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November 2011

The Soul's Upward thrust

"Prayer is many things but basically and foremost it is being with God, listening to God, talking with God.  It is fellowship with God, communion with God. The fact that God would enter into communion with us staggers the imagination. He is creator, we are creatures. He is eternal, we are mortal. He is perfect, we are marred and broken. Jesus' prayer life was spontaneous, private, and public... He met the crises of His life with prayer. He prayed at His baptism (Luke 3:21-22). He spent a whole night in prayer before choosing His disciples (Luke 6:12-13). The night before His crucifixion He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). He prayed twice from the cross (Luke 23:34,46). And Jesus prayed just before He ascended to His Father (Luke 24:50). Since prayer is a spiritual exercise, one of its effects will obviously be spiritual in nature. Prayer lifts us to a spiritual vantage point. It gives us a spiritual perspective on life we can nowhere else identify. In prayer, more than at any other time, God, as it were, calls us to Himself, and says to us: "Stand here.  I want you to see life as I see it." Standing there, amid the jarring and discordant notes of life, we hear harmony and melody. Lights breaks into the shadows and darkness of life, and the broken, ill-fitting pieces are brought together into a pattern of meaning. There life makes sense more than anywhere else and we are able to declare the beauty, value, and purpose of life. There, despite its pain and tragedy, we thank God for life as a gift from His own hands."
 
The next time you pray, challenge yourself to focus more on being with God than making repeated request on your behalf.

Keep Hope Alive!

Many people can remember the popular phrase the Rev. Jesse Jackson would often use prior to and throughout his run for president. The words, "Keep hope alive" has become a common phrase that continues to be used this very day.  The Holy Spirit brought that famous phrase to my attention during my early morning devotion. As I further explored those inspiring words, I could not help but think of how important those words are or should be to all of God's children, and why Christian preachers, teachers, and pastors should make sure that each time they stand to proclaim God's word, they do so with the goal of speaking words of hope to many in despair. Each Sunday morning Christians come to church looking for a word from the Lord. All come wounded from battle due to warfare with sin and satan. 
 
As a preacher and teacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Sunday morning is my opportunity to keep hope alive. Opportunity to encourage each wounded spirit.  Opportunity to remind each soldier of the Lord that the fiercest battles are often those that take place before day break. When I stand to preach or teach, my God-given priority is not only to invite the unsaved to experience a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but to make sure that spiritual medicine is placed upon the spiritually wounded, and that they are provided with a needed supply for continued battle.
 
Several years ago, I learned a very important lesson from my mentor/Paul (Dr. Virgil J. Caldwell). Through his preaching and teaching Dr. Caldwell often reminded me of the importance of keeping hope alive with each sermon we preach, and lesson we teach. Therefore, when the Lord would direct me to preach or teach from a biblical topic that exposes our sin and rebellion towards Him, I've never given a benediction without words of hope. For example, all of us have done and continue to do and say things that are contrary to God's Word. If the sermon I preach exposes such behavior, I will not expose a spiritual wound and then fail to apply the proper medication, because that's like pouring nothing but salt on an opened wound. I may say something like, "Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet." I may even continue by reminding the saints that the race is not given to the swift or the strong, but to those who endure until the end. Why is it important for words of encouragement to follow words of discipline? It is important because I want to make sure that each soldier in God's Army is ready for the battles ahead.  Battles that are unseen to the naked eye as we keep hope alive.
 
Someone once said, "When hope is alive, the night is less dark; the solitude less deep, fear less acute." Whatever role God has defined for you as a Christian, please be sure to leave God's people with hope despite their errors in life. God will take care of the rest.
 
Copyright (C) Elton L. Young, 2002-2011
All Rights Reserved
.

Keep Hope Alive

Many people can remember the popular phrase the Rev. Jesse Jackson would often use prior to and throughout his run for president. The words, "Keep hope alive" has become a common phrase that continues to be used this very day.  The Holy Spirit brought that famous phrase to my attention during my early morning devotion. As I further explored those inspiring words, I could not help but think of how important those words are or should be to all of God's children, and why Christian preachers, teachers, and pastors should make sure that each time they stand to proclaim God's word, they do so with the goal of speaking words of hope to many in despair. Each Sunday morning Christians come to church looking for a word from the Lord. All come wounded from battle due to warfare with sin and satan. 
 
As a preacher and teacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Sunday morning is my opportunity to keep hope alive. Opportunity to encourage each wounded spirit.  Opportunity to remind each soldier of the Lord that the fiercest battles are often those that take place before day break. When I stand to preach or teach, my God-given priority is not only to invite the unsaved to experience a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but to make sure that spiritual medicine is placed upon the spiritually wounded, and that they are provided with a needed supply for continued battle.
 
