The Old Oak Tree

Today’s Truth: Revelation 2:4-5, “4 However, I have this against you: The love you had at first is gone. 5 Remember how far you have fallen. Return to me and change the way you think and act, and do what you did at first…..” (GW)

From My Heart To Yours:

If you were born after in the 90’s you will probably laugh as you watch the following video.  Now try to listen to the words of the song and not focus on the large mustache.  If you were born before or right after 1973, go ahead and sing along, you know you want to.  By the way, I immediately wanted to search for, watch and sing Knock Three Times, didn’t you?!?!  Oh no, I couldn’t help myself…found it, watched and sang it too.

This popular song, Tie A Yellow Ribbon by Tony Orlando and Dawn, was based on the true story of a convict returning from jail who requested a sign from his wife to indicate that she would welcome him home. First he writes her a letter and puts it in the mail, text messaging, emails or cell phones didn’t exist back then.  Ok so go ahead and laugh again those of you who laughed earlier.  He doesn’t wait for her to rejection him, instead he jumps on a bus to go to her. In his letter he ask her give him a visual sign that she will take him back, a yellow ribbon around a tree he remembers in the front yard of her home.

As the song goes on you can hear the anticipation, urgency and yes even fear in the lyrics as he gets closer to her house.  Rejection will be hard but easier to handle if he doesn’t have to see her face to face and hear the word NO.  That’s why he has ask for visual sign.

Almost there, tension building, all the feelings of rejection and discouragement overwhelm him to the point that he can’t even look, can’t look for the sign he asked for a simple yellow ribbon around big old oak tree that he remembers standing in the front yard.  He has pulled the other passengers on the bus into his story by telling them about his love and how he hopes she will take him back, about the simple sign of acceptance he hopes to see and his fear of not seeing it.

The passengers tell him he doesn’t even have to look, they will be his eyes.  They too are now hoping and looking for HIS yellow ribbon on the tree.  As they near the house I can see EVERYONE but the man standing on the same side of the bus stretching to see over the others to see if the simple yellow ribbon requested is on the tree.  I can imagine as the man hears the shouts and cheers is he excited and stands to see what they see. It turned out that he was very welcomed home: there were a hundred yellow ribbons on that old oak tree.  Whew, I almost want to cry and shout with joy myself as I am typing the description of this song.

This song really hits home with me not because I have lost an old love who was in prison or been separated from husband before, but because I know so many who have lost their love for Jesus.  Todays scripture talks about returning to your first love, God.  So many have strayed far away from God, almost forgotten that they were saved.  Fear somehow replaced the faith they once had, causing them to run away from God and go back into the sinful world of the flesh to satisfy their doubt and unbelief.  Have you or someone you know left God, been a prison of sin, and want to return but you have the same fears and anxiety about rejection as the man had in this song?

If you want to return to God you can do it.  First you have to decide that you are tired of doing it your own way and remember that doing things God way is more satisfying.  Proverbs 14:14 says: A heart that turns from God becomes bored with its own ways, but a good person is satisfied with God’s ways.(GW)  YOU and only you can decide that you are tired of living the way you are.

God wants you to come back home to him.  He knew that some of us would wonder so he has made a way for us to return home.  You are not the first nor only one to stray away from God.  He tells us in Jeremiah 6:22 “Come back, you rebellious people, and I will forgive you for being unfaithful….” (GW)

So how do you return to God? So change the way you think and act, and turn to God to have your sins removed Acts 3:19  (GW)   Ask God to forgive you, get back into the word, and let God blot out your sins. It’s that simple. Just pray and ask God to forgive you and clean you up and HE DOES.  How wonderful and amazing is that?  No rejection letter, no door slammed in your face, just yellow ribbons all over the oak tree for you.  Just like in the song not only will God say yes but He will say emphatically yes.

Now that you have been given the forgiveness to come home you should be careful so you do not stray away again. Jesus said, “Stay awake, and pray that you won’t be tempted. You want to do what’s right, but you’re weak.”, Matthew 26:41(GW).  Tell other Christians about your return home to let them rejoice with you, like the passengers on the bus rejoiced with the man in the song.  Ask them to pray for you and with you.  Welcome home my friend.

