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Keeping It Real........... Devotions For Real Life, 12/14/11

Posted by Brian Linebarger on December 14, 2011 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

12/14/11

 

The second Day Of Christmas. Giving, and growing older……………..

Luke 6:38

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

1 Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Christmas and children….. The two are inseparable. Thoughts of Christmas morning conjure up scenes children waiting eagerly by the tree, trying hard to contain themselves from not tearing open every gift in sight. When I was a child, we went to my Grandmothers house on Christmas Eve to open gifts with the family. The anticipation was so thick that the ride to Grandma’s house (she only lived a mile away from us) seemed to take hours. And then when we would get there, we had to wait until the adults ate (we barely took the time to stuff a few pieces of Grandma’s homemade candy into our mouths). I could never understand then why everyone there wasn’t as excited as we were….

 

 

And then there were the gifts….. We knew that we would be getting gifts from everyone there. My grandparent’s, being Pastors of a good sized church, would every year invite those from the church who had no family to our Christmas eve celebration. Everyone of these people always brought gifts for the children (even if they didn’t bring them for the adults). Of course we never stopped to think about where these gifts came from or how they were obtained, all we knew is that we were getting them. This brings me to the point of todays devotion.

 

 

Give and it shall be given unto you. These wonderful people from the Church that came to Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve knew the meaning of that verse. They gave. Even if they didn’t have much money, they always made sure that something was brought for the kids. It was not until I got older, until I put away childish things, that I really understood that these people made sacrifices, just to see the joy on the faces of the children on Christmas Eve. The took some of the little they had and spent it on us just for the pleasure of seeing how happy these small gifts made us. Even if it was a few dollars worth of McDonalds gift certificates, it still brought a smile. They could have brought nothing and still have been welcomed, that’s just how my Grandparents were.

 

 

Today I turn 42 years old. Not that old I know, but old enough to have the wisdom to reflect on how little it took to make a child happy, and also understand that The Lord honored the gifts that were given, and in turn, blessed the giver.

 

 

So with these 2 verses from 2 different books, I will tie them together (with the best Christmas bow I can J ), by saying this: Putting away childish things does not mean that we can not get excited about Christmas, or that we shouldn’t be excited about the smallest gift given out of love. It simply means that we need look at things from a grown up perspective. To understand that sacrifices were made to give that gift, and we must accept it in love and appreciation. And understanding the verse from Luke’s Gospel really does take grown up understanding, especially the last part where it says (paraphrasing) that you will be given back the same amount you give out. This does not mean that if you give someone a lavish gift that you will get one in return, rather it means that The Lord looks at your circumstances and gives back to you. If you give a dollar and that is all you have to give, you have given your all, and God will in turn give His all to you…………

 

 

Sorry if this seems to jump and ramble, but I AM getting older you know J………

 

 

Copyright 2011-,Brian Linebarger, Pacific Life Ministries, Inc. All Right Reserved. This work may be distributed free of charge for non-commercial use by Churches or any other religious organizations or by individuals who need to build their Faith or the Faith of another (just don’t sell it :) )

Keeping It Real......... Devotions For Real Life, 12/13/11

Posted by Brian Linebarger on December 13, 2011 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Matthew 5:14-15

14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Christmas is the time of lights. It seems that everywhere you go, from the mall to your neighborhood, most buildings are lit up. Even more than the houses being lit though, are the candles.

 

 

If your home is like mine, there are many candles burning all through the Christmas season. Even though all you have to do is flip a light switch to light a room, there is something special about candle light. In addition to the light, candles, even those that are not scented, give off a pleasant aroma. Such simple things candles, and yet, they have a powerful message to teach us.

 

 

When a candle is lit, its light and scent fill a room. And yet, candles require nothing more than a small flame to get them started. Once they are started they continue to do their job. The flame continues to burn, it gets larger and brighter as the wax itself fades.

 

 

So it is with us. Like the wick of a candle that runs through it from top to bottom, every person has a yearning for God that runs through their very being. It is that longing for something more that everyone feels. Even those who deny the existence of God feel it. They may not admit it, but it is there.

 

 

When we surrender our lives to Christ, He lights the wick. The flame starts to burn. It is still surrounded by wax, and may not be very bright, but still it burns. As we continue to live for Christ, our flame, like that of the candle continues to burn and as it burns, it melts away the wax so that the flame burns brighter and brighter. The candle does not make a sound, it does not intrude, it just continues to burn providing light to the room and a pleasing scent that saturates. So must our lives in Christ be. We must keep on burning, we most provide light to the dark world, we must give off that pleasing scent that is the power of the Spirit so that people will be drawn to it.

