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Your starting point for growth

trusting or laughing?

Genesis 17:15-17  And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.  16  And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.  17  Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? Genesis 18:10-14  And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.  11  Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.  12  Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?  13  And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?  14  Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

There are times that God’s plans may seem amusing to us. That is, we think they are so far out in the realm of difficulty we simply dismiss them as being valid. When we do this we are literally saying, ‘this is too hard even for God.’  In these scriptures God tells Abraham and his wife Sarah that they will conceive a child in their old age, and by old age I mean Abraham is one hundred years old and Sarah is ninety. This is one of those times where God breaks the laws of nature. After all he made the laws that govern our body, and sometimes to show his power and control over a situation he works outside of what we know as fact and operates in the realm of faith. If God always worked in what we call normal ways, it would be easy for us to dismiss his handiwork as nothing more than coincidence; but when God changes the “rules” and steps outside the “normal” code of operation as we know it, and a hard thing is accomplished; only God can get credit, and our faith is increased.

Abraham and Sarah’s laughter was not intended to be disrespectful; they were human and therefore conditioned to only believe the facts of what they knew and were comfortable with. Often times God shows his ability in ways we cannot explain. Remember, if we could explain it or figure it out, it wouldn’t be that spectacular would it? I encourage you today to trust God. Even when it seems out of the ball park crazy or it makes no earthly sense at all, rest assured God knows what he is doing and it makes perfect sense to him. Trust and obey instead of laughing. Tell yourself that the God who made you is in complete control even though you cannot explain it or see the end results; God is good all the time and always has our best interest in heart. Nothing is too hard for God!

 

Important Things To Look For In A Local Church

Church Steeples in AutumnA. Important Things to Look for in a Local Church:

* No church will ever be perfect; even the 1st Century church had its problems, but a church needs to have the foundational structure as set forth in God’s Word. The closer a church follows the Bible, the better that church will be. The better a Christian follows the Bible the better the church will be. A church can never be more spiritual, than the members that make it up. Since the church is a biblical structure, and God is its founder, we must start our criteria search from the very pages of God’s word the Bible. Let’s see what the 1st century church was like and how they operated. Any church like this New Testament church would be a good choice.

  1. They were a church with a mission: to see souls saved

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

  1. They were a church with a message: Jesus saves

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  1. They believed the Word of God

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word…”

  1. They were a church united on the same doctrine

Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

  1. They were a church that fellowshipped with each other

Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

  1. They were a praying church

Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

  1. They had a proper fear/respect for God

Acts 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

  1. They helped one another

Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

  1. They were a faithful church

Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily…

  1. They were a driven church: they had one focus; souls saved.

Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with…singleness of heart,

  1. They were a church that praised to God

Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people…

  1. They were a productive and growing church

Acts 2:47 …And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved

 

