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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Voices of Truth

The last 12 books of the New Testament are not “Minor” because of content, but because of the short length of the writings. They could also be called, The Twelve Voices of Truth”. All the Minor Prophets took a stand on the truth of God, but that is about all they had in common. They did not act or write as a group. Over 300 years passed from the first to the last writings. Some of the prophets were contemporaries but they gave no indication that they knew one another. God knew them and they were obedient to His calling on their lives. The first of the twelve books is Hosea.
Hosea is not the oldest writing of the Minor Prophets but sets the tone for the prophet’s messages to come.  It has to do with unfaithfulness. It answers the questions: What happens between a believer when they are unfaithful and the Lord? What effect does unfaithfulness have on the believer’s future with God? Hosea’s name means “Salvation or Deliverance”.  He lived in the northern kingdom of Israel. His message of God’s truth became very real in his personal life. Learning God’s response to unfaithfulness can change your life. Remember: There is Nothing Minor about Grace - Hosea – God’s Love Never Fails

The key verse throughout our study comes from a New Testament book written to Israel. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence. So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. - Hebrews 4:16


In the first three chapters we see God telling Hosea to marry a prostitute to illustrate the way God’s people had been untrue to Him. Then she goes back to her lifestyle and Hosea takes her back. His love for her demonstrates God’s never failing love for His people. We also will see the cycle that Israel (and humanity) continues to make: Sin – Judgment – Salvation.  What part of the cycle do you find yourself at today?

Monday, September 29, 2014

There is Nothing Minor about Grace

In Hebrews 4:16 writes to God’s chosen people, Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence. So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Today, Christ followers know that God’s Word is for them as well. Praise God for His magnificent grace during our times of need.
The last twelve books of the Old Testament are also written for God’s people and tells of His wonderful grace during troubled times. The writers are known as the Minor Prophets. These prophetic books are also known as the Twelve. They were written over a span of over 300 years, and were written during and after Israel’s exile. The first lesson will be on the book of Hosea, and we will end our study with Malachi.

During the next nine weeks you will be asked to do four
things.
1. Read the book that we are focusing on before the study.
2. Attend or listen to the sermons.
3. Attend a small study group during the week to go deeper.
4. Pray and ask God what He wants you to do with what you just learned.

This Bible study will allow you to approach God with confidence. Accept his mercy and grace. It will change your life. You can track with us at fbcredbank.com  for sermons and small group materials. I will be daily blogging on the minor prophet we're studying each week. Read Hosea today and we'll study it deeper this week.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lost and Found

Do you remember a time in your life when you were lost? I do. I was 4 or 5 years old when I was with my parents at a big department store. It was back when they had pet departments, and I loved looking at the puppies. I guess Mom and Dad thought I was with the other and I soon found myself alone. There was a terror that went through me as I felt alone and abandoned. I started to run screaming for my parents.
Do you remember a time when someone that you loved was lost? I do. Almost 25 years after my experience of being lost I found myself on the other side. We were on our first family vacation at Virginia Beach with our four children. We had some friends and their two children visiting us that day. I thought our youngest daughter age four had gone with her Mother back to the room. When my wife came back she asked where was Hannah? Immediately that same fear and terror that I had felt as a little boy returned. We frantically looked for her but could not find her anywhere.
Jesus told three stories about being lost in the Gospel of Luke chapter 15.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep that was found. ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
The Parable of the Lost Coin that was found.  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Lost Son who came to his senses and returned home.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

When I was lost as a little boy I knew it. All I wanted was to be back in the love and security of my parents. When I saw my Mom I held her tight and never wanted to let go. As a Dad I wanted nothing more than to hold my child and let her know everything was going to be alright. A lifeguard told us they found Hannah running down the beach two blocks away! I set new sand running record getting to her. That was my only focus – to make her safe and bring her home. That’s what good Fathers do – like the one in Jesus’ story, and God the Father. The Lord knows your heart, your wants, your fears, and provides what you need. His name is Jesus.
If you are lost look up and be found today.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Transformational

We have been talking a lot recently about steps we need to take as Christ followers and the church. Change is hard but with it comes renewal and life. I came across this article by Kevin Ford recently and it made a big impact on my thinking. 

