Description Today we are going to look at one of the stories from the end of Paul's life. Who was Paul? He says he was a sinner who obtained mercy and was saved by Jesus Christ. And he takes the message of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In Acts 27 we read of a voyage Paul found himself on.He was a prisoner because of his faith in Jesus and under the watch of Julius. The weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel because it was so late in the fall. Paul spoke up and said, "I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on." But the officer in charge listened more to the ship's captain than to Paul and the voyage continued. A huge storm came up and the ship was driven. They began throwing cargo overboard to lighten the ship because they were in fear of sinking. They lost all control and all hope was gone.
Shipwrecked: How this speaks to our lives today Like these men, maybe you feel your life is shipwrecked. You may feel dead in the water, out of control, overwhelmed, and hopeless. Where is the hope? This hope we have as an anchor for our souls: God's presence, God's promises, and God's power.
The strong anchor of God's Presence: Paul encouraged everyone on board to take heart, that no life would be lost only the ship. God's presense is a rock-solid anchor when we go through life's storms. He will never leave us. He is always with us.
The strong anchor of God's Promises: Paul was told, "Do not be afraid." He encouraged the others to believe God.God's promises are a strong anchor to hold onto when you go through storms. He has plans to give us a future and a hope. He has redeemed us, called us by name, and promised He would be with us.
The strong anchor of God's Power: The ship ran aground near an island and everyone jumped overboard to swim to shore. They all escaped safely to land. If God is powerful enough to create the universe, He is powerful enough to help you! With God nothing is impossible.
What kind of storm are you in right now? Does it feel out of control or hopeless? Cling to the strong anchors of God's presence, promises, and power! He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20).
Description Are you a football fan? We are in the second half of NFL season right now. One of the marks of a successful football team is the ability to change their game plan as needed at half time. Life can be a lot like football. So, let's imagine for a moment that you are in the game of life. The clock is winding down in the second quarter and you are entering half time. It's time to reassess. Let's talk about how to refocus your life and finish strong.
The Old Testament Saul In 1 Samuel 10 King Saul was at the top of his game. Only a few minutes before hale time, everything was good. Until Samuel, their spiritual leader, was late for an appointment. God used Samuel's late arrival to test Saul's heart. Saul took matters into his own hands. King Saul lost focus and edged out God. When EGO takes over it leads to trouble. Pride comes before a fall. King Saul set himself up at the authority. As a result the second half of his life was vastly different than the first. He went into battle without God's blessing. Three of his four sons were killed. His decisions affected his family. In grief, he fell on his sword and committed suicide. It was a tragic end to a life that started out strong.
The New Testament Saul He did not start off right. He hated Christians and sought to persecute them. In Acts 9:4-5, God got his attention. This was half time - a defining moment for Saul. Your response to God's promptings will determine the direction of your life. In that moment, Saul chose wisely. As a result Saul was changed from the inside out. His name was changed to Paul. He entered the second half with a new game plan. Paul wrote letters that later became books of the Bible. Allow God to transform you.
Today is Half Time Which Saul do you want to become. New life starts with a decision. You will need to say "No" to sin and "Yes" to a new way of living. It's time to refocus. God wants you life - ALL OF YOU. Give yourself completely to god. It will be worth it. God wants you to take a spiritual step towards Him. Now is the time.
Description Today I want to challenge you with one simple idea. I want to plead with you to give your life to Christ. In today's passage we see the people in Jesus' day were pretty much like us, they struggled to find freedom from their culture and be different for Christ. It's a struggle to get past our love for this world and embrace the life to which we've been called. We are ambassadors for Christ.
What does that really mean? First, an ambassador is someone who represesents the interests of others. Second, an ambassador is someone who bears the message of the one who sent him.Offer yourself to Him as a living sacrifice and say with me, "I'm an ambassdor for Christ." To be a better ambassador for Christ, there are several things that need to become a reality in our life.
Become convinced of the terror of God. If we are saved we'll stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account for what we did with Christ. In Christ we are safe and secure. Those who are lost will face the Great White Throne Judgment - that place where God condems everyone who refused His Son. Apart from Jesus we are the targets of the righteous terror of the Lord, in Christ, we've been delivered from it. God has placed people in your life - You may be the only voice they'll hear. Don't be content to let a child of God be far from the Lord and face Him with a wasted life. Vs 11 Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.
