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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Marvelous Mercy – James Smith, 31 December 1855.

the-endI hope everyone has a safe end of the Year celebration but most important I pray that you all have a great New Year for 2013!  The following is an excerpt from the diary of James Smith – it captures the end of year thoughts of being a Christian…

December 31, 1855.
The last day of the year 1855–a year characterized by . . .
many severe trials,
many sore temptations,
and innumerable mercies.

In some things, it closes differently to what I expected–but how differently it may have closed!

I might have been in Hell! O terrible thought!

I might have been on a sick bed, tormented with excruciating pain, or reduced to a state of infantile weakness.

I might have been in great and sore troubles, tossed with tempests, and not comforted.

I might have been without a pastorate–and without a loving people.

Or I might have been guilty of some heinous sin, lost my character, and been a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth!

Blessed, forever blessed be the Lord–that such is not my case!
My health is good,
my hope in Christ is steady,
my congregation good, and
I trust the Lord will yet work a great work by me.

And now, Lord, I desire to confess before you the sins of this past year:

I have sinned with my tongue–and with my temper.

I have sinned in my heart–and in my life.

I have omitted duties.

I have committed sins.

My motives have often been impure.

My aims have not been sufficiently high and holy.

I have been impatient, fretful, irritable, rash, jealous, envious, discontented, and ungrateful.

O may the blood of Jesus wash out every stain!

I renounce all hope–but what centers in Jesus!

I have no refuge, no hiding-place, no strong tower, no place of safety–but Jesus.

Christ in His person,
Christ in His finished work,
Christ in His glorious intercession–
is all my hope, all my confidence, all my joy!

I am His servant–and wish to serve Him alone.
I am His subject–and wish to be ruled by Him alone.
I am His purchased property–and wish to be consecrated entirely, eternally, and altogether to Him!

The Shadow – J.R. Miller

cross-shadow-hands“Shall we indeed accept good from God–and shall we not accept adversity?” Job 2:10

Shall we trust our Father only when our lives are filled with pleasant things–and then not trust Him also when a shadow falls over our hearts? Do you think that God is good–only when He makes all things please you?

Our call is to trust God at all times–whether good or bad. For even if sorrow should enter our home, He is able, even in the midst of sorrow, to make our home-life sweeter, purer, and more Christ-like. If we trust in God, then the shadow will be as rich a blessing to us as the light; and the sorrow will be steps upward, on which our feet may climb Heavenward!

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight!” Proverbs 3:5-6

Learning to Embrace Peace (Jerusalem) 3 of 31

peace-on-earth-handsAnd the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7.

As word was spreading of Israel’s conquest, many of the surrounding people began to fear for their own lives and cities. Adonizedec, the king of Jerusalem (see Joshua 10) gathered around him the kings of Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon to fight against Israel. They were hoping to join together and prevent God’s people from taking their land. Yet Joshua 10 tells us about the mighty victory Israel gained against these kings and their armies. We see a fascinating image of Joshua personally dealing with the kings in this manner:

And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening. And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid, and laid great stones in the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day.   Joshua 10: 24-27.

Jerusalem means “teaching of peace” and that is exactly what this victory was. As the enemy had tried to join together and cause intimidation and fear, God brought a great victory and taught His people to be at peace. Peace is a powerful key to victory. When you can learn to be at peace even in the midst of attack or turmoil, you are able to be victorious even before the battle is over – a person at peace is confident of the outcome.

Philippians 4: 7 says it is a peace that “transcends all understanding.” In our own minds and understanding, the things God has called us to may not line up or make sense. As we trust Him we don’t lean to our own understanding (see Proverb 3: 5-6). And here He calls us to have a peace beyond understanding. God wants us to learn to have and walk in His peace.