 

 

Is your flame burning today? Who will you provide light to?

 

 

Copyright, 2011-,Brian Linebarger, Pacific Life Ministries, Inc. All Right Reserved. This work may be distributed free of charge for non-commercial use by Churches or any other religious organizations or by individuals who need to build their Faith or the Faith of another (just don’t sell it :D )

Keeping It Real.....Devotions For Real Life, 12/9/11

Posted by Brian Linebarger on December 9, 2011 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

This blog was originally written on 12/3/11, and was to be the sermon for Sunday, 12/4/11. However, I injured my knee in an accident that day, and was not able to deliver the sermon. So I present it now for you to read, and (God willing), this will be Sunday, 12/11/11's sermon.

Luke 15: 1-2

1Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

2And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Contained within these 2 verses are four words that define the Christian Faith in a nutshell. This man receiveth sinners! These words, spoken by legalistic, religious fanatics who hated Jesus were true then, are true today, and will always be true.

 

 

The sinners that the Pharisees and Scribes are talking about are those who had been rejected by the religious establishment. Not just the Roman tax collectors, but anyone who did not practice faith the way they thought it should be practiced. Much like it is now days, there were people who thought that the way they believed was the only way. Everyone else was a sinner, and was to be shunned or considered second class. They were mad that Jesus even talked to these “sinners”, but the fact that he sat down and shared a meal with them was something that these people could never understand.

 

 

We have all seen those people, especially those of us who have grown up in and/or are active in Church. Those who walk around judging you by the clothes you wear, the length of your hair, the amount of money you put in the offering plate, and a whole host of other perceived “faults“. You walk into Church and tell them “good morning”, and your lucky to get a grunt out of them……. Yeah, those.

 

 

As the body of Christ here on earth, we are called to receive everyone, just as Jesus did in the verses above. I don’t care how they look, what they have done, what their circumstances are, or even what they may currently be going through. There is a lost and dying world out there that needs to hear the Gospel, and the Church is failing miserably in the God given mission to bring it to them. Do you want to stand before God and have that blood on your hands? For far too long we have allowed hurting people to be driven out of our Churches by these holier than thou hypocrites who have nothing better to do than talk about other people. They whisper behind the back of the single mother who comes into your Church trying to make a better life for her and her children, they talk openly about the young man with long hair who comes into Church looking for answers, they gawk at the teen girl in her black clothes with jet black hair who is in church because she is looking for something to fill the void that is in her heart, and she‘s tried all that the world has to offer…..

 

 

 

When they cant find anything wrong with someone outward appearance or life style they invent stuff and start rumors and gossip…. If I sound angry its because I am! I am tired of watching people leave the Church and walk away from Christ because of the “Christians” who are in the church. It is time we stop. There is a huge campaign right now about bullying in schools. They are trying to stop the tragedy of teenagers committing suicide because they are bullied and ridiculed for whatever reason. This campaign needs to also extend to the Church to stop the bullying that happens on Sunday mornings so that people don’t commit spiritual suicide.

 

 

 

Below is an excerpt from an E-book by Cynthia Johnson that was posted on the wonderful website ChristianGoth.com. I challenge you to read it and ask yourself: Do you see yourself in these words? Do you see people in your church in these words? People, this IS NOT fiction, this is real life. The sad fact is this is going on every Sunday Morning across the country. If you see yourself in the girl who went to Church, don’t give up, there are people and Churches out there that are not like the one that was written about. If you see yourself on the other side then friend you need to hit your knees and not get up until there is a total and complete change in your heart and mind………..

 

 

 

Dear Diary-

Church isn’t what I thought it would be.

Today I woke up at 7:30 in the morning, a most ungodly hour if there ever was one. I got dressed up; I figured since I was going to God’s house, I should probably look my best. I wouldn’t want to offend him. I wore my nicest crushed-velvet skirt and a leather vest over my bell-sleeved black lace shirt. I spent extra time on my hair and makeup; this was an important day.

Since my parents weren’t about to drive me anywhere, I decided to walk down to that little church by the park. It looked friendly, and it has really nice architecture. The church was six blocks from my house, and by the time I got there, my feet ached (imagine walking that far in big boots!).

