Articles

Words Reveal Character

Who we really are on the inside will at some point be revealed outwardly by our words. According to Scripture, all of us make mistakes in what we say—it would take a “perfect” person to always bridle the tongue and thereby control the body as well (James 3:2-3). In fact, no one but Jesus is completely successful in this way. But to the degree that we walk closely with the Lord, the more our speech will be evidence that we follow Him.

In today’s passage, Jesus expresses this idea by means of a metaphor about good trees and bad trees. Making a distinction between the people who believe in Him and those who don’t, He classifies Christians as good trees, through whom the indwelling Holy Spirit is working to produce His good fruit. But men and women without Christ cannot generate any good fruit on their own. That’s because even mankind’s most virtuous deeds originate from the flesh and therefore are unclean to God (Isa. 64:6).

However, just because we are “good trees” doesn’t mean that good words will automatically come forth from our mouth. We need the Holy Spirit to help us use language that is edifying, gracious, wholesome, and true (Eph. 4:29-30). Let’s make it our ambition to abide in Jesus, allowing the Holy Spirit to steer our tongues and bring honor to Jesus Christ.

source: Charles Stanley

Articles

How to Grow in Godliness

  • Study God’s Word.
    • Titus 1:1  Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.
  • Run from sin.
    • I Timothy 6:11  But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
  • Make it a priority.
    • 2 Peter 1:5-7  make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 
  • Pray.
    • John 9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.
  • Walk in obedience.
    • Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appear to all men. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • Practice spiritual disciplines.
    • 1 Timothy 4:7-8 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godlyFor physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 
Articles

GODLINESS: Living and Loving Like Christ

As we’re walking through the lessons learned by evaluating the life of Joseph, let me ask you this question: What does it mean to make – and keep – Jesus the center of our lives? The word center is defined as “a person (or thing) that is the chief object of attention, interest, activity or emotion; that which everything else revolves around.” Is Jesus the center of your life? Of my life? We can be certain Jesus was the center of Joseph’s life.

Salvation comes when we choose to invite Jesus to be the center of our lives. But what about keeping Him there? Purposefully keeping Jesus at the center of our lives is called sanctification, and it means actively living a life aimed at growing in godliness. So what does it mean to be godly? Godliness means we have centered our lives in Christ, and, in my mind, it has two separate but equal parts:

  • We purpose to LIVE like Christ.
    • LIVING like Christ involves our:
      • Heart: We LOVE like Jesus
      • Hands: We ACT like Jesus
      • Head: We THINK like Jesus
    • LIVING like Christ means filtering out impurities in our lives.
      • What are we listening to, watching, reading, etc.?
      • We purposefully focus on growing in virtue:
        • The 10 Commandments | Exodus 20
        • The Beatitudes | Matthew 5
        • The Love Chapter | I Corinthians 13
        • The Fruit of Spirit | Galatians 5:22,23
    • LIVING like Christ involves growing in spiritual disciplines.
      • We practice spiritual disciplines to build spiritual muscle and to produce spiritual fruit.
  • We live to LOVE like Christ.
    • LIVING like Christ involves three things:
      • Fear: We revere Jesus.
        • Exodus 14:31 The people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses His servant.
        • Exodus 15:11 Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?
      • Love: We love Jesus.
        • I John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 
        • I John 4:19 We love because He first loved us.
      • Desire: We desire to have an intimate, close relationship with Jesus.
        • Psalm 42:1-2  As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
        • Psalm 27:4 One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
prayer

Answers from Billy Graham on Prayer

Billy Graham once said, “Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one ever bothered to ask.”

It’s true that we often take advantage of the privilege of prayer and the blessings it brings. We get too busy, we forget, we even refuse to seek God or we do so casually, rather than with bold conviction.

Yet, there is no excuse for not conversing often with God.

“Prayer is more than a wish,” Billy Graham has said. “It is the voice of faith directed at God.”

Let these five answers from Billy Graham help you grow your prayer life. Share this list with friends and family to help them too.


Does prayer really change anything?
>> Read Billy Graham’s answer.

Why pray about something when it’s obvious what we should do?
>> Read Billy Graham’s answer.

Why should I pray if God might say no?
>> Read Billy Graham’s answer.

Does it do any good to pray for politicians and other world leaders?
>> Read Billy Graham’s answer.

I’m afraid to pray in my own words. Is this wrong?
>> Read Billy Graham’s answer.

