Which Way?

Friends
 
Have you ever been on a trip and got lost?  It used to happen to me all the time.  I get lost, I come to a dead end, I have to decide which way do I turn, left or right?  Most of the time, I ended up going in the opposite direction of what I think. (I have no sense of direction). 
 
Of course, now a days, we all have cell phones, and GPS systems built right into the car. It’s easier to program an address, instead of asking a stranger for help and then praying you get to the right place.  The GPS, or the Global Positioning System, is a global navigation satellite system that uses at least 24 satellites, a receiver and algorithms to provide location, velocity and time synchronization for air, sea and land travel.  The satellite system consists of six earth-centered orbital planes, each with four satellites. With a GPS you don’t need any connection, it just works, and in almost all-weather conditions. 
 
GPS what it can do for you:

  • Location — Determining a position.

  • Navigation — Getting from one location to another

  • Tracking — Monitoring object or personal movement

  • Mapping — Creating maps of the world

  • Timing — Making it possible to take precise arrival measurements

 
This is a good thing for each one us.  It guides us in the right direction.  By now, you are probably wondering how does this applies to the Christian life? 
John 16:13 NLT, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” 
 
As believers, we have been given the Holy Spirit not only as our ‘map maker’, but as a Helper, Teacher, Friend, and Seal for the promised inheritance of eternal life with God. He knows how to navigate through all the twists and turns we face, and He helps us get to the right location, and at the right time.  We don’t have a need to ask a stranger (non-believer) for directions, because as believers we have the greatest GPS (Guiding Parental Spirit) ever created! The connection never fails, and once we ‘turn on’ His GPS, we will never be lost again. His presence, guidance, and wisdom in our lives are our greatest gifts while here on earth.  Through Him we have access to a direct connection with our heavenly Father.  Through Him we receive spiritual gifts to empower us.  And through Him we can bear the incredible fruit of abundant life.  Open your heart and mind to all that the Holy Spirit would give you, show you, and lead you to this week.
 
The Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us as believers directs us to the gateway of the heart of God. It’s through Him that we can know the thoughts, emotions, and will of the Father.  It’s through Him that we grow in our revelation of God through Scripture.  And it’s through Him that we encounter God’s manifest presence.
 
We have in the Holy Spirit the same Teacher who faithfully breathed the perfect and practical words of Scripture to imperfect men across thousands of years.  John 14:26 CEV says, “But the Holy Spirit will come and help you, because the Father will send the Spirit to take my place. The Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I said while I was with you.”
 
Not only did the Holy Spirit teach the disciples, but He also longs to teach us.  He longs to reveal to us the depths of God so that we might learn what it is to be a true follower of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  He longs to show us the wisdom of God so that we might live as men and women inspired by God rather than fools who find their knowledge only in the matters of the world.  Let’s open our minds and hearts to receive the wisdom that can only come from God Himself in the Holy Spirit. Who's in your drivers seat?
 
Make Every Day Count!
 
Barry
 
Please come Sunday and learn how the Holy Spirit can guide you on your journey!

Choose Wisely

Friends

Starting this coming Sunday (September 16th) we are beginning a new series called “Which Door Do I Choose?”  Have you ever walked into a building where there were 4 doors to pick from?  If you are like me, you start talking to yourself and wondering which door do I choose, which is the right door for where I’m going?  This is a lot like life; we have so much to choose from, and sometimes it’s hard to know which door to pick. 

Did you know that you and I must choose to be who God wants us to be?  So, let me ask you a question, what matters most in your life?  It all starts with God.  He embodies truth.  What is right and wrong gets its meaning in the character of God Himself.  Dishonesty is wrong because God is honest.  Unfaithfulness is wrong because God is faithful. You can know truth by looking at how God interacts with us.

What do you think is the biggest reason people struggle to make the right choices?  Overwhelmingly, fear is the answer.

•Fear of the unknown

•Fear of failure

•Fear of getting hurt

•Fear of what others will think

•Fear of rejection

•Fear of missing out on something better

•Fear of making the wrong decision

Moses is a good example of a person in the Bible that we can look to for guidance on how to choose wisely.  If you study him, you will discover he struggled with the same things you and I do today.  He did not get it right every time, but he kept trying each day and in each situation.  He finally started making good decisions based on what mattered to God. We call that Value.  What does God value?  If you read Hebrews 11:26 NIV, “He (Moses) regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”  He chose God’s way, not the easy way nor the world’s way.

Moses clarified what mattered most to him.  Let me ask you this question again: What matters most in your life?  Think about it like this, what are the top three things you value most in your life? Can you name them easily? 

If you can’t, then you certainly can’t live by them.  You are not living your values if you can’t even name them.  Before you go one more day, you need to sit down and ask, “What’s most important to me?  What are the top values in my life?”  And you need to write them out, because until you clarify your values, you can’t live by them.