I walked up the steps, my heart pounding in anticipation. This was going to be great. For once I was sure I had found the place where I would fit in, where people would love me. Time stopped as I walked in. The hum of conversation ceased, and all eyes landed on me. I smiled nervously and waved. They turned back to their conversations, murmuring nervously.

I walked into the sanctuary and slid into the pew next to a sandy-haired boy of about five years. He focused his large green eyes on me, completely mesmerized. He seemed to really like my claw ring; so I let him try it on. His mother yelped and clutched him close. She tore my ring from his finger and threw it back at me. She dragged him away, chastising, “I told you to never talk to strangers.”

I sat with my boots on the pew in front of me, anxious for the service to begin. Two gray-haired ladies walked by.

“Look at that!” gasped the short fat one just loud enough for me to overhear.

“What is a heathen like her doing in the house of the Lord?” the other demanded. She glared at me down her witch’s nose.

They whirled around and strutted away in a huff. The taller of the two marched straightway to a little old man in a black suit, carrying a polished maple walking stick in his hand and a wiry moustache on his face.

He looked at me through hollow eyes. Time stopped as he hobbled towards me. His knees bent slightly outward with each step. An eternity later, he stood before me, fidgeting with his cane.

“Miss, I think you’ve come to the wrong place.” He said sternly. “We are a church built on the principles of the Bible. I’m afraid you stand in defiance of our beliefs. I think you should leave.”

I grabbed my purse and slowly stood. I think he was scared that I would scream or fight or something. But I didn’t. I just slowly walked towards the door, my head held high. The door slammed behind me, and so closed my hope for the future.

If you have been hurt by a Church or a “Christian” (whether it is a member of the congregation or the pastor’s/leaders), please use the links below to get in contact with someone. I can assure you that not every Church is like the one that did that to you. And to those who are reading this and already condemning me to hell, you need to remember: This Man (Jesus) STILL Receiveth Sinners, and that we are ALL sinners saved by grace…..

Pastor Brian

Links:

www.christiangoth.com - A wonderful site that is accepting and non judgmental. Geared towards those who identify or are members of the Goth culture.

www.pacificlifechurch.webs.com - A church who accepts all. Our motto is Come As You Are

 

 

Original thoughts and writings, Copyright 2011-,Brian Linebarger, Pacific Life Ministries, Inc. All Right Reserved. This work may be distributed free of charge for non-commercial use by Churches or any other religious organizations or by individuals who need to build their Faith or the Faith of another (just don’t sell it J ). Copyright information for the works of others used in this message can be found at www.christiangoth.com.

Keeping It Real........ Devotions For Real Life, 12/2/11

Posted by Brian Linebarger on December 2, 2011 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Luke 5: 12-14

12And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

13And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.

14And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

Here we have Jesus shortly after meeting some of his disciples performing a miracle. There are three points that make this miracle an interesting study, and gives us some real applications for our lives today.

 

 

This miracle takes place after Jesus had cast out the demon in the temple and also after He had literally been thrown out of his home town of Nazareth. So we can assume that even though He had not yet assembled all of His disciples, He was already traveling from place to place, and word of what He had done in Nazareth had spread. Now this man who was a leper was breaking the law by coming so close to Jesus. Lepers were required by law to stay 6.5 feet (2 meters) away from other people at all times, and if the wind blew in the towards a leper they had to move over 150 feet (50 meters) away. Lepers were also banished to live alone in the country, and had to yell out “Unclean, Unclean” when they happened to come into contact with other people. So this man was risking a lot, maybe even his life, just to get to Jesus.

 

 

 

When this man comes to Jesus and falls on his face, he is very specific about what he needs, and does not waste time asking for it. Remember, Jesus was Jewish, and we can assume that He had been brought up by His earthly parents to shun lepers like everyone else did. But when the man shows his faith in Jesus, Jesus does something shocking and something that could have gotten Jesus in trouble… He reached out and touched the leper and healed him. In Jewish law at the time, the only thing worse than touching a leper was touching a dead body, so Jesus committed an act that according to the law, made Him unclean. And yet, He does not hesitate. A need was brought to Him in faith and He met that need regardless of the laws or customs of the time.

