What A Mighty God We Serve!

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5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.
— Acts 12:5 NLT
Jesus had instructed Peter to feed His sheep. He was basically appointing Peter as the leader of the church after His ascension.  He had also told Peter that satan desired to “sift him as wheat”.  That is a metaphor meaning that satan wanted to separate Peter from the others like a farmer separates the chaff from the wheat when he winnows it.  By stirring up King Agrippa to have Peter arrested and put in jail, satan was attempting to sift Peter.  The leaders of the Jews were recruited by satan and joined by encouraging Agrippa in his acts of persecution.  Peter was chained in prison with sixteen guards assigned to do nothing but watch him.  God sent an angel to free Peter from his chains and they walked right past all of those guards.  Peter thought it was a dream or a vision until they gates to the city swung open of their own accord and the angel left Peter.  I can imagine that about the time Peter realized that it was for real, he probably remembered that Jesus also said “but I have prayed for you”.  Jesus  had prayed, was now at the right hand of God praying and the whole church was praying late into the night.  God had a plan for Peter and Jesus had prepared Peter for that plan.  The enemy’s plans to thwart God’s plans were defeated because of prayer. All the demons of hell and the earthly recruits were not enough to overcome the prayers of a handful of saints.  We need to be prayer warriors and spend more time praying fervently for God to rescue our nation and keep our families safe. God is able to protect us and provide for us when He selects us for Kingdom work.  We will not be defeated!
Post 06-30-2016

It Isn’t a Coincidence

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30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  — Acts 8:30 NLT
When the persecutions of the Christians started in Jerusalem, the believers were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.  Philip had  been preaching and teaching about Jesus in Samaria.  When Peter and John arrived, an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip and told him to go south along the road to Gaza.  On his way, he met an eunuch from Ethiopia.  This eunuch had been to Jerusalem to worship.  He was reading aloud from a scroll of the Old Testament.  This particular scroll contained the book of Isaiah.  Since he had been to worship in Jerusalem and was in possession of a Biblical scroll and reading it aloud, we can safely assume two things.  He was familiar with the Jewish religion and he was searching for something.  So God had been preparing the heart of this eunuch to receive the Good News for some time.  I think we can safely assume that God had big plans for this eunuch when he returned to Ethiopia, but whether God had big plans for the eunuch or just wanted to save the eunuch is not the point.  The point is that God’s plans for Philip and the eunuch intersected at this point.  The eunuch was seeking understanding of the Scriptures and God sent a man to him who could explain those Scriptures.  Every day, our live intersect with other lives.  This was, is and will always be God’s plan for spreading the Good News.  Are we prepared to instantly obey?  Are we prepared to explain God’s plan of salvation to those whose paths we cross?  If not, why not spend some time today preparing to do just that?  There is a heavenly reason that you are where you are today.  It didn’t just happen.  Look around you, there are lost people that you have been sent to speak to. God has prepared their hearts to hear and He has given you the words of life to speak to them, therefore speak.
Post 06-24-2106

 

Go and Make Disciples! – Part 1

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19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.– Matt. 28:19 NLT
 
We are all very familiar with the Great Commission that Jesus gave His disciples.  Luke tells us that shortly after this, Jesus ascends leaving the disciples without the only leader they had ever known. If we had been there and been one of the disciples of Jesus, what would our initial repsonse have been?  If it were anything similar to what I believe mine would have been, it would have caused me to ask a lot of questions.  Where do I start, which direction do I go, who is going to support me as I make the trip and who is going to take care of my family while I am gone?  I don’t have any speeches prepared to present to the people, what will I say?  I’m not prepared to go on some long journey to some place I have never been and I haven’t prepared my family for such a venture.  I would not only be doubting my abilities to carry out this mission (which is totally true}, I would be doubting God’s ability to enable me to carry out His mission (which is totally wrong and therfore sinful).  I would be doubting His ability to provide for me and to take care of me.  I would be saying “God is able” but my thoughts and my actions would be saying “I don’t really believe that”.
As true believers, our response should not be one of worry and doubt but of agreement, just as Isaiah said when God asked HIm “who shall we send?” and Isaiah answers “Here am I, Lord, send me.”.
 
Post 06-08-2016

God’s Masterpieces

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As Saul turned and started to leave, God gave him a new heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day. — 1 Samuel 10:9 NLT
 After Moses and Joshua had died, God raised up Judges in Israel.  The Israelis would turn away from God and God would allow the enemies of Israel to be successful in battle against the them  When they wept and repented, God would raise up a judge to deliver them and to govern over them for a time.  Each time this happened, God had someone prepared to be the judge for the next few years.  Samuel was the last of the judges.  This was because the Israelis wanted a king over them, so they would be like the nations around them.  By asking God for an earthly king, they were rejecting God as their king.  Through Samuel, God warned them of the negative things that would happen if they chose an earthly king.  Still, that is what the people wanted and that is what God gave them. He chose Saul to be their king.  Before Saul could take his position as king, God gave him a new heart and filled him with His Spirit. God never chooses any of us to do something for Him and His Kingdom without the proper preparations.  If we are not already prepared, He will prepare us and give us everything we need to do His bidding.  When we feel a special call from God, we may very well feel completely unprepared to complete the task.  But, we can be assured that by the time God puts His plan for us into action, He will have prepared us to do the job better than anyone else could possibly do it.  God chooses ordinary people and turns them into His extraordinary servants.  All He wants or expects from us is our willingness and obedience, He will do the rest. 
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. — Eph. 2:10 NLT
Post 04-08-2016

No Fear!

even-smaller-bug-light142 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. — Luke 22:42, 43 NLT