Be gripped by the compelling love of Christ. Because of our sin everyone had to die, but Jesus died in our place. Those who choose to give their lives to Christ in salvation are raised to new life. While we were sinners Christ died for us. Spend time reflecting on the love He has for you. Does the love that Jesus Christ has for you compel you to love all people the way He did?
Come to terms with your new identity in Christ. Who are you living for? What's keeping you from representing Christ out there? Give you life to Christ and live for Him, He will open your eyes to see people the way He does. God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse you from all unrighteous ness. You have the Spirit of the Living God residing inside you. Take a step of faith. Will you accept the higher calling of Christ? He has given you a ministry - reconciling people to God through the message of Jesus Christ.
We're here to be ambassadors - to represent the interests of our homeland(heaven) - in this land.
Description What is a dream? A condition or achievement that is longed for, an aspiration.
A dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it. ~John Maxwell.
Let Joseph's story speak to your heart. Joseph was a dreamer. Realize God has good plans for your life. If you've given up on dreams, it's time to dream again. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but where dreams come true, there is life and joy. Write down the dreams, hopes and desires you have in your heart. Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. God wants us to dream big dreams!
To dream extraordinary dreams, we must know the extraordinary love of God. Behold the manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. 1 John 3:1
Even if our dream is from the Lord, there will be opposition. Don't let someone else's disapproval or jealousy hinder you from dreaming! There are numerous examples of dreamers who overcame opposition to realize their dreams.
The rest of Joseph's story: He was thrown into a pit and sold into slavery by his brothers. He ended up working for Potiphar and was falsely accused of raping his wife. He ended up in prision...but the Lord was with Joseph. Finally, he ended up working for Pharoah in the palace and his dream came true.
Take the dream test. Discover what your dream is, then do whatever it takes to have what you want!
Description Rebuild, Repair, Restore. For this to happen, we must learn to love one another.
Love One Another Love unconditionally. This is a sign that we are true disciples.1 Corinthians 13 describes agape love.
Accept One Another Accept each other as Jesus accepted us. Acceptance means acknowledging that other people are different than you, and not allowing that to stop you from loving them.
Forgive One Another Forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us. And keep forgiving. Don't stop. How do we deal with offenses and hurts? Go only to that person. Do not talk to someone else about the hurt or offense. Pray first.
Description Nicodemus came to Jesus at night asking questions. He started with a bit of flattery, but Jesus knows what is in a man. Jesus knows Nicodemus is a man who seeks truth. So he comes at him head on with the truth - no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
Nicodemus asks, "How can this be?" Jesus seems to be messing with Nicodemus' head a bit. He is not only curious, but likely getting a little confused. And what Jesus is basically saying to him is: "you have read the scripture Nicodemus; this is not new stuff that I am telling you, remember the prophets?"
As Jesus continues to share scripture he goes on to tell Nicodemus not to try too hard to figure it all out because it's kind of like attempting to follow the wind. But Nicodemus continues to ask questions, "How can this be?" Then if he is not confused enough, he hears for probably the first time "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." This the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deed were evil. You must be born again.
So once again, the curious Nicodemus leaves as confused Nicodemus. It's not about what you have learned or what you did, it is considering what Jesus has done through the cross. It is by grace you have been saved through faith, it is a gift from God. Lift the name of Jesus high in your heart. Accept the full Gospel - the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It may be simple, but it is not easy - the hardest journey is from your head to your heart. If your actions are not for God they are evil - if you are not with God you are against Him. You must be born again.
It is only through the sacrifice of Christ that you can ever approach the throne of God. When you are born again, you become a temple for the Holy Spirit to reside and you can commune with God all the time.
If you truly have spiritual rebirth you will be motivated to do spiriual things: Prayer is a vital connection between your spirit and God's Spirit. Read the Bible. The Word of God will give you truth that can change your life. Focus on the Will of God rather than the will of self.
Description Changing the world requires consistent choices to follow Christ daily. Let's explore some ways we can do that.
Dream Big, Act Small Be kind, be tenderhearted, and forgive each other. Think about those people who have changed history. In the case where change was for the good, we see small steps and people who didn't act alone. The most powerful change is slow and steady. The church gives us support and accountability. Change in the world happens one person at a time.
