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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Full Focus

When it comes to our relationship with God and His church it is sometimes one sided. We have great expectations of them, but find serving, obeying, and following an inconvenience and a problem. We need to focus fully on God and seek His plan and vision for our lives.
 President John F Kennedy, a man of vision, said in His inaugural address:
Now the trumpet summons us again - not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are - but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation" - a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself. 

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility - I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation.

 Listen carefully to these last words. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. 


Energy, faith and devotion will bring light into our country, and the glow can truly light the world! Are you ready church to let the light of God shine? Then ask not what God or the church can do for you, but what can you do, where can you serve, where can you minister, to bring glory to the kingdom of God? It is time for God’s church to rise up and “stimulate” the world in the Name of Jesus! Amen?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Work Together

Let's continue looking at church unity today. Let's be reminded of three important cautions regarding unity:
1       Unity must never be at the expense of truth. We are NOT all headed in the same direction. We do NOT all serve the same God. Only those who look to Christ as Savior are really our brothers and sisters in the faith.
2       Unity does not mean ignoring controversial issues. We must not ignore those areas on which we disagree. The matters we disagree on are important to our growth and development. However, the attitude in which we carry on our debate must be one of love: first for God, second for each other. The process of discussion and debate is what sharpens and deepens us . . . even if we never convince each other to change positions.
3       Unity is not the same as Uniformity. We are not called to be "the same" we are called to be one. Variety is valuable. In many cases the issue does not boil down to who is "right" and who is "wrong". Many issues are simply a matter of personality and preference. Different means "Different". It doesn't mean "better than" or "worse than", it just means "different".
It is time that we were clear on what we are about. We are about glorifying Christ, not our particular gathering of followers. We will have different approaches, different points of emphasis, but agree that there is one Lord, one faith, and one Baptism.
It's time we worked together rather than against each other. Time to encourage rather than divide. Time to work together so our friends and neighbors might be kept from perishing apart from Christ. It's time to stop making it easy for the Devil. AMEN?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Get Together

One rhyme said it well, "to live above with those we love, oh, how that will be glory. To live below with those we know, now that's another story." It's true . . . but it shouldn't be. At the conclusion of Jesus' great prayer, He prays for those who would believe because of the message of the disciples. . . .He prays for us. He prays for the church. The one request that stands out (because it is repeated three times!) is that His followers be united as One.
We are not called to create unity . . . we are called to maintain it. However, before we can maintain the unity that comes from being related to each other in Christ, we must repair some of the damage we have done. Let's talk about maintaining unity in our church and community. Here are two Good Reasons for Unity:
1. The greatest tool of evangelism is the love we show for each other.(vv 21 & 23) Unity is the bedrock of evangelism. People understand the love of God when they see that love manifested in His people. What happens more often is people are turning away from the gospel because of the bickering between Christians. 
2. We need each other. In 1 Corinthians Paul likens us to a body, a family. We need the comfort, instruction, gifts the other possesses. We also are depriving ourselves of great joy when we divide.  Our differences serve a very important function:
1       Differences keep us from grievous error.
2       Differences force us to think about what we believe.
3       Differences expose us to joys we would not have discovered without them. Differences do not destroy us . . . they strengthen us.
Let's not allow division to destroy the work of Christ any longer. Amen?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Healthy Church

Did you know that you get a new skeleton every seven years? Your bone marrow is constantly creating new bone, and you’re sloughing off old cells so that your skeleton can grow with your body.
Change is necessary for growth.
-         Restructuring prepares the church for growth and to break through barriers.  
-         About 95 percent of all the churches in the world stop growing before they get to 300 people because they are structured to be at a size less than 300.
-         It’s not the problem of the pastor or the people; it’s a problem of the structure.
We often ask the wrong question.
The wrong question is, “What will help my church grow?”
The right question is, “What is keeping my church from growing?”

Growth is natural. All living things naturally grow. I don’t have to command my grandkids to grow; they just do it, if they’re healthy. If your church is healthy, then it is going to automatically grow.
May we pray for and seek to be healthy churches. Amen?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Praise Antidote

Let’s take a look at Psalm 150 for a dose of praise.
1    Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2    Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3    Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4    praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
5    praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6    Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.