​As we read about all the miracles that Jesus performed while He was here on earth we sometimes forget and need to be reminded that He, like us, was fully human.  He did all of His works as a man, not as God.  He even told us that He could do nothing in and of Himself but that He could only do the works of the Father.(John 5:19).  We are told by the writer of Hebrews that even though Jesus was the Son of God, He still offered prayers and pleadings to the One who could rescue Him from death (Hebrews 5:8).  Jesus knew and understood His mission because He had been in on the planning session that occurred before the foundations of the earth were laid.  But in the flesh, He was not looking forward to the experience of being separated from His Father for the first and only time in His life.  Separated because when He took our sins upon Himself, the Father could not look at Him or comfort Him in any way.  While Jesus was in the flesh as a man, God sent Moses and Elijah to talk with Him about His death on the Cross (Mount of Transfiguration, Luke 9:31).  As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, God sent an angel to strengthen Him.  What we need to realize is that God does the same thing for us.  If we listen carefully and heed His words, we will find that there is nothing that happens to us that He has not carefully prepared us to bear.  
​Jesus​ lived every day knowing the cruel death that awaited Him on the cross.  Yet, He set His face toward Jerusalem and never turned back. Do we live every day prepared to die for what we know is true?  If we do, then we can die prepared to live forever and that knowledge should remove any fear of death that we have.
Post 02-08-2016

Use It or Lose It!!

even-smaller-bug-light111 Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” — Exodus 4:11, 12 NLT

God has given each of us particular gifts and we use those gifts daily in our secular lives but when God asks us to use them for His work, we suddenly pretend we don’t have those abilities.  Take Moses, for instance, forty years earlier, Moses had no problem taking charge.  He killed an Egyptian who was beating a slave. The next day, he comes out and tells the slaves to quit fighting each other.  Those are characteristics of a leader. But, now after forty years of desert training, when God wants Him to use those same talents to free His people and lead them through the desert, Moses suddenly can’t.  If  you think God was happy with Moses, you are wrong.  In fact, He met Moses and was about to kill him and would have except for the actions of Zipporah.(Exodus 4:24-26)  
In today’s world, think about the effectiveness of the church if:
​E​very school teacher volunteered t​o teach Sunday S​chool​
Every​ CEO or business leader volunteered for a leadership/mentoring position
Everyone who served others in any position served in the church
Whatever talent you have, you used that talent in the church
Just think about this:  The Creator of the universe, the Omniscient God would not ask us to do a job that He has not specifically given us the talent and the training to do.  If God knew someone else could do the job better than we could, then He would have called them instead of us!  The next time we feel that little nudge to volunteer, before we say “no”,  think about the results in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30).
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ​ — Eph. 2:10 NLT​
Post 01-24-2016

Why? You Ask

even-smaller-bug-light122 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. — James 1:19-21 NIV

Do works save us?​ Certainly not! 
 

8 For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.  — Eph. 2:8, 9

Then why are works important? If we look back at the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matt. 28:18-20, we find that He tells us to do more than just get people to confess their sins. Jesus commands us to “go and make disciples.” What is a disciple?  Webster defines “disciple” in this way: 

someone who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of a famous person

​One can be a Christian without actually being a disciple. You can accept Jesus as your Savior and go on with your lifestyle pretty much unchanged (I don’t know how that is possible, but some claim to be able to do so).  But a true disciple follows after his chosen leader, uses His life as an example to follow, spreads His doctrines and teachings and encourages others to do the same. Those who are disciples of sect leaders and worldly religions take the idea of being a disciple much more serious than a lot of us Christians. ​Some of them take it so far as to be considered “militant” in their actions.  Their actions are governed by anger and hate and wrong teachings.  Our actions are governed by love, but that just means that we have to be kinder in spreading the Gospel of Jesus, not less active or effective. We have a message of perfect love and freedom, which is what the world really desires. We have the Holy Spirit inside us and working with us using the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead. If we are obedient to Jesus’s words that we should “make disciples” then we will “be about our Father’s business”.  That requires us to do the same works that Jesus did when He was here on earth. As Christians, we are not called to be spectators but, rather to be participators, in the work. Why did God give us the gift of being saved by grace through faith?
8 For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.​ –​ Eph. 2:10  (emphasis mine)
Post 11-13-2015

Don’t Worry, God is Still With Us

God is waiting to show you the Way.

God is waiting to show you the Way.

1 Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. 2 There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?”​ ​6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.—John 14:2-6 (NCV)
​We have a place that has been prepared for us by God Himself.. One day, Jesus will return and take us there to live with Him for eternity. Paul said that if Christians had hope only for this life and not for eternity, we should be pitied..
19 If our hope in Christ is for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone else in the world.—1 Cor. 15:19 (NCV)
​But because we have placed our faith in God and, in God alone, we can be assured of life eternal. We can know the way by accepting Jesus and being led by the Holy
Spirit. We are guaranteed that this promise will be kept. Because God has deposited the Holy Spirit in our hearts and He abides there to lead us.
21 Remember, God is the One who makes you and us strong in Christ. God made us his chosen people. 22 He put his mark on us to show that we are his, and he put his Spirit in our hearts to be a guarantee for all he has promised.—2 Cor. 1:21,22 (NCV)
​If we truly believe that the Bible is inerrant and infallible and that Jesus is the truth, we have no reason to fear or dread anything that man can do to us. Jesus gave us a gift of His peace, not like the world’s peace that means no storms will ever come our way. His peace keeps us calm in the storm because we believe He is in perfect control of every situation.
10 God says, “Be still and know that I am God…”–Psalm 46:10a (NCV)
Post 01-29-2015