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Showing posts from December, 2017

Resolutions: Intentions Don't count

Bible Reading: James 4. 13-14 Things that control our lives: money, friends, food, shelter, schedules, time. There is only one of these items that we can’t get more of if we lose it or don’t use it-time. Procrastination is a thief of time- Don’t waste time, it is most valuable and you have direct control of how you use it. God tells us what we must do to join him in heaven-don’t focus your attention on things that doesn’t promote you going to heaven-there is not enough time. James tells us in chapter 4, don’t wait to do what ought to be done. There is no guarantee of even tomorrow. There is absolutely no power in intentions. There is really no difference in a person who intends to do things differently than one who never thinks about it. The results are the same. Do you give yourself credit for intentions?  It is easy for us to give ourselves credit for things we intend to do and even take them off your mental “to do list”. You must take action, intending to do something doesn’t give yo…

Resolutions: Draw closer to God by slowing down

BIBLE READING: Psalm 46.10
There are so many earthly demands on us today that it is sometimes even hard to have time to sleep. Sometimes that lack of sleep is from attempting to meet the earthly demands and knowing we are not meeting the things God wants from us. Is this a catch 22? No, it is a priority thing. We feel so much pressure to maintain a certain level of worldly comfort that we can’t enjoy life due to the demands to maintain this comfort. Back off and examine your priorities. Are they where they should be? We can redo our earthly demands but we can’t redo what God wants. When we slowdown we can, pray more fervently, meditate more effectively, see more clearly God’s handiwork, and gain more studying God’s word. You will be closer to God.
Make a resolution to slow down and draw closer to God.

Resolutions: Draw closer to God through study of His word

BIBLE READING: John 14.7
Spend time alone with God’s Word.  Besides the spiritual growth we will gain from study, we will also come to know Him better.  Reading His word brings us in touch with Him.  Jesus tells us in John 14:7 – “If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also.”  Just studying the life of Jesus will help us to know God better. In seeking God’s help, we can draw closer to Him through prayer, meditation, nature, and study. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:2  I Tim.4:13,15 - “Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine… meditate on these things; give yourself wholly to them.” Regardless of our circumstances we can rely on God’s unchanging character.  God is good. God loves me. God is with me. God knows my problems. God cares. Romans 8:31(b) tells us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Make a resolution to slowdown and study Gods word not just read it.

Resolutions: Draw closer to God through nature

BIBLE READING: Psalms 19.1
 Spend time communing with God through nature.Observe the beauty in the world that God has made for us.  To see a glimpse of His power in the expanse of the ocean and its relentless waves that pound the seashore; to breath in the sweetness of the majestic mountains with their laurels, so breathtakingly beautiful that we, like Jacob, will say, “Surely the Lord is in this place.”   Feel the spider web’s strength.  Listen as the songbirds serenade.  Smell a newborn baby, the smell of a puppy.  Watch the floating clouds and the beautiful sunset.  Stand in the summer’s shower and taste the rain.  By observing God’s creation, our faith in Him and in His power is reinforced.  Psalm 19:1 – “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Make a resolution to slow down and smell the roses.

Resolutions: Draw closer to God through meditation

BIBLE READING: Psalms 4.4
Until we slowdown in this world of hurry we cannot properly evaluate the events going on in our lives. Meditation gives us opportunity to look into our lives and profit from our mistakes.  We can also reflect and meditate on all the things God has done for us.  Meditate on the record of God’s goodness to His people.  This will help us to focus our thoughts on God’s ability to help us rather than our inability to help ourselves.  Read the Bible’s accounts of God’s goodness and meditate on them.
Make a resolution to slowdown and spend time alone with God meditating.

Resolutions: Draw closer to God through prayer

BIBLE READING: James 4.8
Knowing God and being able to talk to Him will give meaning and purpose to our existence.  God truly loves us. (Romans 8:38-39)  He is always there, his hand outstretched, waiting for us to seek Him.  He has so much to give us and wants the opportunity to do so (Matthew 7:11). Spending time in prayer is one way to be alone with God.   Our Lord spent much time alone in prayer communing with God.  Many times He withdrew into the mountains to pray and rest.  In prayer we can communicate to God our innermost thoughts, needs, desires and thanksgivings. Talking with God will help you to feel closer to Him and rely on Him for all things, knowing that: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  James 5:16(b).
Make a resolution to slowdown and pray more fervently.