Recognize Eternal True togetherness means a shared purpose. The real battle is a spiritual one. Ephesians encourages us to be strong in the Lord and His power putting on the armor of God and also to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests for all the Lord's people.
Stay Connected Hebrews exhorts us to meet together and encourage one another. Isolation kills. Even Jesus surrounded himself with a group of people. We need real connection and authentic relationships. Living as part of God's family matters. Together we find peace, experience love, grow stronger, and we can change the world!
Description There is Strength in Numbers Examples from nature: When the largest most powerful rivers start, they are mere drops of snowmelt finding their way downhill. Drops beconme trickles, trickles become channels, channels become streams, eventually streams become rivers. Animals naturally group together to survive. Our togetherness as believers is about strength for moving forward. Our differences are key! Unity is not the same as uniformity. More people means more - influence, creativity, ability, skill, compassion, relationship, love, and impact on the world around us. We are headed toward the fullness of Christ.
We are One Ephesians compares the church to a physical body. It tells us there is one body and one Spirit. Belonging is survival - when all the parts are working together as one, the body functions smoothly and correctly. We as the church are told to be one.
Growth Requires Change Actions shape our thoughts. Most change is not overnight - it is slow and takes work. To see growth we must choose to act in obedience to God. Trust God and do the next thing. Growth is a process.
The church will always be made up of imperfect people. Acknowledge it. Accept it. But don't use it as an excuse or settle for practices that fall short of God's best for us. Together we grow stronger.
Description Some things just go together. For instance: Salt and pepper, Peanut butter and jelly, Batman and Robin, Adam and Eve,
Hide and seek, Pros and cons. This demonstrates the power of things that have become so closely associated that they are insperable. Now, what do people think of when they hear the word church? You may have a word that comes to mind, but it's not likely the same for everyone. Depending on your experience, the association could be positive, negative, or somewhere in between. I want to challenge us as a church to consider what it would take to build an insperable link between church and love.
Together We Experience Love We are on this journey together. God's love is wider, longer, higher, and deeper - it is immeasurable. Love is relational. It is together that our ability to grasp God's love deepens. We find support, belonging, acceptance, encouragement and strength from others.
Love is God's Plan Being willing to humbly recognize our need for help, for forgiveness, for strength, for a deeper kind of life - then allows us to be known and to know God and others authentically. We're able to receive support and encouragement, and to offer acceptance and help to others. According to 1 John, God IS love. Everyone will know that we are His disciples if we love one another.
Love Binds Us Together As One Love can't be experienced alone. Love is something that is given and shared. God calls us to be TOGETHER.
How can we creat an insperable association between church and love?
CONNECTION: Where are you plugged in? Where would you like to be?
COMFORT: Be there for each other.
COLLABORATION: It is working together toward a purpose.
It is love that guides and unifies us and our efforts. It is Christ living in us that allows His love to grow in and flow through us. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Description Today we begin a 4-week Back To Church series entitled Together. The church is like Legos - a collection of invididuals of various sizes, shapes, and colors. When we come together the way God intended, we from the church. Together we are on this journey of transformation. Over the next four weeks we will discover Together - we find peace, we experience love, we grow stronger, and we can change the world. Join us on this journey.
This week's focus - Together We Find Peace
Peace in Unity The church is our place of belonging. All believers are of the same status - sinners in need of grace. Recognize that it is grace that has saved us. Grace brings us together in unity. Jesus broke down the deepest divisions of eternity between God and man and the deepest divisions of humanity between God's covenant people and others. Jesus brought peace.
Peace in God's Presence Christ Himself is our peace. We experience peace as a fruit of God's Spirit living in and through us. Peace is the presence of God in His people.
The Way of Peace Through Jesus death and resurrection, He made the way of peace available to us. When we surrender to His power and accept His life, we embrace the way of peace. Our peace goes beyond a circumstance or feeling. The Holy Spirit is our source of peace. We fit together to form the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit fills and enables us with the peace of Christ.
Description God is everything we will ever need, but do we believe it? That will determine our path. Realize God is our provider, no matter how things appear. Don't be anxious about anything. Stand firm with Jesus.
