Phil Us Up!
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January 20, 2015, 11:00 AM

Playing it Safe


    I was reminded again; there are times in our lives we need to play it safe, and times we need to just go for it. Of course the important thing  is to KNOW when to play it safe or when go for it! It's painful when I get it wrong; it’s painful when I see someone else get it wrong. I left for service groups last Sunday evening, it was over, Green Bay had gone into Seattle and whipped the Seahawks, at least that’s what I thought. Morgan Burnett intercepted a pass with about 5 minutes to play and leading by 12 points. He played it safe and fell down, on purpose because that’s the safe play. So I left and went to service groups. I found out later the Seahawks scored 21 points in the last few minutes and overtime to win. So, do you play it safe or go for it?

     Sometimes I ask myself the same question when I work on lessons, do I play it safe or just go for it? I admit I have always had the desire to “go for it” but often found myself “playing it safe”. I have decided to go for it with some lessons on the Holy Spirit. Who knows Revelation might be next!

     There are so many differing opinions about God’s Spirit it’s one of those things the safe thing to do is to teach something else! I am going to try do both,, safe and go for it. Because I think there are things I KNOW about God’s Spirit. I’m going to go for those.

     First His Spirit changes priorities in my life. In fact that is one of His agendas. His Spirit expects to make changes in our lives. Sometimes it’s dramatic. I’ve seen people become Christians and immediately their lives change drastically. But more often than not it seems to me the changes are very subtle, in fact so subtle we don’t even see it happening.

     Secondly, when I allow His Spirit to take over my life, I pray differently. His Spirit changes how I think when I pray. Paul says in Romans 8:26, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” That is one of the great promises of God. He knows exactly what I want to and need to say, even when I don’t!

   Finally I want to “go for it”. The Spirit of God doesn’t depend on what I feel. It is IN ME. I think there are lots in the Christian world who are not satisfied with that. They are convinced if they don’t feel the Spirit He’s not there. So they spend a lot of time trying to get that feeling. Paul wrote to Corinthian brothers and sisters who had all kinds of Spirit gifts. In chapter 3 he says “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ.” The Spirit had not changed them, oh they were Christians, God’s Spirit was in them, but they didn’t live like Spirit filled children of God. They desired the Spirit for the wrong motive, not to allow them to serve better, but so they could BE BETTER THAN other servants. That’s the difference we must understand. Scripture never glorifies the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It always focuses on Jesus Christ. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Come on, let’s go for it this Sunday! I love you all. Philip

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January 7, 2015, 11:00 AM

What are you going to do now?


     Its official, the holidays are over. This past Monday it was back to school. Today we resumed Ladies Class. Tonight we begin a new study in our Wednesday night adult class.  We’re going to borrow a phrase from a political campaign and call our class “Hope and Change.”

     It seems like every year after the holidays we go right back to our regular schedule quickly. Christmas is over, the New Year is here, and I just have to remember to write 15 instead of 14.

     At the end of Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, he tells us “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”  The shepherds went back to their fields after the big event. It sounds to me like they went back doing the same thing they had been doing before, shepherding the sheep……but there was something different. Light had come into the world.

     Every year I am thankful much of the world takes time to remember Jesus and the miraculous appearance of the Messiah. I am also afraid we do what world does after the holiday, we just go back to doing the things we were doing before, and for us something has to be different. Go back and read what the shepherds did, yes they went back to doing the same stuff, but it was different. They went glorifying and praising God. In our  part of the world it’s easy to make Christmas, and other holidays the days to glorify and praise God. Of course we should do that, but after the holidays and because of the holiday we should return,  glorifying and praising God for all the things we have seen and all the things He has done!

     Light has come into the world! What did those first believers do? They just went back to doing what they did, but now there was something different, they began to spread the light through their worship and their witness to what they had seen!

      Even the Angles, after Jesus was born, first praised God, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." The next says they went away from them and back to heaven. Right back to what they had been doing. Even the Wise men first worshiped and praised God. “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.”

     My prayer is, this year after the holidays you just go back and do what you were doing. Just go praising and glorifying God, for all the things you have seen Him do and all the things we know He will do! 

Philip 

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December 9, 2014, 11:00 AM

You better not cry!


I love the memories family holidays and growing up on the farm in Kentucky. We always cut our own Christmas tree, usually picked out long before December 1st, as I rode the 45 minutes it took the old school bus to get home every day from Lynn Grove Elementary. At church not much was said about Christmas, because, we didn’t know if the 25th was His birthday, but at home we did Christmas! Santa, lights the whole meal deal!

     I can’t help but wish we had talked more about the birth of Jesus and less about Santa at home and church.  We know Santa is a myth, but Jesus is not. I am afraid sometimes we treat them as if they are related. We all know the song, “you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town.” It was fun, but we all know or will know, it’s not true, it’s a myth. The most important thing about Santa that bothers me is this, we tell our children about him, and it’s fictitious. The second is just about as important.