Uncategorized

That All May Know Him

1 Timothy 2:1-7

A friend of mine recently told me about a cab driver who had religious symbols representing Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism displayed in his taxi. My friend asked why he had so many contrasting religions represented. The driver said they were for protection. When asked which one served that purpose, the man said, “I don’t know. But I want to be sure that one will work, so I have all of them.” 

Here in America, it’s easy to think most people know about Jesus Christ, but there are men and women we see each day who have no knowledge of our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says, “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.” That truth is the foundation for the Christian faith. Through the Son, we are forgiven and reconciled to the Father. 

Don’t assume that everyone in your life is familiar with the good news of Jesus Christ. Whether it’s a coworker, a new friend, or your long-time neighbor, you may be the only person they know who can tell them about the one true God and Savior.

Look for an opportunity this week to share your faith.

source: Charles Stanley

Articles

Transformed by the Word

After Paul’s conversion, he disappeared for three years, during which the Holy Spirit instructed him in the ways of God. This was a critical time for his growth as a believer. 

The Lord speaks so we can comprehend and communicate the truth. What happened during Paul’s desert years was only the beginning. God renewed the apostle’s mind and worked on conforming him to the image of Christ. For Paul, that change meant applying his knowledge as a Pharisee to the revelation that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. 

Here was a man who knew Scripture thoroughly, but the truth that Jesus was the promised Messiah made him reconsider the foundation he’d been trusting. Everything Paul knew about God had to be reevaluated in light of this new information. The apostle’s spirit was being shaped according to the Father’s will. And long after Paul began his ministry, the Lord kept working on him. Every person who reads his letters is a witness to this process. 

Like Paul, you are the Holy Spirit’s student, and the knowledge you reap from Scripture can change your life. If you let yourself be transformed by the Word of God, you will share it with others and make disciples.

Galatians 1:11-17

source: InTouch

Articles

In the Midst of the Storm

KEY PASSAGE: Matthew 14:22-36

SUPPORTING SCRIPTURES:Deuteronomy 31:6 | Deuteronomy 31:8 | Joshua 1:5 | Isaiah 54:17 | Hebrews 13:5

We are in the midst of an incredible tempest—one that has turned so many aspects of our lives upside down and seems to grow worse as the days pass.

Yet now is the moment for us to examine how we have spent this season in the storm. Many of us are in lockdown, with the opportunity to devote more time to seeking the living God. But have we been wise with the days and hours we have been given? Have we invested our energy and attention in worrying and complaining, on entertainment that will not satisfy, or on other pursuits that undermine our wellbeing? Or have we used this occasion to strengthen ourselves and build our relationships with the Savior through prayer and Bible meditation?

We can learn a great deal from what happened to the disciples when Jesus commanded them to set sail on the Sea of Galilee, and a terrible storm arose. Certainly, as the winds and waves assailed them, they were frightened about the conditions that were so far outside their control. So they called out to almighty God to save them. It was then they saw who Jesus really is and how powerfully He can work through any circumstances.

That was a life-changing experience for the disciples, and it can be for you as well. Therefore, when you experience the storms of life, if you will fix your eyes on Christ, you can find victory in the midst of your troubles. You do so by:

1. Reading Scripture. Start in either the Book of Psalms or Proverbs and meditate on what the Lord has spoken. Ask Him to reveal the sins you need to confess, give you understanding in your circumstances, make Himself known to you, and guide you. The Father will often work through times of adversity and turmoil to change your life, develop your character, teach you to walk with Him, and bring you closer to Himself. He will speak to you as you engage with Him through His Word—so go before Him with an open heart to listen to Him.

2. Remembering God’s work in the past. The disciples had seen Jesus perform many miracles, and the truth is—so have you. You have observed the Lord’s mighty work on your behalf as He’s guided you through times of adversity, provided for you supernaturally, and even brought healing to different areas of your life. There is no reason to think God will fail you now. Recall what He has done in the past so you can be confident He will intervene powerfully in your present circumstances in ways beyond what you can imagine.

3. Holding on to the fact that Christ meets you in the storm. When the disciples were in trouble and fearful, Jesus walked out on the water to them. But at first, they believed Him to be a phantom. This is instructive. Sometimes when you’re in a whirlwind of trouble, you will not automatically recognize Christ’s presence with you either. But realize that whatever your circumstances, Jesus is right there with you in them, ready to help, guide, and sustain you. Therefore, do not listen to the negative voices, turn to the world, or give up on God. Call on Jesus and invite Him into your situation. He is right beside you, offering you hope.

