Monday, September 03, 2007

Ordinary People

"Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God." 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NLT)


God uses ordinary, run-of-the-mill people to spread the gospel and to further His Kingdom. If you need proof, look in the Bible, and you will find on countless occasions God used people who in the world's eyes were unworthy and were rejected.

To be a child of God, you do not need a perfect pedigree, worldly influence or extraordinary intelligence. You just have to come as you are and believe in Jesus. Thereafter, God expects His children to live a holy life and submit to His will or in other words, show up and report for duty.

Don't let doubts of your qualifications stop you from Christian service. Doubt is one of the ways Satan tries to make Christians ineffective. Satan will try to get you to believe his lies that you are not good enough, not worthy enough, etc. because he wants to keep you from serving God. Don't believe him!

As a Christian, you already have the best and highest qualification for any service, and it is your personal relationship with Jesus. You don't need anything else; because you belong to God, the Holy Spirit empowers you so you can face any task, challenge or temptation which may come your way.

Your own inadequacies and limitations will become more apparent to you as you spend more time with God and learn about His infinite power, wisdom and love, but rest assured that God will not waste any part of you --- not your incompetencies, your weaknesses, your background, your education, your ethnicity, your life experiences. You will discover that without God you cannot attain anything that has eternal value. God can take ordinary people and do extraordinary things (...if you let Him)!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One Nation Under God

"The LORD blesses each nation that worships only him. He blesses his chosen ones." Psalm 33:12 (CEV)

The United States of America was founded by God fearing men and women. Freedom was of the upmost importance to them, particularly religious freedom. They were indeed a nation under God -- worshipping Him alone. As a result, God blessed our Founding Fathers in innumerable ways.

I believe that the blessings and favor that God continues to show our nation is in part because of the faithfulness of our Founding Fathers. The reality is present day Americans do not possess the devotion to our Heavenly Father like our ancestors did. We have permitted sins to become legal and socially acceptable. We, as a nation, have sat by and watched the removal of prayer from schools and plaques with the Ten Commandments on them removed from Courthouses. Our Senate recently permitted a Hindu priest to say a prayer before the Senate began their business of the day. These are things that will not go unpunished by God.

What can we do to restore our nation's relationship with God?
  • pray for a revival in your heart and in the heart of each and every Christian in our country;

  • teach your children about the importance of the faith of our Founding Fathers;

  • read with your children speeches and prayer of our current and past Presidents and other leaders to learn about their faith in God;

  • pray for our nation's leaders, even the ones whose political positions varies from yours, that they may make decisions for our country that will be pleasing to God;

  • pray that God will call godly men and women to run for elected offices throughout our country and that these Christian men and women will respond to God's calling;

  • pray for elections that may be coming up and Christian men and women will be elected;

  • support Christian men and women who are running for elected office by giving your time and money;

  • vote in all elections and before the elections learn about the candidates running for offices and their positions on the issues so that with God's help you can make the right choices;

  • talk to your children about the importance of elections in our country and the privilege of voting;

  • make history personally through genealogy research of your family tree. With your children learn about your ancestor who made sacrifices for the formation of our nation and in wars to preserve freedom;

  • remain faithful to God and stand up for Him against those who want our country to abandon God. Seek God's wisdom on how He wants you to respond in a Christ-like manner;

  • do not take the freedoms that we have in the U. S. for granted, particularly religious freedom. Read your Bible every day, worship with fellow believers every chance you get and tell others what God has done for you --- these are all activities which are strictly forbidden in countries around the world and people who dare to profess that they are a Christian risk persecution, bodily harm and even death.

Monday, May 28, 2007

God's Holy Word

When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel. Deuteronomy 17:18-20 (New International Version)

While these were God's instructions to the future kings of Israel, they apply to all Christians. Like the king, God expects us to be holy and obey His commandments. The king was to have a copy of God's law for his personal use, to keep it with him at all times, to read God's Word every day and to obey it. Why? The only way to know God's Will is to spend time reading and studying His Word.

The Bible is God's instructions to us for how we should live our lives. A Bible that is not read is useless. The Bible cannot affect your life unless you read it and willingly do what it says.

