Thursday, February 16, 2017

God's Love

I can not believe that it has been a week since I have written on the blog. I am sure that each of you are like me as I recognize the quick passing of time. We hear words such as; "Where did the week go? My, how time flies!! There are not enough hours in the day any more." Each of these statements and many more remind us of this truth; "Time waits for no one." I must do what I can do in service to God with the knowledge that life is a vapor and that it does vanish quickly. I do not use those words to discourage you or to cast a cloud of fear on your day but we must live our lives with the knowledge that we do possess an expiration date for our journey on earth. I want to be found faithful and obedient to our Heavenly Father.

I would like to share a portion of a recent weekly letter than I send to our local congregation. I use this weekly letter as a means to "sow a Gospel seed" as well as remind them of the need to pursue fulfilling their opportunities to serve God. I trust and pray that you will be blessed, encouraged, challenged and strengthened,

You were in my thoughts and prayers this morning. I find great comfort and strength in the knowledge that someone is praying for me. That is one of the unique attributes of the family of God that is so often overlooked except during the time of trials or challenges. But I am trying to remind myself on a daily basis that I have brothers and sisters in Christ who are under girding me with prayer. I would encourage you to add that same reminder to your process of thought.

Tuesday (February 14th) as you well know was Valentine's Day. This day can be a challenge as well as a blessing to various individuals in our church body. The challenges of life are not always filled with good memories "BUT THERE IS ONE THING THAT REMAINS, HIS LOVE (GOD'S LOVE) NEVER FAILS AND IT IT NEVER RUNS OUT." There is no expiration date to God's Love. Humanity may fail us and even forget us but God has promised never to leave us regardless of the circumstances that we may face.

I truly believe that God desires each of us to accept and receive His love. I also believe that God desires for us to pursue His love. Parents can remember the joy and excitement of your child uttering the words "Mamma" or "Daddy." Parents can remember the thrill of entering their child's presence and the child lifting up their arms toward them full of anticipation that you (the parent) would pick them up and carry them in their arms. Our Heavenly Father loves hearing His name called (His Word teaches us to call on Him) and He desires to share our "load of life." But it is up to each of us to respond to His love.

Will we take time to respond to God's love today?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thankfulness

2 Thessalonians 1:3, We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,(NKJV)

Today's passage of scripture reveals three (3) wonderful Biblical principles that Paul declares as he writes this letter to the church in Thessalonica. 

1) He boldly declares that he is thankful for his brothers and sisters in Christ!! This thankfulness is not just a once in a while attitude but it is something that is in and on his heart on a continual basis. This local community of believers have made a difference in his life and he is expressing his thankfulness for the role that this congregation has played in his life. I was reminded of the number of people that have made a difference in our lives through the years of our journey of life on Earth. I took a moment and thanked God for those special people who took the time and continue to take the time to invest in our lives through their friendship, love, support and encouragement. I encourage you to thank God for these individuals today and you may even feel led to contact them in some manner and thank them for the difference that they have made in your life. 

2) Paul recognized the fact that their "faith was growing exceedingly." It is a blessing to see the spiritual development of the relationship of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We look back and remember our time as well as their time in the "spiritual nursery" and now we see their faith growing (flourishing) and maturing. I believe that Paul was thankful and appreciative of the fact that these brothers and sisters in Christ were not content to remain "babes in Christ" but they were determined to pursue a developing, maturing, growing relationship with Jesus Christ!! Is that your (my) desire today or have I (we) grown content with the spiritual status quo?

3) Paul also recognized the fact that the love for one another was more than mere words but their words have taken on action and their action of love was being lived out on a daily basis. Oh the joy and peace that comes from walking into a local community of believers where love abounds and where genuine care and concern is evident on a daily basis. Paul identified this activity of love as "continually increasing" (NLT). This love was more than "window dressing" and it was more than a "performance." It was genuine and it flowed from hearts that was connected with the Love of God and the Love of God was being practiced on a daily basis toward one another. Let us continue to love one another so that the world can identify us as a genuine and sincere follower of Jesus Christ!!! 


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Offering Praise

It is a wonderful day to be able to offer praises to our God. Each day brings various blessings into our lives but there are those special days in our lives in which God provides marvelous and powerful answers to prayer. Each of us have lived through those days in which we have identified the revelation of the presence of God in the midst of the difficulties of life. Each of us has lived through those days in which our faith led us to look beyond our load of cares, struggles, trials, battles, etc. and look directly into the promises of God that are found written in His Word. 

