Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks

With the Thanksgiving celebration, It seems fitting to reblog something on the subject of giving thanks:

Jesus taught his disciples gratitude though his teachings, and more importantly, by his actions. It is in thanksgiving and gratitude that he helped the disciples remember that God was the source of all their blessings. 

Giving thanks to God kept the disciples, and keeps us focused on God and away from all of our own accomplishments. Some people even can arrive at a point where all they can do is appreciate God for the gift of their lives. 

I'm reminded of the story of a man who traveled a great deal. He missed his children a lot when he was away, so it was his habit to bring his little ones a gift when he came home. So he would be gone, and when he came back he would have a nice gift for his kids. After a while it seemed to him that when he came home, the kids looked forward more to the gift than to seeing their dad. Now isn't that funny? Is that us? Are we looking forward to what God does for us, all the gifts He gives to us? Do we think so much of the gifts that we forget the giver?[i]

Thankfulness is a choice. We make up our mind, and we determine that we're going to have a thankful attitude even in times of struggle, trouble, sadness, sorrow, and in view of church history, sometimes even persecution. 

 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

O, Lord, Our Sovereign

O Lord Our Sovereign How majestic is your name in all the earth. Sovereign is not a word that we use much now a days.

It’s a term that deals basically with Kings and Queens and somehow or other the United of America when it was founded chose not to have one although I'm sure that a few times presidents have not tried to be Kings. But it does have to do with ruling, reigning supreme, to whom we owe allegiance, or to whom we pay homage. In American society perhaps that’s ourselves.

We are an individualistic society… a me first society, an egocentric society. And it is hard for any of us to grant sovereignty to anyone. But in the process we have become slaves. We are slaves to things… slaves to ideas… slaves to lusts and to passions and maybe we are even slaves to work or golf or fishing, and some of us maybe even slaves to doing nothing.

Some thing or some one or group reigns it over us and we say that they Lord’s it over us.

Sovereign means Lord. Lord of All. God is sovereign; He is Lord over us all. Maybe it is hard to imagine but it is vital to Christian Living.

Psalm 8 says, “Out of the mouths of babes and infants.” God is where we least expect God. Notice it is not from power but from innocence, the innocence of children of babies.

Can you imagine babies, the fortress against enemies. Babies, the silencer of avengers.

Look whose talking here. What about the Gulf war that took place more than a decade ago when the sorties were flying out of Iraq against Israel and hitting babies. Perhaps, babies were being used as fortresses.

I guess I still need to discover the How To: How To Let God Be Sovereign in My Life.

Do you still have that problem. I’ve been trying for over a decade and a half to let God be Sovereign in my life, and don’t you think that I have arrived. I have only been working at it for a short time, many of you have been trying much longer. Maybe I’ll get it right in a few decades.

But every once in a while I can feel the smile of God. When we let God be the Lord of our living while we live differently. Different things become important. We can even find that people, our enemies are different than they used to be. And often people that we thought of as enemies become brothers and sisters. It is hard to be an enemy of someone who allows God to be Lord.

Then the Psalmist compares himself to other creatures God has created.  Why human beings, why they are certainly not to be compared with the creation of the sun and the moon and the stars. But the Psalmist says, God is mindful of mortals.

The Eternal creator of the universe cares for them, cares for people. Now that is mind boggling. Do you feel important to God.

You should. God is quite mindful of you. The Psalmist says so in his prayer.

Don’t you wish you could pray with the psalmist. Let’s eavesdrop… get inside his soul and see how he puts God in his life… as Lord.  Do you put God in your life as Lord – as Sovereign?

How is it that I am just a little lower than God himself? And that I as a mortal would receive any honor or glory. Even so much as to have dominion over all other creatures of creation.   That’s what the Psalmist says. Everything else is less than humanity. Everything else is under your feet… which means weare sovereign over all other creation and we have dominion over all creatures, birds and fish or whatever.

I like the Killer Wales - to think that I could have dominion over a Killer Whale. Do you know why there called Killer Wales? Because for 10,000 years human beings have been afraid of them. It has only been in the last few decades that we got over it. And now we have them to entertain us in parks and persons are willing to put their head in the mouth of a Killer Whale.

We have sovereignty over the creation.