     “He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice, Santa Claus is coming to town.” We know that God is all seeing, but Santa? This is where sometimes our theology gets skewed. If I understand Santa correctly, he rewards those who’ve been nice and doesn’t reward those who’ve been naughty. Jesus never operates that way. And for me, that’s a good thing. It’s easy to believe that God might operate like Santa, rewarding those who have done good and punishing those who are naughty! The problem with that is we have all been NAUGHTY! That simple truth means we would all be in big trouble, if God operated like Santa.

     Jesus teaches if we do good things, to be seen by others, that’s our reward. Now don’t misunderstand, God wants us to do good things, not so we will be rewarded but that He will be praised! “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16). In fact God has a lot of good things prepared by Him for us to do! “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

     When I hear the song, “Santa Claus is coming to Town”, I’m going to think about the one who came to town over 2000 years ago. I praise God that His arrival means we will be rewarded, not because we aren’t naughty, but because He was  nice and perfect. If we come to Him in faith, allow Him to wash our sins away, we are adopted into God’s family and become heirs with Jesus to all the joys of heaven! See, it’s not a reward, but an inheritance! Now that’s a good reason you better not cry, you better not pout,‘ cause He came to town!                    Merry Christmas

 

Philip

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December 3, 2014, 10:00 AM

What are you shopping for?


It’s now happening in earnest.  The shopping season used to kick off the day after Thanksgiving, but now we just can’t wait!  It starts on Thursday afternoon! After watching all the football this weekend I wish someone would throw a flag for “encroachment”! The question now on everyone’s lips is “What do you want, or what are you getting for Christmas?  What I really need are some gift suggestions!

I read a neat quote this morning attributed to someone I never heard of, Oren Arnold. Here it is. “Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness, to an opponent, tolerance, to a friend, your heart, to a customer, service, to all, charity, to every child, a good example, and to yourself, respect.”

What a great idea! Those are not only great gifts, they are the things folks really need! The greatest gifts are things we really need, not the things we think we want. I believe it’s a pretty good way to describe the things God gives.

The first suggestion is to offer the gift of forgiveness to our enemies. I wonder if that is what Jesus had in mind when he told us to “love our enemies?” Paul would write to the Romans; God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were enemies, Christ died for us.

My suspicions are if I asked my enemies what they want for Christmas, forgiveness might not be on the top of the list, but it’s what I need to give, and what they need to receive.

When I look at Arnold’s list, forgiveness, tolerance, heart, service, charity, good example, and respect, I realize this; I not only need to commit to giving these, they are exactly what I need.

I don’t have to fight a crowd to purchase these things, I don’t even have to sit at my computer and search Amazon. The first thing I need to do is inventory the things God has given me through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness through His blood, tolerance because that’s what God does, Jesus’ example of service, it goes on and on. This might be the second greatest Christmas ever.

So what are you giving this year? It’s an important question. I do know I can’t out give my God, no matter how hard I try. I am just going to try to give what He has given and still offers.

Jesus said in Matthew; “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

Now, let’s go shopping!  Have a great week!                                        

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November 25, 2014, 2:30 PM

I don't know


   It is my sincere wish and prayer you had some time this week with loved ones. I hope it included good food and good fun.

     I don’t know but sometimes I wonder if the “wheels are coming off” in our world today. I watched with a sick stomach what was happening late Tuesday night. Now, I don’t think we are through with Ebola, or ISIS, but those things are on the other side of the world from me! What I saw Tuesday was not too far from where I grew up! I just don’t know.

     I think some people were there to just stir up hatred and fear. The facts don’t matter to some; they decided on the outcome they wanted, not on the truth. I know the truth will only matter when it comes in the person of Jesus Christ. What I saw late Tuesday night simply tells me hate and fear are alive and well in the USA.

     I don’t know a lot but I do know there are choices all around us as we live our lives. I know there are also consequences to those choices. We choose how we look at the world around us and what filters we will look through. When we make choices, we also choose the consequences whether we like them or not.

     I don’t know a lot but I know when we live our lives holding on to fear and hate things will constantly be out of control. Most importantly we will not be able to hold on to something much more important. We will not be in control then either, but the consequence of holding on to the CROSS will be very different. It’s only when we take hold of the cross we will be able to hold on to the mercy and grace that comes along with it. I know I need a second thanksgiving helping of grace and mercy.

     I don’t know all the facts of what happened in Missouri back in August or last Tuesday. I do know those who are there need Jesus. They need the healing that only He can bring. How can we ask anyone to love and respect each other unless they come to know Jesus? He is the only one to teach us how to love. He is the only one to bring the peace that passes our understanding. He is the only one that can change us from the inside out. We won’t ever be perfect, but He will save us from ourselves and each other.

     Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

     I don’t know, but I know Who does.

Philip Sims


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