the fact that there was no reason to fast while He was on earth, this wasn't a true case of rebellion as much as it is a clarification of the law. In 9:34, the Pharisees are starting to show their true colors because of the jealousy that is rising. The only way Jesus could be driving out demons is because He is a demon. This is the only argument the Pharisees could come up with because they did not have the ability to drive out demons.

In 12:2, 9, 10, and 14, Jesus is being confronted because of His disobedience to the laws of the Sabbath that has been created by the Pharisees. After the confrontation, it was evident that Jesus had no intention of following the law as was created by the Pharisees, but instead, He was following the law as it was originally meant. This embarrassed the Pharisees, and they now began to search for a reason to silence Jesus before He destroys everything they have worked so hard to create. Even though the tension was starting to rise, Jesus still taught in the synagogues every time He got the chance as is found in 13:54.

From this point on, the tension had mounted to the point where the Pharisees were working at every moment to catch Jesus in an act that would discredit His ministry as recorded in 15:1, 12; 16:1, 12; 19:3, 7; 21:12, 15; 21:23, 45-46; and 22:15, 23, 34. Jesus' woes to the Pharisees, 23:1, was the final blow that caused the leaders of the Jewish nation to plot against Him, 26:1, and have Him arrested, 26:14; 26:47, brought to a trial, 26:57; 27:12, and eventually crucified.

One last shot at Jesus was the task of placing a Roman guard at the tomb, 27:62, in order to give the appearance of Jesus being placed in a prison and to keep the Disciples from stealing His body to make it look like He rose from the grave. This fear showed that the Pharisees knew what Jesus was teaching, but they did not believe it would actually happen.

Of course, Jesus still went through with the plan of being resurrected from the dead even with the precautions taken by the Pharisees. 28:11 shows the report of the guard and the fact that the Pharisees tried to fix this with a lie to silence the Disciples. Obviously this did not work because Jesus appeared many times after His death in order to show proof of His resurrection.

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