 Would the neighbors around your church say, "We're glad this church is here," even if they don't attend? If your church relocated, would anyone care? Are your members actively reaching out to their friends, neighbors, and co-workers? Do your members show genuine concern for those who don't know Christ?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, your church has an inward focus that needs urgent attention.

Throughout church history, we have tended to take great moments and movements and then sicken them by institutionalizing them. A dead-end, unhealthy church is one that exists primarily for those on the inside-a cloister. Like the culture it is called to transform, it gives an unhealthy amount of attention to meeting individual needs. When the understood role of church members is to consume the best "products," the focus, whether intended or not, moves to excluding others.

By contrast, a transforming church is one that has a shared focus of mission beyond its walls, regardless of its size, personality, or worship style. These courageous churches help transform people into God's image. They transform the communities in which they minister. And, as organizations, they are continually transforming how they lead, operate, and minister. They are missional, or outwardly focused, in nature. 

Dead-end, unhealthy churches tend to focus on and define ministry as what happens inside the church (ushers, committee members, Sunday school teachers, and greeters). Transforming churches define ministry in broader terms-ministering in the name of God in their neighborhoods, workplaces, social circles, and schools. So what does it take to become a transforming church? 

If your church wants to navigate toward a transformational focus, your leadership team will need to implement these steps:
  • Redefine your mission statement to target people outside the walls of the church building.
  • Focus your evangelism and mission efforts largely on your own local community.
  • Help people connect to your outreach efforts.
  • Resist the temptation to be all things to all people.
  • Take time to develop a strategic plan that bridges your church's passions and strengths with the needs of people in your community.
  • Engage a large percentage of your membership in the process of discovering your community and developing your strategic plan.

Along the way, avoid institutionalizing the great ministries that your lay people launch. If you give them a budget, or a committee, or a staff person to lead it-you're likely to kill it. The paradox of focus is simple. It would seem as though a narrow focus would yield minimal results. In fact, the opposite is true. As the church focuses its resources on doing a few things well, it provides a permission-giving culture for members to follow their calling. Ministry then moves from the few on the inside of church bureaucracy to those on the front lines. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Foundational Things

King David left to his son the plan, finances, and materials to build the temple. Solomon sought and asked God for wisdom and it was granted. Now it was time to build on this wisdom both literally and spiritually. In 1 Kings 6:1-10,  we see Solomon’s preparations for building the Temple.

He had all the physical materials, blueprints, and the location for the building of God’s House, the Temple in Jerusalem. He still needed to dig to put in a good foundation to build on, but we will see the spiritual foundation from God was even more important and longer lasting.

A Good Foundation - The word of the LORD came to Solomon:  "As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, carry out my regulations and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel." - 1 Kings 6:11-13

God reminds Solomon of three things: 1. Follow His decrees 2. Observe His Laws 3. Keep all His commands

If he did then God promises that He will: 1. Fulfill His promises 2. Dwell among them 3. Not abandon them

Everyone builds on some kind of foundation, but not every foundation is a good one. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:24-27 the parable of 2 men who built on different foundations. The wise man built upon a foundation of rock and withstood the storm, but the foolish man built his house on a foundation of sand and it fell. God expects us to build properly on the foundation he has prepared to withstand the storms of life. Let's build and grow - Amen?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Find Jesus

Consider the contrasts in John chapter six of people’s desire for physical bread and Christ’s offer of the Bread of Life. The passage begins by describing the people’s search for Jesus. They crossed the lake in boats and noted that only the disciple’s boat was on shore. They found Him in Capernaum, and came with the pretense of “seeking Him”.
The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone.  Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.  Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.  When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”  Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. – John 6:22-26

Jesus challenges them (26), illuminating their spiritual unbelief even though they outwardly followed Him. They were failing to grasp the nature of what it meant to be a disciple of Christ. Jesus urged them to be more concerned with eternal life than mere food to keep them alive physically, and so should we.