Several years ago, I learned a very important lesson from my mentor/Paul (Dr. Virgil J. Caldwell). Through his preaching and teaching Dr. Caldwell often reminded me of the importance of keeping hope alive with each sermon we preach, and lesson we teach. Therefore, when the Lord would direct me to preach or teach from a biblical topic that exposes our sin and rebellion towards Him, I've never given a benediction without words of hope. For example, all of us have done and continue to do and say things that are contrary to God's Word. If the sermon I preach exposes such behavior, I will not expose a spiritual wound and then fail to apply the proper medication, because that's like pouring nothing but salt on an opened wound. I may say something like, "Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet." I may even continue by reminding the saints that the race is not given to the swift or the strong, but to those who endure until the end. Why is it important for words of encouragement to follow words of discipline? It is important because I want to make sure that each soldier in God's Army is ready for the battles ahead.  Battles that are unseen to the naked eye as we keep hope alive.
 
Someone once said, "When hope is alive, the night is less dark; the solitude less deep, fear less acute." Whatever role God has defined for you as a Christian, please be sure to leave God's people with hope despite their errors in life. God will take care of the rest.
 
Copyright (C) Elton L. Young, 2002-2011
All Rights Reserved
 
      
 

In His Hands

During my devotion period this morning I experienced a close encounter with God. The words He left with me, I in turn leave with you. The will that God has upon your life is in His hands. Those that may speak against you as you do His will is also in His hands. Those that may wish you harm with the use of their tongue is in His hands. What God promised me is the same He promises to all of those that seek to do His will. He will prepare a table before us in the very presence of our enemies. He will also make our enemies our foot stool. Therefore, continue to stand upon your God given principles, remain faithful to your calling, and leave the rest to God. The best weapon against hatred, hostility, jealousy, and anger is an unconditional (Agape) love.
 
Copyright (c) Elton L. Young, 2002-2011
All Rights Reserved
 

Salvation

A Japanese minister was serving at Christ Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1943. That was a war year, and many military personnel attended Christ Church. Dr. Kitagawa, the minister, said that on a particular Sunday a young marine stopped to speak with him just after the worship service was over. The sermon that morning had dealt with the God-given unity of mankind as seen in the light of Jesus' teaching. The marine said to Dr. Kitagawa: "Father, I too believe what you said in your sermon is absolutely true. I'm glad I was in church this morning to hear your particular message." He paused momentarily and then continued: "I was trained as a violinist but that's all finished, for in the South Pacific my right wrist was permanently injured. When I was discharged, I vowed I would kill the first Japanese I met. You know, Father, you're that Japanese!" Having said that, he extended his injured hand to Dr. Kitagawa and left the church. We are saved in situations as concrete, personal, and social as that of the marine. If you haven't done so this week, please take the time to thank God for salvation. We may not have reached our full God-given potential to date, but let's thank God that we are not what we use to be.

A Creed to Follow

Deuteronomy 26: 7-9 has been indentified by many students of the Bible as Isreal's creed. The scripture reads, "The Lord heard our voice, and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror, with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey." We can find examples throughout the Bible where Isreal repeatedly told their story of redemption. Frank Nelson once wrote, "A great man does not make his place in history. He finds it and fills it." Like Isreal, we too have experienced bondage be it financial, spiritual, emotional, physical or psychological. Like Isreal, we have been set free by an outstretched hand of an almighty God.
 
As we face the unknown let us do so with faith in our Lord. Whatever challenges we may face, let us do so with boldness that is absent of fear. That way, when we come out as pure gold on the other side we too will have a redemptive story to tell, and a creed to follow. Our refusal to forget where we came from provides clear direction for where we are going.
 
                                       Copyright (c) Elton L. Young 2002-2011
                                                    All Rights Reserved

We Can Be Reconciled

How often do we take the time to consider just how good God has been and continues to be towards us? The many division we see throughout society is a concern we all should share. How difficult it is for people to find common ground. Conservative against liberal, rich against poor, men against women. In many unfortunate ways, people are truly separated from each other. In fact, the way in which so many of us act today makes many wonder if we will ever experience solutions to our multitude of problems. I have good good news to share. Chevis H. Horne once wrote that the solutions to our problems have already been worked out by the power of an almighty God when he said, "God has acted in such a way that we can be reconciled, that our separations can be overcome. God does for us in Christ what we, even in our best efforts, cannot do." Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been granted the opportunity to not only be reconciled to God, but with humanity as well. What we must do is follow the examples of Christ.
 
Copyright (c) Elton L. Young, 2002-2011
All rights Reserved
 

We Are Like Pigeons, Not Sheep

At the beginning of the 20th Century experiements were being done in the area of animal psychology. In a northern state pigeons were blindfolded, placed in cages, and brought to a town in the state of Virginia. Upon the pigeons arrival, it was reported that the pigeons were released from their cages, blindfolds removed, and set free. The pigeons immediately flew to a certain height, circled several times as if getting their bearing, and then flew back home. What's so interesting about pigeons' ability to return back to the northern state from Virginia? Well, it interesting because pigeons can do what sheep can't. The Bible tells us that we (people) are like sheep, not pigeons. Somebody has to find us and guide us. Do you remember the day when Christ found you? He, in great love, broke down our resistance, overcame our estrangement, and forgave us of our sins. Take time today to thank God for His willingness to forgive us, and save us. Where would we be without the Grace of an almighty God and the guidance of His Holy Spirit?