One caution is to not mistake relief for peace. Many times we can feel relief and assume it to be peace, but they are not the same. Consider the definitions of each (taken from dictionary.com):

  • Peace is the cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension.
  • Relief is the alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress or oppression…
  • Relief can be deceiving in that you feel better just because the feeling of pain, distress or oppression is gone.
  • Peace is a genuine condition of the heart and spirit that can be present even if the pain, distress or oppression remains.
  • Relief may be the “removal of” these feelings or conditions, but peace is “freedom from” not only the conditions, but also the strife that accompanies the conditions.

The peace of God does not allow conditions and circumstances to have place over you.

As the children of Israel gained victory over Jerusalem they learned a valuable lesson on peace. Years later, during the reign of King David, Jerusalem became the capital of the united kingdom of Israel (see 2 Samuel 5) and is the site of the temple built by Solomon (see 2 Chronicles 3-7). Where God taught His people peace is where He chose to have His House built and to have His presence dwell. Jerusalem also is the site of the crucifixion of Christ (see Luke 23). The place where peace was taught and established became the birthplace of our salvation. God has always established peace as a key to our inheritance.

Peace is God’s gift of wholeness or when all essential parts are joined together. My prayer today is that in all of our lives we would enjoy God’s gift of wholeness. I pray there would be peace in your home and family as you join together as one to fight against the attacks of the enemy. I pray that in your churches, precious time and resources would not be wasted by fighting against one another, but instead that you would join together in peace to see the Kingdom of God advance. As Paul taught the Colossians, may the peace of God rule in our hearts (Colossians 3: 15), and may it do so in every facet of our lives.

 

Seeing through love’s eyes – J.R. Miller

“Love . . .
thinks
no evil,
  bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:5-7

Love does not suspect unkindness, in kind deeds.
Love does not imagine an enemy, in every friend.
Love does not fear insincerity, in sincere expressions of love.
Love does not question one’s motives, nor discount their acts.

But love overlooks mistakes and hides human faults. It believes tries to think of others always at their best, not at their worst. It considers the best possibilities in people, what they may become through divine love and grace–and not merely what they now are. It is wonderful how seeing through love’s eyes changes the whole view of earthly life, transforming it. If the heart is filled with suspicion, distrust, and doubts–the world grows very ugly. But love sees brightness, beauty, and hope everywhere!

Bible Programs That Work

The following two website will link you to some bible software that is very useful when studying your bible or if you just have questions.  The main down load is free then search through the bibles, commentaries, maps,, dictionaries etc…. and down load what you want to use.  Most are free and are separated from those that you will need to buy.  I have been using E-Sword for about 5 years now and really like it.  Recently I stumbled onto “The Word” program.  Both are very easy to use once you start playing with it.

http://www.theword.net/

http://www.e-sword.net/

The Bible – A Three Day Church Experience

Click on the web address highlighted in green below and watch the short trailers.  This is a great way to present the bible for your small group or even the church.

Start this 5 week sermon series on Sunday, March 3 and each week share with your church a video clip from that week’s episodes from The Bible mini-series and a themed scripture message. The Bible 30-Day Church Experience Church Kit will include:

  • 5 Customizable sermons featuring clips from the epic TV mini-series
  • A 5 week DVD-based study for use in small groups or individually
  • 30-Day Experience Daily Guidebook
  • Advanced Copy of A Story of God and All of Us
  • Sample Invitation Tools
  • Much More

For more information about The Bible visit BibleSeriesOutreach.com

Merry Christmas!

jesus-in-mangerWe hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Great New Year!  Be safe and keep the faith! Remember that He is the Reason for the Season!!!

WITHERED BRANCHES – If a Man Abide Not in Me, He is Cast Forth as a Branch, and is Withered; and They Gather Them, and Cast Them into the Fire, and They are Burned—John 15.6.

withered-treeThe lessons these words teach are very simple and very solemn. A man can come to such a connection with Christ, that he counts himself to be in Him, and yet he can be cast forth. There is such a thing as not abiding in Christ, which leads to withering up and burning. There is such a thing as a withered branch, one in whom the initial union with Christ appears to have taken place, and in whom yet it is seen that his faith was but for a time. What a solemn call to look around and see if there are not withered branches in our churches, to look within and see whether we are indeed abiding and bearing fruit!

