Thursday, May 25, 2017

Which Way Are We Headed?

The Adult Discipleship Group at New River have been studying about the development of our relationship with Christ. I believe that the development of our relationship with Christ is as important if not more important than the initial step of asking Christ to become the leader of our lives. Doesn't Jesus reference "endurance" when He declared "But he who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 24:13 (NKJV)

I celebrate with any and every one when they begin their journey with Christ but the true test of faith is revealed as we "continue" to run our race of life. I do not want to make this journey with Christ to sound harsh or extremely difficult but I do believe that each of us will face challenges/trials/battles/struggles/temptations, etc. which will challenge our "spiritual endurance." It is during those moments that my faith will either "hold up" or "fold up." 

I believe that we are either are moving toward God or we are moving away from God. I do not believe that there is an in-between stage. Jesus plainly declared that we are either far Him or we are against Him. I understand the plainness of these words but I also believe the reality of these words. 

Many of us have and even expressed certain expectations out of God. But we have a tendency to become offended when the Word of God reminds us of the expectations that God has for us. I don't believe that God will ask anything from us that is beyond our ability to fulfill. My "love" relationship with God will either be successful or unsuccessful based on my level of desire and commitment to follow His precepts and principles. 


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Worthy of Remembrance

I would like to share a portion of an email that I shared with the New River congregation. It focuses on two important factors. First, each of us needs to remember that we are valuable to God. Second, each of us needs to remember those brave men and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. I believe that the enemy seeks to create a sickness that I will refer to as "spiritual amnesia." This "disease" leads to an attitude that can create an atmosphere of unthankfulness which leads to a lack of sincere gratitude. Oh by he way, I believe that I have discovered the anti-dote to the disease. It is called PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING!! I encourage you to give it a try and begin to notice a difference in your life!!

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ who provided us the opportunity to recognize our "worthiness" in the eyes and heart of our Heavenly Father!!" Each of us needs to remember the fact that we "were worth saving" and that Jesus provided that opportunity for each of us through His death on the cross. That is one of the many reasons that the family of God can celebrate the goodness and graciousness of God. 

I realize that we are moving toward Memorial Day weekend. This will be a weekend with a variety of celebrations. Sadly many of these "celebrations" have no connection with the original purpose of Memorial Day. Memorial Day was set aside to remember those valiant and courageous men and women who gave their lives so that we could LIVE IN FREEDOM. It is sad to say but many Americans have made it more about celebrations than they have remembrance. I will take this opportunity to encourage you to remind yourself as well as your family of those brave individuals who paid the ultimate price for our freedom in America. Let me also add that we MUST NOT FORGET THOSE WHO ARE PRESENTLY SERVING IN THE MILITARY AS WELL AS THOSE WHO HAVE PREVIOUSLY SERVED!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tough Love

Hebrews 6:10, 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.(NKJV) (Emphasis Added)

The title of this post may draw some people's attention simply because of the word "tough." Each of us probably have our own set of ideas when we see the words "tough love" written in conjunction with each other. My initial thoughts would revolve around the concept of discipline when I hear or read these words. Discipline may be required to draw the attention of the person that we believe needs "tough love." But I will leave that post to another time; that is not my inspiration today although I do believe that there are many people who do need to experience "tough love" during their journey of life.

But today I am going to take another approach to "tough love." Don't you believe that there are some people that are "tough" to love? People may exhibit the attitude that "I don't need someone to love me." People may exhibit the attitude that they have "tried" to love and allow someone to love them and it just did not work out correctly. People my exhibit the attitude that they are "unworthy" of someone's love (This would even include the love of God). People may exhibit the attitude that they have encountered individuals who "pretended" to love and that they were tired of being deceived. I am sure that you could create your own list of reasons of why people are "tough" to love.

Do you think that Jesus loved some individuals that were "tough" to love? You and I could have been individuals that were "tough' to love but someone refused to give up on us. We certainly know that God is longsuffering and full of love and mercy for EVERYONE!!

Chuck Swindoll shares this insight with us today:

The ABCs of Love
"I accept you as you are."
"I believe you are valuable."
"I care when you hurt."
"I desire only what is best for you."
"I erase all offenses."

