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Friday, July 31, 2015

Bringing Glory

When it is all said and done what will bring glory to God?

 Psalm 57:2 says, I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.

Here are five things we can do to bring glory to God:

1. Center our lives on God. Live a lifestyle of worship. We were planned for God’s pleasure, and it begins with complete surrender of our lives to Christ

2. Connect with other believers. We need to experience real fellowship that God desires us to have.  We were formed for God’s family. Identify with other believers through the church.

3. Cultivate spiritual maturity and Godly behavior. Quit trying and start training! We were created to become like Christ. Develop habits for intentional growth.

4. Contribute something back. Use your talents in ministryand find a place to serve at church.

5. Communicate God’s love for others. Develop a heart for the world. We were made for a mission - Share your faith in a mission activity.

Always be about God’s purposes - bringing glory to Him. Amen?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Stepping

4 Steps to take once you’re saved
1.     Identify with Christ through Baptism – Matthew 28:18-20Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

2.     Be Committed to Faithful Church Attendance – Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

      3.   Worship the Lord through Prayer and Bible Study – Psalm 19:9-11 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold,than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

4.    Share Your Faith – Romans 1:16-17 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. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Amen?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Get Up

What if someone came in to your church and askedMay I have your seat? This question is often answered in the negative in a declining church, but growing churches answer “yes”.

Paul tells us in Colossians 4:5-6;  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Three things to remember:
1. The Open Chair
A reminder that new members and guests are always welcomed.

2. The Comfort Zone
When an area is 80% full growth begins to decline.

3. The Average Size
There are new standards of how many people will fit. People require more space than ever before.

How willing are you to give up your seat, get out of your comfort zone, or rethink the way we do church?

Always be willing to grow. Amen?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Be Willing

We should always be ready to share our faith – even when it’s inconvenient. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15, But in your hearts revere 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. 

A few years ago I was on a train at rush hour wanting to finish a sermon I was writing. I had all my things out covering two seats. The train soon became filled. Soon a woman was standing next to me and staring at my seat. I really didn’t want to give up my space, but I did.
I explained I was working on something important, and went back to work. I could tell she was looking at my sermon, but I still didn’t want to engage in conversation.

I finally “came to my senses” and said, “I see your looking at my sermon”. She asked me to tell her about it. We engaged in a great conversation, and I was able to share the Gospel with her. 

The moral of my story is to always be prepared but to also be willing to share Jesus with the world.

Always be prepared and willing to do God's work. Amen?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Investments

In the first church they put their time, their talents, and their treasures together to do something powerful—something that has lasted from that day until now. They put them together to found the church.

We see this account in Acts 2:42-47: 

 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.


Imagine being part of that kind of authentic community. They gave to those had need! I think that makes God smile. 

What are you investing your life in?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I Once Was Lost


My church recently got to lead in the opening Vesper service at our county fair. I spoke about how terrifying it is when you or someone you love is lost. In Luke 15 Jesus tells three beautiful stories about lost things being found.

1. The lost sheep was rescued.
2. The lost silver coin was redeemed.
3. The lost son was restored.

All three of these stories have the same ending - rejoicing! Before we met Christ all of us were lost, but He came to rescue, redeem, and restore us. "God so loves the world...". Always remember that Jesus cares about the lost people of this world, and so should we. As His hands and feet we are to bring those who have separated themselves from God because of sin. Remember listen to their story. Share with them your story of salvation. Give them Jesus' story of redemption and God's love.

Accepting Christ's gift of eternal life brings the lost out of darkness in to the light of God's presence.

Always share God's love with the lost - it's amazing to see grace in action. Amen?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Through the Storm

Most of us have experienced the aftermath of the many thunderstorms that have hit our area this year. Damaged caused by lightening strikes, flooding, down power-lines, and wind can be very costly. After these storms in life let us be reminded what the Bible says in Psalm 85:7-9:

 Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation.  I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly.  Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

We are to accept God’s love, salvation, promises and peace.

We are commanded to fear Him and let His glory fill and rule our land.

God will use a crisis to get our attention. Are we listening?

Always love God with your obedience and faithfulness especially through life's storms.
Amen?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Being Church

Forty days after Jesus rose from the grave He returned heaven. He promised His disciples and followers that they would receive a gift - the  Holy Spirit. We see this come to past in Acts chapters 1-2.