And what may be the cause of this “not abiding.” With some it is that they never understood how the Christian calling leads to holy obedience and to loving service. They were content with the thought that they had believed, and were safe from Hell; there was neither motive nor power to abide in Christ—they knew not the need of it. With others it was that the cares of the world, or its prosperity, choked the Word: they had never forsaken all to follow Christ. With still others it was that their religion and their faith was in the wisdom of men, and not in the power of God. They trusted in the means of grace, or in their own sincerity, or in the soundness of their faith in justifying grace; they had never come even to seek an entire abiding in Christ as their only safety. No wonder that, when the hot winds of temptation or persecution blew, they withered away: they were not truly rooted in Christ.

Let us open our eyes and see if there are not withered branches all around us in the churches. Young men whose confessions were once bright but who are growing cold. Or old men, who have retained their profession, but out of whom the measure of life there once appeared to be has died out. Let ministers and believers take Christ’s words to heart, and see, and ask the Lord whether there is nothing to be done for branches that are beginning to wither. And let the word Abide ring through the Church until every believer has caught it—no safety but in a true abiding in Christ.

Let each of us turn within. Is our life fresh, and green, and vigorous, bringing forth its fruit in its season? (See Ps. 1.3; 92.13, 14; Jer. 17.7, 8.) Let us accept every warning with a willing mind, and let Christ’s “if a man abide not” give new urgency to His “abide in me.” To the upright soul the secret of abiding will become ever simpler, just the consciousness of the place in which He has put me; just the childlike resting in my union with Him, and the trustful assurance that He will keep me. Oh, do let us believe there is a life that knows of no withering, that is ever green; and that brings forth fruit abundantly!

Memory Verse – Jeremiah 29.11-13 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with with all your heart.

Skit Guys – God’s Will

YOU CAN DO NOTHING – Apart From Me Ye Can Do Nothing, John 15.5.

Jesus_Christ_In everything the life of the branch is to be the exact counterpart of that of the Vine. Of Himself Jesus had said: “The Son can do nothing of himself.” As the outcome of that entire dependence, He could add: “All that the Father doeth, doeth the Son also likewise.” As Son He did not receive His life from the Father once for all, but moment by moment. His life was a continual waiting on the Father for all He was to do. And so Christ says of His disciples: “Ye can do nothing apart from me.” He means it literally. To everyone who wants to live the true disciple life, to bring forth fruit and glorify God, the message comes: You can do nothing. What had been said: “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit,” is here enforced by the simplest and strongest of arguments: “Abiding in Me is indispensable, for, you know it, of yourselves you can do nothing to maintain or act out the heavenly life.”

A deep conviction of the truth of this word lies at the very root of a strong spiritual life. As little as I created myself, as little as I could raise a man from the dead, can I give myself the divine life. As little as I can give it myself, can I maintain or increase it: every motion is the work of God through Christ and His Spirit. It is as a man believes this that he will take up that position of entire and continual dependence which is the very essence of the life of faith. With the spiritual eye he sees Christ every moment supplying grace for every breathing and every deepening of the spiritual life. His whole heart says Amen to the word: You can do nothing. And just because he does so, he can also say: “I can do all things in Christ who strengtheneth me.” The sense of helplessness, and the abiding to which it compels, leads to true fruitfulness and diligence in good works.

Apart from me ye can do nothing – What a plea and what a call every moment to abide in Christ! We have only to go back to the vine to see how true it is. Look again at that little branch, utterly helpless and fruitless except as it receives sap from the vine, and learn that the full conviction of not being able to do anything apart from Christ is just what you need to teach you to abide in your heavenly Vine. It is this that is the great meaning of the pruning Christ spoke of—all that is self must be brought low that our confidence may be in Christ alone. “Abide in me”—much fruit! “Apart from me”—nothing! Ought there to be any doubt as to what we shall choose?