 

 

 

After the leper was healed, Jesus tells him not to tell anybody, but to go straight to the priest and make a sacrifice (offering) in thanks for his healing according to the law of Moses, and also as a testimony to the power of God. Many times when we are blessed be it with a healing, financially, spiritually, whatever it is you have been asking The Lord for, He will move on us to not tell anyone. To not go shouting it from the rooftops. Why? Because we need to first and foremost give thanks. Can you imagine what was going through this man’s mind? He had been an outcast, he had been shunned by his entire family (according to the law he had to be). We are not told how long he had been afflicted, but we can safely assume it must have been for a long time as he had nothing to loose by breaking the laws and seeking Jesus out, and then suddenly he is clean again, he can see his family again, he can go to the temple again. I am sure he would have been very tempted to jump and shout for joy and go experience those things that he had not been able to do in years, but first he needed to give thanks and give praise to God for his blessing.

 

 

 

 

So if we apply these verses to our lives we are given clear instructions on how to get what we need.

 

1- Get to Jesus. Don’t let anything stop you don’t let anything get in your way. don’t let the time constraints, other obligations, ANYTHING keep you from getting to Him.

 

 

2- When you get to Him don’t beat around the bush. Of course He already knows what you need, but He wants to hear you ask, He wants us to use our faith. If we are handed everything on a silver platter, we can become spoiled and take it for granted.

 

 

3- Don’t forget to offer praise. I don’t care what it is God gives you, offer thanks. If you have been praying for a new car, and God blesses you with one the first place you had better drive is to Church not the beach, and while you are there, drop something in the offering as a show of praise.

 

 

Copyright 2011-,Brian Linebarger, Pacific Life Ministries, Inc. All Right Reserved. This work may be distributed free of charge for non-commercial use by Churches or any other religious organizations or by individuals who need to build their Faith or the Faith of another (just don’t sell it :) )

 

Keeping It Real....... Devotions For Real Life, 11/29/11

Posted by Brian Linebarger on November 29, 2011 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Matthew 4:1-10

(This month we will be looking at events in the life of Jesus, including of course the events leading up to and the event of His birth)

1Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

2And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

3And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

5Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

7Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

8Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

TEMPTATION…… This is a word that conjures up all types of images. It is a very serious word that can have very serious consequences, but is also used playfully. Playfully speaking, people say things like “I was so tempted by the dessert tray”, or when someone comes up with the idea to play golf instead of going to work you say “Don’t tempt me”….

 

 

Some of the more serious uses of the word are when you are tempted to do something that you know is wrong like the person who is tempted to cheat on their spouse, or the person who is tempted to drink alcohol or take drugs who knows that doing so will lead to big problems…….

 

 

Temptation is defined as “A desire to do something, esp. something wrong or unwise”. With this definition in mind, we are going to examine the above verses and paint a more complete picture of Jesus, and also even more reasons to believe in his Divinity……

 

 

The central ingredient in temptation is desire. Now desire can be created or accentuated by weakness. Jesus had fasted 40 days in the wilderness. We can safely assume that He had no tent or other means of shelter, pretty much just his cloak. Being fully human, it is also safe to say that he would be very weak and very hungry. But before He had a chance to get anything to eat, the devil came to tempt him. Notice how the devil starts out small and simple, telling Jesus to turn the stones into bread. Notice also how the devil tries to play on any insecurities that Jesus had (yes I said it and yes I believe it, He did have the same insecurities that we do). Of course the devil knew that he was the son of God, but he was trying to play on Jesus weakness, in his weakened state to put doubt in his mind. Of note here is that Jesus could have sent the devil packing at any time, and yet he doesn’t. This shows that Jesus was in a weakened state.

 

 

When the small things didn’t work, the devil escalates it. In the second temptation, the devil proves that he knows Jesus is the son of God by taking him up to the top of the temple and putting him on the pinnacle. Of course, this is physically impossible for a normal human, so they had to have went into the spirit realm to get there. Again, trying to play on Jesus’ insecurities, he tried to get Jesus to jump off the temple. This would have had one of two effects, Jesus would have died (basically committing suicide), or he would have been caught by Angels (what I think would have happened), but in doing so, He would have obeyed the devil. Either way the devil would have won. After this statement, Jesus is starting to get irritated, telling the devil that he can not tempt the lord his God.

 

 

Jesus goes with the devil one more time. In the third temptation, the devil takes Jesus to the peak of the highest mountain, and shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offers it to Him (the devil, being the ruler of the earth had that right). The catch of course, is that Jesus had to bow down and worship the devil. Finally, Jesus had enough and told the devil to get out of there, for only God is to be worshipped. Once Jesus was fed up, even though he was still in a weakened state, he stood up to the devil and told him to get away, that he had finally gone to far.