My wife and I have had many of those afore mentioned days in which we were facing various struggles both personally as well as ministerially but the presence of God knew our location and He was aware of our situation. But He did not leave us without hope or without comfort. Rather He chose to come along side of us at that particular moment and provide the strength, courage, vision, answer, etc. that we needed. It is during those moments that an extra burst of praise would come rushing out of our soul and heart. We would discover ourselves lifting our voices with words such as "Thank You Jesus, Hallelujah, Praise God, God You are worthy of our praise, etc." Yesterday during prayer I was reminded of three specific times in our lives in which God's plan was completely opposite of the opinion of man. NOTE: There have been MANY OCCASIONS in which God has worked in our lives but God took me down memory lane to revisit those specific events in  our lives. I believe He chose that route so that He could remind me that "Life is not over until He says it is over." FYI: We received an answer to prayer on Monday after Ann underwent a medical procedure. Let me remind you once more that GOD DOES ANSWER PRAYER!!!

I would encourage you today to ask God to remind you of specific events in your life in which God revealed Himself in a miraculous manner. Take those reminders and turn them into a offering of praise. The Spirit placed these words in my heart this morning, "Is it possible that we ask for much yet we offer very little praise in return? I am determined to reverse that course in my life. 

Four (4) different times in Psalm 107 David makes this request to those who would hear his song of praise; “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Emphasis Added) Will you be one of those individuals that David is referencing in this passage of scripture? God is waiting to hear His people lift their voices of praise even in the midst of our difficulties!!! 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Spiritual Development

1 Peter 2:5, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.(NKJV) (Emphasis Added)

Last evening's Discipleship Class is on my mind and in my spirit this morning. We have been discussing our need to draw closer to God which will bring us into the continuing development of our relationship with Him. I truly believe that there are far too many Christians who are not seriously pursing the development of their relationship with Christ. They have grown content, satisfied, and static in their journey with Christ. 

Doctors are encouraging people to resist the temptation to become a "couch potato." Doctors are encouraging their patients to be active so that their body will continue to function appropriately. Walking is one of the tools that the health community is promoting to assist these Doctors in getting people "off the couch" and into a routine of exercise. Some have accepted this effort while others have resisted this effort. Why is that taking place across our community? I have a simple answer; the couch is far more comfortable than exercise. Exercise requires effort. Sitting or laying on a couch requires very little effort. Exercise requires discipline. Sitting or laying on a couch just requires forming a habit or a routine. Exercise moves us out of our comfort zone. Sitting or laying on the couch becomes our comfort zone.

Each of us needs to ask ourselves this question. "How would I rate my "spiritual exercise" on a scale of 1-10?" This question is not meant to criticize anyone but IT IS MEANT TO CHALLENGE EACH OF US TO REALIZE THAT WE MUST BECOME DISCIPLINED IN OUR WALK WITH CHRIST!! The enemy of our soul wants us to remain on the "couch" and not respond to the call of "spiritual development." I believe that each of us needs to make spiritual development a top priority in our lives.

I am praying that 2017 will be a year of SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT in each of our lives. Can you imagine the difference in our individual lives as well as the "corporate church" if each of us set a goal to become more like Christ this year? I am persuaded that a mighty awakening would take place in our communities as people encountered a group of Christians who were determined to reflect the love of God in the midst of the challenges that we are facing. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Obedience???

It has been a few days since I shared a portion of my heart with you. I still rejoice when I remember that God is actually interested in my life and those situations that are taking place in my life. Doesn't that knowledge and understanding bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your spirit? In the midst of my daily challenges and opportunities to serve my fellow man I can sense the presence of God at work in my heart. 

But here is a question that continues to trouble my soul both as an individual Christian as well as a Minister of the Gospel. Why do so many of us struggle to obey God and do what is right? A secondary question also comes to light in regards to this concern. Why do we allow the obstacles, excuses, challenges, trials, etc. that satan places in our lives so easily turn our hearts and lives away from God and His work in our hearts? The Word of God teaches us that the enemy certainly desires to "knock us off course" but that God has promised guidance and direction for those who trust in the promises that God has shared with us through His Word. 

I believe that this generation of believers are being challenged to "dig deep" and rediscover and even reestablish the foundation upon which we are building our lives. We need to remind ourselves that Christ is the Rock on which we build our lives and all other foundations are weak and will soon disintegrate under the spiritual attacks that we face in our daily lives. 