I think the Psalmist understood something about the deep meaning of God. God the Father makes and creates and sustains. In the Trinity we add to the understanding. God the Son redeems and makes right, God the Holy Spirit dwells within, and will never forsake… will be with us throughout the end of time.

It is the understanding of God as one that is so important. When we receive the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit and then we can worship. Then we can believe we have received authority and power from God - the Sovereign Lord. And when we receive that power and authority. Then we can do what the great commission says, to go into all of the world into all of the nations and to baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

When we receive the authority and power from God…then we can learn how a nation should govern itself. What should be separated from religion, Christian or otherwise, and what should not. But all under the Sovereign Lord God. One God Forever!

Remember, God is always with you to the end of creation.

It matters not if you happen to be guilty of the theological heresy of patra passionism – You only love the Father.

It doesn’t matter if you happen to be a Christologist like a denomination up in the Appalachian Mountains that calls themselves the Jesus Only Church and they only worship Christ… Not the Father and not the Spirit. It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if you happen to be a Charismatic. Place all of your emphasis in the Holy Spirit instead of on the rest of the Trinity.

It really doesn’t matter.

It is the same God that is worshipped. Do you let God be sovereign in your life? I suppose that’s the real question.

Christ is Lord. The word for Lord in the Greek is Serve. Christ is your sovereign. Yahweh Elohim, The Lord Magnificant Reigns.

O Lord, Our Sovereign, How Majestic Is Your Name In All They Earth!

Monday, August 11, 2014

See You in September, hopefully app coming soon

It's been a while since I blogged... don't worry more is coming in September.  Hopefully, an app will be finished which will link all the information together.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Don't Have a Taxing Christmas

In the bible, the Gospel of Luke tells us part of the Christmas story: "And it came to pass in those days that there went out a degree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be registered."

Actually, older versions of the bible used the word "taxed" instead of "registered." Readers though kept getting confused and thought it was some sort of an income tax fee imposed on all the people. Instead, the gospel is referring to a census taking of the people, much like our U.S. census every ten years. So, the Greek word was translated as 'registered'in our bible today. It is a better translation for us.

However, I wonder if "taxed" might be more appropriate. For many of us, Christmas is just too much. The holiday season "taxes" us physically, emotionally and financially. By the time Christmas Day is upon us, we are exhausted and only waiting until we can say: "I made it through another year."

Our Christmas feelings and expectations are usually based on holiday seasons of the past. We remember our childhood and believe that we have to have those specially made cookies, those newly embroidered stockings, the best lights on the block, and more gifts for our kids than the neighbors, so they won't feel unloved. The demand seems never-ending and each year they grow and grow... block and office parties and more gatherings get added to the list. Christmas can finally become the time of year to check items off "To Do List" and fill in calendar dates.

The Christmas season has clearly grown commercially over the years, But it can also grow religiously. We are in the midst of Advent, a time of expectation for the birth of Christ. As you prepare in worship, prepare in your homes as well. Commit a time each day to Advent Devotions.

Christ Jesus has come and we celebrate his coming again. Let us prepare to cradle the Babe in our arms and to accept Jesus into our hearts as if it were anew, for the first time. the most priceless Christmas gift is the gift of our Savior's birth.

When you feel "taxed" during this holiday season, pause, take a deep breath, thank God for sending our Savior Jesus into the world, remember the importance of Christmas, say a Prayer of Thanksgiving for the gift of the Messiah given to you, organize your thoughts, your day, and your week, and then begin again with the task at hand, knowing that its importance does not compare with that of our assurance of salvation in Jesus Christ.

May the Prince of Peace fill your homes with love.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Just a Little Leaven

Have you ever made homemade yeast bread? 

You take a little lump out of the dough every week and you set it on the kitchen window sill and let the yeast grow in that little bitty lump. And next week, when you get ready to make the dough you get your flour out, you get that little bit of lump and you put it in your flour, and you mix it up, and you let that bread rise. And when it rises, you mash it back down again, and you let it rise a second time.

My goodness, it’s a whole lot easier to go to the store and just buy a loaf of bread, isn't it?
 
But when it rises that second time, you take out a little piece, just a little lump and you set it on the windowsill for next week and the next loaf.