Desire the one and only true Bread of Life – Jesus! Amen?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stand Firm

God provides everything we need to accomplish His mission here on earth. We need to be sure we are plugged in to the power source, the Hoy Spirit! We must stand firm on His truth:

2 Chronicles 20:17 •  You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you."

Psalm 40:2 • He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Matthew 10:22  • All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

1 Corinthians 10:13  •  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

1 Corinthians 15:58 • Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Galatians 5:1 • It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Ephesians 6:11-14 • Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. (13) • Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand .(14) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

God has given us His Word to urge us forward.  His recovery plan is found in the Word. He has given us  the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Are you for him? Will let Him empower you?
Are you willing to take a stand to let His glory shine through you?


Then stand up! Stand Now! Stand Firm! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More Change

I preached a message once titled, “Change to Stay the Same!” using 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 as my text. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

What does it mean to stay faithful to the Gospel? And how can we preserve its original meaning? The problem is we end up trying to preserve the way we’ve always done it! Truth is understood through language, culture, and the time it happens. Believers and churches (hopefully made up of believers) should be in a process of constant refocusing to be true to the meaning of the Gospel. We have a choice between facing the future or backing in to it (looking backwards to what was instead of what can be)

There are four areas to change in order to stay faithful to the Gospel:

1. In our understanding – new spiritual and Biblical thoughts
-We need tradition (values & roots) to grow & be strong, but not traditionalism (roots us down, deadens us, and makes us dogmatic).

2. In our dialogue – new commitment to conversation with “others”
We need to listen with “God” ears, and Hearts.

3. In our connectedness – new focus on missions. We need to recognize opportunities to connect with other believers, and if necessary create new ones.

4. In our fellowship – new ways of being the church. The question is not about why we feel as we do about God, but seeking and proclaiming the truth about God!


I’m excited about what God wants to do in our lives. We just need to stay faithful - even if it means doing things differently. Amen?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Go and Tell

When we consider all of God's handiwork and power throughout time we should be amazed, blessed, and ready to tell others. Yesterday at my church we saw God move in a powerful way. Lives have been changed for eternity. We should have the same reaction as the people in the Bible when it comes to the impact of God's presence.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15)

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.(1 John 1:3)

Have you tapped in to the power source?

Read Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


What does “glory in the church” look like in your life? Go and tell someone today.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'm Back

Today on Back to Church Sunday I pray that throughout the country the power of God's love, mercy, forgiveness, and great grace are on display. You know He has a great track record in changing lives and empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things for His glory. Are you ready to tap in to the power source? Here are 3 Examples of Power:

1. The power of the Lord’s Word.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

2. The power of a believing and clean heart.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God— this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:1-2

3. The power of the response to Christ. Look again at Mark 1:27-28, The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.)
Responses to God showing up:
1. They were amazed
2. They questioned
3. They spread the news everywhere.

May God do the same now in His churches throughout the world! Amen?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tailgate Back to Church

Tomorrow September 21st from 9:30 to noon we are welcoming all of Monmouth County Back to Church. In Red Bank we are celebrating the day by having a Tailgate party with free food, games, prizes, and an outdoor worship experience. We feel that if folks won't come inside then we need to go outside of the church walls. I encourage all of you to go Back to Church tomorrow!  

What barriers exist in reaching the unchurched in your area? I came across this list recently: 10 reasons the church has not reached the unchurched that addresses some things we should take to heart.

10. We go to churches that do not want to reach the unchurched.
9. Failure to invite.
8. Lack of accountability.
7. Losing the habit of witnessing.
6. A desire to be tolerant.
5. Fear of rejection.
4. Busyness 
3. Growing disbelief in hell.
2. Salvation Confusion.
1. Spiritual lethargy.

This trend can only be reversed through God’s power.

Maybe our thinking and habits need to be changed or modified. What is the difference between a vertical and a horizontal Christ Follower (or Church)? Consider this account from Jesus' life. 

