|Posted on June 28, 2012 at 9:00 AM|
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
|Posted on May 4, 2012 at 11:05 AM|
Weekly Wisdoms for the week of April 30, 2012
Eliminate everything unnecessary in your life in order to put first things first.
1 John 5:21 says, Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. The Amplified Bible elaborates on this: Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)--[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. (AMP)
It is imperative that you prevent any sort of substitute from becoming first place in your life. Fill your life with the true, living God, not a phony substitute.
You can tell what is important to you simply by examining how you spend your time. If you are spending so much time trying to make money that you don't spend any quality time with God, then wealth is more important to you than God. Likewise, if you are always spending time with friends and don't have any time to spend with God, then your social life is more important to you than God.
How you use your time is so important, because you can either invest it or waste it. However, if you waste your time, you'll never get it back. On the other hand, if you invest your time into forming a deep, close, personal relationship with God, then you will reap the rewards of such an investment for the rest of eternity.
Decide to put God first in your life: spend significant, quality, personal time with Him. Put the first, most important thing (God) first place in your life.
Are you so busy working for God that you never spend any time with God?
It is easy to justify doing good works for God as a substitute for spending real, intimate, quality, personal time with God. For example, a youth pastor may spend many hours planning events for kids—preparing the music, setting up the games, arranging the transportation, and even preparing a brief message. However, none of that is a substitute for spending personal time with God—reading the Bible, praying, seeking God's guidance, worshiping, and just sitting in His presence.
Unfortunately, many people are often so caught up in other activities that we use them as an excuse for not spending time with God. Instead, they need to make a firm decision to put God first in our lives. For example, King David, who certainly had many opportunities to fill his time with other activities, knew that spending time with God is an absolute necessity—a vital need. In Psalm 27:4, he said that God was the most important thing in his life: One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
Indeed, Jesus declared that if we seek God, he will take care of the rest of the things in our lives: "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). In your life, put God first, and he will take care of "all these things." Follow David's example: make God the "one thing" you need. That way, you won't be so busy working for God that you never spend any time with God.
|Posted on April 28, 2012 at 9:45 PM|
“IT’S OKAY – I’M HERE”
Jun 14, 2011205 Views (0 Rating)
“IT’S OKAY – I’M HERE”
I met Him in the tiniest room there was in this small white church that I had never attended before until that weekend. As I closed my eyes to pray with faith for the first time, I didn't feel like I was in that small room anymore. I was consumed and surrounded by God's presence, amazing grace, forgiveness and unconditional love. I felt like I was talking to Him face to face; that I was before His throne in heaven. I felt protected and safe. I had never felt that unexplainable feeling before at that moment until then. I knew He was listening and I could feel the party that was going on in heaven as I accepted and made Jesus the Lord and Savior of my life! This happened for me at a purity weekend in late May of 2008. I walked out of those church doors that weekend with weights of burdens, worry, fear, and doubt lifted and I was changed from the inside out! But before this weekend ever happened life wasn't so easy and I was in the search for healing, love, meaning -- in search of something bigger. I was in search of God.
I never really grew up in a Christian home, even though my family always believed that there was a God but didn't live for Him. I would jump back and forth, living with my mom and dad at times, and then my aunt and uncle up until I was nine. As I jumped from home to home, I began being sexually abused by more than one person and physically abused by my dad. At nine I went to live with my aunt and uncle permanently. My aunt taught me how to pray and I am so thankful for all my aunt and uncle have done and continue to do. But somehow I felt like it wasn't enough and I got stubborn and rebellious at the age of thirteen and went back to live with my mom (by this time my mom and dad were split up and about to get divorced). I then began to question if there really was a God.
It wasn't easy going back and living with my mom. She drank a lot and hardly was home. When I lived with her I really couldn't call the many places we lived home. We lived in motel and hotel rooms and various other places that we kept getting kicked out of, and finally she has kept and is living in a trailer that they can call home now. But at the time I had to take care of my younger sister and brother and learned to do the basic stuff like cooking, cleaning, etc., on my own. I grew up poor. I had no running water growing up. My family and I would carry jugs of water back from the run off. We had no heat except the heat from the woodstove we owned. But this was the poorest I have ever been. Sometimes we hardly had any food and I saw my younger sister and brother beg for food. Furthermore, at this time in my life, I met my best friend. She had great faith in Jesus. You could tell she loved Him and her family and she lived for Him. She wouldn't push her faith on me, but she would invite me to go to church - to church activities - and was excited and ready to answer the many questions I would ask about Christianity. My best friend and the horrifying experiences from my past drew me closer to Jesus and helped me to make Him my hero and king.
At purity weekend the messages about sexual purity, how special and unique my body is, and how much I am worth really brought out what was hiding deep inside of me for many years. I finally understood why with the sexual abuse, why I was created the way I was, and learned that my virginity that I had been struggling to save, and could have been forced to give away was not only special to me but to Jesus and my future husband. I didn't feel like I was worth much due to the abuse I had experienced, and the way I had to live, but I learned that I was worth more than I felt because of Jesus' sacrifice. A week before purity weekend I had had phone sex with a guy in my grade and as I sat there in that church listening to the women speaker, I felt a very deep guilt, the worst guilt I have ever felt before. I knew what I needed to do, so I ran to one of the girl leaders and confessed what I did and how I felt, I couldn't hold back the tears... I was convicted as the Holy Spirit worked inside of me for the first time. She took me to a small room and helped me to confess what I did to Jesus, helped me to ask for His forgiveness and accept that He died for me, then defeated death itself and then we asked Him to help me live for Him and I thanked Jesus.
