Dec 31, 2019

While I breathe, I hope!

Dum Spiro, Spero – While I breathe, I hope! This latin phrase, and South Carolina motto, was highlighted in our local coop’s monthly magazine.  It has become synonymous with New Years to make resolutions for the coming year, and since you are reading (and breathing) we have reason to hope for the year ahead.  Remember, God is for us!
Many promises from God show us His heart to bless His people.  A favorite verse for many is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  God had Jeremiah deliver this message to a people in exile, who were not listening to God’s chosen messenger, and to whom God told them to settle in the foreign/strange land because they would not be returning in this generation.  God’s intent was to bless His people, but He once again was calling their attention back to Himself from the false prophets.  Israel was still His people, with His blessing and promise, but they found themselves in a troubling place that they did not desire.  As a church, and individuals, we have experienced this in the past year; but God has a plan!
Paul knew hard times in his ministry, and faced potential death several times during his life.  He did not fear death, and you could say he welcomed it knowing the bliss that awaited him in Heaven.  When he wrote Philippians 1:21 “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain,” he expressed the purpose of each Christian’s life while on this earth, to glorify Christ!  We glorify Christ while we have breath because we know he brings hope.  If you need a motto for 2020, consider “Dum Spiro, Spero!”

Sep 1, 2019

Ever feel unloved? worthless? Nobody knows your pain?

    How often have you considered that God created you, as you are, for the place and time you live?  His Omniscience knew what events would happen during our lives, and He placed us here.  His Omnipotence could change any circumstance, correct any flaw, and direct our paths around troubling times.  But what He chose to emphasize was His Omnipresence.  God shows us over and over that He is always there when we need Him.  God hears every prayer as though He is setting beside us.  You are loved more than you know.
With our disconnected lifestyles we get downhearted not understanding how interconnected we remain.  God created us for fellowship, to have relationships with others, and has intended his people to share His Glory.  When we shutdown true relationships, and only share the carefully chosen social life of Facebook, Instagram, and the like we have ignored one of God’s primary vehicles to share his gospel.  Often we think there have been things to happen to us, or choices made which make us unable to help anyone.  Yet the truth is, God says that we should share our weaknesses all the more, because His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  When we show our weakness, it gives others an opportunity to know that none of us are perfect and we have all fallen short.  God paid a great price for us anyway!
God knows the interworking of our bodies better than any scientist; because He is The Creator.  He can heal all our ailments from physical, mental, and spiritual because He is the great Physician.  We have many doctors who are very good at treating our physical bodies.  There have been great strides in mental health treatments, but there are still many people struggling to find relief in the sea of their thoughts.  If you’ve experienced this, God knows this pain.  He had no place to lay His head, He spent 40 days alone with Satan’s temptations, and the men closest in his ministry deserted him.  Jesus was tempted as we are yet didn’t sin.  We shouldn’t feel defeated by that, but instead know that Jesus knows what that pain feels like.  He asks us to share rather than hide these dark times, so that friends and neighbors know that God is able to reach through the darkness.
We are Known, Loved, and a Help to those around us through our experiences.  Look around and see who you can share with or encourage today!
Psa 147:3 NKJV - He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