 

 

Once he did this not only did the devil take off, but then Angels came to Jesus and brought him food and helped Him with anything else he may have needed. If we take these verses and apply them to our lives, we will be given a road map on how to deal with temptation. We can see that temptations will come in the form of something we desire or have need of. This is the trap that ensnares so many Christians. We don’t want to wait. I am sure that Jesus was tempted hard by the very first temptation. He had the power to make the rocks into bread, and after a 40 day fast, those rocks probably looked pretty good. But he resisted. The same goes for us. When we resist the small temptation, it will get bigger, and bigger, until we at last stand up to the tempter and say enough is enough. Get away from me. Then, and only then, will the blessings flow and we will get what it is we need……

 

 

Prayer

Lord help us today to take Your lesson and apply it to our lives. Help us to not give in to temptations, and to stand up to the tempter.

 

 

Further Reading

Matthew 4- After Jesus was tempted and he passed the test, his full ministry began.

 

 

Copyright 2011-,Brian Linebarger, Pacific Life Ministries, Inc. All Right Reserved. This work may be distributed free of charge for non-commercial use by Churches or any other religious organizations or by individuals who need to build their Faith or the Faith of another (just don’t sell it :) )

 

Keeping It Real........ Devotions For Real Life, 11/28/11

Posted by Brian Linebarger on November 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

1 Thessalonians2: 6-9 (NIVUK)

6 We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you,

7 but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.

8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.

9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

 

 

 

In our verses today we are given instructions from Paul and his helpers on how to live as Preachers and Evangelists, specifically those who travel from Church to Church…….

 

 

 

There are many Evangelists/Ministers/Singers/Preachers in the Church world today that will not go to Churches that are not the right size, or that can not guarantee them a set fee, and these fees are sometimes more than the Church would collect in contributions in a year. They are also very interested in the praise of people. One that came through my Grandparents Church would say on a continually basis “I am preaching better than you are shouting”. I have seen with my own eyes Evangelists that would stop in the middle of a service because the offering that night was not what they thought it would be (this was on top of the set amount that they would receive no matter what). I saw one even sit on the steps of the platform and say he was going to sit there all night until the offering came in. This does not just apply to traveling ministers, it also applies to people who write blogs (like this one), or sermons, or other writings,  but refuse to share them with the world. Only allowing them to be used if they are paid. Of course common courtesy dictates that the author of a work get recognition for that work, but sadly, this is not enough for some. They want the praise, they want the website traffic, they want whatever, they, they, they not  Him, Him, Him.... Biblically this is totally wrong and contrary to what Paul did and taught.

 

 

 

Like modern evangelists, Paul traveled with a team. This of course makes it even more necessary for the team to get funds from somewhere to pay for their lodging, food and basic needs while they are there with the Church. This is the excuse a lot of traveling ministers use to charge set amounts or to demand that the entire offerings during the time that they are with the Church be given to them. And of course, these are people who will normally be at the Church for a week at the most. Paul lays it out in these verses saying that as Apostles they could have been a burden to the Church, they could have demanded money, food, housing etc, for the time they were there, and keep in mind that Paul and his “team” would stay for a lot longer than a week. But they did not do this, instead they worked day and night while preaching to at these Churches.

 

 

 

Now so that people wont misunderstand me and the point behind this message, I do not think it is wrong for a traveling minister to receive an offering from the Church where they are preaching/singing/whatever. But to make that their primary reason for going there, or to decide not to go to a place because they wont get enough money is totally wrong. We know that there were more affluent Churches that Paul could have gone to, Churches that supported him even while he was in Prison, but from the writings here the Church in Thessalonica was not one of them, and was most likely a small Church that had just been founded. And yet still Paul was there, and deeply cared for this Church.

 

 

 

My point in writing this message is to encourage and instruct those who are called to the traveling ministry. Do not worry about the amount of money you will receive when going to a certain place. If The Lord tells you to go, then go. Let Him take care of the financial details. There are hurting people all over, and to deny them the chance to hear the Gospel of Jesus because you wont be paid enough is just plain wrong, and not what God has called you to do. You are told to GO and let God handle the details. Why? Because life in the ministry is a life of faith, but how much faith does it take to get on a plane or in your car and go preach at a place where you know you will be receiving a large paycheck? The answer? It doesn’t take any faith at all. Anyone would do that. If that is what you are doing then you are a Motivational Speaker, NOT a minister of the Gospel.

 

 

Prayer

Lord help us today to follow the course laid out by Your Apostle. Help us to answer the call when it comes and not to worry about how much we will get in return. Help us to do Your will no matter what that is, give us the faith to trust You and to know that You will take care of us no matter what.

