Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Friday, March 15, 2013

Have You Answered Your Call?

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." Isaiah 6:8
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Sharing a thought from our bible study last night on the People Profile Series - "Isaiah: Here am I, Send Me"

Isaiah answered his call. Have you answered yours? Do you know what your calling is? Well if you are not sure, here are a few things to think about:

1) All Christians have the call to tell the good news of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8). So start doing that right where you are.

2) Your specific calling, your particular place of work in the kingdom, may or may not come out of something that you are good at or like to do (just ask Moses). But usually your calling will start with a burden in your heart. Maybe you have a burden for the homeless, or broken marriages, or teenagers, or the poor and oppressed in foreign lands..or whatever it might be. Let your Christ-filled heart be your guide.

3) Your calling might not be to a place or a work that puts your name before people, or brings you any kind of recognition. Just like the clock on your wall, the face and the hands are all that you see, but the real work is being done by all the wheels and gears and springs that few ever see. Remember, the work is about God's glory, not yours.

So if you are saved (that comes first) and really want to know what your calling is, keep praying to God, and soon you will lift up your eyes from your prayer and find yourself right in the middle of it.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Talking to Myself

My Morning Prayer: Good morning Lord. Thank You for the blessing of another day. I am grateful for another day to live, another day to love and another day to serve.

Lord, on the way home from work yesterday, I was having a conversation with myself about..well the people I have conversations with. I was thinking about how I have to talk to people pretty much all day every day. I talk to my wife, I talk to my daughters. I talk to people at work, I talk to people at church. I talk to people I know very well, I talk to people I barely know at all. I talk to people I have been knowing my whole life, and sometimes like in the grocery store or some other place, I talk to people I've met for the first time. And in all of that talking with all of those people, I realized that the person I talk to the most is....me.

Father, I don't know if to others that might be a silly revelation to have, but for me it was quite profound. And the reason it was an epiphany is because I realized that this person inside of me who I talk with all the time, who is..me (ok I will call him "Lil E") ..ok so I realized that because I am always talking with Lil E, then Lil E has to be the person in my life who has the most influence over me, aside from You of course. I mean, as soon as I wake up, the first person I hear from in the morning is Lil E. He is either telling me things like, "Eric, you should have gone to bed earlier last night", or he may ask me a question like "what day is it?". Then after I get up and..well go to my 'meditation closet', I may have my iPad with me for reading, and he sometimes says "hey, let's see who posted on FB while we were sleep", or he might say "no, no we should read our daily devotional on the bible app first...then we can check FB!". And I could go on and on about the conversations I have with Lil E throughout the day, but I won't drag out our prayer time together Lord with details that You already know. But my point is, more than I talk to anyone else, I talk with Lil E.

And so today God, I am interceding for Lil E. I pray that You make sure that when he talks to me, that he will say what You want him to say. Because frankly Father, Lil E sometimes speaks negativity and doubt and fear and all kinds of other stuff into our life. I can be approaching some situation or challenge, and Lil E will just go on and on about how terrible it will be, how likely I will fail, or you know just going through the list of the worst possible scenarios. Don't get me wrong, without a doubt Lil E is my own best friend, but sometimes he can be my own worst enemy too. That troubles me because from the rest of my enemies I can hide or flee, but from Lil E will always be with me. So Lord, I pray that You will continue to change and sanctify me and Lil E, and use him to speak life and faith and hope and strength into our life.

Lord, I know Your spirit lives with in me, so continue to change me from the inside out. To borrow from the psalmist I say "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer." I love You. In Jesus name. Amen!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Morning Prayer

Good morning Lord. Thank You for the blessings of this day. I don't know what this day will hold, but I know You are in it and that's good enough for me.

Lord, I have to thank You for all the things that You give me to say. You have called me to a ministry that includes church and work where I have to have a lot of things to say, both in spoken and written word. Whether it's the meetings I run, the documents I write, or the people I lead at work; or whether it be the sermons I preach, the lessons I teach, or the online ministry things I post. Those are an awful lots of words, especially considering that You have chosen me, a quiet person by nature. Lord, You know better than anyone else that I much prefer quiet over noise, solitude over social, and silence over talking. But true to the pattern You established in Your word, You have chosen the most unlikely candidate to do Your work, so that when it is done it is not me but You who gets all the glory, and You deserve it. So I have to thank You for all the things that You give me to say.

But Father, I also have to thank You for holding back the words when its necessary too. You have been teaching me that just because I have something to say, or I feel like saying something, doesn't mean that I should. We in this country hold dear our freedom of speech, which we should; but Lord You are trying to show us all that the right to say something doesn't always make it right to say it. So just as You through Your Holy Spirit give me words to say, You also sometimes hold back the words I already have. And for that I am grateful.

Father, I am reminded of an  illustration You led me to which I shared in a sermon some time back. It was about a little boy whose father caught Him saying a bad word in a very negative way about another kid. The little boy was terrified that his father was going to spank him. But instead the father explained to the him about how hurtful words can be and how serious we need to take the words we use. He told the boy that every time he said a bad word or a negative comment about someone, he should go down to the fence around the pasture, and drive a nail in the corner post. This would be a reminder of what he said every time he walked past it to school. So he did. Just a few days later, the boy came back in tears to the father, and through his sobbing explained that he was so ashamed of himself because that fence post was full of nails. The father told him all he needed to do was for each thing he said, to ask the person and God for forgiveness, and when he did, he could use the hammer and pull the nail out. So he did. After a few days, all the nails were gone. But...the boy came back crying again, explaining to his father that even though the nails were gone, he could still see all the nail holes that were left, which was still a reminder of all the bad things he had said. The father explained to the son the valuable, biblical lesson of being slow to speak and quick to listen, because the marks they leave can last forever. The boy left still sad, although wiser from the truth he learned.