The one lesson of the parable is—as surely, as naturally as the branch abides in the vine, You can abide in Christ. For this He is the true Vine; for this God is the Husbandman; for this you are a branch. Shall we not cry to God to deliver us forever from the “apart from me,” and to make the “abide in me” an unceasing reality? Let your heart go out to what Christ is, and can do, to His divine power and His tender love to each of His branches, and you will say evermore confidently: “Lord! I am abiding; I will bear much fruit. My impotence is my strength. So be it. Apart from Thee, nothing. In Thee, much fruit.” Apart from Me—you nothing. Lord, I gladly accept the arrangement: I nothing—Thou all. My nothingness is my highest blessing, because Thou art the Vine, that givest and workest all. So be it, Lord! I, nothing, ever waiting on Thy fullness. Lord, reveal to me the glory of this blessed life.

What To Do About Murder

I am a member of the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) obviously a pro-gun group and I get daily blogs from the Founder of USCCA.  His post today is worth re-posting on our blog because he covers a significant issue about the shooting in Connecticut.

gunsWhat happened last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was the kind of nightmare that would make anyone cringe. To say that I was saddened by what happened to those innocent children would be a gross understatement. No one should ever have to suffer this kind of devastation, and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this unspeakable tragedy.
This is not the first mass murder that has shaken our nation, and although I wish it weren’t so, this will not be the last time a twisted person attempts to take innocent lives like this.

Every time a shooting happens in our nation, a handful of “armchair experts” rise to propose that guns are the reason for the violence. If it weren’t for guns, our schools would be safer. If it weren’t for guns, you could go to the movies without fear. If it weren’t for guns, you could go Christmas shopping without looking over your shoulder…

The fact of the matter is that more laws and more control don’t equal more safety and security. If you need proof, just look at Chicago.

Chicago is the poster child for gun control, yet since 2001, 2,000 troops have died in Afghanistan while 5,000 people have been murdered in Chicago. Chicago’s homicide rate is four times greater than New York, and twice that of Los Angeles. Good intentions have yielded bad results in Chicago, and it’s time to face the facts: Criminals and psychotic individuals don’t obey “no guns” signs or gun control laws.

It might be a cliche amongst gun owners, but arguing that guns cause murders is very much like arguing that spoons make people fat, or cars make drunk driving possible.

So if taking guns out of the hands of responsibly armed citizens isn’t the answer, then what is? After 9/11, massive steps were taken to harden-up cockpit doors, and we instituted the air marshal program to train and arm pilots. If anyone attempted to break through the cockpit door, they would be met by a hail of gunfire. After Columbine, why wasn’t a similar program put in place to harden-up schools and train and arm teachers and administrators in tactical defense? The chilling fact remains that the Newtown murderer had no trouble breaking through the school’s glass doors…  580fe0fdca26

I have no doubt that there are many people who would be outraged by the idea of our schools having responsibly armed personnel protecting our kids, but my response to them would be the same as Concealed Carry Report writer John Caile’s response:

“…these same people who barely raise an eyebrow at the idea of armored car guards carrying guns to protect bags of cash, suddenly go apoplectic over the prospect of teachers carrying guns to protect young children. If that’s not misplaced priorities, I don’t know what is.”

Violent criminals and psychopaths aren’t going away, and no law will prevent them from committing murder in the future. Now is not the time to wish the problem away. Now is the time to take this issue seriously enough to actually protect our children so that this never happens again.

Take care and stay safe,

Tim Schmidt
Publisher – Concealed Carry Report
USCCA Founder

North Point Community Church iBand

It is amazing what we can do with ipads and phones!!

Christmas Flash Mob by Journey of Faith at South Bay Galleria

There is always a way to get the message out. I love these type of flash mobs!!! Hope you enjoy as well.

Something To Think About…

The Purpose of praise and worship is not to remind God who He is.  It’s to remind us who He is!

From the book – The Power of a Praying Life by Stormie Omartian.