"Truly Loving One Another"

BIBLE READING:       Ephesians 5. 21-33
DISCUSSION: There’s more to being a Christian than talking about Jesus or rejoicing in being “saved.” Too often we emphasize our personal, “vertical” relationship with Jesus without thinking how that should affect our “horizontal” relationships with others, where life can be very complicated. Ephesians has some close to-home application here, teaching that the reason for submitting to one another is “out of reverence for Christ.” Explaining Jesus’ command that we “love one another,” some have stated that “Where love reigns, there is mutual servitude,” adding that this applies even to kings and rulers. They must serve their people, as must leaders in the church, elders, deacons, preachers. So must husbands and wives. Applying Jesus’ example to the marriage relationship, Paul mentions the “profound mystery” of Christ and his church. Jesus is the head of the church, and yet he sacrificed himself for it. He’s the model of service and submission for both…

"Submitting to Jesus"

BIBLE READING:       Matthew 20. 20-28
DISCUSSION: In a sermon a preacher asked, “What is the best way to teach children?” And the congregation answered enthusiastically, “By example!” Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” Jesus taught by example what he expects from us. Facing the cross, he illustrated submission and leadership at the last supper with his disciples when he washed their feet and said they should now serve one another (John 13:3-17). The concept of submission is often misunderstood. It isn’t a matter of allowing others to walk all over us. As Paul applies it to marriage in Ephesians 5, submitting means that both the husband and wife seek their partner’s well-being. It’s not a hierarchy! It’s not about authority but about serving one another—and doing so “out of reverence for Christ,” who gave up his very life for us. When the mother of James and John asked for places of authority for her sons in Jesus’ kin…

"True Forgiveness"

BIBLE READING:       Ephesians 4. 29-5. 8
DISCUSSION: Many preachers today are asked to preach on forgiveness. Most usually focus on the theme that people who are forgiven must be forgiving. If we do not appreciate God’s forgiving us, we have little motivation for forgiving others. Forgiven believers with grateful hearts readily express kindness and compassion for others. Many Bible passages, like Psalm 103, show us that God is forgiving, loving, compassionate, and gracious, and we can imitate our heavenly Father, treating people with compassionate, gracious love. Kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are inseparable. We can’t be very kind to someone whom we haven’t forgiven. We won’t show compassion until we grow aware of how much we’ve experienced God’s love and compassion. As Jesus’ followers, we’re called to share the love that he has shown for us. Doing so builds healthy relationships, honors our Creator, and grows his king­dom. Today work on your FLCG: Be more Forgiving, Love those …

"The Christian's Walk"

BIBLE READING:       Ephesians 4. 17-5.2
DISCUSSION: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” — Ephesians 4:32
In the verses from Ephesians 4 and 5, we find some contrasts between our old ways of living and the new way of living in Christ. Though we are “made new” and “created to be like God in true righteousness,” this is an ongoing process that is not completed in this life. These verses give reasons for our being called to live as “members of one body.” We must live by the truth and avoid giving the devil any kind of foothold in our lives. Because we can still be tempted to sin, we must pay attention to Paul’s strong warnings about anger, stealing, unwholesome talk, and grieving the Holy Spirit. We all can strive to be kinder and more compassionate, doing “what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” And who has not harbored bitterness in their heart? What about “rage and anger, brawling and slander”? Inste…

"Humble Walk of Faith"

BIBLE READING:       Galatians 5.1, 13-15
DISCUSSION: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. . . . For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”
Paul was astonished at how quickly the Galatian believers were giving up on the gospel he had brought. And it wasn’t for an easier freedom; people were going back to being burdened with rules and rituals. Paul’s message: the freedom bought by Christ’s blood must not be forsaken so readily. It’s too precious! It’s a freedom designed to lead to showing Christ’s love to others by humbly serving in whatever ways we are gifted. Living as people who are freed in Christ, we’re ca…

"Service to Others"

BIBLE READING: Galatians 5. 13-14
DISCUSSION:  You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to                                                               indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
What is this freedom that Paul warns us not to misuse? Is it the freedom of basic human rights that we enjoy in Western nations? Hardly! There are people in prison as well as in other countries who enjoy the freedom Paul is talking about—it’s the freedom that only the gospel brings, freedom from our slavery to sin and to legalistic moral attitudes. The Galatians had enjoyed this freedom when they believed the gospel of Christ, but it seemed they were about to be enslaved again by sin and legalism! Freedom is precious. It’s bought with the priceless blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. President Lincoln understood something about the precious value of freedom. Signing the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves in the United States, he ma…

The Colors of Christmas: RED

BIBLE READING: 2 Corinthians 9.7 From the holly berries to Santa himself, red is by far one of the most prominent colors of the holidays. However, my favorite red items of the holidays are the Poinsettia plants used for decorations. There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas come together. It goes like this: There was once a poor Mexican girl named Pepita who had no present to give the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve services. As Pepita walked to the chapel sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up. “Pepita,” he said, "I'm sure that even the smallest gift given by someone who loves Him will make Jesus happy." Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down, and put…