The next day after school, the boy ran into the house smiling and happy, because he saw that all of the nail holes were gone, and he felt totally forgiven for all the bad things he had said. What he didn't realize was that his father, with strength in his arms and love in his heart, when out while the boy was at school, pulled up the old fence post and put in a new one.

Lord, thank You for giving me the words to say, and sometimes holding back the words I already have. I believe You when You taught in Proverbs 18:21 that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Thank You for forgiving me of bad and hurtful things I have said in the past, and thank You for changing out my fence post so that  I can live a life without shame and regret. You are awesome, and I love You. In Jesus name. Amen.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Morning Prayer

Good morning Lord. Thank You for another day. Strengthen my legs under the weight of my responsibilities so that I can carry what You have given me in a way that glorifies You.

Lord I thank You for a changing life. Not a changed life, though there has been a lot about me and around me that has changed, but changing because I know You're not through with me yet. I'm still living in this flesh, so I still have that same inner struggle that other Christians have, if they are honest. But now I can see that the win record for my spirit man is now over .500 and improving all the time, thanks be to You. I often think about that really cool illustration I heard years ago describing that inner struggle that we have; that struggle of a heart that wants to do right but lives in a body that wants to do wrong. The illustration was that it's like two dogs living inside; a good dog and a bad dog constantly fighting. The lesson was that the way you determine which dog will win is to make sure you feed the good dog and starve the bad dog. The meaning I took was that I need to read Your word, pray, be obedient, and serve You, hence feeding my good dog. As well I had to make sure I wasn't looking at, listening to, meditating on, or doing evil things so as not to feed my bad dog. Though Your word frames it as 'crucifying the flesh', I have always thought that was an effective way to get the point across.

Father, I have noticed that my bad dog has changed over the years. It used to be more like a one of those...what are those dogs called...English Mastiff I think. Really big, mean and hard to hide. Before I got saved, my sins used to be noticeable; and if I walked into a church with that big dog on a leash, I wouldn't be allowed in the choir stand, much less the pulpit. But over the years, through the power of the blood of Your sacrificed Son and the work of the Holy Spirit, I have changed...and my dog has changed. Now, its more like a lap-dog. I can carry around and it goes mostly unnoticed. It's small enough now that I can hide it. I can even dress it up with a doggie sweater and carry it like a baby, so that what is actually pride will look like self-esteem; or what is greed will look like ambition; or what is gossip looks like a prayer request.

But...I know its there. Like a lot of little dogs, it likes to bark and its got attitude. Even though I can keep him hidden from most people around me, that joker can still reek havoc and chew up the slippers in my life. And I realize that he's only able to do that because sometimes...I feed him.

Lord, I want to go to the next level for You and with You, but its hard to do with that little dog biting my ankles. Though I have changed, I know I need more changing. Show me how to feed the good dog and starve the bad one. You are worth my sacrifice, and I'm glad I was worth Yours. I love You. In Jesus name. Amen.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Morning Prayer

Good morning Lord. Thank You for another day. I feel blessed to be able to work, and I feel blessed to be able to rest. Thank You for both.

Lord, this morning I took notice of something that I walk past every day, several times a day, but pay little attention to. It's the little red rocking chair that sits in the den. Of course You know it's not just any red rocking chair. Its the one that my youngest daughter had when she was little. And...its the one that my oldest daughter had when she was little. Aaaand....it's the one I had when I was little. Yep, that's the little red rocking chair I used to sit in at the end of our coffee table and watch cartoons on Saturday mornings while eating fruit loops. It still bears the scratches and scars from when I "worked" on it with a play tool set I got for Christmas one year. Now that I think about it, other than pictures, it's probably the oldest memento I still have of my childhood. Everything else...the bikes, bee-bee guns, tonka trucks, and GI Joe dolls, I guess I left hose behind.

Lord, I realize that You caused me to take notice of that chair this morning when I normally ignore it unless I stump my toe on it. I think You are using it to share with me a truth. And the truth is this...I chose to bring that chair along with me from my past. It meant something to me, so I made a conscious decision to ask my mom if I could have it when I left home. I chose to pack it up and bring it with me the multiple times I have moved. I chose to set it here in my den where it is now. Likewise, all of the other things from my past that I could have brought along with me, for whatever reason, I chose to leave behind. And I see Lord that Your instruction to me this morning is less about the rocking chairs and relics I have in my home, and more about the thoughts and feelings I carry in my heart.

Father, right now, I could easily rummage through probably half a dozen thoughts that I have carried around for years, that do me absolutely no good. I could quote verbatim a few comments made to me even as far back as my childhood that hurt my feelings.  There is clutter in my head and my heart, and I need You to help me clear it out. You have shown me with that rocking chair that I have a choice about what I bring along and what I leave behind. And right now Father, by the power of Your Holy Spirit who lives in me, I choose to only bring with me the things that matter to me. And everything else....I...Let...Go!

I love You Lord, so I am making more room for You in my life. In Jesus name, Amen!