They called this new movement “The Church.”Peter preached the first sermon and 3,000 people believed in Christ that first day. Acts 2 is how God envisions His Church, not just in Jerusalem, but all over the world, including right in your church!  I believe this with all my heart.

How does a church become like that original church in Acts 2?

That church pursued five purposes that when implemented can make any church compelling, powerful and influential.  This is what God wants my church and your church to be like, too. It can happen starting today if we commit to pursuing the priorities the first church did.  

Are you ready?

May we be the church God wants us to be - always.
Amen?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kingdom Minded

Two thousand years ago, a carpenter from Nazareth named Jesus burst on the scene with a vision that has changed the world. Everywhere He went Jesus inspired the imaginations of many people by painting a picture of a spiritual and relational movement like none that had ever existed before.

Some would go without food just to be near Him. Others would travel miles to hear Him tell about a God who loved them personally. They thronged to hear Him teach about a phenomenon He called the Kingdom of God.” They found it hard to believe that God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation was for everyone.

For three years, Jesus Christ proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom and then He was betrayed, arrested, beaten, and murdered on a cross.  His followers thought the Kingdom-vision was dead. 

But three days later Jesus rose from the grave, and His Kingdom dream was as alive as He was. He opened their minds to see that the kingdom He had been teaching about for three years was not a political kingdom, but a far greater one, a spiritual kingdom—the rule of God in people’s hearts,

Does God rule in your heart?

Accept Jesus in to your heart, and enter in to the Kingdom of God!
Amen?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cultivated Community

 According to the first church found in Acts chapter 2: The Five Purposes of the Church are to ...

a. Cultivate authentic community. b. Experience worship as part of your daily lifestyle. c. Take successive steps of spiritual growth. d. Practice personal stewardship. e. Reach out to the world around us.

The first is cultivating authentic community.
Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the fellowship.”
Verse 44 says, “They held everything in common.”
Verse 46 says, “They broke bread together in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”

In other words they were all about authentic community and unity.Remember that the church isn’t a building you go to, it’s a family you belong to. 

Show God's plan and wisdom - belong to the community of Christ.
Amen?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Unified

 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!  - Psalm 133:1


“When brothers live together in unity,” is also called “community”. King David, the writer of this psalm, is speaking much more about living together in a tight, communal relationship than simply keeping peace and not arguing or having discord. 

This is God's desire for His church! It is not about just going to church, but about becoming the church. We need take a genuine interest in the lives of others.  We must care, share, and pray for each other every day.

Be wise church - live in unity. Do life God's way and according to His plan. Let us be the example to the world instead of vise-versa. 
Amen?

Monday, July 20, 2015

More Change

I preached a message yesterday 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.
It leads us to the question: 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?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Wise Change

“Generations come and go but it makes no difference. The sun rises and sets and hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere. The rivers run into the sea but the sea is never full, and the water returns again to the rivers, and flows again to the sea. History merely repeats itself. Nothing is truly new; it has all been done or said before. What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn’t exist long ages ago? We don’t remember what happened in those former times, and in the future generations no one will remember what we have done back here” (Ecclesiastes. 1:4-7; 9-11).

Solomon didn’t think there was anything new. His thinking was probably clouded through not being where the Lord wanted him, but from God’s view He’s not surprised by the things that are new to us.

What is your attitude towards change?

There are certain principles and truths about change.

1.     The future will not be like the past, and usually not what we expect. When we allow God to make the changes it will be extraordinary.
2.     The rate of change will be faster in the future then in the past. In today’s world with new technology changes happen at lightning speed.


Growth equals change. Please don’t confuse immobility with stability. To resist change usually doesn’t equate to security. Change is the price we pay for growth.

I’ve heard it said, We must give up to go up! In order to experience what change offers we must let go of the way we’ve always done things. Seek His ways and plans. They’re always better that anything we can come up with on our own.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Moment with God

A trip to a Pastor's conference last year took a little more patience than I was prepared for. The drive was a lot longer, 90 miles, twice the distance of my normal airport. It took over 20 minutes to find a parking spot followed by a 45 minute security line!

I had just enough time to get a cup of coffee before going to my gate, and no one was in line at the Duncan Doughnut. As I stepped to the counter the server turned and said, “One moment please”. I could have got mad but decided to laugh at my hurriedness instead. “In a moment” I was enjoying a great cup of java with a smile on my face. I thought later that a lot can happen in a moment - both good and bad.