 

 

Further Reading

1 Thessalonians 2- The entire Chapter

 

 

Copyright 2011-,Brian Linebarger, Pacific Life Ministries, Inc. All Right Reserved. This work may be distributed free of charge for non-commercial use by Churches or any other religious organizations or by individuals who need to build their Faith or the Faith of another (just don’t sell it :) )

 

Keeping It Real...... Devotions For Real Life, 11/26/11

Posted by Brian Linebarger on November 26, 2011 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Matthew 6: 19-21

19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 

 

As we move into the Christmas season, we would do well to remember these verses and apply them to our daily lives…….

 

 

Yesterday was “Black Friday”. All over the news there were reports of people getting into fights over cheap things. One lady even pepper sprayed some other customers at a store just to get a DVD for two dollars…..

 

 

Now there is nothing wrong with trying to get the best price you can on something, in fact, it could be called good stewardship of the funds that God has given you. But to get into a fight over a two dollar waffle maker is sheer madness, and shows an example of people trying to lay up treasure here on earth and not in heaven. No matter how good of a price you got on those things during the door buster sale, those things will eventually break down, and be discarded, or when “Black Friday” rolls around next year, you will be out there trying to get a better one. This is not where a Christians mind should be.

 

 

Our minds should be on laying treasure up in Heaven. What we lay up in heaven will never break down, will never go out of style, will never be stolen. Because our Heavenly treasure is looked after by God himself.

 

 

Ask yourself today where your treasure is. Is it here on earth? Do you spend more time reading through the newest sale ads than you do reading the Bible? Would you skip or be late to Church in order to get that flat screen TV at fifty percent off? Do you talk yourself into doing these things by thinking God wants you to have this or that? Or say to yourself, “ I’ll go to all the services next week because I’m skipping today”….. If you answered yes to any of these, you need to hit your knees, because your treasure is in the wrong place, and so is your heart.

 

 

I challenge you today and all through this Christmas season to turn your heart to Heavenly treasure. Let all you do be a reflection of Jesus and the celebration of His birth. Let the sales go by and instead spend the time in prayer. There are people who have a tough time getting up early to pray and read the Bible before going to church, and yet they have no problem getting up at three AM to save a few dollars on some stuff. Let Christmas be a time of giving of yourself, not some things that will be forgotten in a year. Volunteer to feed the hungry, buy some food and drop it off in your Churches food pantry. If your Church does not have a food pantry, talk with your Pastor about starting one. Its very easy, pick a food bank or rescue mission (preferably one that is Gospel centered), then get a large trash can and decorate it (if you have kids, this is a fun thing to get them involved in and a great way to teach them the true meaning of Christmas). If you don’t personally have any Children, you can get the Sunday School classes involved. Then (with the Pastors permission of course) you place the can in the Church lobby and ask people to bring in some non-perishable food every service. Monitor it and when it is filled take it to the food pantry/mission/whatever organization you have chosen and drop the food off, then take the can back and repeat. By Gods grace, you could be starting something that will go on long after the lights and decorations have been taken down and stored.

 

 

Copyright 2011-,Brian Linebarger, Pacific Life Ministries, Inc. All Right Reserved. This work may be distributed free of charge for non-commercial use by Churches or any other religious organizations or by individuals who need to build their Faith or the Faith of another (just don’t sell it :) )

 

Keeping It Real...... Devotions For Real Life, 11/23/11

Posted by Brian Linebarger on November 23, 2011 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Psalm 100:4-5 (KJV)

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Even though we as a nation, and more so as individuals are going through some very tough times economically, there is still much to be thankful for. Take some time to give thanks to The Lord for everything in your life, because His presence is there in good times or bad………

 

 

For forests tall and oceans deep

For canyons wide and mountains steep

For sunset skies of pink and gold

For every sunrise we behold

For Winter's snow and springtime's thaw

For Summer's warmth and Autumn's awe

For roofs that keep the rain away

For walls that hold it all at bay

For work that puts food on the table

For health and rest to keep us able

For friends and family around us

For years to come, may they surround us

For soldiers fighting for our peace

For days to come when wars may cease

For hope, so burdens won't enslave us

For thy forgiveness which will save us

For feast, and those with whom we share it

For loving hands that did prepare it

For all that makes this life worth living

We take this time on this Thanksgiving

To bow our heads and bend a knee

And pause to look around and see

For all that was, is, and shall be

We have none to thank, Oh Lord, but thee.