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals.  Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.  Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” John 5:1-10
It's God's power that can change a life - not tradition, rules, or sitting behind closed doors. See you in my church parking lot tomorrow - Jesus will be there and I cannot wait to see what He will do!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sharing Your Faith Not Fear

For many churches around the country this Sunday is Back to Church Sunday. We have invited our community to come and experience church in a new way. Even though this will be a fun event many people are afraid to go up and talk to someone about Jesus. To help with that here are 3 key things to remember on how to overcome the fear of sharing your faith .

1. The need for hope and healing is greater than any roadblocks. (Remember eternity is at stake)
2.  Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit. (It’s supernatural - we are to be faithful - He is in charge of results)
 3.  Experience and live for God daily (not just on special occasions - it becomes natural)

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. - Revelation 12:11

No one can take your testimony away from you. If you know Jesus then you know enough!

You are never alone.We’re all in this together, so stay connected to other believers.
- I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God grew it. - 1 Corinthians 3:6


Living for God daily and sharing that testimony is evangelism. Live it out loud. Amen?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Steps for Sharing

We who are followers of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord are mandated to share the Good News with the world around us. There are a lot of ways to share your faith, but you have to take that first step. Here are 5 easy steps to remember in sharing your faith.

1. Understand that your own life is a great part of your witness.
2. Realize that we earn the right to be heard by sincerely listening to others.
3. Recognize that people are looking for a cure.
4. Keep it simple.
5. Stress the love of God. (Use John 3:16 then Romans 6:23)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,  for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13




Allow the Holy Spirit to use you today and always to witness to the world around you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Climbing Mountains

This Sunday, September 21st is Back to Church Sunday in over 65,000 churches around the country. We've held this event at my church the last few years and it's usually a great day. This year we are trying something different. We are adding an outside "tailgate" party with free food, games, prizes, music, and giveaways. Our service will be outside as well. If you can't get the world inside the walls of the church then the church must come outside!

The Lord leads us to greater things if we will just follow Him. I heard a message recently by Louie Giglio about taking steps. He said there are three things to consider: 1. Life is short. There should be an urgency about our Christian lives. 2. God is big. He should be our only focus and drive. 3. Take the next steps. It's the only way to get here to there, across the room, or to the top of the mountain.

I love this quote, "The man at the top of the mountain was not placed there." We have to follow God in all we do. Even if it means doing things differently. Amen?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fisher-men (and women too)

Over time as you study God’s Word you will discover that there is a deeper meaning to almost everything Jesus says. As He called His disciples He was specific in His choices and clear about His expectations. In Mark 1:17 Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men”. Many of us were taught the Jesus used this language because many of His students were previously fishermen (of fish) and now they would catch people with the life saving truth of Jesus. This is a good explanation but it goes much deeper than that.
You see people of that time would have known the qualities of a great fisherman. Jesus did to and knew these same qualities would be needed in sharing the Gospel. I was recently reading an article by O S Hawkins who said that following Jesus means you’ll be expected to fish! Those same “fishing traits” are what God looks for in His followers today.
Four traits of a real fisherman (and follower of Christ):
1. They are positive. Every day is a good day to catch a fish (or witness).
2. They are persistent. They will never give up until they catch a fish (or share the Gospel).
3. They are patient. They (both) will try different methods to reach the goal, and wait as long as necessary.
4. They are passionate. They (both) hate to lose one! Fishing, (following, evangelizing) is their life.

Jesus still uses ordinary people to do things extraordinary for His kingdom and glory. Amen?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Building Trust

Trust - it’s the foundation for living life and doing ministry. Trust is the critical component for healthy and effective families and churches. “As trust within an organization increases, so do output, moral, productivity and loyalty,” reports business strategist David Horsager in his book, The Trust Edge.He suggest 8 pillars for building (or rebuilding) trust with the people you lead. Do these principles transfer to your life and the church world? You bet!