4. Focusing on Jesus rather than your circumstances. We know what happened to Peter when he bravely called to Jesus, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (Matt. 14:28), and then stepped out of the boat. It only took a moment for Peter to be overcome by the tempest and begin to sink—forgetting who he was trusting to save him. The same is true for us. It is far too easy to lose focus when the conditions surrounding us are beyond our control. So when we are crying out to God, we cannot allow our attention to drift from almighty God, the sovereign Lord of the universe, who loves us powerfully and eternally. He is the One who helps us, and He is greater than any challenge we will ever face. We must fix our eyes on Him, repeat His promises, and cling to His Word. Certainly, the wind, the waves, and all creation submit to His command, and He will see us through the storm.

RESPONSE

It hurts to face the hurricane. It is natural to be fearful and even grow discouraged when so much is battering against us, and it feels like everything is falling apart. But the Lord God has promised, “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (Josh. 1:5). He will answer your prayers, come to your rescue, and help you in ways you cannot begin to imagine. So do not give up.

Instead, search your heart:

  • How have I been focusing on earthly forms of comfort, worth, and security? Is God shaking what I have been trusting so I will get my eyes back on Him?
  • When was the last time I had a quiet time when I really listened to the Lord and held on to what He told me? Am I truly meditating on God’s Word in a manner that deepens my relationship with Him, or do I need to change some things?
  • Do I sense Jesus in the storm? Or do I respond to everything that happens in a negative manner, as if He is completely absent? What is stopping me from maintaining an abiding sense of His presence?
  • Spend time in prayer, asking Jesus to reveal Himself to you, and accepting all He wants to teach you.

I realize you may be tempted to read right over these questions—but don’t. That would be a disaster. What you’re facing in this storm is not just about making sure you believe the right doctrines, but about having a dynamic relationship with the living God. It’s about the renewal of your faith, the revival of believers, and the spiritual awakening of the lost.

You need more than good morals or more preaching for that—you need Jesus. Only the One who conquered death has the wisdom, power, and love to do what needs to be accomplished in the tumult you’re facing. This is a fight that only He can engage in for you.

So get on your knees, open the Word, and pray. Present yourself to Him and be willing to do whatever He asks. Because when you do, you’ll see that your Savior is truly able to do above and beyond what you imagine—even in and through the storms.


source: Charles Stanley, Intouch

Devotional

When God Says No

Scripture:   II Corinthians 12:7-10


I.    Vs 7                        Humility
People don’t like to lose and people don’t like to be told “no”, but losing and being told no is a part of the human experience. The issue is not being told no, but how should a believer respond to being told no by God. Paul shares his story and provides the church with instructions for dealing with the word no. The Lord wants you to totally depend upon him and this requires you to walk in humility. Paul had unmatched credentials, ascended to the heavenly realm and received divine revelation. So, the Lord gave him a thorn in the flesh in order to keep him humble. This was not a stubbed toe, because this pain would not go away with the passing of time. This thorn in the flesh would continually buffet him and satan was using this thorn to torment Paul. The devil was using this thorn in a negative way, but the Lord was using this thorn to drive away pride. *Point: This pain was not self-inflicted, had a divine purpose and was a test of his faith. Will you still love, obey, and trust the Lord when he says no. Deuteronomy 8:2 says “And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or not.” When God tells you no respond with humility, because he resists the proud.

II.    Vs. 8              Prayer
Whenever I experience any level of pain, I cry out to my wife and the Lord. Now Paul was not married and so he cried out (prayed) to the Lord to remove this thorn in the flesh. Three times he asked the Lord to remove this thorn and three times the Lord said no. Paul desperately wanted God to remove this affliction and this pain lead him to pray and not complain. So often issues in life cause us to focus on the problem instead of the Lord. *Point: Don’t pout, but pray with a willingness to accept the Lord’s answer. Matthew 6:10 “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” The Lord’s will must be more important than relief from the thorns of life. You seek answers from the Lord through his word and prayer, but he has the right to say no. This means God has the divine prerogative to do whatever he wants to do without needing permission from anybody. *Life Lesson: What you want may be good (relief from pain), but what the Lord gives you is better (grace). The Lord uses pain for various reasons to include the process of Christ likeness. *Point: Christ suffered and so will you.     