The Colors of Christmas: BLACK

BIBLE READING: Matthew 5. 14-16 While not a traditional color of Christmas, without the black night sky, the Star to Bethlehem would not have been seen. The dark night sky of winter can be gloomy and depressing, but just as God lit of the way to Christ, He uses His people to point others to Christ. During the holiday season, try not to get overwhelmed but remember that it is a time for faith, family, and friends. Be that light in a world that might focus too much on the worldly things. Be Christ.
Prayer Requests:____________________________________________________________________

The Colors of Christmas: BLUE

BIBLE READING: Luke 1.30, 42 Often times Mary, the mother of Jesus, is portrayed wearing blue robes. This began in medieval times when blue and purple dye was one of the most costly. Royal families and wealthy people would often be painted in blue clothes because of their esteemed status. This shows that Mary was seen as very important because she gave birth to the King of Kings! Mary was given a special gift and she was blessed because of it. Make sure this week that having Christ in your life blesses both you and others! Information from: whychristmas.com Prayer Requests:____________________________________________________________________

The Colors of Christmas: GOLD

BIBLE READING: 2 Timothy 3. 16/ Matthew 24. 35 That picture-perfect gold star at the top of the Christmas tree comes to mind. You might also think of Buddy the Elf springing off the couch to put that perfect gold star on top of the massive tree in their living room. Either way, that precious gold brings to mind something that is special. After all, it was one of the three gifts that the wise men brought to the newborn Jesus.  Gold items are valuable and special. Many times we make sacrifices during this time of the year to give to others. We might purchase something special for our children or other loved ones. Don’t forget about the most valuable possession we have: God’s word. This is a gift that needs to be shared every day! Prayer Requests:____________________________________________________________________

The Colors of Christmas: WHITE

BIBLE READING: 1 Peter 1. 18-19/ Matthew 5. 8 Bing sang what many of us think: “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.” White is often associated with purity and peace in western cultures. The snow of winter is also very white! White paper wafers were also sometimes used to decorate paradise trees. The wafers represented the bread eaten during communion, when Christians remember that Jesus died for them. Many orthodox churches use white as the color of Christmas, when their altar is covered with a white cloth. This is not as common in our culture, but many lessons can be learned from this color. When we see white decorations, think of the purity that Christ had as a perfect sacrifice. Remember that we should strive to be pure as Christ. Information from: whychristmas.com
Prayer Requests:____________________________________________________________________

The Colors of Christmas: GREEN

BIBLE READING: 2 Corinthians 5. 17/ Philippians 2.15 Evergreen plants, like holly and mistletoe have been used for thousands of years to decorate and brighten up buildings during the long dark winter. They also reminded people that spring would come and winter wouldn't last forever! The Romans would exchange evergreen branches during January as a sign of good luck. The ancient Egyptians used to bring palm branches into their houses during the mid-winter festivals. In many parts of Europe during the Middle Ages, “paradise plays” were performed, often on Christmas Eve. They told Bible stories to people who couldn't read. “The Paradise Tree” in the Garden of Eden in the play was normally a pine tree with red apples tied to it. Today, think about the newness of life we have because we are in Christ. The old man could represent the dark winter and the barren trees. Then think of the bright Christmas trees that are so easily seen! Help brighten someone’s life this week! Information f…

Saturday

BIBLE READING: 2 Timothy 2. 14-26 Discussion:

We have all heard that practice makes perfect. We say that so we can realize the importance of practice. However, we know practice doesn’t make perfect but it does make permanent. If we practice piano, another instrument, a sport or hobby, we will keep those skill for a long time. In our spiritual life, we can train ourselves to read, study and pray just by practicing it. We can make the people around us happy by practicing good virtues. Anything that we practice in a positive way can help us become the people we need to be.

Prayer Requests:____________________________________________________________________

Friday

BIBLE READING: Matthew 16. 16-19/ Acts 2. 37-47 Discussion: As we’ve read this week, the kingdom of God was planned from the beginning, was promised and prepared, and will exist in power eternally. When Peter made his confession about Jesus in Matthew 16, Jesus promised that Peter would be the first to open the door of the kingdom/church and allow people entrance. That is exactly what happened on the Day of Pentecost. Peter gave the terms of entrance into the church, and three thousand took advantage of the offer of a gracious God. When they were baptized, they were saved; when they were saved, God added them to the church. The “Kingdom/Church” is the body of the saved, those who have been saved by Christ’s blood.
Prayer Requests:____________________________________________________________________




