Friday, July 29, 2016

Turn Toward God

I picked up some timely thoughts while reading Pastor Max Lucado’s booklet on “Remembering Our Foundations.” Especially after listening to the disparity on the differences between the two parties of the Republican and Democratic conventions held in the last two weeks. It is so evident that we need God to heal our land.
Pastor Lucado tells about the spider who dropped a single strand down from the rafter of an old barn and began to weave his web. The wee web grew as the months went by and was able to catch all kinds of bugs and insects.
One day when the spider was traveling across his web he noticed a single strand stretching into the rafters. He wondered why it was there and thought, “It doesn’t serve to catch me any dinner or add to my pantry of insects.” He thought the strand really wasn’t necessary so he climbed as high as he could - - and severed it. That resulted in the entire web falling upon itself and tumbling to the floor, taking the spider with it.
Could we, as a nation, make the same mistake as that foolish spider? Can a country spin a great web and sever it? Can she grow so successful, so smug, so self-sufficient that she forgets the strong strand that supports her? Could she look at her liberty, her strength, and her prosperity and respond not with gratitude - - but with arrogance?
Are we forgetting the strength that holds us? What happens when a nation forgets God? Psalms 9:17 says “The fate of all the nations that forget the Lord will be turned into hell.”
Israel of old also seemed prone to forget. Moses sternly warned them to “beware in their plenty that you do not forget the Lord your God, - - - do not become proud of that time and forget  the Lord your God - - - If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, worshipping them and bowing down to them, you will be destroyed.” Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 19
God defines all boundaries for “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed lines and the boundaries of their habitation.” Acts 17:26
I believe that God determines national leaders. Leaders don’t determine the future of countries; God determines the hearts of leaders. Proverbs 21:1 says, “the king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; He turns it wherever He pleases.” The king (or president) may think he calls the shots, but he doesn’t. God holds sway over his thrown. “It is God who makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them.” Job 12:23(NLT)
So, America exists by the power of God. Can we afford to forget this? Can we afford to sever this single, silver strand that supports the whole framework of our republic? Only at the terrible risk of destruction!
Our heritage has been given to us by God, not for our glory, but His. Not for our comfort, but His cause. Gods’ ultimate commitment is to His reputation, not ours. We may think God exists to bless America, but according to scripture, America exists to bless God.
During this time of divisiveness and confusion in American politics, there is a specific prayer that we all can pray and God will answer. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Blessings,

Pastor Amundson 

Monday, July 25, 2016

First Fruit Offering

First Fruit Offering
The old testament introduces a clear cut plan for prosperity and blessing. It is revealed in Exodus 13. It is known as the “Law of First Things.”
Every first-born child was to be consecrated to the Lord. Every first-born animal that was male was given to the Lord. In Exodus 23:19, the first of the first-fruit harvest of the Lord was brought into the house of the Lord. These were brought unto the priests who set it before the Lord as an act of worship.
In Deuteronomy 26:13 the first-fruit offering was called a tithe (tenth). It was called a “hallowed thing” and served the needs of the priests, the widows, and the poor.
In Proverbs 3:9 it says, “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase.” To honor God this way, brought glory to Him. The attached promise to the tithing principle in verse 10 says, “So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”
God receives honor and glory and He blesses His people when they recognize Him as the source for all that we have and when we give Him the best part of what we have. If God is first in our lives, then all is in order. If He is not, then all is out of order.
Principle of Putting God First
When Isreal moved into Caanan, there were ten cities for them to conquer before they could settle in the land. The first city they conquered, God told them that they were not to touch anything in that city. Everything in it belonged to God. They could have everything in the next nine cities. In Joshua 7 Isreal was judged harshly because someone had violated God’s word not to touch anything or keep anything for themselves. It all belonged to God. Achan couldn’t trust God’s provisions so he stole something from that city, which belonged to God.
In Leviticus 27:30, God said that “all the tithe is the Lord’s.” God never changed His mind about honoring Him first. His promise is to take care of His people. God wants this church to be fully resourced from within. Giving is such a big part of growing. Giving always produces increase.
Giving tithes and offerings does not buy God’s blessings. It does release God’s blessings upon our lives. When we started the church in Shell Lake I was 30 years old. I left my secular job to move into full-time ministry. We started out with the least amount of money we ever had in our life. We wanted God to be first in everything. We started out by giving a tenth of our income to the Lord. God put missions on my heart so we began to add another tenth of our income to be given to missions. This came from our limited income. God released a miraculous flow of blessing upon our finances to meet all of our needs. Generous giving is proof of our faith and love for God. More scriptures on tithes, offerings, and giving are found in: Malachi 3:10-11, Proverbs 11:24, Luke 6:38, and 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.
Blessings,

Pastor Amundson 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Purity

Purity
“The wisdom from above is first pure”- James 3:17.
Our moral values are in free fall. Purity has become a laughable term. Roving eyes spot bare flesh anywhere it is exposed. We see so many men with impeccable records astonish us with their secret indulgences.
We Christians, and especially ministers, have to get our acts together morally. We can’t prevent all the failures in the area of moral purity, but surely we can storm the tide. Like the woman who carried a flyswatter in her home for years so that she could kill the flies that constantly flew through the open windows. Her son finally suggested the she put screens on the windows. Screens don’t guarantee a “no fly” environment, but they can sure cut down on the number that do get in. We must take the same action to filter out impurity. Too many of us have already permitted impurity to go too far.
Purity is the Christians generational legacy, but impurity will stain your life forever, as it did for David, Israel’s great.
I once heard someone say, “you can’t keep the devil from flying over your head, but you can keep him from building a nest in your hair.” There are ways to maintain purity in our lives. Let’s see what purity is and how we can maintain it.