III.    Vs. 9              Right Attitude
You should respond with humility, prayer, and the right attitude about living the rest of your life with thorns. Paul didn’t get mad, frustrated, or complain, but he accepted God’s will for his life. In short, Paul was content with his thorn in the flesh. *Note: Philippians 4:11. His attitude was that God’s power working in and thru him was more important than the removal of a thorn (pain). Charles Swindoll said “I’m convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” Listen up: God is in charge of your life, but you are in charge of your attitude. *Point: A bad attitude is totally unacceptable. The Lord gave Paul grace to live with a thorn in the flesh. He would bring more glory to God, because he had a thorn that would make him depend upon the Lord. Example: You are married, because being married brings more glory to God than being single. You are single, because being single brings more glory to God than being married. So, married people and single people both have thorns. The good news is that the Lord will give you married and single grace to go along with the thorns. That’s what makes his grace sufficient, because the Lord’s grace is more powerful than any type of thorn. The right attitude about your thorn will make you glad that the Lord gave it you. Amen!      

IV.    Vs. 10              Praise
Paul stopped talking about his thorn and started praising the Lord. He understood that this thorn gave him power and strength that he needed to serve the Lord. Paul turned his pain into praise and thanked the Lord for giving him a thorn. *Point: He thanked the Lord for saying no and he made a decision to live like all things do work together for good. Job had more than a thorn and he “arose and rent his mantle and shaved his head and fell down upon the ground and worshipped. Paul’s thorn had a divine purpose and it made him better and not bitter. So, the next time the Lord tells you no…Respond with humility, prayer, the right attitude and get your praise on. 

I hope this was a blessing to you.

Because He Lives
Bro. Mack

Devotional

Making Bad Decisions

Scripture:   I Samuel 8:1-18, 12:22-24

I.    Vs 1-9                        Signs of a Bad Decision
It has been said “that the quality of your life will be the result of the 
decisions you make.” This biblical narrative outlines the bad decisions that 
were made by the elders of the nation of Israel. The elders wanted a king, 
because Samuel was old and his sons were corrupt. They walked not in his ways, 
would do anything for money, took bribes, and perverted justice. Life is full 
of decisions, but as believers these decisions must be approved by the Lord. 
Any decision not approved by God is a bad decision, so never judge a decision 
strictly based upon the results. Let us review some signs of a bad decision. 
The request/decision from the elders (nation) was unbiblical, because they 
wanted to be like all the other nations. Their motive for wanting a King was 
wrong, because being like the world is not approved by the Lord. This decision 
violated God’s will because they were rejecting the Lord. Refusing to line up 
with God’s will is a form of rebellion, because they no longer wanted the Lord 
to reign over the nation. Wanting a king was the fruit, but rejecting God was 
the root. You see a decision on the surface can look good to others, but the 
Lord will be the final judge. This decision dishonored the Lord and was a form 
of idolatry, because they served other gods and had forsaken the Lord. Your 
decisions should glorify the Lord, bring you closer to him, and make you more 
like Christ. This decision harmed others and made the situation worse. Having 
a king was not the issue (Deuteronomy 17:14-15), but the issues were finding a 
new judge and idolatry within the nation. *Point: Don’t ignore the signs and 
the Lord must approve your decisions.

II.    Vs. 10-18              Consequences of a Bad Decision
When you go shopping at the mall the merchandise at every store has a price 
tag and every decision has a price tag. Before you make a decision, have a 
little talk with Jesus. Because Samuel discussed the matter with the Lord, the
Lord outlined the consequences of the bad decision that Israel was about to 
make. Samuel begged them to change their mind, but they refused. So, Israel 
was about “to get what they wanted, but lose what they had.” The new king was 
going to start a military draft, over work and under pay the people, mistreat 
the women, take their land (eminent domain), enforce high taxes and forced labor. The 
new king was (and he will take) going to take, take, take, and take. This new 
king was going to hurt Israel and his motto was not going to be lead the 
people, but bleed the people. This is not the worse part of the story, because 
a bad decision is expensive. Israel had a king, but not the King of Kings. The 
Lord said that he “wouldn’t hear them or help them.” Psalm 66:18 says that “If 
I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” The Lord told 
Israel that he was not going to answer the phone, so when they cried out the 
call would go straight to voice mail. The message would say “If this is Israel 
don’t leave a message, because the Lord is not going to call you back.” Before 
you make a decision count the cost. *Point: Decisions come with a price and a 
consequence, so make good decisions.