Why? - because a little leaven leavens the whole loaf.

That's the good news!
            
As Julie Andrews sang: a spoonful of sugar (just a little bit of sugar) helps the medicine go down - a little bit of goodness leavens the whole loaf.

Well, don’t miss it - because a little bit of badness ruins the loaf as well. 

The church must leaven the whole world - because the church is the leaven. It's the little bit of yeast that’s going to leaven and grow the whole human family for God.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When Sin is Hard to Name

In the washroom of his London club, British newspaper publisher and politician William Beverbrook happened to meet Edward Heath, then a young Member of Parliament. Beverbrook had printed an insulting editorial about Heath a few days earlier. "My dear chap," said the publisher, embarrassed by the encounter. "I've been thinking it over, and I was wrong to print that comment. Here and now, I wish to apologize." "Very well," grunted Heath. "But the next time, I wish you'd insult me in the bathroom and apologize in apologize in your

And so we hide behind the activities that we don’t want anyone to one about. We don’t want anyone to see our weakness or vulnerability. And we keep our sins to ourselves, and often times we should, and they can, eat away at us and often times they should. If not, how would we come to know these behaviors with which we should cease to be engaged? But we can also become obsessed with the hurts and the wrongs that we have committed. It can lead us into thinking that we do not deserve the love of others or the love of God or God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ and it can become a hang-up and it can lead us to ruin.

The Apostle John said: If we confess our sins, Jesus who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition and try desperately to fulfill it without God. Not only is it sin, it is a perverse distortion of the image of the Creator in us. All these good things, and all our security, are rightly found only and completely in him.  (Augustine, The Confessions of Saint Augustine)

Today, this very day, every day, when the Holy Spirits convicts you, and you recognize your sin, it is a time to know the grace of God and the forgiveness that comes in Jesus Christ. It is the day to realize that your sin has been taken by grace to Christ and you are freed from sin. It is the day that you can start anew and fresh.

But we must strive to stay cleansed by the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. Though we will often fail, we must strive to be free from sin. And if we willfully give into it, it can become a hang-up and we can allow it to control our thoughts and our actions.

Indeed, we all sin. In order to be truly sorry for them we need to confess them to God and sometimes even to others, or how can we clearly and decisively reject in the future the sin we have just committed.

Having the resolution to avoid committing your names sins in the future is a sure sign that your sorrow is genuine and authentic. A resolution to God to try to avoid the near occasions of sin leads to spiritual growth. And God's grace in cooperation with the intention to rectify your life will give you the strength to resist and overcome temptation in the future.

God’s love is not a magic potion that can protect us from all the ailments of the world.  But let me tell you what it can do.  The love of God cleanses you so you are not bound to the sin you are committing.
 
The Apostle John said, if we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Now, I don’t know that the indiscriminate, blanket confessions of sin to anyone and everyone are so good for the soul.  Not everyone is mature enough to receive our confession. When you confess a sin to a person they may not forgive you. But when you confess God you will be forgiven through Christ Jesus our Lord. You will receive forgiveness in Jesus Christ, and maybe then you can forgive yourself and cease your behavior.
 
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Follow me on Twitter where I will regularly be offering spiritual reflections: aaronnagelnj
 


 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thanksfulness is a Choice


Jesus taught his disciples gratitude though his teachings, and more importantly, by his actions. It is in thanksgiving and gratitude that he helped the disciples remember that God was the source of all their blessings.

Giving thanks to God kept the disciples, and keeps us focused on God and away from all of our own accomplishments. Some people even can arrive at a point where all they can do is appreciate God for the gift of their lives.

I'm reminded of the story of a man who traveled a great deal. He missed his children a lot when he was away, so it was his habit to bring his little ones a gift when he came home. So he would be gone, and when he came back he would have a nice gift for his kids. After a while it seemed to him that when he came home, the kids looked forward more to the gift than to seeing their dad. Now isn't that funny? Is that us? Are we looking forward to what God does for us, all the gifts He gives to us? Do we think so much of the gifts that we forget the giver?[i]

Thankfulness is a choice. We make up our mind, and we determine that we're going to have a thankful attitude even in times of struggle, trouble, sadness, sorrow, and in view of church history, sometimes even persecution.