The Bible gives us good news about what can happen in a moment.

In a Moment:
- Through Christ you can cross from hopelessness to hope.
- You can talk with the Creator of the universe.
- We can be taken from this life in to eternity with God.
-  Christ will return (In the twinkling of an eye).

Slow down – take your moment with God today. Amen?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Measure Up

A couple of year's ago I was at a large church conference, and sat in a meeting with their HR director. He gave a nice exercise to use to measure the effectiveness of your staff.

I remembered Paul’s advise to a young Pastor, Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NLT

The test to use is to make a graph. The left vertical line represents performance and the horizontal line is potential. You rate each one low, medium, or high. From these results you can find who has value and those worth investing in.

I think we should use this same kind of tool when it comes to our Christian service. Are we being productive for the kingdom? Would others think we have potential to grow and mature in ministry?

James says all believers should look in a mirror and be honest about their relationship with Christ.

May we all measure up to God’s plan for our lives. Amen?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Transformation Steps

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 we actively reaching out to their friends, neighbors, and co-workers? Do your members show genuine concern for those who don't know Christ?

According to a recent article by Kevin Ford, if you answered "no" to any of these questions, your church has an inward focus that needs urgent attention.

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. 

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:

1. Redefine your mission statement to target people outside the walls of the church building.
2. Focus your evangelism and mission efforts largely on your own local community.
3. Help people connect to your outreach efforts.
4. Resist the temptation to be all things to all people.
5. Take time to develop a strategic plan that bridges your church's passions and strengths with the needs of people in your community.
6. Engage a large percentage of your membership in the process of discovering your community and developing your strategic plan.

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 a few to all members.

Amen?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Giving and Receiving

We are quick to tell God what we want, but how many times do we ask Him what He expects of us?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7-11 7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Jesus tells us to: Ask, seek, and knock! Then we’ll receive, find, and doors will be opened. We just have to follow His plan.

God intends for us:
1. To have good gifts.
2. To seek Him.
3. To love the world in the name of Jesus.

It’s not about you, and it’s not about now.

Is your life all about Jesus, and His purposes?

Follow Jesus – it’s all about God and His eternal plan. Amen?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

God's Community

There was a show on for years about a place where people loved to go, because every body knew your name. It's a shame the place was a bar and not the local church. Today let's consider God’s community. David gives us a glimpse of it in Psalm 133:1-2 says How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.

The first verse is obvious when you realize that unity and community are synonymous in God’s eyes. The second verse refers to the “once in a lifetime” opportunity to see and experience the anointing of the High priest of Israel. They sprinkled other priests but for him they drench him with this special anointing oil that is only used in these occasions.

In other words authentic community with a few close friends gives off the same level of joy as the celebration of the anointing of the high priest. Pretty special in God’s eyes, and should be to us as well.

Soak in God’s anointing in His community - there's no better place to be! Amen?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Healthy Church

God always deserves our best! Our physical, families’, and church health are critical to doing His work here on earth.
Healthy equipping churches focus on…
1. Servanthood Culture
The staff and the leadership of the church embody, teach, equip and model a servanthood culture. They understand and respect that, in order to live in a biblical church, we have to live-out Christ’s ministry of servanthood.
2. Leadership
Leadership drives, models and sustains the values and the biblical directives of an equipping church.
3. Comprehensive Discovery
Comprehensive discovery looks at the uniqueness of every person in the church.  Not simply their gifts, but rather in concert with their skills, passions, and experiences, which call them to a specific area of ministry.  Do your discovery processes help people grow into who God created them to be?
4. Intentional Organizational Systems
Systems that serve and support all issues of the church from discovery, to stewardship, to retention, to assimilation, to pastoral care, to ministry inside and outside the walls of the church.
5. Ministry Alignment in the Expression of Service
People and ministries align with the servanthood culture and community connections of the church. Wherever people are gifted and called, there must be opportunities both within and outside the church for them to thrive and grow.
Now identify the challenge areas and develop some strategic plans to move forward during this year. The months ahead could bring strength and renewed health to your church and the community it serves. Amen?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Using Your Freedom

As God’s children we should want to know the truth and discover what it means in our lives. Let’s continue to look at the conversation in John 8:33-36, They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Here are Laws five through 8 of Spiritual Growth

5. Spiritual Growth is Relational. You can’t love unless you’re around other people! Jesus taught love. True growth happens in community. People get in to groups for content you can’t get anywhere else, but stay because of fellowship and relationships

6. Spiritual Growth is Multi-dimensional. Utilize all 5 Purposes and 5 learning methods.
Worship – Fellowship – Discipleship – Ministry – Mission
Hear – Read – Study – Memorize – Meditate on the Word
Apply it on Sundays – with Small Groups – Daily Devotional – Memorizing – and Doing what you have learned.