For about a month after I had said that prayer and made Jesus the Lord and Savior of my life, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and excitement. Nothing could take my new faith away and I liked the knowledge and feeling of having a savior. I was filled to the top with everything I needed. I felt completed. Despite all these great feelings, that didn't change the home life I went back to, my old habits, my selfish ways, or how my family decided to live.
Jesus has taken me in, adopted me and cleaned me up, but is still always doing the work He does of cleaning me up, teaching me, putting me through trials, struggles and things to make me cling to Him and grow into someone like who Jesus was and is. It wasn't easy and still isn't easy giving up everything for Jesus and learning to obey Him and not ignore Him in every area of life. In the beginning of my faith I remember it being very hard for me to continue to build and grow this relationship with somebody I couldn't see or hear with my physical eyes and ears. I learned then to have faith in the smallest of things and to trust God even when I doubted or wasn't thinking clearly. I also was struggling to understand the grace and forgiveness of Jesus and dealing with a habitual sin. Then an amazing thing happened as I prayed about this struggle and sin... God gave me this vision - like a daydream sort of - and it helped me to understand what really happened at the cross.
This is what happened in my daydream: I find myself in the crowd watching Jesus carry His cross to the Crucifixion ground (Skull Hill). He is all bloody and pain is written on His face. He can hardly stand up. He looks at me and I want to go tell him, "I'm sorry," but my feet won't move. My mind then takes me to the foot of the cross. I'm there alone and I'm praying. I hear a deep, soothing, calm voice. I look up and am staring into Jesus' fiery orange eyes. He says to me, "It's OK, I'm here." Then there is complete silence and I'm showered in protection. I fall into His mighty arms and am loved. That's not the only things that God has showed me and taught me though.
For the past two years I have battled depression, suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts, and cutting. I have become closer to Jesus, learned to trust Him with the little faith I did have, that grew and grew during these times of depression. He has set me free from the suicidal thoughts, wanting to commit suicide/need to give up completely and cutting. I thank Him every day for letting me survive those times that I was so close to death. I learned to turn to Him and use the weapons He has given me to fight many temptations like cutting. Likewise, throughout these three years that I have been a Christian, I have learned so much about who I was and am growing into being. I continue to learn more about Jesus and what He has done for me everyday too. I see progress most of the time in my attitude, behavior, and thoughts. I see change sometimes in myself because of the work of the Holy Spirit, and then other times I get stuck and need to figure out what is holding me back from moving forward. I am very thankful for the family of God that I do have and the support, guidance, advice and help they have shown me. I am learning, and growing into living everyday for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I hope and pray that my lifestyle and daily habits honor glorify and make our God smile!
|Posted on April 28, 2012 at 9:45 PM|
Doorknob to Salvation (God's Simple Plan To Salvation)
Jun 27, 2011307 Views (4 Ratings)
Doorknob to Salvation (God's Simple Plan To Salvation)
The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it's not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story— no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?
The word that saves is right here,
as near as the tongue in your mouth,
as close as the heart in your chest.
It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That's salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"
Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help."
King James Version (KJV)
9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
|Posted on April 28, 2012 at 9:35 PM|
Weekly Wisdoms for the week of April 23, 2012
What advertising agencies do for their clients, we're called to do for Christ.
You've probably heard these slogans: "Just do it," "Drivers wanted," and "It's everywhere you want to be." And you've almost certainly heard of Nike, Volkswagen, and Visa; however, you probably have never heard of the advertising agencies that coined those slogans: Wieden & Kennedy; Arnold Communications; and Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn.
In a lot of ways, we're supposed to be like those advertising agencies. We are called to proclaim the name of Jesus to the entire world; we're not called to proclaim the name of our denomination, our ministry, our church, or our pastor.
Compare how often you talk about your church or your pastor versus how often you talk about Jesus.
When unbelievers see Christianity, I can't help but wonder how many of them simply see a bunch of denominations fighting about petty issues: Contemporary vs. traditional worship? Drums and guitar vs. organ and hymns? Powerpoint slides vs. hymn book? Jeans and tee-shirt vs. suit and tie?
Instead, wouldn't our testimony to the world be so much better if, with one voice, we proclaimed "Jesus!"? In Romans 15:9, Paul writes, Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name. Paul's singular focus was on making the name of Jesus known throughout the world.
It's not about your church, your ministry, your Bible study, your small group, or your denomination. Your single focus should be on shouting the name of Jesus to all peoples. Your life should be a walking advertisement for the hope, peace, and joy that's available to all people in Christ.
Your contribution to salvation is sin and resistance.
Martin Luther was once asked what we contribute to salvation. He famously replied, "Sin and resistance."
Had the Apostle Paul been asked this question, he would have replied with a similar answer. In Romans 3, Paul gives a beautiful explanation of the gospel, beginning with a fatal diagnosis of humanity: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one (v. 10-12).
To be clear, it's not that we were born neutral and then became sinners by making sinful choices. Rather, we were born into sin; at birth our very nature was sin. The psalmist laments that he was sinful even before he was born: Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5). In other words, before we did anything, we were sinful because sin is our nature—sinful is who we are.
Being sinful at birth means we are spiritually dead at birth because sin leads to death (Romans 6:23). And dead people cannot make themselves alive. You contributed nothing to your physical birth (you can thank your mother and father for your physical birth!) and you cannot contribute anything to your spiritual birth.
But don't we need to put our faith in Christ in order to be saved? Absolutely! But even faith in Christ is a gift from God. Paul makes this clear in Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Notice that faith is "not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." And if that weren't clear enough, Paul reinforces his point by saying that your salvation is "not by works" (i.e., not by anything you accomplished) because if it were then you could boast. But, since God does everything to bring about your salvation, you cannot boast (c.f. Romans 3:27).
You were dead, but God made you alive. He saved you. The only thing you contributed was sin and resistance.