Description Stewardship of time, talent and money is thinking too small. Stewardship is about shared ministry. It involves the whole person. God wants us totally. God wants everything that makes us gloriously unique. Why? Because He is sovereign. The "I" and "me" fights against God.
All things are a gift from God. Happiness, love, joy, peace, security and significance all flow from our relationship with God. The focus and energy of our life, thoughts, time and talents are going to be where ever our treasure - our heart - is at.
What is it that I manage? Whatever God has placed in my hand. God can take the ordinary and make it extraoridinary when we see with spiritual eyes.
God has placed opportunity in our hand to evangelize, empathize, and energize. He has given us talents and abilities that He enables. He has given us power to demolish obstacles and to accomplish. There are natural and spiritual giftings. Natural giftings would include talents given before birth, personality, unique experiences or hurts. Spiritua gifts are given when we become a believer from the Holy Spirit. Every Christian has atleast one spiritual gift. The reason for gifts are to equip the saints for ministry, to build up the body of Christ, and to bring each other to maturity.
If everyone does not bring or exercise their gifts the body of Christ suffers, is not fully equipped, and lacks in maturity. To be a good steward, we must identify our gifts, understand and develop our gifts, excercise our gifting, encourage and assist others.
Description No one really likes to hear a sermon about money, but in Scripture there are more than 2,000 verses that deal with money or possessions. So based on that it is a subject that needs to be talked about. In 1 Timothy we read that the love of money, not money, is the root of all kinds of evil. We all realize money is needed to live, so money in itself is not evil.
What you do with your money shows what you value with your heart. According to Luke 12, where your money goes your heart goes. So money is an indicator of where your heart is at. So let's talk about a some things you should do in regards to money.
Make a budget. Proverbs says the plans of the diligent leads to profit. A budget is simply a written plan. Track your spending, see where your money goes, and establish a budget.
Save for the future This is what Proverbs has to say - He who gathers little by little makes it grow. The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends everything. Ask yourself, "Am I saving money?"
Avoid debt The rich rule over the poor and the slave to the lender. We are better off to avoid consumer debt.
Put God first in your finances Honor the Lord with you wealth and your first fruits. The generous never seem to go without and are characterized by an joyful, loving spirit. Tithe simply means 10%. Why should we tithe? Out of gratitude for the past, to keep priorities straight for today, and demonstrate faith for tomorrow.
Money will not make you happy Instead of looking to wealth for fulfillment, look to God. Make sure your heart treasures God!
Description Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12. The hardest thing to hand over to God is our time.
Walk Circumspectly To look round about on all hands; to be every way watchful, wary, and cautious, in order to avoid danger and discern enemies.Questions: Have I faithfully served God with the time He has given me? Have I shown God to those around me? The average Christian spends less than 15 minutes a week in prayer. Our day also should be invested in neighbors. We must prioritize our lives.
Redeeming the Time To buy up those moments others seem to throw away. Seizing opportunities to rescue or recover our time from waste. Let time be your chief commodity. Time is that on which eternity depends.
Relationships Require Our Time Time with people: We are not meant to be solitary creatures. We are to be social creatures. Godly relationships are important to our maturity as Christians. Having relationships requires time. Relationships are intentional. Time with God: We do not learn to walk with God in five minute devos. Devotions can't take the place of the Bible. The early church was continually devoted to the apostles' teaching and fellowship.
We all have 24 hours a day. Let us use our time wisely.
Description What is stewardship? Managing something that is entrusted to your care. An Old Testament steward held the highest position in a household and was in charge of it. In th New Testament stewards must be found trustworthy, exhorted to be faithful and wise--To whom much is given, much is required.
We are to be stewards of God. We don't own anything. Everything we have belongs to God and has been given to us to manage for God's glory. When we grasp this principle it changes how we perceive our use of God's resourses--time, energy, money, creativity, talents, spiritual gifts, and relationships. One day we will give an account of what God entrusted to us so we will know, and He will know, if He can entrust us with all things. We are called to be joint heirs with Jesus.
God has sown something in you and I. The good soil produces fruit from the seed God has placed in us, some 30, 60 or 100 fold. The amount of return matters not, what is important is that we use what He has placed in us.