7. Spiritual Growth is Seasonal. There are times of rapid growth, and times of preparation. Trees have seasons of growth and fruit plus harvest and rest (breaks). So should we.

8. Spiritual Growth is Incarnational.  Be more like Jesus. This is not an increase in knowledge but to change our lives – Go and do likewise!

Do you want to be free? Grow in God’s Word and Do what it says instead of what the world says! Amen?


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Free Indeed but Now What?

As God’s children we should want to know the truth and discover what it means in our lives. In John 8:31-32 Jesus says, To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Here are the first four Laws of Spiritual Growth

1. Spiritual Growth is Intentional. You choose to grow by commitment.
Take specific steps. Purposely make choices and commitments to grow.

2. Spiritual Growth is Incremental. The goal is to become a “self-feeder” of God’s Word. Learn how to study effectively.

3. Spiritual Growth is Personal. It’s different for each person. Use your SHAPE (spiritual gifts/heart/abilities/personality/experiences) to help you grow.

4. Spiritual Growth is Habitual. Good habits = Good character

Do you have partial obedience or full obedience for the Lord’s way? Be a God’s way person not a My way one! Amen?

Friday, July 10, 2015

God's Team

No matter how great a player you are, a team can make you or break you. I was reminded recently by an article from Jim Wiseman about how important teamwork is in church. A great acrostic is Together Everyone Achieves More! It's plain that a team can accomplish more than an individual. Yet ministry leaders still insist on doing things themselves rather than building a strong team. I believe every ministry leader should see himself or herself as a coach who builds a super team.
Here are four things to instill in a team and expect from each player.

1. Be on the ball. Team players must be alert to what's going on and able to assess the situation for themselves and the team. A team player puts the goals, needs and good of the team first, rather than individual goals, wants, and needs. Each team member must value the team.

2. Give…a lot! Rejoice in the abilities and accomplishments of those around you. An excellent team player's motto is: "It doesn't matter who gets the credit." Never complain, but seek opportunities to motivate others. Being positive is a choice! A team player compliments others and hands out praise. Never be too busy to help others. The team that gives a lot accomplishes a lot.

3. Over-communicate. Let those who lead you know what's going on. Surprises hurt the team. Let those around you know what's happening and what they should be doing. Admit when you need help. Be teachable and open to correction, discipline, and advice. A good communicator is a good listener.

4. Do your job. Do what you know to do. Great basketball teams know how to do this. They keep the ball moving until someone has the opportunity to score. At the same time, they never forget who’s the shooter, who's the rebounder, and who's covering whom. A team player understands his or her role and does it with gusto.

Remember 2 Timothy 2:15: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."

Share in the victories and learn from the losses. Value your team and you’ll enjoy the value of teamwork firsthand.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Daily Requirements

In order to be "born again" you must believe in Christ and you begin a new life. Using a page from the BGEA let's look at four things new Christians require:


New Christians need - Feeding
“Like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” -1 Peter 2:2

New Christians need - Protecting
“Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”- 1 Peter 5:8

New Christians need - Training
“Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught.”  - Colossians 2:6-7

New Christians need - someONE not something
 “But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.” - 1 Thessalonians 2:7


Take growth steps today and also help someone else grow in the Lord today. Amen?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Every Which Way

I love the Wizard of Oz movie! Do you remember the part when Dorothy first me the Scarecrow and asked direction? He pointed both ways and said that's where people go. In life that is a true statement. People go every which way, but not all ways are the best ways.

James 1:5-6 says, “If you want to know what God really wants you to do, ask Him, and he will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him;but … if you don’t ask in faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer.” (TLB)

So I think the best way is God's way. We just need to ask Him, listen well, and follow His instructions. Life is all about faith, and obedience to the Word will keep us on the right path.

Who do you listen to for guidance more - your GPS, Google, or God?

Always follow God's lead and voice and you'll never be lost. Amen?