This Psalm tells all we need to know about praise:
1. Where to Praise God (v. 1)
2. Why to Praise God (v. 2)
3. How to Praise God (vv. 3­-5)
4. Who Should Praise God (v. 6)


Do you have breath? Then praise the Lord! Amen?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Enough

The Be Still in Psalm 46:10 can be taken as a comfort and a warning.

It can mean to say, “Enough”. Look at Habakkuk 2:20; The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.

Time to be still and listen to what God has to say about our lives and purpose. “All the earth” – that means all of us. We need to say; Enough of the noise, sin, pride, halfheartedness, fighting, lying, stealing, and selfishness.

We need to FOCUS on God. It’s all about God – not about us.


Be wise - say ENOUGH to the things not of God today and everyday. 
Amen?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Time to Stop

The Be Still in Psalm 46:10 can be taken as a comfort and a warning.

It can mean to stop. - Zechariah 2:13 says; Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” 
We need to stop sinning. God commands it in Exodus 20:3-8; “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

We need to obey God. We need to make Him first in our lives.

Learn how to stop and do it God’s way. It's always best. Amen?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Be Silent

Psalm 46:10 is a favorite verse for many of us.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Do we really understand what David is trying to convey here?

Be Still can be taken as a comfort and a warning.

It can mean to be silent. Psalm 23:1-3 says; The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

We need to listen to God. We need to rest in the Lord.


Today and always – be still and silent before God. He has a lot to say to us. Be a good listener. Amen?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Student Prayer

Tomorrow is See You at the Pole™, the global day of student prayer, began as a grass roots movement with ten students praying at their school. Twenty-five years later, millions pray on their campuses on the fourth Wednesday in September. See You at the Pole™ is simply a prayer rally where students meet at the school flagpole before school (at 7AM) to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school, and nation to God. See You at the Pole™ is a student-initiated, student-organized, and student-led event.
In 1990 when youth ministers in Texas first challenged young people to meet on a common day to launch their school year in prayer, one of the concerns what how to help those who wanted to pray together find each other. It was noted that virtually every school has a flagpole, and the flagpole provided an easy-to-identify place to gather. Also, one issue that the teenagers were praying about was the spiritual health of their country and their leaders, in obedience to 1 Timothy 2:1–2. I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
Even if you can’t meet at “the pole” tomorrow remember to pray. Amen?

Sunday Investment

Sundays should be the greatest day of your week! God thinks it's of the utmost importance that we prioritize it. From our Back to Church Sunday sermon here are Six Reasons to Invest in a Weekly Sabbath:
1. I need it (Genesis 2:2; Mark 2:27).  
 God knows I need it. That’s why He rested. God doesn’t want to flatten your fun or lessen your life by taking away a day. He wants to increase your joy and improve your life by giving you a day to refresh, refuel, and refocus with Him because He knows you need it.
2. God asks me to (Exodus 20:8).  
The fourth commandment says to keep the Sabbath “holy.” 
3. God blessed the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3).
For reasons only He fully understands, God says that He blessed the Sabbath. It’s a special day, not an extra day. When we cooperate with what God blesses, we get blessed.
4. My life goes better when I Sabbath.
So many of us think that if we can get ahead faster, if we are productive seven days a week . . . But that’s not how God made the universe. Secular sociologists have studied the benefits of church attendance. What they’ve found is that those who attend church regularly…
1. Live seven and a half years longer than those who don’t.
2. Are 56 percent more likely to have an optimistic life outlook than those who don’t.
3. Are 27 percent less likely to be depressed.
4. Are 35 percent less likely to get divorced.
5. Have higher average levels of commitment to partners, higher levels of marital satisfaction, less thinking and talking about divorce, and lower levels of negative interaction.
6. Achieve higher grades, and practice better time management.
The studies are pretty clear: life goes better for those who go to church regularly.
5. My Mondays go better when I Sabbath.  
Do you sometimes dread Mondays? We get out of bed saying, “Rats, I have to go back to work today.” We’re exhausted and unmotivated because we used all our energy on Sunday instead of receiving new energy from Sunday.
6. My family does better when we Sabbath.
It really is true that the family that rests together does best together. A family that attends church learns skills from the Bible about how to do relationships better and how to do life better.Great families become great by building great memories together. If you develop the habit of doing church together, your children (or your parents) will build a repository of enriched memories that will last a lifetime. My family is a far better family because of church.
7. My eternity will go better if I Sabbath.
God promises to bless me if I bless Him. And I bless Him when I show up at church.