Let’s Pray: 

Dear Lord, I am sorry for leaving You, my first love.   Sometimes the pull from the world is so strong that I can lose my way.  Help me to stay strong through the reading of your word, prayer and meeting together with other Christian brothers and sisters. Thank you for forgiving me, for loving me and for allowing me to come home.  Let my light burn brightly once more for you.  Hear my heart, Lord, and ignite my passion for you in a, fresh and dynamic way.  In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Can Christians Really Make A Difference In the World Or Is It Too Late?

The largest QOTSA headline crowd to date

Today’s Truth: Micah 6:8 You mortals, the Lord has told you what is good.  This is what the Lord requires from you:  to do what is right,  to love mercy,  and to live humbly with your God

From My Heart To Yours:

Can Christians really make a difference in the world or is it too late?  This question is one that is discussed in many pulpits and small group bible studies across America.  I believe there are a couple of different answers to the question.  First I believe yes we can make a difference.  We can make a difference in our own families, in our churches, in our communities and in our circle of Christian friends.  If you are a Christian, you know the Bible describes how the world will end.  The Bible tells us that as we get closer to the end of this world that sin will not get better, it will get worse.  True, however to me, that does not mean that we just lay down and prepare for death.  We still a responsibility to God while we are here.

I find the book of Micah to be a very interesting book of the Bible and I believe that it and this scripture reference for today can be used to answer the question, can Christians really make a difference in the world today.

Micah was a modern-day prophet for his time.  He was telling the people who God was a God of love but he was also a God of wrath.  The people were told that judgement was certain to come upon them if they did not heed His warnings about their blatant sins.  A lot of preachers and television evangelist today talk about promises and blessings for Christians but choose not to talk to about the sins we are committing.  Discussing sin is not popular now and it was not popular in Micah’s day either.

Micah was not the deliver of gloom and doom by talking about the sins of that day.  He told the people God loved them and provided hope that their relationship with God could be restored as it once was before.  He didn’t stop there though.  He gave them clear instructions on how to do it.  Micah 6:8 says, You mortals, the Lord has told you what is good.  This is what the Lord requires from you:  to do what is right,  to love mercy,  and to live humbly with your God.

God still requires these three things from Christians today just as He did in Micah’s day.  If every Christian would decide to follow this simple verse we could make a difference in this world and with all those we come in contact with.

….This is what the Lord requires from you:

1.  TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT –  We are to do what is right in our relationship with God. God is deserving of our heart, mind, body, and soul.  Jesus tells us (Mk. 12:28-30) that the first commandment is to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Because He created us in His own image, God rightly and justly deserves all of our worship and adoration. “This is the first commandment.”

We are also to do what is right and fair to our neighbor (to other people).  Not what is right and fair based on what man tells us but what is right and fair based on what God tells us. The world tells us to sue our neighbor, hate our neighbor, ignore our neighbor and the list goes on.  Jesus tells us (MK12:31) The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

2.  TO LOVE MERCY – You must show love and kindness. Some people are weaker than you are and some are poorer than you are. You should be kind to them and help them.  For most Christians this means giving money to the poor person standing on the side of the road or giving money to the homeless.  But mercy comes in many forms such as kindness, benevolence, and charity. Sometimes mercy is just being willing to forgive the sins of others as God is willing to forgive our sins.

3.  TO LIVE HUMBLY WITH GOD – You must walk (live) humbly with God. The first two instructions tell us how to treat each other. But this one is about our actions towards God.  We should agree with what God tells us in His Word and show Him that He is important to us through our word, actions and lives. We should do what God wants us to, no matter how easy or how hard it may be.

You can not do the first two if you do not have a good relationship with God.  You must love him, trust him, depend on him and obey him.  With him all things are possible. Without him one and two will be impossible.

Can Christians really make a difference in the world?  Again I say yes.  Won’t you do your part?  Start today by deciding to focus on you and your family and then challenge and inspire other Christians to do the same.

Let’s Pray: 

Dear Lord, we know that in the times we live in today it is hard to stand for right.  Sometimes we become discouraged, want to give up trying to do right.  Sometimes we are convinced  that we can not make a difference because we are just one person or one family.  But Lord we know you are still the same God today as you were in Micah’s day.  Thank you for your promise of forgiveness through salvation and for the mercy and grace you give to us each day.  Help us to do what is right, to love mercy and to live humbly with you.  In Jesus Name. AMEN.