Aug 10, 2019

Are you losing the Joy

Personally the last few days have had some moments that I was ready to throw my hands up and give up.  Between the sinful effects of the world showing its ugly face, individuals lashing out, saddening reports from friends, and just the wear and tear of life it is easy to start losing hold of the joy of life.  Of course this joy is only found in Jesus and how He paid and paved the way for us to eternal life with God. 
     Satan's ultimate goal is to get us to lose sight of Jesus and all He's provided us.  When he can get Christian's to forget the hope of Heaven, the security of salvation, and joy of knowing Christ; he knows that we lose our most powerful weapons to advance against his ugly forces.  Christ told us that the gates of hell (a protective structure for Satan) would not stand against our declaration of Christ's position as the Son of God.  (Matthew 16:16-18)  The Word of God provides us such assurances with its unchanging message.  It doesn't change, but we lose sight.
    This stands as a reason that worship is so important in our lives.  It reminds us of Christ's position, His strength, the completion of His Work, His Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence, the Love He shows for us despite our failings, and so much more.  Once we get our eyes back in line with His, we can rest in His assurances, wait on His timing, and advance His Kingdom.  Nothing is about us anymore.  Our 'kingdom' and its resources, our ego, our family, they don't lead our work and efforts; they are resources we contribute to see His kingdom grow.  We realize that we do not save the world, but if we can help one more soul see the gift Christ offers, the efforts will be worth it.  Will you keep reaching out?  Offering Christ and Love to those you meet every day.

Aug 3, 2019

Who is it that does the work of the God?

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Col 3:17
As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Acts 13:2
“But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. 10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 6:9-10
Why do you work? There are many answers to that question.  There are many who work, because that is what we were taught to do, and as Thessalonians says, “those who don’t work, don’t eat.” We will work in order to receive money to purchase items we want, to buy gifts for friends and family, and to support our families.  Sometimes we work in order to draw a retirement, or save money for the future.  Of course we also know that part of this money should be given back to God as tithes and offerings.  But what about the time and effort that is expended during ‘work?’  Is it just a holding pattern, keeping us busy between worship services in exchange for money?
   No our work is not simply a means to earn money.  God intends our work, like the rest of our lives, to declare His glory to the world.  Each job shows skills that God distributed and enabled his children to do.  Each person receives talents from God, and His providence places us at the time and place we live.  These details contribute to a unique placement for each person. 
The following is two quotes from A.W. Tozer’s book ‘The Pursuit of God’, Chapter 10 pages 81+83. “Paul's exhortation to "do all to the glory of God" is more than pious idealism. It is an integral part of the sacred revelation and is to be accepted as the very Word of Truth. It opens before us the possibility of making every act of our lives contribute to the glory of God. Lest we should be too timid to include everything, Paul mentions specifically eating and drinking. This humble privilege we share with the beasts that perish. If these lowly animal acts can be so performed as to honor God, then it becomes difficult to conceive of one that cannot.” – “We must offer all our acts to God and believe that He accepts them. Then hold firmly to that position and keep insisting that every act of every hour of the day and night be included in the transaction. Keep reminding God in our times of private prayer that we mean every act for His glory; then supplement those times by a thousand thought-prayers as we go about the job of living. Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.”

Different doesn’t have to mean divided

Different is… … …. just different
Isa 66:18 NKJV - "For I [know] their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory.”
Rev 7:9 NKJV –“ After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
    There is an elephant in the room in many congregations today. Sometimes differences in worship styles, Bible translation, and so many other small things will cause major divisions among people in the same congregation and sister churches. God is certainly not a God of division, but of unity in Christ Jesus.
    Isn’t it funny that we have friends who have different passions but we don’t disengage from them because we have other interests in common?  Such as our racing buddy that loves to cook and we can’t boil water.  Why is it different that we both love Jesus, but I like contemporary music, and you like traditional? God made people with different passions, abilities, spiritual gifts, and tendencies so that all the world could be reached.  A great preacher, Bro Lonnie Sheets once passed some great wisdom to me and the congregation at Leitchfield Crossing. “Different is. . . .just different.”
    Sometimes the new ideas come into our lives in order to introduce us to good opportunities. When was the last time you tried a new activity or restaurant and then it became your favorite thing to talk about?   Even if a new activity is not our cup of tea, if we’re doing it with our friend it shows that we care about them.
     Finally Jesus was no stranger to differences.  He had fisherman, a couple tax collectors, a zealot, among others in his entourage yet his team changed the world with his mission.  He engaged with sinners, Pharisees, Jews, Gentiles and rulers with his teachings because He wanted to see them reconciled to His Loving Father.  Jesus didn’t withdraw from differences but embraced them because they were key to accomplishing His Mission.  Let us embrace ours also. 8/4/19