At a recent Retreat we took stock of ourselves in trust issues. How do you rate in these trust-building qualities?
Clarity. People trust others who provide clear communication. Whether it’s vision for a new ministry, program goals, or what you put in your coffee—make it clear.
Compassion. It’s why everyone likes Mother Teresa. You don’t have to be a saint to show people you care.
Character. Do what’s right, not what’s easy. This may be a deal breaker if you don’t show your team biblical integrity.
Competency. You don’t have to be an expert is everything, but make sure you stay on top of your primary ministry focus.
Contribution. People want to trust that you’ll get the job done. And done right. Don’t settle for less than your best.
Commitment. The quickest way to build trust is to make and keep your commitments.
Connection. It’s all about relationships. Connect with those you lead—as friends. Volunteers will walk away from a task sooner than they’ll abandon a relationship.
Consistency. It’s why we trust Burger King. We get the same food in Tokyo as in Nebraska. Leadership consistency lets people know you’re dependable.

Which of these trust-builders you demonstrate most? ______


Which ones need improvement? __________________________

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Meaningful Word

Spend time in the Bible and contemplate it's meaning for your life. Consider the words of Jesus’ disciple in John 1:14,  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Let’s break down this important verse of Scripture, and meditate on it's meaning for us today.  Think of and add your thoughts and understanding to each section. 

The Word = Jesus Christ, the Son of God

Became flesh = Left heaven to become a human baby

Made his dwelling among us = Lived as one of us and dealt with all the trials and temptations that we do

Seen = bear witness to what Jesus did

His glory = The glory of God

Glory of the one and only Son = The way, truth, and life

Who came from the Father = Left the from God’s side

Full of grace and truth = The greatest gift of all!


We can learn a lot about the Word from His words. May we apply them to our lives. Amen?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Money Wisdom

This week we started the Financial Peace University classes. There is great teaching from people like Dave Ramsey available, but remember it is teaching from the Bible about money that we need to model our lives. Spend time today learning and how you can apply God's wisdom.

Proverbs 10:4 - Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
Proverbs 14:23All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 22:7The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
Proverbs 23:4-5Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
Proverbs 30:8-9Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
Proverbs 3:9-10Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
Proverbs 11:24-25 - One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Know the Word and apply God’s wisdom to your life. Amen?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tell Me

Recently someone said to me that they would be obedient to anything that God told them to do. The problem was that they felt they were not hearing God clearly. We prayed for open ears, mind, and heart. Listening clearly to God is hard at times. Make sure you are open and in communication (prayer) with Him constantly. Search God's Word for direction. Here are some verse that might help.

Psalm 138:8 The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought  and never fails to bear fruit.”
John 10:14-15, 27 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.>> My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Ephesians 4:15-16  “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
James 1:5-8  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Listen to His voice through His Word, and be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vision Size