God loves Sundays and so should we. Amen?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sunday Surprise

Sundays Can Surprise You! The text of the sermon for National Back to Church Sunday was Psalm 122. It's a short psalm - take a couple of minutes and read it today. It is a great testimony by David on how important going to church should be in our lives. This may come as a shock but: Sunday was meant to be the best day of your week!

David gives six great reasons why he wanted to go to church.
1. He wanted to go to church because he liked being with God’s people (v. 4a). “That’s where my tribe goes.” 
2. He wanted to honor God (v. 4c). “I want to go to church to praise the name of the Lord.”
3. He wanted to do what God asked him to do (v. 4d). “I want to go to church because the statutes given to Israel told us to do that.”
4. He wanted peace for those who love God (v. 6). He just wants good things for God’s people.
5. He wanted peace because God’s people were his family and friends (v. 8). “For the sake of my family and friends,” he says.
6. He committed himself to the prosperity of the house of God (v.9)

How to Make Sunday the Best Day of Your Week:
1. Decide to let Sunday be the best day of your week.
2. Invest in your Sundays. 
3. Take your next step, whatever that is.


Are you willing to make Sundays the best day of your week?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Who to Invite?

Think of a name. Any name. A friend, a relative, or a co-worker. When was the last time that person visited a church? Maybe they haven't been to church in a long time. Maybe they've never gone to church.
Have you ever thought about asking that person to come with you to church? Here's your chance. Today is National Back to Church Sunday. It's dedicated to welcoming friends and family to worship in God's house.  Thousands of churches across America invite guests to hear about God's love. Last year, over 26,100 churches participated and together gave out more than 7.5 million invitations to church! It's exciting to be part of such a huge outreach.
So have you thought of someone you can invite? Don't worry about feeling nervous. We all do. But remember that God has placed that person in your life for a reason; He can give you the courage and the opportunity to ask.
It’s not as hard as it may seem. Did you know that most people who have dropped out of church haven’t lost their faith in God—they simply fell out of the habit of going to church? Some moved, had a change in life circumstances, or had a falling out with their former church and simply drifted away. Most often, life just became too busy. This means many of them are open to returning to church.
Will you pray for that person God has placed on your heart?
Let's see what He can do!
I hope today that we will see attendance increase in churches across America. If the person that you've been praying for isn't there - keep praying for and inviting them! Amen?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Compelling

What Made the First Church So Compelling?

1. They committed to authentic community. – We are designed to be in relationship.
The church is where you can experience relationships the way they were meant to be. They “devoted” themselves.. The church is where you can be loved & accepted.

2. They gave God wholehearted worship. – Do we show our appreciation for athletes more than we do God?
Romans 12:1-2 (proper worship is being a living sacrifice) Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.
The church is where God gets the glory He deserves.

 3. They took their spiritual growth seriously. –This is the most important purpose, because the others hinge on this one.
The church is where you can become the best you - you can be.
Can you get better? Where do you start?

You must Show Up in order to Grow Up in the Lord.

4. They invested in positive priorities. –What do you do with your time, talent, treasure?
Some sing, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!” -What do you owe God?
The church is where our time, talents, and treasure get invested for eternity. Where are you storing up your treasure?

5. They invited others to join them. – If you loved church you’d invite others!
The church is where people get adopted into God’s family.
We are all called to be in the ministry of reconciliation.  

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 – All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Are you ready to “Be the Church”?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Welcome Everyone

Sunday is National Back to Church Sunday. Thousands of churches across the United States will be welcoming visitors. There is a Biblical precedent for this. 