B. 10 Characteristics of a Bible Church:

  1. Look for a church that believes the King James Bible is the word of God. Many believe the doctrine of Inspiration (2Tim.3:16) meaning that God breathed every word of the Bible. But few pastors and teachers believe the doctrine of Preservation (Psalm 12:6-7, Matt. 24:35) meaning that God will guard and keep those words that he has spoken forever. With each new bible translation, comes changes and the removal of words. How many times can you change a personal letter from one man to another, and it still be considered the same letter? If you change it once, it is no longer the same letter. God has preserved his Word for the English speaking people today in the King James Bible. Do not except any other!
  2. Look for a church that preaches and teaches from the Bible. This means, the pastor & teachers read the Bible in the church service, and then by the leading of the Holy Spirit explain what was read, often using other passages in the Bible to support the topic. God’s word will speak to God’s people if it is openly & publicly read. You need God’s word most of all if you want to grow in your faith.
  3. Look for a Soul-winning & Missions supporting church, a church that is driven to share the good news of Jesus Christ and salvation. In Matt. 28:19-20 when Jesus left his disciples he gave them one mission; Go Preach! The church should carry this same mission today of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. You don’t want to attend a church that minimizes Christ’s command of soul-winning. A church that is centered on soul winning is centered on Christ.
  4. Look for a church that esteems Christ as the head of the church and his word as the final authority for all faith and practice of the church. The church should not be governed or controlled by any organization, denomination, convention, government, committees or boards made up of men. The church belongs to Christ. No authority should surpass God’s Word. God has chosen his church to have a pastor that would teach & lead his people in his word. God never intended for a board or committee to lead his church.
  5. Look for a church that uses God honoring music, those spiritual and blessed old hymns of the faith. Music should honor Christ and never exalt the flesh. (Contemporary Christian/Christian rock music is considered worldly by God’s standard of holiness and should be avoided.) Colossians 3:16 is specific by saying music should be “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” these songs are to be sung for the Lord. God is the audience for our singing; man should never be the focus. Most modern praise & worship music focuses on the people in the audience feeling good instead of adoring the God of heaven.
  6. Look for a church that has Sunday School, Sunday AM & PM, and Wednesday services. More church, not less church. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25 says we should not forsake church but rather, go “so much the more” as we see the days becoming more evil. Churches that take away services are not helping the people, nor are they obeying God’s word. What good is it to be a part of a congregation if it rarely meets?
  7. Look for a church that is separated from worldliness and encourages its people to live a holy life. The bible says in 2Corinthians 6:14-18 to be separate from the world, even to the point of coming out from among them. This means Christians should have different speech, clothing, music, attitudes, lifestyles….than the sinful people in the world that live for themselves.
  8. Look for a church that invests in young people. When the Apostle Paul left Titus in Crete to help and establish the churches there, one of his main sermons was that the older men should teach the younger men and the older women were to teach the younger women. This is the entire thought of Titus chapter two. If we fail to train the next generation, there will not be “another” generation!
  9. Look for a church that follows the Pastor God has chosen for them. The pastor is God’s chosen representative, overseer and supervisor for the local church. A group of men called Deacons, help the pastor care for the people. The word Deacon means, servant or attendant of tables; therefore the Deacon is a servant of the pastor and people and not the rulers over such. The Pastor and Deacons works hand and hand to carry out the work & ministry of the local church, but it is the Pastor who God has specifically chosen to lead his flock on earth. A church, who doesn’t think much of the office of the Pastor, doesn’t think much of God who ordained him. A church like that can never have God’s blessing. (Hebrews 13:7, 17; Acts 20:28; 1Cor.12:18; Jere. 3:15)
  10. Look for a church that has a male pastor & strong male leadership. God chose men to pastor & lead the church (1Tim. 2:11-13), with this said, a church should always treat their ladies as Christ would treat his church, with love & respect (Ephesians 5:25). It is not that men are superior; it’s a matter of being Biblically correct so the church can have the blessing of God. After all it was God himself who ordained the structure of His church. If a church will not follow God’s blueprint, that church will not carry God’s favor and blessing.

 

C. The Local Church is very important to God. If God thinks highly of his church, so should we. What does God say about his church in his Bible?

  1. Christ died for his church: Acts 20:28
  2. God wants his church to be filled: Luke 14:23
  3. The church is the foundation and center of the Christian life: 1Tim. 3:15
  4. The church is the center of religious learning: 1Tim. 3:15
  5. The church is the center of Christian fellowship: Heb.10:25
  6. The church is the body of Christ, working together for his cause: Rom. 12:5
  7. The local church is where you will use your talent to minister to others and grow in your spiritual walk: 1Cor.12:12, 15-27

I hope these simple guidelines help you as you search for a Bible believing New Testament church. May God bless you and direct you to the right church, and if you are already in the right church, then I pray he keeps you busy winning souls and encouraging believers.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2016 in Helps for Christian Growth

 

Liberty

jail-cell-with-open-door-and-bunch-of-keys-allan-swartGalatians 5:1, 13 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 13  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Liberty is a wonderful, beautiful and powerful gift of God. The Bible first mentions liberty in Leviticus chapter 25 found in the Old Testament, where every 50 years men looked forward to the freedoms found in the year of Jubilee. On this day every debt and debtor was released of bondage. In this year the land would rest from the toils of farming, so that it could rejuvenate and replenish itself. Slaves and travelers who indentured themselves would be released of their commitments and gain privilege to seek new opportunities. This year was truly a Jubilee of liberty like no other day.