At a recent Retreat we spoke about how to clarify the vision that God gives us. People often have radically different size visions, despite having a lot in common they can be on entirely different vision wavelengths. Here’s Ten Factors I borrowed from Will Mancini to consider in determining the size of your vision.
#1 The size of your God This isn’t a spiritual throw-in to get the list rolling. This is a very discernible feature in a person’s life. Some people have a more cultivated inner life and deeper awareness of God’s Word. Their ability to dream big comes from the big God that they walk with and serve each day.
#2  Exposure to others who “think big” Did you ever notice why many prominent leaders have children who are prominent leaders? Think of Andy Stanley or Franklin Graham, for example. When you are around others with a larger perspective, it rubs off. I am surprised sometimes how people tend to stay in a very confined space—geographically and relationally—for their entire lives.
#3 An active imagination Some people have a tenacious impulse to learn, ask questions and grow how they think. That kind of curious drive pays off. The imagination is your most powerful human ability. Do you exercise it much? Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge.
#4 Sequences of risk taking This the ability to “stack risk-taking” and feel the momentum of one “leap of faith” after another. Many people take a risk or two and settle for the really good outcomes rather than continuing to find even more extraordinary results.
#5 Ability to focus gifting Most people know themselves but don’t have a fine-tuned understanding of precisely why God put them on earth. When you do, and when you focus that gifting, big things will result. The scope of your vision grows as your focus narrows.  Are you trying to do five things with your life or one thing?  
#6 Team and network building ability We all know wild dreamers who didn’t have a team. Your team building ability will dramatically enable of disable the size of your vision. In addition, Wisdom, access, ideas, and opportunities are increased through active network cultivation.  Wouldn’t you expect the vision of a pastor who networks to be bigger than one who doesn’t bother? How do you network?
#7  A goal oriented outlook daily Every person who achieves a big vision has a basic recipe for attacking the 24-hour unit of time we all possess. What is yours? Most people have three kinds of days in life:FREE DAYS - FOCUS DAYS - BUFFER DAYS
#8  Margin to write down your dreams People enjoy dreaming and writing down their “wish list” when given the time. That doesn’t take discipline— it’s one of the most exciting things you can do! Over and over again, you will see the common thread of big visionaries: Put it on paper
#9  Recovery from big failures Don’t underestimate the power of a good failure. Failures remind you that life is short. Failures expand your pain threshold. Failures purify and humble and bring powerful perspective.
#10 Graciousness and kindness to others There are people who excel at the first nine factors but in the end, they just aren’t that nice.  They don’t care about others. They don’t stay connected to their teams and their friends. They are so driven, they lose the human element in everything they do. So you might not think something this simple would make the “big vision” list. But it’s vital. How does “grace” look in your vision?
What areas of vision do you need to work on?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Financial Wisdom

I have heard it said that Jesus taught more on money than any other subject. If it is that important to God then we can be sure that it would be part of our search for wisdom. This subject is a sore point for most of us, so today let’s let go and let God teach us what His Word has to say on the subject.

Solomon tells us the secrets of financial wisdom throughout Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Let’s look at four secrets that can help us become wiser about how the Lord wants us to deal with our finances and possessions.
1. The Secret of Contentment Proverbs 21:17; Ecclesiastes 6:9 Contentment is not a destination; it is the journey.
 There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth. - Proverbs 13:7 We need to live within our means, not our imaginations! A simpler God focused life is the best way to live and find true contentment.

2. The Secret of Good Money Management  Solomon gives us plenty of financial advice, including things like not going into debt, helping the poor, borrowing makes us slaves, not co-signing on loans for other people, and lazy people never prosper. Here are some other financial wisdom verses: Proverbs 1:13-14; 1:19; 2:4; 3:9-10; 3:14-16; 3:27-28, 3:33; 5:10-14; 6:1-2;6:6-11; 6:30-31; 8:10; 8:18-21; 9:1-3; 10:2-5; 10:15; 10:22; 10:15-16; 10:22-24; 11:1-4; 11:11; 11:23-28; 12:5; 12:11-12; 12:24; 13:2;-4; 13:27; 14:1-4;15:16-27; 16:11; 17:2-11; 17:23; 18:9-11; 18:23; 19:1; 19:7-17; 19:22-24; 20:4; 20:10-15.
There are three areas to consider:
• Keep good accounting Proverbs 27:23-24 and Proverbs 21:5
• Develop a budget Proverbs 21:5 and  Proverbs 21:20
• Prepare financially for the future Proverbs 6:6-8 and Proverbs 14:15

3. The Secret of Ownership Proverbs 11:24, Proverbs 3:9-10, Exodus 13:2; Psalm 50:10 
Solomon offers us 3 reasons why we should give our first and best to the Lord:
1. He should be honored.
2. He already owns everything
3. He wants to bless us.
What and how are you giving to God?

4. The Secret of Disobedience  Proverbs 17:24 Proverbs 13:10 The secret of disobedience is that you can never hide from God. He is aware of all our actions, thoughts, and motives. Before Solomon died he came to his senses, and he realized this, Whoever loves money never has money enough. Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. - Ecclesiastes 5:10
To have true meaning and contentment in your life consider what David said in Psalm 51:10-19.

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