We could call that the ABCs of love. And I don't know of anybody who would turn his back on such magnetic, encouraging statements.

There is nothing shallow about authentic love. Nor is it a magic wand we whip out and wave over a problem with a whoosh, hoping all the pain will go away.

Real love has staying power. Authentic love is tough love. It refuses to look for ways to run away. It always opts for working through. It doesn't cop out because the sea gets stormy and rough. It's fibrous and resilient . . . .

While the world around us gives the opposite counsel, love stands firm.

Real, authentic love has staying power. It refuses to look for ways to run away.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Graciousness of God

Ephesians 2:4-6, But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,(NKJV)

It is truly a blessing to know that God loves me and that He declares my worthiness through His willingness to redeem and rescue me from the power of sin and darkness. Each of us can not afford to forget the price that was paid for our salvation. We were unable to earn this salvation yet we are able to celebrate God's graciousness as He offers this salvation as His gift of love. We do serve the True and Mighty God who is able to forgive, heal and liberate us from the bondage of sin!!

We are able to reach out to God and lay claim to grace through God's generous and loving gifts. These precious gifts have made us pure, holy and adopted into the family of God. Nothing we possess, accomplish, or buy can give us such a claim. Only God's generosity, God’s grace, and God’s wonderful love can bring heaven's greatest gifts to us. Don’t you believe that each of us needs to offer our praise and celebration to Him?

Dear God, we thank you for each of the wonderful blessings that we have received from you. We do not want to ever take for granted the richness of your kindness, goodness and grace that has been released in our lives. We are thankful for the mercy that you deposit in our lives on a daily basis. We ask these things in the name of Jesus!! Amen!!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mothers of Faith

In a couple of days we will be celebrating Mother's Day. A few days ago I heard an interesting discussion on a Christian Radio station. They were discussing the question concerning the use of the apostrophe in the words Mother's Day. One of the people in the discussion said that the person who started the celebration of Mothers Day wanted the words Mother's Day to be written with an apostrophe so that each individual Mother would be recognized. The vocabulary term is singular possessive I believe. The other person chimed in and said that she had "googled" it and either one is acceptable. I just felt that you needed that bit of inspiring news as we begin the Mother's Day weekend. I am not a linguistic expert about the apostrophe but I do know this; "WE ARE IN DESPERATE NEED FOR MOTHERS OF FAITH IN THE PRESENT DAY CHURCH.

The Apostle Paul recognized faith in Timothy's Mother as well as His Grandmother. I have been blessed to witness a life of faith in many ladies throughout my life of which I am very grateful. I have been blessed to witness faith on display in my home through my Mother as a child and now I am able to see that faith demonstrated as an adult. I witnessed faith in my Mother-in-laws life prior to our marriage as well as after our marriage. Sadly she passed away at an early age and I did not have opportunity to develop a long term relationship with her. I have witnessed faith in my wife's life throughout the 44 plus years that we have been married. Each of the days of our lives together have been spent involved in the Gospel ministry. I now am seeing the daily faith lived out in the lives of our Daughter-in-laws as they seek to be an example to their children. I have also witnessed faith on display in the lives of many "godly women" throughout the years of my journey as a Minister of the Gospel. 

I think that each of us identify the fact that satan is seeking to capture the children and youth of this generation through his various tactics and strategies. These powers of evil and darkness seem overwhelming at times. I am sure those same fears, worries and concerns faced Eunice and Lois yet Paul identified the characteristic of faith in their lives as their son and grandson was preparing to take on the challenge of ministry. Their example of faith was now being lived out in the life of Timothy and Paul was using these facts to encourage his young protege. 

We need Mothers who have decided and will continue to decide to be WOMEN OF FAITH even in the midst of all of the adversities of life. We need Mothers who will choose to live a life that is an example to her children as well as to others who will observe her journey of life. We need Mothers who teach their children verbally as well as practically about their need for a relationship with Jesus Christ. We need Mothers who will offer themselves to God as worshipers and servants in the work of the Kingdom. We need women who love their husbands and love their children. This love must be more than mere words; the love must be put into visible action and lived out on a daily basis. 



Monday, May 8, 2017

Are We Involved in a WAR?