Applying the Word of God daily to our lives keeps us from sin (Psalm 119:11), gives us joy (Psalm 119:111) and peace (Psalm 119:165), makes us wise (Psalm 119:98), teaches us what is true while pointing out the wrong in our lives (2 Timothy 3:16) and prepares us to do the Lord's work (2 Timothy 3:17). As our understanding of God's Word grows so will our reverence for our Lord, and we will see ourselves for what we truly are -- undeserving sinners who are no better than anyone else.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Prayer to Live with Grace

May we discover through pain and torment, the strength to live with grace and humor.
May we discover through doubt and anguish, the strength to live with dignity and holiness.
May we discover through suffering and fear, the strength to move toward healing.
May it come to pass that we be restored to health and to vigor.
May Life grant us wellness of body, spirit and mind.
And if this cannot be so, may we find in this transformation and passage
moments of meaning, opportunites for love and the deep and gracious calm
that comes when we allow ourselves to move on.
Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Faith

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins." 2 Peter 1:5-9 (New International Version)

To be real, faith must be more than a belief in certain facts. If a Christian's faith is real, it will become a part of all they do resulting in good deeds and spiritual maturity. True faith changes a person; it will change behaviors, attitudes and thoughts. If a person claims to be a child of God, but remains unchanged then that person does not understand faith or what God has done for him or her. (James 2:14-17)

In 2 Peter several actions are listed which will occur in the presence of real faith: learning to know God better, developing self-control, patience, devotion to God, doing God's will, concern for others and loving others. These by-products of faith are not optional, and all must be a continual part of a Christian's life. We don't get to finish one before we start on the next one. Instead we must work to simultaneously incorporate all of the by-products of faith into our lives.

Good deeds do not gain salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, loving deeds of service are proof of a person's faith in Christ. If you truly belong to the Lord, your actions will show it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Dealing With Conflict -- Sunday School Notes -- April 8, 2007

Conflict does not have to be negative, if it is handled correctly. Conflict almost always results in growth either in ourselves or in the other person.

Conflict should be handled in a way so they we act like Christ, so we are acting in love and so we are acting in Godly wisdom.

To act like Christ, look at Galatians 5:22-23 for a list of fruits of Spirit which each Christian should possess and then ask yourself if you are producing these fruits. Ask yourself: Am I being loving toward the other person in this conflict? Am I being peaceful? Am I being patient with the other person? Am I being kind and good? Am I am faithful? Am I being gentle with the other person? Am I being self-controlled?

To know how to act in love, look at 1 Corinthians 13. When you are having a conflict with another person, ask yourself these questions and if you can respond "yes", you will know you are acting in love: Am I being patient? Am I being kind? Do you rejoice when truth prevails? Are you hopeful? Are you enduring through every circumstance?. Also, ask yourself the following questions and if you respond "no" to these queries, you are acting in love: Am I jealous? Am I being boastful? Am I being proud? Am I being rude? Am I demanding my own way? Am I being irritable? Am I keeping a record of wrongs? Are you glad about injustices? Have you lost faith in the other person and are giving up?. Love never fails.

To know how to act in Godly wisdom, look at James 3:13-18. A person's actions will reveal if they are truly wise. Ask yourself: Am I doing good deeds? Am I bragging about these good deeds? Am I bitterly jealous? Do I have selfish ambition in my heart? Are my motives pure? Am I peace loving? Am I gentle? Am I willing to yield to others? Am I merciful? Am I being impartial? Am I sincere?. Being a peacemaker is not the same as being passive and it not the same thing as avoiding conflict. As Christians we have a responsibility to present the Truth to others which can and will cause conflict. We should not avoid doing the things that God has called us to do to avoid conflict with others, but instead we should do God's will in a way so that we are acting like Christ and out of love and Godly wisdom.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sermon Notes from March 25, 2007

Matthew 4:1-11 tells us how the devil tried to tempt Jesus. The temptation of Jesus occurred after He was baptized and began His public ministry. The reason for the devil's temptations -- He wanted to render Jesus ineffective. Satan tempts Christians because he doesn't want them to be an effective witness for Christ. The devil finds a Christian's weakness and tries to use it against God's child.