Moses chose God’s values over the world’s values.  Why is this so important?  Because if you don’t decide what’s important in your life, other people are going to decide for you.  They are going to push you into their mold.  And you are going to live your life by their values, not yours.  You have got to decide what’s most important to you and then live by those values.

If this is not tough enough then you realize that life is full of gray areas; choices that individuals or families can make—and even biblically defend, whichever side of an issue they may come down on.  When faced with an unknown that could be argued either way, consider the following criteria.  I started using Romans 14:19 Message, “So, let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other.  Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.”

There are 4 reminders that will help you make the right decisions. 

• Chose Wisely.

While you may theoretically feel the freedom to indulge in a pleasure or activity, permission alone should not be the final determinant in your decision-making.  What if you and your family would be better off if you chose to forego something, even if you felt a personal green light yourself for doing it?  Would not forgoing it be the wiser way to go?

• Chose to Love

Look at 1 Peter 4:8 Message, “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.”  Love for others, not your own preferences and desires, should be a main filter that every decision of yours runs through.  Your actions or decisions may be fine on a superficial level, but do they stand up to the test of love?

• Chose to Be Uplifting

Choices are never made in a vacuum.  They either build up or cause damage to those who observe you.  Especially in families, kids tend to embrace what their parents tolerate.  So, when gauging the wisdom of doing something, don’t think only of its rightness or wrongness.  Think about who it may affect.

• Chose to Care

Others will be much quicker to notice your behaviors than to ask you for your reasons and rationales for why you are okay with them.  Realizing this, will the silent perception you are sending be one that helps protect the people you influence, or will it do more harm and raise more questions?

God will reward those who wisely invest their lives.  Everything we have been given really belongs to God.  Do not let fear or greed keep you from thinking through how you can use all you have been given to live a life that is successful.  Prayerfully seek the Lord, asking how you can invest your time and talents into something that is eternal.

Don’t let others make your choices for you. Let God mold you into who you are meant to be!

Come and join us for great new series. 

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

God is looking for People...

Friends
 
This coming Sunday is the last message in the summer series called “Encouragement.”  The final message is called “God is looking for people” I love the verse found in 2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 
 
Throughout the Scriptures and throughout the history of the Christian church, we find that God has done unexpected things with unexpected people.  He has done extraordinary things through ordinary people.  When you re-read the key verse for today, the verse does not say God is looking for strong men and women; it says God is looking for people whom He can be strong on behalf of.  I have said this many times, God is not looking for ability as much as He is looking for availability.
 
When Jesus Christ was here on the earth, God did what He wanted to do through the body of Christ physically.  And all that God did, He did through His Son, Jesus Christ.  But Jesus Christ died, was resurrected and went back to heaven.  Today, God still works through the body of Christ.  But the body of Christ is you and me.  We are the body of Christ.  We are His eyes, His hands, His feet.  And what God used to do through Jesus Christ, physically, He now wants to do through His spiritual body, the body of Christ.  He does not do it through groups, but He does it through individuals. 
When God was looking for a man to lead the nation Israel, whom did He select?  He chose a boy named David who was watching over a flock of sheep.  When God wanted someone to lead an army to defeat the Midianites, the enemies of Israel, whom did God choose?  He chose a cowardly man named Gideon who couldn’t even muster up the courage to show himself publicly.
 
When God was looking for a leader of the army of Israel He chose a woman named Deborah, and she lead them to victory.  It’s almost as though the Lord goes out of His way to choose someone and then raise up him or her.  Then people will have to stand back and say, “This is the work of the Lord.”
 
One thing is clear in the Scriptures: The individuals God found to carry out His work did not necessarily look like they would amount to much.  He chose people who, at first glance, did not even to appear to have what it took for the task at hand.
 

"God is looking for people thru whom He can do the impossible. What a pity we plan only things we can do by ourselves"
AW Tozer

 
God is searching for people who want to worship Him.  Worship must be vital and real from within and it must be based on a true perception of God.  We should worship Him in “spirit and truth” which means that real worship comes from the spirit within and is based on true views of God.  Worship must have heart and worship must have head. Worship must engage your emotions and worship must engage your thoughts.  Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full of unspiritual fighters. Emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates flaky people who reject the discipline of rigorous thought.  True worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine.
 
God is searching for people who want to grow spiritually.  Jesus said, "But the time is coming—indeed it's here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way" (John 4:23 NIV).
 
Jesus told a story called the “Parable of the Sower”, which is a parable about spiritual growth and how people respond to the Word of God.  The bottom line is that we decide what kind of soil our hearts will have by the way we hear God's Word.  We determine whether the soil of our hearts will be responsive.
 
God is looking for people who will stand in gap for others.  Ezekiel 22:30 NIV, "I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one."
Israel was far from God, (sounds like today).  The leaders were abusing their God-given power.  The people turned their God-given desire to worship towards worthless idols. God's chosen people were making choices against Him.  And God looked for someone ... anyone ... to build up the spiritual walls and stand in the gap.  But He found no one.  Can you believe this?
 