Look at the story in John 1:35–42,35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

Right after Andrew found Christ he went and brought his brother to Jesus, and they became His followers. This is a great example of what all believers should do. Let’s take this lesson to heart and bring our brother, sister, family member, friend, co-worker, and neighbor to church with us this Sunday.

Don't forget - get back to church September 20th. Amen?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sharing Good News

This coming Sunday is National Back to church Sunday. Thousands of churches across the United States will be welcoming visitors. Let’s look at why would someone want to invite another to church. Let’s look at John 4:28-41, and what happened after Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

You see people who meet Jesus are so moved by him that they want to introduce him to those they care about. The woman in story cared about the other people in her town.

Do you care about those in your community?

Always share Jesus with those around you. Amen?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Introduction

This coming Sunday is National Back to church Sunday. Thousands of churches across the United States will be welcoming visitors. Let’s look at why would someone want to invite another to church. Let’s look at 2 Kings 5:1–3, Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.  Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.  She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”


People who meet Jesus are so moved by Him that they want to introduce everyone to him, including those who don’t care about them. We need to have the same kind of compassion as this slave girl. Even in captivity she still believed in the power of God.



Who do you know that needs God's healing touch?



Remember to share God's love and invite someone to church.  Amen?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Loving the Unlovely

This coming Sunday is National Back to Church Sunday. Thousands of churches across the United States will be welcoming visitors. Let’s look at why would someone want to invite another to church. We are told that we should share the love of God even with our enemies and those in sin. 

Let’s look at John 1:12–13, Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.


 People who have been touched by God are so moved by him that they want to introduce everyone to him, including their enemies. All have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. Let's remember that when we are considering who to ask to church this week.



Who is God laying on your heart?



Today and always - love the unlovely. Amen?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Why Church is Important



The Lord speaks through His Word on the importance of being involved with God’s family, the church.
God has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God's own family. 1 Peter 1:3   I am writing these things to you (so) you'll know how to live in the family of God. That family is the church of the living God, the support and foundation of the truth. 1 Tim 3:15
As we lead up to next week’s National Back to Church Sunday I will be blogging on why we need the church. Today let’s look at the question, Why should church be important to me? A great answer to this question comes from the Pupose Driven Life teachings.
BEING A CHRISTIAN IS MORE THAN BELIEVING…IT INCLUDES BELONGING!
You belong in God's household with every other Christian.  Ephesians 2:19

1.  A church family will help me FOCUS ON GOD
Love the Lord your God with all your heart ... and soul and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38
Magnify (Honor) the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! Ps 34:3

2. A church family will help me FACE(ing) MY PROBLEMS so I’m not alone
Jesus died for us so that we can live together with him ... So encourage each other and give each other strength  1 Thessalonians. 5:10-11
You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts ... 1 Peter 3:8
In Christ, we who are many, form one Body and each member belongs to all the others.  Romans 12:5

3. A church family will help me GROW IN MY FAITH   
Let us go on ... and become mature in our understanding, as strong Christians ought to be. Hebrews 6:1

4. A church family will help me DISCOVER MEANING(fathoming) through helping others
It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. Ephesians 2:10  There are different kinds of service ... together you form the Body of Christ and each one of you is a necessary part of it. 1 Corinthians.12:5,27

5. A church family will help me TELL MY FRIENDS(ship) about God’s way  
Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus - the work of telling others about the Good News of God's kindness and love. Acts 20:24
Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved ... (but) how can they believe if they've never heard? And how can they hear unless someone tells them? Romans 10:13-14

Make plans to come the family gathering this week. Amen?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Church Love



There is a beautiful passage found in Psalm 71:14-18 that tells us how we should live our lives, and share what God has done.
As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long—though I know not how to relate them all. 16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. 17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Look what is said in the next verse about sharing with younger generations.
18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation,your mighty acts to all who are to come.
Those of us that are over 45 should take special note of this verse. We feel sometimes as we get older that we’ve done our share, or we’re ready to “sit and soak” in our churches. This is not Scriptural! Craig Groeschel says, If you are not dead – then you are not done! Next Sunday is Back to Church Sunday – we all have someone we need to talk (invite) to this week.
The conversation goes both ways, and we both have things to teach each other. See you in church.  Amen?