Godly Decisions: A New Church Home


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It takes a while to get settled in a new city. There are so many new places to discover and explore. New routines must be developed such as finding the neighborhood grocery store and post office. We’ve also had to make some difficult decisions like which doctor or dentist we should go to. Some exploring has been fun, like finding new restaurants, but the most challenging place to find has been a new church home. This was necessary for us to feel completely settled, and develop a sense of belonging and purpose. Of course we could have stayed members of our previous church and worshiped on-line, but there are Biblical reasons to belong to a local church.

  1. The Psalms guide us to God’s dwelling place. “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty,” Psalm 84:1. Also, Psalm 26:8, “Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” We can’t fully enjoy the Lord if we don’t regularly attend a local church.

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  1. Hebrews 10:24-25 commands believers to meet together to encourage one another, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
  1. Local church leaders help us grow spiritually. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 instructs us, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.” Hebrews 13:17 also tells us, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

We knew that we needed God’s help to find a new place to worship in. It had to be a place where we can grow and serve. We turned to God and Scripture to lead us. We prayed and asked God for wisdom and guidance as we “shopped” for a new church to attend. In Acts 16:6-10, Paul was led by the Spirit where to preach and where not to preach. It’s the same with us. The Holy Spirit will lead us where we should go, we just need to ask.

James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

We did an exhaustive internet search then called several churches to ask questions. We wanted to review their doctorial statements, and to learn about what programs were available for our children. We asked about missions and volunteer needs. We even wanted to know how the church spent their money. We found several places to visit.

Part of getting guidance from God is to understand when He is telling you “No.” We visited several churches that preached the Word of God, and had places to serve, but they weren’t right for us. How did we know? When I perceive God telling me “No,” I don’t feel good about the situation. I may not know exactly what is wrong, but I know something is not right. It’s God’s way of warning me. In Acts 16:6-7 Paul was led, and stopped by God’s Holy Spirit. We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so we can discern what God wants us to do, and not do. More prayer was needed to ensure we were understanding God correctly.

Something interesting happened as we searched. God said “No” to the church we thought we would join. Part of correctly hearing God’s voice is not to go where you want to go, but where God wants you to go.

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Yesterday, we visited a local church, again. All the elements are there, and it feels right. But there is one more step. We are waiting for confirmation from God. Scripture also commands us to be still. Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” By just waiting on God He will let us know, one way other the other, that we have discovered the place just right for our family.

Blessings to you as you make decisions and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

 

Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Images: google images

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The Legacy of Saint Patrick


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Today millions of people will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with good luck wishes, parades and merriment. However, St. Patrick’s legacy has nothing to do with superstition and merry making. God used St. Patrick to bring the Gospel to a pagan culture. His legacy still endures.

Ireland was a beautiful island, but the people were in darkness. Druids ruled the land. Around 400 A.D., Patrick was abducted from his homeland and put on a slave ship bound for Ireland. He spent six years tending flocks for the Chieftain he was sold to.

Eventually, Patrick escaped and returned to his home and family. His faith was strengthened and he began to study for the ministry. In a vision, God called Patrick to be a missionary to Ireland. Patrick returned to the people who enslaved him as a boy.

At that time the people of Ireland worshiped multiple gods of the sky and the earth and the water. Patrick’s first task was to convince the Irish that there was only one God and that his God really did love them. Patrick was familiar with the Irish language and culture from his years in captivity, so he chose to incorporate Irish ritual and symbols into his teaching. Patrick added the sun (a powerful Irish symbol) to the cross, creating the  Celtic cross so that the result would seem more natural to the people.

In 432 A.D., Patrick built a church on the site of the present day St. Patrick’s Memorial Church in Saul — the first ever Christian church in all of Ireland. It’s considered the cradle of Irish Christianity.

Legend has it that Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Patrick’s ministry lasted 29 years. He baptized over 120,000 Irishmen and planted 300 churches. He died on March 17, 461 AD. His legacy has endured 1600 years!

One of my most treasured possessions is my great-grandmother’s Bible. It is one of the few possessions she had when she left Ireland and traveled by ship to America in 1898. With a broken spine and tattered pages, the Bible really is falling apart. But it represents the hopes, dreams, and courage God gave her to build a life in this new land for future generations. It also represents the faith she passed on to her eleven children. She went to heaven in 1950, but not before she left a godly legacy that continues with me. My spiritual legacy is also to pass my faith to my children and grand children.

How can you impact future generations?

Deuteronomy 6:5-7

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Data on St. Patrick gathered from: http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/churchandministry/churchhistory/patricius_the_true_story_of_st_patrick.aspx, retrieved on March 11,2015.

 

Scripture: http://www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

TO BECOME A LEADER


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Yesterday I wrote about “Excellence.” Some wonderful leaders in my company were honored for their hard work and commitment to excellence.  I also wrote that Jesus taught us how to be great leaders, by serving first.