God is still looking for people to build spiritual walls and stand in the gap.  He is looking for moms more concerned about their daughter's walk with God than their circle of popular friends.  He is looking for fathers more concerned about their son's heart than their batting average.  He is looking for leaders unwilling to compromise regardless of the pressure.  He is looking for men and women to stand strong in the face of culture. He is looking for people who will demonstrate to family and friends what it looks like in real life to follow hard after God.
 
Here's the question.  As God looks for someone to build up the wall and stand before Him in the gap, whom will He find?  Here is the bigger question--will He find you?
 
So, if you want to grow spiritually, you will.  And if you don't want to grow spiritually, you won't.  It is as simple as that.
 
Make Every Day Count!
 
Barry
 
Come Sunday God is looking for you!

Motivation

Friends

How does a believer keep his or her motivation?  I understand the motivation of the new believer, but how does one stay motivated in the day-to-day living, year after year?

Motivation is an art, and like any art it requires wisdom and skill.  And like any art, it can be done poorly. An agitated verbal assault from the pulpit may be an awkward spectacle that goes viral on YouTube, but, we know berating Christians into service by a verbal lashing from the pulpit is a powerless strategy.

So, let me ask you to think about it in biblical terms this way, “How do you keep from losing your first love?” (Revelation 2:4 NIV).  When you come to know Christ and put your faith in Him, Jesus changes your life.  You are excited about Him, and everything in life is a contrast to what it was before.  But over the long haul, how do you keep that motivation going? How do you sustain a Christ-centered life?

The world is motivated by self and the aggrandizement of self, the all-about-me syndrome, which is identified by self-determination, self-obsession and self-worship. The Bible does not teach us to be centered on ourselves.  In fact, it teaches just the opposite. Jesus said, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12; Luke 9:48  NIV).  As followers of Christ, we are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24 NIV).  The cross was an instrument of death, and Jesus’ message to us is that only those who die to self will truly follow Him.  We do that by doing nothing out of vanity and conceit, but instead considering others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3 NIV).

Jesus set the example for our motivation in this life: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:34 NIV).  Jesus was concerned with pleasing His Father, and so should we be motivated by that same concern.  He always did the Father’s will, motivated by pleasing Him through obedience (John 8:29 NIV).  His obedience extended all the way to the cross where He humbled Himself and “became obedient unto death” (Philippians 2:8 NIV).  Our motivation should be the same as His—the obedience by which we prove we are truly His. “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15 NIV).

So how do you spend time with God?  By opening His Word and spending regular time there.  I know that believers used to talk a lot more about daily devotions and time with God, but I think many people started feeling like, “That is just a check-off the box, superficial kind of Christianity.  I don’t want to just think, ‘Okay, I had my quiet time. So now I’m okay, and that’s all it takes.’”

Well, of course that’s not all it takes.  But I would maintain that it is a significant part of sustaining our relationship with the Lord, because I need to spend time in God’s Word every day.  During the days when I don’t, I really see a difference in my eternal perspective (and my lack of perspective).

So, I would encourage you to spend daily time in God’s Word.  It can be a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year type of program, or one of many programs that provide daily readings of both Old and New Testament passages.  You can go online and look at devotional books that help lead you through Scripture. Connect with a Life Group here at the church. These weekly groups study the Bible.  In these groups you dig deeper in the Word, learning a lot more than I can share with you on Sunday morning.

Time in prayer should be integrated into your time in the Word. I confess that when I set aside time in prayer and it is all without reference to God’s Word, I can get sort of lost.  So, what I will do is pray Scripture, sometimes out loud to myself as I read.

I would recommend reading in Colossians 1 where Paul prays for the Colossians, and then repeat the things he prays for: the knowledge of God’s will, a greater Christlikeness, conformity to His image, and a greater thankfulness of heart.

Look at a good model, the apostle Paul had a strong commitment to know and serve Jesus Christ.  His passion and love for the Lord was obvious—Jesus was always central in his thinking, whether he was working as a tent maker, preaching to the crowd, or even sitting in chains at prison. What fueled his love for the Lord?

Paul’s conversion experience on the Damascus Road was a motivating force in his life. Grateful for the gift of grace he had received at salvation, the apostle told many people about his encounter with the resurrected Christ and its impact on him.  We, too, have a story to tell of God's mercy in saving us and of the new life we have in Him.

All these things help us stay motivated about the Lord so that we don’t live a Christian life of drudgery where we wearily put one foot in front of another, thinking, “I’m going to try my best to be obedient.”  Instead, a better cry is Paul’s from Philippians 3: “I want to know Christ.” He’d known him for thirty years, but he wanted to know Him better every day.

Our relationship with Christ needs to be a love relationship, and although we certainly want to be obedient and need to obey Him even when we don’t feel like it, we’re nonetheless daily asking God to be present in our lives.  We can trust He will answer that prayer because He has promised us, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20 NKJV).  As we pursue knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, may we sense the very presence of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives.

Make Every Day Count!

Barry

Come and get motivated!