By: Eddie Mallonen (released into public domain)

 

Thanksgiving Memories- Sometimes To Keep It Real, You Have To Go Back

Posted by Brian Linebarger on November 22, 2011 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

A recurring theme for this weeks Devotionals….

 

The Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

(Edgar Albert Guest, 1881-1959- Public Domain)

It may be I am getting old and like too much to dwell

Upon the days of bygone years, the days I loved so well;

But thinking of them now I wish somehow that I could know

A simple old Thanksgiving Day, like those of long ago,

When all the family gathered round a table richly spread,

With little Jamie at the foot and grandpa at the head,

The youngest of us all to greet the oldest with a smile,

With mother running in and out and laughing all the while.

It may be I'm old-fashioned, but it seems to me to-day

We're too much bent on having fun to take the time to pray;

Each little family grows up with fashions of its own;

It lives within a world itself and wants to be alone.

It has its special pleasures, its circle, too, of friends;

There are no get-together days; each one his journey wends,

Pursuing what he likes the best in his particular way,

Letting the others do the same upon Thanksgiving Day.

I like the olden way the best, when relatives were glad

To meet the way they used to do when I was but a lad;

The old home was a rendezvous for all our kith and kin,

And whether living far or near they all came trooping in

With shouts of "Hello, daddy!" as they fairly stormed the place

And made a rush for mother, who would stop to wipe her face

Upon her gingham apron before she kissed them all,

Hugging them proudly to her breast, the grownups and the small.

Then laughter rang throughout the home, and, Oh, the jokes they told;

From Boston, Frank brought new ones, but father sprang the old;

All afternoon we chatted, telling what we hoped to do,

The struggles we were making and the hardships we'd gone through;

We gathered round the fireside. How fast the hours would fly--

It seemed before we'd settled down 'twas time to say good-bye.

Those were the glad Thanksgivings, the old-time families knew

When relatives could still be friends and every heart was true.

Written by: Edgar Albert Guest- now in public domain

 

 

A beautiful poem that even though penned years ago, still rings so true today. In all the hustle and bustle, Thanksgiving, now days is seen as mainly a jumping off point for Christmas shopping. Like the author, I to long for those Thanksgiving days gone by when I would spend the night before with my Grandparents. While Grandpa and I would watch the cartoon specials on TV, Grandma would be in the kitchen lovingly spending hours making pies, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls and more, all made from scratch. Laboring hours in the kitchen, knowing that all these good things would disappear in an hour or less she never complained, and I never saw her happier than when she knew she would be feeding the whole family. When the decadent aromas wafting from the kitchen got the better of us, Grandpa and I would sneak into the kitchen to sample what was being made. Grandpas excuse was “gotta check it for poison, wouldn’t want anyone to get sick”. Grandma would laugh and shoo us out of the kitchen, but not before loading our plates with something sweet (she always made an extra because she knew we would be after it). I remember so much the love in both of their eyes while this good natured banter was going on.

 

 

Right before bed the turkey would be put in the oven to slow cook all night. I went to bed knowing that in the morning my senses would be assaulted with the most heavenly aromas known to man. I have always been an early riser, but no matter how early I got up, Grandma was up earlier, so that she could continue her cooking. My dreams of the night before were never disappointed, as upon waking the delicious smell of roasting turkey filled the house. After another something sweet from the kitchen, I would plop myself down in front of the TV to watch the parade in New York. Later the family started to arrive. Grandma would ban them all from the kitchen as she finished her feast. Plans would be made as to what furniture would need to be moved for the Christmas tree, but other than my Grandfather threatening to get a fake tree that year (as he did every year), no other mention of Christmas was made. No matter how much all of us loved Christmas (it was my Grandmothers favorite time of year), Christmas decorations were not even thought of until the day after Thanksgiving.

 

 

And of course Prayer was as much an integral part of Thanksgiving as was the feast that we were about to enjoy. Grandma would tear up looking around at all her family gathered in her home. She was so thankful that we were all there, safe and sound. Finally, as the shadows grew long the feast was placed on the table. It was one of only two times a year that we ate at Grandmas prized dining room table. After eating our fill, we all swore that there was no room left, but somehow, room was always made when Grandma brought out the pie’s. Apple, pumpkin, cherry and more. My Grandfather would do his yearly tradition of taking the Cherry pie and hiding it so that he could have some later (I am sure Grandma always made two). Stuffed to the gills, and carrying bags of leftovers, the family slowly started to leave until it was just my Grandparents and me (As the favorite, I always stayed J ). Grandma and Grandpa would then sit next to each other watching television or reading the Bible, Grandma with a tired but very happy expression on her face, and Grandpa dozing in his chair. I swear Grandma’s face would be glowing……