What is God's expectation? That we bear fruit by doing the work of the ministry. The use of what God has given us yields fruit, and because of that fruit we are given more. The seed of Christ is planted in us. Will we allow it to mature in us.
The challenge: Live life in god, walking with Him. Be a minister. Grasp your calling. The God of the universe will take notice and reward you openly. Be a good steward of all that God has given you.
Description Do you ever wonder if your life has amounted to much? Do you ever rehearse a lifetime of regrets, and wish you had one big do-over, to go back and live life differently? What kind of life should we live if we really want a life worth living?
A life worth living is productive in things that count. "Bearing fruit in every good work." The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Focus on what matters - loving God and loving people.
A life worth living is growing ever closer to God. "Growing in the knowledge of God." A growing awareness of who God is. Know God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is relational knowledge.
A life worth living is able to handle the unexpected with grace. "Be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience." Endurance - refers to trying situations or difficult problems. Stay the course, don't give up. Patience - literally translates "long suffering". Putting up with trying people. Slow to anger.
A life worth living is thankful to God. "Giving joyful thanks to the Father." Thankful for rescue, salvation, and forgiveness.
Description Love God and love your neighbor...Jesus made it simple. Focus on what matters.
In this passage in Mark 1, look at who Jesus chose as his disciples. Jesus continues to choose people others would cast off. God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks. Everything we have - right thinking, right living, a clean slate, and a fresh start - comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.
Remember Who Did the Choosing Despite our unworthiness, Jesus added us to His team. It should fill our hearts with joy! He first loved us. It should fill our hearts with humbility! He chose us while we were sinners. Remember feelings are unreliable in matters of faith.
Chosen Leads to Choices We are chosesn disciples of Jesus. The #1 choice we must make is to obey. Disciples make decisions in spite of feelings - they simply obey. It's that simple, disciples obey. Our level of discipleship will be determined by the depth of our obedience. Weigh every choice in light of our choice to obey Jesus! Let Jesus become Master of our lives!
Description Scripture tells us that nothing can drive a wedge between us and God's love. Do you know who you are and whose you are? As God's children we have to lay hold of all God has done for us! Surrender all to Jesus daily.
Look towards the future - let go of the past. Jesus overcame and His love for us conquered all. We have been forgiven completely. Jesus sacrifice took care of the past once and for all. There is nothing God is not willing to do to help one of his children. We must be willing to put on what He has given us every day and walk in it.
Forgiveness offers freedom from condemnation. God's laws guide us towards His grace. All the blessings we enjoy freely today were made possible by Jesus' finished work on the cross. The One who died for us, who was raised to life for us, is in the presence of God this moment sticking up for us. Don't let your past keep you from your future.
God thinks of you the every same way He thinks of His son Jesus. Come on over to God's marvelous and miraculouse way of thinking! Learn to walk in God's blessings and realize that you are worthy of them all.
Description The church family James shows the importance of each one of us carrying our share of the workload in the Kingdom of God. Whenever there's a job to be done, a class to attend, or a meeting to attend, one name on the top of everyone's list: "Let Someone Else do it." Today I am here to say, "Someone Else is no longer with us." So it is up to each of us to pick up the slack and accomplish the work. There is no one to accomplish the work that God has called us to do.
Our actions provide concrete evidence of true faith. Faith must be visible in the way we live our lives. Genuine faith is always put into action. James is not advocating that salvation is based upon works. The works that James is writing about are done because of faith. James seems to imply that God is going to hold each of us accountable.
When it came to placing our trust fully in the Lord, it seemed only Someone Else was willing to do it. The area this is most evident - stewardship. This involves money, time and talents. True faith requires that we trust God completely. True faith always has a direct effect upon a believer's attitude and behavior. Two essential ingredients: commitment and right actions.
Almost every Christian will say they want the church to grow, but their actions say something different. When there is a need, God expects action. God will never look kindly on us if we keep passing our own responsibilities on to Someone Else. Empty words say we are concerned, but never do anything. Do something.
A living faith is always active and productive. A faith that moves mountains is always a working faith. Action is the proof of living faith. Display faith that is never concerned about receiving the credit, but wanting God to get the glory.
Faith will take us places where we have never been before!
Description "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." It is time for our thinking to be changed.