 



[i] Dr. Nagel expresses his ‘gratitude’ to the unknown person who authored this story more than two decades ago. Unfortunately, though Dr. Nagel discovered the story tucked away after all these years, he was unable to ascertain the author and date.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tuning Into God


In order to grow spiritually we much get our thoughts, minds and attention close to God. We must attune our spirit with God's spirit. It like cell phone reception.
 
Good cell phone reception is dependent upon not getting too far away from the cell phone tower. We’ve all been driving around and suddenly lost a call due to the signal being lost. In a little while, we can see the phone has reacquired a signal and we can place the call again. Christians maintain their signal through the Holy Spirit. If they get too far away from the cell tower of God, they lose their signal and the call is dropped. By moving back toward a tower, the signal is reestablished and they can speak to God again.
 
Are you in tune with God? Do you find yourself moving closer to God or drifting farther and farther away?
 
 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

To Begin Again


Hear about the man who had a sick mule?
 
He called the veterinarian, come on over and visit the mule.
 
The vet came and after examining the mule in the barn, the vet said: “You give him one of these here white pills. This is an amazing miracle medication. When you give this mule this white pill, he will get well. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. BUT, if that doesn’t work, and I am almost positive it will, I have this little red pill. You give that to him, and that will cure everything."

Two weeks later the vet saw the farmer and said, “How’s your mule?”

The farmer said, “Doc, you would not believe it. I gave him that little white pill and that mule jumped off the floor, and knocked down the barn door. The mule jumped over three fences, knocked my fourth fence down and took to running off in the fields. Why, I would have never have caught up to him if I hadn’t had the presence of mind to take that little red pill myself.

Isn't That What We Want?

When we feel we have turned away from God, when we have not followed the will of our Lord, Jesus Christ, when we have tramped down the very grace that God has given us by decided, consciously to commit a sin, when we know it is a sin, and we are filled with such guilt that it overwhelms us , what do we do? We look for a quick fix.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were just some pill that would put us back into the good graces of God? If we could just take some miraculous pill that would cleanse us and make us completely whole we wouldn’t need anything or anyone. And we wouldn’t have to worry about anything we might do in the future. We certainly would not need forgiveness from anything and guilt would be nonexistent so there would be no need for repentance.

What does it mean to repent?
            To change one’s mind,
                        A re-orientation of personality,
                                    A coming to one’s senses,
                                                A change of the heart, will, conduct,
                                                            A driving away of the self.

So that,
   We can truly cast aside all the weight that holds us down…
So that,
   We can lay down before God all our personal hopes and dreams that come for egoism
So that,
   We can hear Christ speaking to us and become new persons in Christ Jesus.
So that,
   We can say: I do not want anything to get in the way of you using me Jesus. I do not want to be a hindrance of your kingdom being present within me. So I will repent - for the kingdom of heaven is near.


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Follow me on Twitter where I will regularly be offering spiritual reflections: aaronnagelnj

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Limitless Love


If only we could be loved with LIMITLESS LOVE!

            No… we are loved with LIMITLESS LOVE!

The question really should be:

                        IF ONLY WE COULD LOVE WITH LIMITLESS LOVE!

 

God already loves us with LIMITLESS LOVE.

            So we are loved that way.

The love of God far surpasses any love that one person has for another in humanity.

We celebrated Easter.  Did you feel the limitless love of God.
 
Somehow or other even though our love should be like the love of God, the love that we extend to someone else seems to have mixed in it some kind of response by the other person. Though, it perhaps should be that we should love limitlessly, and the others person's response would not be involved, it doesn’t seem to work that way among people. 

But God’s love is not dependent upon the response of the person loved. God loves without any retrospect of the person being loved. It is not dependent on humanity’s love.

You know the old adage about the lover and the daisy. As the young man plucks the petas says, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not . . . 

But that’s not the way it is with God’s love.  We can pluck each and every petal of life and say of God, He loves me, He loves me, He loves me, He loves me, He loves me!
EVERY PETAL, ALL THE TIME!

If God were Picking the Petals it would be, I Love You, I Love You, I Love You. 
 
And God's flower: It would be an eternal circle that would neveral run out of petals.
 
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Follow me on Twitter where I will regularly be offering spiritual reflections: aaronnagelnj