Liberty is such a wonderful notion that is filled with blessings and opportunities that God desired it to not only be once every fifty years, but that it would be something men could experience every day of their lives. Since the sin and fall of man in the Garden of Eden, God has been moving towards and preparing for such a day of liberty. In Isaiah chapter 61, God tells of the day his son Jesus would come to earth and make this liberty possible.  Isaiah 61:1  “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”  What a beautiful proclamation and promise found in scripture to the coming blessings of liberty. However wonderful this passage is, it is only the “proclamation” and not the performing of liberty. Here we see liberty being promised only. Don’t be discouraged yet; liberty does not die out here in the Old Testament. Liberty was mentioned for the first time in the Old Testament as a proclamation for liberty, but when liberty is mentioned for the first time in the New Testament, Jesus is procuring liberty for all mankind. Jesus steps onto the world stage that is full of tyranny, bondage, sin and despair and he boldly declares liberty for all who trust him.  Luke 4:18-19  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  19  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”  The prophet Isaiah spoke of the promise of coming liberty, but it was Jesus Christ who came to make that liberty a reality. When we trust Christ as our personal Savior we receive liberty from sin and death. We now have the opportunity to live free from the bondage of our sinful flesh which brought only corruption and catastrophe with each bad decision. Liberty in Christ gives us the freedom to say no to the flesh and yes to the Spirit of God now living in us, directing us into the good decisions found in God’s word.  Now we can daily find blessings as we serve and obey Jesus Christ.

As wonderful as this liberty is, there is a downside. We are prone to “use” liberty for selfish pleasures. God gives us liberty so that we can be free to serve him and help others, but too often the enemies of liberty would persuade us to use our freedoms to please ourselves.  We are warned of this in scripture, from the passages we read first in the book of Galatians. We are not to “use liberty” for our fleshly lusts and desires, but rather we are to “Stand fast” in the liberty of Christ. It is our duty to hold high the integrity of the liberties and freedoms God gives us. Keep them for their intended purpose; to serve God and others. Yes they are a blessing and opportunity given to us, but they also carry a great duty and responsibility in upholding them.

God grant us strength and courage to stand in this sinful and selfish day. Please help us to never be selfish with our liberty, but to use our liberty to serve our God, our Family, and our Country, and to be ever mindful to meet the needs of others.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love….As Thyself

j0442995Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Mat 22:39 “…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Jesus teaches his children to treat others the same way you would want others to treat you. In a healthy and spiritual atmosphere, most people love and respect themselves. It is not normal for people to want to hurt themselves, lie to themselves, or treat themselves cruel or unkindly. We are to love and treat people the same way and with the same love wherewith we love ourselves.

Christian people by nature should be kind and thoughtful people. Jesus is our example of this. Everywhere he went he showed love and kindness to those he met. He went out of his way to help the sick and poor, he made it a point to stop and talk to the ones that others passed by. He willingly laid down his life for a people who did not know him, and many of which would even reject him. He died to save sinners; not the good man, but the bad man, not the righteous man but the ungodly man. Christ’s life and sacrifice on the cross are the greatest and clearest display of love and compassion the world will ever know.

What will you do today? Who will you come into contact with and how will you treat them? Will you show the love of Christ to the nice people only, or will you be kind also to the mean and lowly people as well. If we will move FORWARD in our Christian walk, then we must move FORWARD in this area of love and kindness toward others. Pray for the heart of Christ to come alive in you. Think of people as precious and needy souls instead of just people who sometimes get in our way or make us angry. See them through the loving eyes of Jesus Christ. This will not only help you enjoy your day, but this will also make your home and community a much more enjoyable place to live. Think of a kind gesture and commit a “Jesus Act” on someone today!

 

The Good News

j04359122 Timothy 1:10 “… our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”

What an amazing verse! Jesus Christ “abolished death” when he was crucified for our sins, placed in the tomb and rose again the third day. Because Christ beat death, those who trust him as Savior also have defeated death. We will all certainly die one day physically, but a child of God will NEVER die spiritually. Through Christ we have the hope and promise of immortality; eternal life is the result of Jesus Christ living in you. His eternal life becomes your eternal life. FOREVER!