Mark 9:33-35

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

If you want to be a good leader, you first show your excellence by being a good servant, a good follower. Followers support the leader so that the leader is able to be effective. Great followers work to make their leader’s work easier.

I learned a lot about being a follower when I was in the Navy. Good followers have several traits in common. I’ve found there are Biblical truths to support these traits. Jesus is our King. He has the ultimate authority in our lives and this world. Therefore, we must all follow Him. We can learn to be better followers of our great King.

FOLLOWERSHIP

  1. A follower must be obedient.

Thousands of orders are given aboard ships every day. Captains need to know the sailors in their command will follow those orders, or the ship may be damaged, discovered by the enemy, or sailors won’t get their evening meal. Not following orders can have even more dire consequences. Failure to obey orders can mean that people will die.

1 Samuel 15:22

But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

John 15:14 

You are my friends if you do what I command.

  1. A follower must be loyal.

Every serviceperson takes an oath when joining the military. Part of that oath talks about bearing true faith and allegiance to the United States. Loyalty is very important in life. It goes beyond attachment and affection. It’s being faithful to commitments and responsibilities. 

Deuteronomy 7:9

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

1 Kings 8:61

And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.

Luke 16:13 

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

 3. A follower must be respectful.

When I was young, we learned to respect those in positions of authority. This life skill isn’t emphasized much anymore, but it really is critical for a successful life. We need to learn to be respectful of not just those who are in positions of leadership, but those who stand beside us. Respect goes a long way. 

Leviticus 19:32

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.

Exodus 20:12

 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

4. A follower is a servant.

Being a servant goes beyond being obedient and doing assigned tasks. Service is anticipating the needs of the one you serve and doing those tasks without being asked. When Joseph was sold to Potiphar, Joseph was just a slave, but quickly rose to the role of an overseer of Potiphar’s entire household (Genesis 39:6). How could this happen? He rose again to a position of power while he was in the prison (Genesis 39:22). Why? Joseph did something that set him apart from others. Although Scripture doesn’t say exactly how Joseph rose to prominence in these two passages, it’s easy to infer – Joseph served.

Good followers anticipate the needs of those they serve. However, those needs might change, so good followers must adapt to changing priorities.

Mark 10:45

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Philippians 2:5-8

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

  1. A follower is humble.

Good followers don’t draw attention to themselves. Good followers are concerned about the leader and the overall team, not themselves. Followers seldom work alone. They work with teams. Good followers make sure the team is taken care of, the team is noticed, or the team is helped.

Consider a few examples of good followers. Nurses obey doctor’s orders and make sure the doctor has everything needed to perform his or her duties. Administrative Assistants provide support to business leaders. Jet mechanics keep the planes in good operating condition so that the pilots can fly them. Good followers work for someone else’s glory. We’re here to work for the glory of God.

Psalms 25:9

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

1 Peter 5:5

 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.

 LEADERSHIP

Once you are a good follower, the military teaches you how to be an effective and respected leader. There are biblical examples of great leaders who were first great followers:

  • Joshua followed Moses for more than 40 years before he led the Israelites into the Promised Land.
  • Samuel first served under Eli.
  • Elisha served Elijah for at least ten years before he took up his master’s mantle and went on to perform even more miracles.
  • David first served King Saul, long before he became King.
  • Peter followed Jesus for three years before he and his fellow disciples turned the world upside down.

The military knows how to build leaders. If you want to be a Sargent, you must first be a Private. If you want to be a General, you start off as a 2nd Lieutenant. You start at the bottom, learn and gain experience. Soldiers and sailors start off being responsible for a few junior personnel. Then, as they gain experience, they are given more responsibility. Eventually, they can be placed in charge of a department or division, or even a command.

Learn to be a good follower first. At the right time, God will place you in a leadership position, even if it is only by example. (You never know who is watching you.)

 

Blessings on your day.

 

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

 

 

 

 

Pursuing Your God-Sized Dream  


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 Psalm 37:4: Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

A year seems to be such a long time. When the year is young, we believe we can achieve certain dreams and goals. But then the busyness of life gets in the way of our plans, and we whittle down our dreams so we don’t disappoint ourselves. Sometimes we plan to resurrect a dream or a goal that we put on the shelf years ago, then we set it aside again. There is a reason we are drawn to certain dreams. God is the author of our dreams; He’s put His dreams in our spiritual DNA.

Psalm 139:14a: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Not only does our Heavenly Father give us dreams, He enables us fulfill the dreams he has given us.

Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”

  Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

A few years ago, a big dream was placed on my heart. As I pursued that dream I discovered a few things about how God works to fulfill His dreams for us.