III.    Vs. 12:22-24              Grace & Mercy is Available
I have made bad financial decisions in the past and had to pay a stupid tax. 
Well praise the Lord, because I have learned to make better decisions with the 
Lord’s money. The good news is that despite your bad decisions the Lord still 
makes his grace and mercy available. You made a bad decision, but the Lord 
will not forsake his people. Bad decisions may change your circumstances, but 
the Lord will not change (he will not stop being God in your life). His name 
is great and it was his decision to make us his people. So, when you make a 
bad decision follow Samuel’s example and pray. Ask the Lord to teach you the 
good and right way (decision). Don’t let the consequences of your decision 
cause you to not serve (obey) the Lord or fear him with all you heart. 
Finally, remember the decision may not have been good but, God is good and all 
the time God is good. *Point: Make good decisions and the steps of a good man 
are ordered by the Lord.

I hope this was a blessing to you.

Because He Lives
Bro. Mack

Devotional

The Price of Ministry


 Scripture:  Luke 10:30-37


Note Vs 30: This verse provides the definition of ministry (people) and shares 
the condition of some people that need the Lord.


I.    Vs 31-32                        Time
This certain man was robbed, wounded, and near death, but the religious 
leaders did not take the time to provide him with any assistance. The priest 
did not take the time to stop and the Levite basically said “I will pray for 
you.” They both passed by on the other side and refused to invest any time on 
a helpless individual. This was an opportunity for them to (practice what you 
preach) and minister to the needs of their neighbor. Could you imagine calling 911 
and being put on hold or the police/fire department refusing to come to your 
house. Well this man called 911 and you see what happened. *Point: You have to 
deal with people in order to reach them with the gospel. Question: How many 
times have you walked pass somebody and refused to help (minister) them? I’m 
talking about when the Lord told you to help the person. Maybe we are just too
busy, too lazy, or just don’t care, but the Lord always had time for people. It 
is important to spend time with family, friends, and people who need the Lord. 
Remember Jesus did eat with sinners and he died for everybody. Spend your time 
wisely and don’t pass by on the other side.


II.    Vs. 33-34               Compassion
This man did not need pity or sympathy, but he did need help with his physical 
situation immediately. This certain man was half dead and he needed heart felt 
compassion. Compassion: You help someone in need, especially when they can’t 
help themselves. *Point: feed/hungry, cloth/naked, drink/thirsty. This 
Samaritan showed compassion to a stranger and treated him like a neighbor. He 
came to the certain man, showed him compassion, bound up his wounds, and gave him 
a ride to an inn. The Samaritan took care of the certain man like he was a 
family member. The Bible says “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do 
good unto all men.” Galatians 6:10. This Samaritan did what the Jews were not 
willing to do and what the Lord does for believers every day. The Lord shows 
us compassion when we are hurting and paid the price of redemption at Calvary. 
Psalm 116:5 “Gracious is the Lord and righteous, yea, our God is merciful.” 
The Lord is full of compassion and we need to share his compassion with 
others.


III.    Vs. 35              Money
You may be familiar with the statements “put your money where your mouth is” 
or “put up or shut up”. Well this Samaritan was willing to make a financial 
investment in the well-being of another human being that probably did not look 
like him. Don’t miss the fact that the certain man in this story was probably 
a Jew. *Point: The mandate from the Lord is that we minister to everybody. So 
we are in the grace business not the race business. The church should be a 
reflection of the community and most communities look like Baskin-Robbins. It 
takes money to minister to people, because we are trying to reach the world. 
Back to the Samaritan. He spent the night at the inn, provided food, lodging, 
medical care and left at least two days pay with the host for future expenses. 
He promised to return later to check on the certain man’s condition. This 
Samaritan did everything possible to make the certain man whole physically and 
we should do everything possible to make people whole spiritually. Money is a 
vital part of ministry and giving keeps selfishness at bay. This Samaritan 
saved this man’s life and ministry requires money to save souls. *Point: 
Salvation is free, but ministry cost. So, be a good believer and share your 
resources with others. *Read Matthew 25:14-30.


IV.    Vs. 36-37        Obedience
The issue is not about giving time, compassion or money, but will you obey 
God. Jesus told the lawyer to go and repeat the deeds of the Samaritan. The 
Holy Spirit will lead you to the people that need your help, but will you pass 
by on the other side. Or, will you (share Christ) help people. People do need 
your time, compassion, resources, but most importantly they need Christ. Being 
Christ like means that you get involved in the lives of other people. Remember 
Jesus fed people with a boy’s lunch, because hunger would keep them from 
focusing on the truth. Life has many distractions and we have to remove things 
that will hinder the gospel. Paul said that “I be free from all men, yet have 
I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.” His purpose was 
that he might by all means save some. We obey God, because we want people to 
obey the gospel. Read Matthew 25:35-40 and pay the price of ministry.

I hope this was a blessing to you.

Because He Lives
Bro. Mack