Thursday

BIBLE READING: Acts 2, 8/ Hebrews 12.28/ Revelation 1.6 Discussion: The Kingdom existed, and continues to exist, in power. The Holy Spirit came on the first Day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. People who believed, repented, and were baptized were added to the kingdom/church. From that point, the kingdom/church was spoken of as being in existence. Christ is now reigning in heaven over His kingdom, and he will continue to reign until He returns at the end of time to take His faithful followers with Him to heaven.
Prayer Requests:____________________________________________________________________


Wednesday

BIBLE READING: Matthew 4. 17, 3. 1,2/ John 18. 36/ Matthew 16. 18,19/ Mark 9.1 Discussion: The Kingdom existed in preparation. Christ began His personal ministry during the days of the Roman Empire. During His personal ministry, the kingdom/church existed in preparation. Both Jesus and John the Baptist preached that the kingdom was “at hand” or almost there. Jesus stressed that His kingdom was a spiritual institution and used the terms “kingdom” and “church” interchangeably. Jesus said that His kingdom would come “with power”. After His resurrection, He told the disciples that the power would come when the Holy Spirit came and that they would be His witnesses beginning at Jerusalem. They were to wait in Jerusalem until that power came, and at that time repentance for the remission of sins would be preached in His name. Peter did just that in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost.
Prayer Requests:____________________________________________________________________

Tuesday

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 2. 2,3/ 1 Timothy 3. 14/ Daniel 2.44 Discussion: The Kingdom existed in promise. Throughout the Old Testament, the kingdom/church existed in prophecy and promise. Isaiah said that in the last days the Lord’s house would be established and the Word of the Lord would go forth from Jerusalem. Paul identifies the Lord’s house as the Church. Daniel prophesied that God’s kingdom would be established “During the time of the kings of the fourth kingdom.” History tells us that this fourth kingdom referred to was the Roman Empire that ruled the known world until 476 AD. He went on to write “the God of heaven will set up another kingdom that will continue forever. It will never be destroyed. And it will be the kind of kingdom that cannot be passed on to another group of people. This kingdom will crush all the other kingdoms. It will bring them to an end, but that kingdom itself will continue forever.” This eternal kingdom is the one that was established on the day of Pentecos…

Monday

BIBLE READING: Acts 1,2/ Matthew 6.10, 16. 19/ Ephesians 3. 10,11 Discussion: The first two chapters in the book of Acts gives us a front row seat to the establishing of the earthly “Kingdom” AKA “the Church. Throughout eternity, this Kingdom existed in the plans and purposes of God as written in Ephesians 3. Jesus even taught the apostles to pray for the coming of this Kingdom. Peter was told that he would be instrumental in the start of this kingdom and we see just that in the first chapters of Acts. God’s eternal plans include all men and women, but we must be a part of the Kingdom that was foretold in God’s word. Are you a part of the Kingdom? In Acts chapter 2, we see Peter instruct those present what they had to do. Repent and Be Baptized!!
Prayer Requests:____________________________________________________________________


"Is there Joy in your Heart?"

BIBLE READING: Proverbs 4. 20-27 There are so many things going on in this world today that it is easy to let worry have more room in our heart than happiness. In the medical world, we are constantly being reminded of the preventive medicine we need. Unlike 60 years ago when health only entered our minds when we got sick, today we are told continually of so much that can happen to our health if we don’t have this test run, take this pill or get this shot to prevent some type of virus infecting us.  If you allow it, you can give this too much attention. Of course it is important to have good health. As we get older it really seems to get a lot more of our attention. Don’t let worry about your health take your eyes off the cross.  The words of God given wisdom from Solomon in Proverbs 4, we see that a physically healthy heart is important, but to keep focused on good things to keep our spiritual heart clean and healthy. There is no medical test in place to make sure we are healthy in min…

"Prepare for Happiness"

BIBLE READING: Matthew 6. 19-21

Just recently we have seen the devastation that can result from hurricanes, earthquakes, and fire. According to the show on National Geographic channel “Doomsday Preppers” there are a lot of people over the country stocking up on supplies in the hope of being able to survive (months) a natural disaster or power grid failure. Many agree with this philosophy. Who could argue that it is a smart idea to be prepared? As a provider we should take reasonable measures to have our family prepared for hard times both mentally and physically. In this life, Christians have something more precious to protect than material things. Preparing our souls for eternity is much more important. We have been promised a gift that nothing can compare to, a home not made with hands (2Corinthians 5:1). So even if disasters come our way, we can be sure God will take care of His children. As a Christian we have a peace of mind from our faith in God’s word and believing that through …