Monday morning is usually a time in which I look back and reflect on the spiritual activities of the weekend. I do want to offer praise to God for our Sunday service at New River. We have a 15 minute time for personal reflection prior to the beginning of our Sunday morning service at New River. This time slot has been used for various spiritual exercises such as prayer, teaching, fellowship, etc. 

But yesterday the Spirit chose to lead us into a time of prayer seeking for the Holiness of God to become an even more important part of our lives. The Worship Team was actually "rehearsing" a song to be used in a future service. But the Spirit chose to make yesterday (Sunday) as the day the song should be sung. I immediately sensed the Spirit speaking to my heart and I asked the Worship Team to remain in place and continue singing the song. I them proceeded to ask the congregation to stand and join the Worship Team in seeking after the Holiness of God to be revealed to our lives and in our lives. We sang and prayed together as we realized and declared publicly that we need the "Holiness of God" to be lived out in our daily activities. We do not need to run from Holiness, we need to embrace true Biblical Holiness.

The Spirit continued to do His work in my heart during prayer time this morning. We are in a great "war" if you will allow me to use that word in this spiritual scenario. We face an enemy that is even more cunning and crafty than any natural enemy that our nation has ever faced. This enemy is out for the destruction of our soul. This enemy is out to hinder, overthrow and even defeat the spreading of the Good News of the Gospel. This enemy is out to overwhelm, discourage and even in some cases divide local churches so that they can not be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ. 

You may be asking this question today because I have asked it myself on numerous occasions. "How does the enemy succeed in these efforts?" I feel that the Spirit gave me some insight into one of the tools of satan. He desires for each of us to remain "carnal Christians." Satan can win many battles if he can convince me or you to live in the flesh rather than live in the Spirit. The flesh will produce havoc yet the Spirit will bring healing. The flesh will produce division yet the Spirit will produce unity of purpose, desire, pursuit of God and the salvation of others. The flesh produces attitudes that people only live for themselves yet the Spirit will produce people who will desire to serve others. The flesh will produce people who are arrogant, high-minded and self-centered yet the Spirit will produce people who are humble servants, kind and considerate of others. It is also these Christians who desire the "Kingdom of God to come" and touch the lives of every person that they encounter.

Let me share the words of the Apostle Paul:

Galatians 5:16-17, I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.(NKJV)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Which Direction Are We Headed?

I need to inform you that Saturday (May 6th) is the running of the Kentucky Derby. This is probably the most famous of the Horse Races and it is the first leg (race) of the Triple Crown. I share this with you to also inform you that this is "Derby Week" in the city of Louisville. Louisville puts on several different events prior to the running of the Derby which is always ran on the first Saturday of May. These events are intended to draw people into the celebration that surrounds this famous Sporting Event.

One of the events of Derby Week is the Pegasus Parade which will take place on Thursday afternoon. The theme of this year's parade is "Louisville on the Move." You are probably already wondering about my "spiritual interest" in sharing this information concerning the Derby as well as the theme of the parade. It was the theme of the parade that drew my attention; "Louisville on the Move."

My mind immediately went to a worship song that we sing at New River when I heard the theme of the parade announced on the early morning news program Tuesday morning. 7eventh Time Down sings a song entitled God Is On The Move. The song writers uses these two phrases that have spoken to my heart since we have been singing this song; "God is on the move in many mighty ways. God is on the move, God is on the move Today.

This song could very well be the theme song for the Kingdom of God. We must recognize that God is on the move at this very moment. Does not the Bible teach that true followers of Jesus Christ are called to follow Him (Jesus)? Does not the Bible teach us that we are to draw near to God and that God will draw near to us? We see the evidence before our eyes on a daily basis that God is on the move. We witnessed the evidence in a corporate setting this past Sunday morning at New River. I have talked with people this week that reveal the truth that God is on the move in this world TODAY.

BUT I sense in my spirit that believers face a major decision. Are we (Am I) going to be willing to move with God as He moves? Or am I going to remain content to stay in the same spiritual condition and relationship with God that is beginning to produce a condition of staleness, stagnation and lack of hunger for more of His presence in my life? These are not the days to grow idle, cold, indifferent and distant from God. But these are the days to move with God as the Spirit works to complete what God has started in us when we surrendered our lives to Christ.