We must stop being indecisive when it comes to our relationship with God. We chose to go into debt on houses, cars, recreational vehicles and in some cases even vacations. Yet we find it so difficult to fully surrender our lives to Christ. We will commit to a 30 year mortgage on a house and a six year loan on a vehicle yet find it challenging to make a definite commitment to serve Christ as we know that we should. None of the above mentioned actions are sinful to say the least but they are used to remind you that EACH OF US CAN MAKE DECISIONS that require commitment. We commit to these decisions without knowing the future. We do this because we view these items as useful, beneficial and a good investment.

I feel that same way about my relationship with Christ, It is beneficial to me as I travel down the road of life and it will be beneficial to me when I travel the last mile of my road of life. I thought of a song that I have sang through the years of my journey with Christ. "I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back! No turning back..." I encourage you to make that same decision today. 

Luke 11:27-28, And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” 28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (NKJV)
Luke 11:27-28, As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” 28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (NIV)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts

I am going to share some words that I wrote during sermon preparation a few days ago. I am sure that at some point in the future these words will be spoken as I share the Gospel. I am convinced that God is at work in His Kingdom and I truly desire to participate with Him as He works to transform the lives of His people. 

The Spirit has dealt with my heart during this first month of January concerning the need for the church to respond in the appropriate manner to the call that we are hearing from God. I truly believe that the Spirit is knocking on the door of our individual hearts as well as the corporate door of the church. (Revelation 3)

I also am well aware of the fact that each of us have many other “spirits” knocking on the door of our heart and these spirits are doing everything in their power to gain access to our lives. The cultural tide of rebellion instead of humble repentance is gaining momentum in this world. The rejection of the Truth is becoming commonplace even among Christians as the enemy seeks to move us away from our hope and confidence in Christ. But in the midst of these attacks I am seeing various individuals who are saying that “enough is enough.” We are tired of just talking about a move of God of Biblical proportions. We are realizing that we need to be responsive and obedient to the call of the Spirit and we must be willing to put our faith in action. We must be willing to “open the door” to our lives and not just grow content by having our hands on the door knob or door handle.
Dear God, Give me strength to persevere when everything around me tells me to stop following Christ. Give me courage to do what is right when everything around me tells me to do wrong. Give me power to love when everything around me tells me to hate. Give me a stronger spiritual desire when everything around me tells me to give up. Give me hope when everything around me seems to be discouraging me. I will continue to lean on you regardless of the challenges that I face!! Amen!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday's Thoughts

I am going to begin this post by looking back at two thoughts that God has placed in my heart as we move toward the end of the first month of 2017. Many people started this year with wonderful plans, resolutions and goals that they were seeking to obtain. Many of them continue on the path that they have laid out while countless others have already discarded or even forgotten the goals or resolutions that they themselves established. 

I am writing these words because there are some resolutions in which I have already missed the mark (The reduction of my intake of sugar is one of them.). But there are other concrete plans in which I am determined to reach my goal. And one of them is to draw closer to God during this coming year. It is during this spiritual process that I have continued to hear the voice of the Spirit calling me to action. It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to share the right words with everyone including God but it is even more wonderful to take those words and put them into action.

The next paragraph is from the blog post of Monday and the second is from a message that I shared at New River on the first day of 2017. I trust that you will sense the "call to take action" in 2017 and this action will produce a mighty spiritual awakening in your life. I know that I sincerely desire that spiritual awakening in my life!!

Last night as well as this morning I keep hearing the words "Call to Action" resonating in my heart and spirit. I sense that God is calling the church out of our passivity into ACTION. He is calling me to release my faith and put my stored up spiritual information, my spiritual knowledge, my spiritual understanding and my relationship with God into ACTION. I must stop waiting on God to give me more of His Spirit and start releasing the power of the Spirit that has already been deposited in my life.

The New Year of 2017 began a few hours ago.   The days that lie in front of us although no one of us know the full amount of those days are full of endless opportunities and decisions that will either lead us closer to God or further away from God.   I feel led to challenge you with these words, “The powers of darkness that we will face in 2017 are going to require more than a list of resolutions.   The abundant life that each of us need is going to require a lifestyle of good decisions regarding the development of our relationship with God.”   How much longer will we wait before we start making the correct decision when Christ deals with our hearts?   

Our sixteen (16) year old grandson spoke these words to me at the beginning of 2016 and I think they are still appropriate for 2017. "We need revolution (spiritually speaking) instead of resolutions."