Committed to God's Word
God's Word is truth Commitment requires agreeing in your mind. Paul appeals to our will - make a choice in the way you live for God. Believe the Word is truth and act on it.
God's Word is Life One thing that is constant - God's Word.
God's Word is Power Romans 10:14,15, Hebrews 4:12
Committed to God's Work
In You You are a work in progress. You are being changed into His image from glory to glory. "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, it is our reasonable service." God's work in you is a spiritual work, but it begins in the mind. You can accept or refuse it.
In the Church Proverbs 3:9-10 First fruits refer to your tithe. Everything else is offering above and beyond the tithe.
In the World God is working in the world convicting people of their need for a Savior. God opens doors for you and empowers you.
Committed to God's Worth
Knowing that God is Merciful
Knowing that God is Just
Knowing that God's Will is Perfect
Are you committed to change? Are you commtted to God's Word, His Work, and His Worth? Take that first step.
Description Holiness is our calling. God has called us to be saints. Holiness has two components: the call to God's special purposes, and the call to purity.
Grace is the gift to be free from the slavery of sin. This gift leads to holiness. Holiness makes us eligible to reap, or receive, eternal life. Unholy behaviors bring us misery, corruption, and death.
God has called us out of the ranks of mankind. "Church" means called out ones. Holiness has to do with calling. We care called even before our behaviors are cleansed or changed. Holiness exists by degrees. So holiness is a separation to God and service to Him.
Holiness as moral purity. Holiness is our response to God, righteousness is our response to people. A holy personality can distinquigh between that which pleases God and that which displeases God. Some acts, like lying, are both unrighteous and unholy. The closer we draw to the Lord, the more holiness becomes an issue.
What if someone called to be a saint continues in unholy behavior? Consider Amos 3:2. Holiness is a sign of a circumsiced heart. The church is not about how many come on Sunday, it's about discipleship, cross-carrying obedience, and offering up our lives as a living sacrifice. In order to be true and faithful witnesses of God we must be growing in holiness each day.
Do we desire holiness? If the desire is not there, ask God for that desire and passion. As you are made aware of unholiness, confess it, renounce it, resist it, and ask God for strength and help.
On Memorial Day we mourn the loss, remember the lives, and are thankful for the sacrifice. As we prepare to remember those who died for our country, it is important to remember the One who died to set us free from our sins.Jesus fought the armies of Hell so that we might have liberty in His name.
So first, as we mourn the loss of Christ, we realize that we are the guilty ones. If there was only one sinner who was lost, He still would have died. His love is that great.
Next, we remember the lives. On the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, the disciples were remembering Jesus. Part of our emotional healing in the process of grief is to remember the lives of the loves ones who have passed. What must we remember about Jesus? He set an example of how to live and love. Our life should reflect that love.
Finally, we are thankful for the sacrifice. We take communion to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us. His body was broken and his blood shed for each one of us. As Americans, we have the luxuries of this country because men and women gave their lives for it. Similarly, the price Jesus paid afforded us salvation. We have the promise of salvation and we did nothing to afford this luxury. For this we must be thankful.
Description My God, my God, why have you forsaken me...Have you ever been there? In Psalm 22, this is exactly where David found himself. After saying this, he goes on to say, "But You are holy, O You who are enthroned in the praises of Israel." He declares that his fathers trusted and God rescued them.They were not disappointed or ashamed. When we ask, "Lord, what can I do?" The answer is simple - Praise the Lord!
David tells how he feels and it wasn't good. You get the feeling he was almost at the point of giving up, but he did not. There are many biblical examples of praise. Psalm 150 gives us different reasons and ways to praise. Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing. When praise came first the victory was won.
God inhabits the praise of His people. Russ Taff wrote a powerful song titled "Praise the Lord" that speaks of our struggles and the urge to submit to earthly fears dropping powerless behind us when we praise the Lord. God is enthroned on the praise of His people!
As believers, God is always with us. When we praise God, we announce that presence of God to ourselves. When we praise it places God first in our lives.
What does God being enthroned on our praise really mean? When God is first in our lives...when we praise Him...when we announce His presence to ourselves...we have a closeness...an intimate relationship...that we cannot have when we are in opposition to the will of God.