Just as God has a plan for each of His children lives, the devil has a plan for them too, but unlike God, the devil wants to destory all Christians because he hates them and what they stand for and believe in. The devil is every Christian's enemy. The devil may cause Christians trouble on this earth and he may even hurt their earthly bodies, but he can never touch their souls because their souls belong to and are protected by their Heavenly Father.

When facing any enemy, it is important to know your opponent and his strategies. Satan tried to tempt Jesus three times and the devil will try to attack us in the very same ways.

In the devil's first attempt to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:3) was to get Jesus to turn stones into bread. What Satan was asking of Jesus was not too difficult for Christ and he could have easily had done it, but it would have been for the wrong reasons. The devil was trying to tempt Jesus by using doubt --- doubt that God would not provide food for His Son while He was in the wilderness for forty days. Like Jesus, never doubt that God will provide for you.

The second attempt to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:5-6) Satan wanted Jesus to jump from a cliff and have God's angels rescue him. Again this was a doable thing, but it was also wrong. Satan was trying to get Jesus to make a bad decision and engage in reckless behavior.

The third attempt to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:8-9) Satan told Jesus he would give Jesus everything Jesus saw as His kingdom, if only Jesus would bow down and worship the devil. Satan tried to use pride to get Jesus to sin.

Each time Satan tempted the Lord, Jesus responded by quoting Scripture from the Old Testament. God's Word was Jesus' sword in His spiritual battle with the devil. Likewise Christians should memorize Scriptures so when temptations come (and they will come, often when you least except them), they will be prepared for the spiritual warfare.

We can be overcomers (overcoming this world and the evil that resides in it which includes the devil) by being a believer, having God's love in our hearts and being obedient to God's commands. 1 John 5:1-4

You Say -- God Says

This is a handy little chart which shows that God always has a positive answer!

You say: "It's impossible."
God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

You say: "I'm too tired."
God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)

You say: "Nobody really loves me."
God say: I love you (John 3:16 & John 3:34)

You say: "I can't go on."
God says: My grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: "I can't figure things out."
God says: I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: "I can't do it."
God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)

You say: "I'm not able."
God says: I am able (2 Corinthians 9:8)

You say: "It's not worth it."
God says: It will be worth it (Romans 8:28)

You say: "I can't forgive myself."
God says: I forgive you (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: "I can't manage."
God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19)

You say: "I'm afraid."
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7)

You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated."
God says: Cast all your care on me (1 Peter 5:7)

You say: "I'm not smart enough."
God says: I give you wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30)

You say: "I feel all alone."
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Living the Good Life

If you ask a group of people "What constitutes a good life?", the answers will vary from health, family, friends, money, possessions, and the list goes on and on. However, the key to a good life can be found in Psalm 34. Versus 9 states that whoever fear the Lord will lack for nothing. So to live a good life we must fear God and as a result, God will met all of our needs.

What does it mean to fear God? Not only does it involve reverence, but it also means that we should be ever aware of God's presence that He sees everything we do and that He hears everything we say even those things which we may think goes unnoticed by other people. God is aware of our deepest thoughts and concerns and He knows our heart's true intent. You may be able to hide your misdeeds from others, but you can hide nothing from God. Accordingly, we should remove everything from our lives and our hearts that displeases God. We may ignore or fail to acknowledge certain sins which remain in our lives, but God does not. If God does dismiss the things in our lives that displeases Him, then why should we.

Versus 13 goes on to state that we should keep our tongue from evil and our lips from speaking lies. Though the tongue is a small part of the body, it can do much damage. The words that come out of our mouths reveal the true condition of our heart. If we fear the Lord, we will control our tongue. When we control our tongue, we do not take the Lord's name in vain or use His name lightly, swear, gossip, complain, dispute, murmur, lie, exaggerate and engage in idle talk.

It is not enough to turn from evil and avoid evil, but we also must do good. Versus 14

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