Jul 13, 2019

God Sees your Efforts

Discouraged? Unmotivated? Ready to Quit? – Me Too!
I just ended two extremely busy weeks and to be honest I was ready to quit more than once.  I don’t mind meetings and activities, but when others don’t pay attention and don’t offer effort – I get discouraged.  Typically ‘for the good of the group’ is sufficient to motivate my efforts, but sometimes I get tired and criticized and I temporarily lose the drive.  If you have felt the same, let’s get our encouragement from the Lord, He never changes and always wants our good!
Gen 1:28 “…Be fruitful and multiply…”, Jas 4:17 NKJV - Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do [it], to him it is sin. (1 John 3:17)
God has told us many times to go forth.  He says “make disciples,” “be fruitful,” “entertain strangers,” and many more.  God has given us resources, spiritual gifts, time, and opportunities not for our own benefit, but to be a minister of those blessings to those around us.  This God given focus on others helps us from staring at ourselves too much.
Eph 2:10”…created in Christ Jesus unto good works. . .”Tit 2:14”…zealous of good works” Heb 10:24”…to provoke unto love and to good works:” (James 3:13)
We were made to serve and be prosperous.  God created us to have relationships, to have unique skills, and put us in specific places.  We don’t have all knowledge to know why; nor the sight to see all the results that occur from our efforts – but we can rest assured God has the knowledge and vision to see.  Further Along, we’ll understand it all.
Prov 16:3 “…he will establish your plans.” Col 3:24”. . .you will receive an inheritance from the Lord . . .” Rev 2:19 “I know thy works . . .”
God is omniscient, which means He knows (sees) everything.  This would not exclude the work we do for him.   God often blesses us here for the efforts that no one else sees, but we also have promises from Jesus that we will receive rewards in heaven from God the Father. (Math 6:1)  It is very helpful to have support and encouragement from those around us, but the scriptures make it abundantly clear that God sees us.  When others discourage us, it gives us that more reason to fully devote our efforts to the Lord, who sees in secret and rewards openly!

Jun 29, 2019

Excelling in Giving

2Co 8:3-4 NLT - For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.
2Co 9:9 NLT - As the Scriptures say, "They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever."
   Do you ever look around and thank God for all the assets that surround us?  Think of every seat in the church, ready for eager hearers of the gospel.  Thank God for all the individuals and families God has brought to us through his providence; and the faithful ministers who spread God’s great seeds from the Word of God.  Think also of the roads and buildings. For these constructed items were planned, the lands cleared, the materials gathered, and skillful workers produced wares that have stood for years allowing us to assemble and hear of God’s great love.  What if the previous generations had not looked forward in sacrificing their current resources for the benefit of those who would come after them, such as us?
  What are we giving ahead?  There are obviously times of plenty, and times of poverty; but for most of us we are blessed with abundance.  Sometimes it is seen financially by being able to buy luxuries.  At other times it is time itself that we have in abundance allowing for idleness and frivolous activities.  We do not have what we have in order to consume it for ourselves, but actually so that we can share with others.  Where are we placing our extra?
   In 2 Corinthians chapters 8 & 9 Paul reminds them about an idea they had when he visited previously.  They had heard about the struggles of the Christians in Jerusalem and they shared with Paul that an offering should be gathered and sent to help.  In this part of the letter Paul tells them how the idea was met with such enthusiasm in another church, and that he was coming back soon so the Corinthians could literally ‘put their money where their mouth was’ in completing the task.
2Co 8:11-12 CSB - Now also finish the task, so that just as there was an eager desire, there may also be a completion, according to what you have. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
   I know there are many opportunities available locally to lead discussions, reach our community, invest in the future and so forth.  Satan continues to work to kill, steal, and destroy what God has built, but we know that the gates of Hell will not stand against the advancement of the gospel.  Where are you giving back to God?