Description The Hand of Herod
In the Scripture today we see that Herod the King stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. He had the power of the Roman army behind him. The Jewish religious leaders hated Herod since he was not a Jew. He used his power to destroy the church.
The Place of Help
Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. The spirit of Herod lives on in attacks made against the church and against God's people. We respond in many ways when we find ourselves under attack:
We can retreat
We can hide
We can fight back with words or physical force
We can do what the early church did - pray
How did the early church pray? Without ceasing.
Where did they pray? Anywhere - there is power in corporate prayer.
What did they pray? Boldness to speak the word, power to heal, miracles to confirm the truth.
The Open Door
During the night a light shone in the prison, the Lord struck Peter on the side and raised him up, his chains fell off of his hands. Once Peter was free, he went where people were praying. They were praying people, but they were realists. They were praying, but they didn't know how God would answer.
Description The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most powerful event of all time. If it weren't for the resurrection, there would be no need to celebrate the birth of Jesus. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, our faith is futile.
What difference does Easter make?
Our Sins are Forgiven - Jesus paid the full penalty for our sins and accomplished what God had planned. "It is finished." There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Our Lives Have Purpose - Our faith is alive and vital to abundant life. God had a plan for our lives all along. We are His workmanship prepared for good works. We are God's masterpiece, a work of art. We are all different and that's okay. God's purpose is for us is to bring the "Good News" to those around us. How? Through the power of Jesus Christ in us. He gives us the power to change what we cannot.Through the promises of Christ. All the promises of God are yes and amen.
Our Future Is Secure - One day we are all going to die. Only a fool would go through life and not prepare for something we is going to happen. Sincerity, good works, giving up stuff, rituals, heritage, and comparison will not get us to heaven. It's only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There's only one way. It's not about what we know, it's about who we know.
Jesus is our Living Hope. Make it right. Give Him all. Let Him transform your life today.
Description Joshua summoned the Israelite soldiers and commended them for being faithful until the job was done. It had taken seven years. He only makes one request to them - remain faithful to God. There is peace and prosperity, and all is well. Then, one side did something that the other side misunderstood and they are about to fight each other. Most conflicts start with a misunderstanding. Let's look at what happened? There are some valuable lessons we can learn from this story.
Expect tension in your relationships at times. Good communication can alleviate much of that tension. Communicate (explain) intentions ahead of time. Leaders never like surprises. Don't startle people.
Express truth in love. Communicate facts with truth and grace. Avoid responding in anger. Making false accusations in anger is no way to resolve conflict. James 1:20 says, "The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." Avoid wrong assumptions. Respond with respect and grace. If you are falsely accused, avoid a retaliatory attack - speak the truth in love.
Exalt the Lord together. Resolving conflict is not about who is right or wrong. It's about God getting the glory. It is better to "suffer wrong" than to bring disrepute to the cause of Christ. Christ died on the cross to bring reconciliation not only between us and God, but also between us and the other believers.
Description Why is Encouragement so important? People get tired of the weight of responsibility. People feel taken for granted. People have self-doubts.
How to do it:
Be specific - "I appreciate you because_____" or "Thank you for __________." Big compliments can be great when they speak to the heart of who we are, but small compliments let us know people appreciate the little things we do.
Be sincere -
Look at Spiritual Things - Encouragement is rare, but encouragements about spiritual things is even rarer. What would this look life? Look for the spiritual heart beneath the action.
Description Spiritually speaking, there are too many Christians who are walking in circles. God will lead you to your destiny! Do you need victory today? God has requested that you be the one to move this time. You are worthy to have complete victory in your life. Jesus paid the price for your life and no one can take that from you.
From Jeremiah 29:11-13, understand you have great value to God! God has a masterpiece of a plan to provide you with a continual hope and a future. Have you ever tried to help God? It's time to step aside and let God start giving you all that He has for you.
Seek the truth and the truth will set you free. God knows all about us because He made us. We can do all things through him who gives us strength. We can make it through anything in the One who makes us who we are. In the story of Joseph we see that the Lord made all he did to prosper. God is not a respector of persons, God is a respector of faith! He rewards it.
It's time to move into the new. Be willing to step out of the box of mornalcy. There is no situation God cannot turn around. What do you want God to do in your life? Ask Him to reveal His plans for you. He who started a good work in you will be faithful until the day He completes it!