  1. A God-sized dream is a dream God created just for you. It’s as individual and unique as you are. God is so big; He will give you a dream that’s big. It may seem unachievable, but nothing is impossible for God (Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26).
  1. A God-sized dream begins to take shape by having faith to follow God’s leading. We have to have the courage to believe God. “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4
  1. God-sized dreams require we let God lead us. “The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them.” Romans 8:14, and I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
  1. God-sized dreams will grow or shrink in direct proportion to your obedience to God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 and, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:25.
  1. To follow your God-sized dream, you have to let go of your junk. So many people settle for the average, mediocre life. It’s easier to push dreams to the side and forge ahead with the life others expect. Perhaps this happens because we live in a dangerously busy and noisy world. It’s hard to hear God’s voice through all the wrong messages that bombard us each day. We have so much to do we get the incorrect perception that we have to keep up with it all and that leaves little time to pursue the dreams God has given us. There are also so many false messages that are coming at us, so fast, we exist on overload all the time. We always have to sacrifice something. It’s a wonder we get anything done at all. When we are so busy, we don’t stop and listen to God. We tend find security in things we are familiar with, but those things have no lasting value. We get comfortable with our difficult circumstances, or worse, we feel like we don’t deserve good things. But you are not defined by your circumstances. You are not your job loss. Or your divorce. Or your illness. You are not your regrets or failures. You are a child of the one True King. And He has a plan for you! “The Lord of hosts has sworn: ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,’” Isaiah 14:24 and, “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18 
  1. God-sized dreams start to become reality when we seek God with our whole heart. If you want to know what the God-sized dream God has waiting for you, start by spending some quality time alone with Him. Ask Him to silence the noise of this world so you can listen to Him alone. Ask Him what His plans are for you, and how you are to go about achieving them. God has a way of speaking to each one of us. He will let you know your heart’s desire, and guide you to fulfilling that dream. (1 Kings 19.)

 What is the God-sized dream our Lord has placed on your heart? I don’t know what your God-sized dream looks like. Maybe it seems scary or unattainable. Perhaps you don’t feel qualified to chase that dream. Consider this: If you don’t follow the dream God has given you are you going to look in the rear-view mirror of life and have regrets? When it comes time to stand before the Lord, what are you going to say to Him if you don’t follow the dream He has given you? 

You will never regret following your God-sized dream. After all, God created it just for you.

 Jeremiah 29:11

“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.’”

May the Lord richly bless your dreams.

Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com; http://www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

Freedom – In Christ


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So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  John 8:36

 

Thinking about July 4th always brings up patriotic images, thoughts of freedom, and thoughts of summer fun. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I think we take our freedoms for granted, and perhaps, even abuse those freedoms.

In the fifth chapter of Galatians we find the Apostle Paul discussing freedom in Christ more thoroughly. God does not want us to be in any type of bondage, which is sin. That bondage can be worry, financial issues, addictions to drugs or alcohol, eating disorders, bad habits and other sin. But we are free to ask God to release us from what we find ourselves entangled in. It will take work, and prayer, but Christ can and will lead us to freedom.

Christ alone gives us all the freedom we need. We have the freedom to enjoy Him, and be free of enslavement to sin. Is there something that is weighing you down? Have you spoken to our Great God about how to free you from the captivity of sin?”

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

 

Blessings on your day.

 

 

 

Living in the Lion’s Den


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As I have continued studying the book of Daniel, using Beth Moore’s workbook and video, I am amazed at how much more I am learning about God and His protection of us. I think often times we don’t see how He has protected us, perhaps moment-by-moment.

Take Daniel in the Lion’s Den. This is a story we have all probably heard many times. We love the happy ending – the angel shut the mouths of the lions and Daniel was not harmed. It must have been a terrifying night for Daniel, sitting so close to the lions.

We’re all living in a lion’s den to some extent. Consider 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Sometimes we may feel like we are in a lion’s den, but God is close. We may not be able to see Him,  He’s sent His angel to shut the mouth of the lion, even if we can’t see Him.

Psalm 121:7-8   

The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going  both now and forevermore.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

2 Samuel 22:3-4

My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me. “I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 54:17 

No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.

Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 

Psalm 91:1-3

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

Psalm 138:7  

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.

 

We may feel like we are spending a terrifying night in the lion’s den, (or maybe a long season of time) but we are not seeing the work God is doing in our behalf – shutting the mouth of the lion.

May you feel God’s Peace.

Daniel, Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy, by Beth Moore, Lifeway Publishing, Nashville, TN, 2006

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images.

 

Lifting Each Other Up


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I have been absent from blogging for a few weeks, first due to an illness, then due to traveling to a speaking engagement. I really miss reading all of your blogs because they are so uplifting. I also have missed writing for my Lord.

Have you ever wondered why God gifted you with the ability to write? And how you are to use that marvelous gift?

I wonder about this. I wonder why God led me to blog, and to write a Bible Study. I think the answer is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  Through the gift God has given us, we lift each other up.

1 Corinthians 14:26

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

Hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Romans 14:19

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building.

May you be lifted and encouraged today.

Scripture: www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images