 

 

Today everything is different. Grandma has gone home to be with HER Jesus, Grandpa lives on the other side of the country, I have my own family. Stores are now open on Thanksgiving, the “Black Friday” sales start at midnight (and in some cases earlier). Thanksgiving has become little more than just a day to overeat while writing out your “plan of attack” for the sales the next day. Sadly, over the years we have lost the true meaning of Thanksgiving. The Lord and giving thanks to him for all the blessings in our lives has become an afterthought as we stress about how early we have to get up to get that flat screen TV for $200, if the house is clean enough, who is going to do the dishes and a whole host of other things. But, even after all these years, the smell of roasting Turkey instantly transports me back to those bygone days and (even if just for a moment). I am that child again, and I am reminded to give thanks for all that I have and to remember my Grandmother who although no longer with us in person, is always there in our hearts and our minds. I have thought many times about foregoing Thanksgiving because I miss her terribly, but I can hear her voice in the back of my mind saying “don’t you do that, I loved it, and I want you to continue loving it to”.

 

 

So please, this Thanksgiving, break away from all the hustle and bustle. Put the sale ads down, and give thanks to God for all the blessings He bestows on us, and don’t forget to take that second helping of pie :)

.

Happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless!!

 

Pastor Brian and the staff of Pacific Life Church

Keeping It Real...... Devotions For Real Life, 11/21/11

Posted by Brian Linebarger on November 21, 2011 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)

A different kind of devotion today………..

His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kind of esoteric and very, very bright.

 

 

He became a Christian while attending college. Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it.

 

 

One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat. The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!)

 

 

By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick. About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, You can't blame him for what he's going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?

 

 

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking. The minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do. And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won't be alone.

 

 

Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister gains control he says, "What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget……..

 

 

Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read." --author unknown

 

 

While looking for something to write on today, some “eloquent flowing words, that would touch your soul and challenge your mind“, I came across this simple story. and it struck a nerve with me. Why? Because I have been every person in this story. I have been “Bill”, young, full of zeal, and ready to save the world. My hair long, my clothes not “suitable Church attire”, my actions totally out of what you would normally expect in a Church.

 

 

I have been the congregation, looking at someone that is different than me, that may follow The Lord in a different way, wondering when the bouncer was going to come and remove him so that we could get on with the service and the way things are always done.

 

 

I have been the Deacon, where my actions were unexpected, and I embraced a person, even if those around me did not approve……

 

 

But the most powerful line from this story, one that I want everyone reading or listening to this devotional today to take away and apply to your lives is the last one. This line is a challenge to every Christian. Look at your life and how you live it, then search the scripture and look at how Jesus lived. If you find any discrepancies, change the things in YOU so that they match up to the things in HIM. We are His representatives on earth, we must live as He did, we must tell all the Good News without exception. We must break out of our comfortable rut and reach out to a lonely and dying world. We do not know who we may touch, who is looking at us, who may have been sent to us to hear about Jesus and salvation because their time may be short on this earth. Do you want to stand before God on your day of judgment and have no answer when He asks you why you didn’t let that teenager with the black clothes and long hair sit in your church? I certainly don’t, and if you do, then friend, you need to hit your knees and stay there until there is a change in your heart………

 

 

Just in case you are wondering where I am in the story now….. I am the natural progression, I am now Pastor Bill, who’s hair (what isn’t falling out) still falls well below his shoulders, who has been known to show up to preach wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and who tries his best everyday to look past a persons appearance and meet them at the point of their need. I sometimes fail, but by the Grace Of God, I get back up and try again…….

 

 

Prayer

Lord help us today to look past what a person looks like. Help us to see them for what they are, and that is a person who needs to hear about You. Help us to put aside these prejudices we have learned so that we can truly be a new creation in You.

 

 

Further Reading

1 Corinthians 9: 19-23

 

 

Original thoughts and writings, Copyright, 2011-,Brian Linebarger, Pacific Life Ministries, Inc. All Right Reserved. The work “His Name Is Bill” was not written by this author, its authorship is not known. It is used as per 17 U.S.C, section 107. This work may be distributed free of charge for non-commercial use by Churches or any other religious organizations or by individuals who need to build their Faith or the Faith of another (just don’t sell it :) )


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