What is Purity?
Purity refers to the inward control of  fleshly lusts, thoughts, and actions. It means “unmixed,” a state of being without compromise. It means “uncontaminated,” free from outside corruption. It’s interesting that when something is pure, it is called “unadulterated.” We desperately need some unadulterated Christians.
Paul said, “to the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” (Titus 1:15)
Samson in the Bible, made little compromises that paved the way for his big collapse eventually with Delilah. “It’s the little foxes that spoil the vine.” (Solomon 2:15) It’s the little compromises that we make with temptations that can ultimately trap us into immoral actions. We must make it our highest priority to walk in purity.
Impurity starts with our thoughts. If thoughts become a problem, how then can we control them? It is quite impossible in today’s world to not see images, exposures, or opportunities that become fuel to fire up lusts of the flesh. The power of the Holy Spirit within us can control lust. Our bodies (mind included) are His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), and He stands ready to spring into action on our behalf against lustful thoughts.
The Holy Spirit is a constant filter and helper. We can have self-control over the lusts of the flesh that activate through inflaming thoughts. We can call on His name (“Holy Spirit”) under our breath the moment any impure image or thought enters our consciousness. He will quickly extinguish that passion or thought, much like a water pistol will douse a flaming candle.
Satan has a full arsenal for injecting lustful thoughts daily. We must not permit him to dump his garbage on our front yard. “Whatever is pure - - dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) God wants the story of your life to end well!


Pastor Amundson 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Turn up the Light!

We have a wonderful identity as the people of God. God identifies us as His “chosen people, His royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” in 1Peter 2:9.
We live in a world full of confusion, violence, crime, and hatred. Isaiah referred to it as a world of “gross darkness”. Isaiah 60:2 Most of our world has its identity with this darkness. Darkness is the absence of light and fear is the absence of faith. When darkness overtakes a person, they are unable to see where they are going. Jesus said in John 12:35, “he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.” Is it any wonder why there is so much confusion and lack of direction in our nation? In our world?
The bible tells us that there are spiritual rulers of darkness of this age who rule their wicked schemes from above the earth. Ephesians 6:12 Darkness has power to rule with tyranny to bring danger, death, sickness, and hostile situations.
Such is the example of what hatred can do by the terrible shootings of the police officers in Dallas this week. Evil is ruled by the powers of darkness that bring danger, death, and hostility into our everyday world. (Please note that prayer is our response to all the families who are suffering from these losses.) Also remember that our police officers are peace officers who protect us the best way they can from danger and harm. Let’s give them words of encouragement and show honor and respect to them for the job they do. The scripture says that “those who are given the authority to promote justice are God’s servants sent for our own good. They are sent for the purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. Anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and will be punished.” Romans 13:2-5
What is the answer to the darkness? The answer is to “turn to the light!” “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 “In Him was life, (Jesus) and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness is unreceptive to it, but will never be able to eliminate it.” John 1:4,5
When people come to Christ the light of the world, the light is not only greater than darkness, but it also will outlast the darkness. The more light the less darkness. This is the greatest time for us to let our light shine. “Stand up for Jesus you soldiers of the cross; lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss!” “You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill which cannot be hid.” - Jesus
Let your light shine!

Pastor Amundson

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What is your Name?



              “So He said to him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Jacob.’ And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.’” (Genesis 32:27,28) Jacob means “supplanter” or “deceiver”, but Israel means “Prince with God”.
              Jacob suffered from an identity crisis with his fathers favoritism toward his twin brother Essau. The blessing of his father fell upon his brother who was born only seconds before Jacob. In these days the fathers “double portion” blessing was pronounced upon the first-born son in the family.
As a young boy, Jacob became jealous of his fathers attention toward Essau. Jacob, with the help of his mother, who loved him, hatched a plan to deceive his father Isaac into pronouncing the blessing over him instead of over Essau. The deception worked and his father gave him the birthright inheritance that was due to his older twin brother. This act created an intense sibling rivalry and Essau turned against his brother Jacob and Jacob had to go on the run to avoid his brothers wrath. Jacob had fulfilled the meaning of his name “supplanter” and “deceiver”.
We find in the scripture that God often renamed people, aligning their names with their identities in Him. Abram was 90 years old when God made a covenant with him that he would become a father of many nations. The name Abram meant “exalted father”. When God revealed his destiny He named him Abraham which means “father of a multitude”.
God brought Abraham’s wife into the covenant relationship as well when He changed her name. His wife’s name was Sarai which means “bitter”, but Sarah means “beautiful mother of princes”. Their new names would always remind them of God’s covenant promise and their true identities in Him.
Jesus called Peter by the name of “Simon the son of Jonah”. Simon means “reed”. Reeds bent and vacillated easily whenever the wind blew. In (John 1:42) Jesus said, “You shall be called Cephas (which is translated “a stone”).” Jesus was predicting Peter’s destiny as a foundation stone in the early beginnings of the church. Peter had struggles in changing from a reed to a stone but as he moved into his future destiny, his rock-like identity was becoming recognized.
To each and every one of us Jesus gives a new name, a new identity, and a new destiny. I’m not talking about changing your given name but I’m talking about the name that God has given you which is what He calls you. The name He gives you speaks His destiny over your future as you become exactly the person God has ordained you to be.
He who named every star in the heavens also calls His children by name. Each one of us has our own gifts and callings, so each name is different. It’s this name and identity with which Jesus will greet us when we meet Him face to face. “And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” (Rev 2:17)

Happy 4th of July,
Pastor Amundson