The verse also says that Jesus “brought life” to us. Before a person accepts Christ as their savior, that person is actually a living dead man. He may be alive physically, but he is absolutely dead spiritually. Sin brings death, and because all mankind is born into sin, all mankind is doomed by that sin. It is a very dismal and despairing thought, but without Christ there is no hope of eternal life; only eternal death in a horrible place called Hell. GOOD NEWS, when Christ comes into your life he brings life! Because of Jesus you are brought to life spiritually. You are still part physical which one day will die, but you are also a new creature in Christ spiritually and will never die but live forever in a place called heaven. Life comes to not only your spirit, but also your mind and conscience. In Christ you think differently and see things through new spiritual eyes. You understand more fully as the Holy Spirit of God guides and directs you day by day. Life is in Jesus, and that life is GOOD!

Last, verse tells us that all of this good news is brought “to light through the gospel.” Which means a person would never know about this wonderful new life without the message of the gospel. The word gospel literally means good news. The message of Jesus, forgiveness and eternal life is the good news that people need to hear. You will not see this gospel message reported on the nightly news, it will not make national headlines and sadly these days you won’t even hear it mentioned many churches. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, it is our life’s mission to spread this good news. We should and must tell everyone we can that Jesus is the answer for the sin problem, and that he can forgive and bring eternal life to all who call upon him. If you have never trusted Christ as your personal savior, this message is for you to receive. Simply acknowledge you’re a sinner and ask Jesus to forgive you and give you eternal life. Trust him today as YOUR savior; yes he died for the entire world…but he died for YOU too! He loves you and wants to bless you. Please friend, trust him today.

 

 

 

Thank God for You!

MB900262946Philippians 1:3-5 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

“Constant fault-finding, scolding, or fretfulness, does no good in a family, a school, or a church. The tendency is to dishearten, irritate, and discourage. To commend a child when he does well, may be as important, and as much a duty, as to rebuke him when he does ill.” – Albert Barnes

It is important to offer words of encouragement when you see someone doing well! Under direct leadership of the Holy Spirit, Paul starts out his letter to the church at Philippi with just such commendation. He was so proud of them that they had maintained a steady and consistent Christian growth from the very day of their conversion up to this point in time. What a testimony for these believers; they stayed true and faithful all this time, and not just maintained a status in mediocrity but flourished in Spiritual fruit and progress. Find someone to encourage. Pray and ask God to show you the good in others and then point it out to them. Your kind words just might be the fuel that keeps them running another mile. It’s true that wrongs must be set right, but equal to that truth is that “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” Proverbs 15:23. Our words bring joy and encouragement; let’s use them wisely.

 

To Hear or Not to Hear

Businessman with BullhornProverbs 1:5,25&31- 5. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: 25. But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 31. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

Read the entire chapter when you can, but in these three verses you will find the summary of this chapter. God wants us to do well and succeed; he desires a joy-filled life for every believer. Joy and success however only come by obedience to God’s word. The Bible is Gods instruction manual for living and the only source of true wisdom. If we say we LOVE GOD, then we must follow his word.

A wise man or woman will hear the things spoken in God’s word and will listen to them and follow them. The wise person will take biblical counsel and apply it to their life and they will excel as a result. Even if it requires them to change some things in their life; they will see the word of God as being true & important, so they will make the changes. This person will increase and be blessed.

Sadly, there is always a second group of people who will not listen to Gods counsel. They set his word at nought, or dismiss it and set it to the side. They refuse to give Gods counsel the credit and position in their lives that it deserves. They allow pride to govern their thoughts and cloud their decision making. These people lack joy and spiritual success. They are often spiritually immature and rarely are they active in serving Christ and others. They sit back and criticize others and make trouble with their gossip and murmuring. This is indeed a sad group of people, but it gets worse. This Bible verse teaches us that they will have to eat the fruit of their own ways. God is saying to them, you made your bed of wicked deeds and now you must lie in it. God also says he will not hear them or help them when they get into trouble: Proverbs 1:26-28 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:

Application: It is best to listen to Christ and follow his word. You may have to change some things in your way of living and you may not always agree with the changes at first, but you will never go wrong nor regret obeying God. There is great peace and reward for obedience. Remove the pride and sin and obey God! Surrender to the God that loves you and gave his Son Jesus for your salvation. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into a closer walk with Jesus today. If you have never trusted Christ as your personal Savior, call on him today to save you. Simply: Admit you have sinned, Believe that only Jesus can forgive you of your sins and Confess your sins to Christ, asking him to forgive you and be your Savior. It’s as simple as ABC!

 

 
 
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