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.
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

Articles

COVID-19 Update

In compliance to Governor Cooper’s Executive Order regarding COVID-19 we have cancelled all services tomorrow and all services through April 1st. 

We are continuing to monitor this virus with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

Please continue to pray for our pastor, staff and church family as we navigate through these difficult times.

Articles

Finding Direction for Our Lives

One way God demonstrates His grace is in having a plan and purpose for our lives that He wants to reveal to us. It’s a pathway He’s designed specifically for each one of us, yet sometimes we fail to consider this. We move through life without giving God a second thought. Instead of wondering whether our lives have counted for anything, we can choose to believe that the Lord has the best plan for us, discover His path, and get on it as soon as possible. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us what’s required to follow the Lord. Let’s examine this passage:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (v. 5).

God commands us to trust Him. Trust is a strong belief in someone’s integrity, ability, and character. This is the kind of confidence we are to have in the Lord. Then whatever He says or requires of us, we will know with certainty that it is right. If we lack trust, we won’t follow Him and will find ourselves living outside the will of God. On the other hand, if we’ve spent a lifetime trusting and obeying Him, we can testify that He has never let us down.

The basis for trust in God is His sovereignty. He is the divine Ruler over all things and all people at all times. His wisdom, power, and righteousness are all wrapped up in His sovereignty. The Lord’s purpose is always right and good even if it doesn’t look that way from our perspective. We can’t always understand why He allows illness, trouble, or heartache, but we can know that He is a loving and trustworthy God. If we don’t believe this, we’ll question His will when situations don’t match our expectations. That’s why we’re told not to lean on our own understanding. When we don’t comprehend what’s happening, we can trust in God because He never changes. Knowing that He’s always gracious, merciful, and kind allows us to rest in His sovereign will for our lives. He knows us intimately and has chosen exactly the right path.

The degree to which we are to trust God is with all our hearts. Instead of relying on our own knowledge, perception, or reasoning, we should put our total trust in the Lord. This requires more than just agreeing with Him. We can actually agree with God about many teachings in the Bible without actually trusting Him. Agreement means we believe something is right, but genuine faith responds to that belief with action—we do what God says because we trust Him to guide us the right way. Wholehearted trust also means we can’t pick and choose areas we entrust to Him while trying to keep other parts of our lives under our control. It’s foolish to rely on our own perception because it is so limited, but God’s understanding is complete and eternal. Even when we don’t comprehend or like what’s happening, we can still rely on His loving wisdom and respond in trust. 

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (v. 6).

To acknowledge someone is to recognize him. But when we acknowledge God, we are not merely admitting that He exists, but confirming that He is our Lord who has authority over us and the right to give us direction in every area of our lives. In each choice or situation, we acknowledge Him by surrendering to His will and trusting Him fully. 

“He will make your paths straight.” When we follow the Lord’s guidance, He protects us from side roads and eliminates obstacles and confusion along the way. In basic terms, the straight path is the one of obedience. We may stumble along the way or need redirection, but God repeatedly brings us back when we have a heart to obey Him. His path isn’t always easy, but it’s always the best. When we think we can do a better job of plotting our own course for happiness and prosperity, it may look good for a while, but eventually we’ll suffer the wear and tear that comes from taking unprotected detours.

In what area of your life do you have the most difficulty trusting God? Why do you think it’s so hard to trust Him sometimes? Continue to learn about and rely on the promises found in God’s Word, for there is no better place to put your faith.

source: Charles Stanley/intouch.org

Articles

Is God Above All?

Quote: “Never get so busy doing the work of the kingdom that you forget who the King is.” 

– Anonymous

In our sermon text, Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul calls attention to the two words, “above all.”

Look at his words to the believers at Ephesus. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Paul’s writing to the Christian church, the Body of Christ, and he emphasizes how God is a God of unity as He works in the church.

He also stresses how the church, the Body of Christ, is to be a body of unity. The word he uses over and over is the word “one.” Notice the phrases:• There is a vocation, a calling for each one who is part of the body of Christ.• There is one body, and there is one Spirit.• There is one hope of our calling. • There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and then he adds in verse 6, “One God and Father of all, who is above all and through all, and in you all!”

I want to call your attention to verse 6, and the two words, “Above all.” Take that phrase at face value,and it merely implies that there is nothing above it. No person, no power, no authority, no possession, no love, no passion! There can be nothing above it!

Yes, God is, above all! He is above all things, above all people, above our self. But is He?

Do I live each day, at work, or play, acknowledging that He is “Above All?”

When I serve, when I minister, when I use my talent, is God, above all?

When I give of my time and my treasure, is it with the conviction that God is “Above All?”

Think about it – Is God

-Above myself

-Above the world

-Above Fame and Fortune

-Above Family and Friends

-Above all Other People and Things

Today’s sermon asks the question, “Is God, above all?”

May the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts through the Word of God and bring us to the conviction that God is Above All!

Articles

SO YOU WANT TO BE HIS DISCIPLE OR DO YOU?

Do we think about the commitments we make? Or, do we get caught up in a moment of spontaneous passion or emotions and then blurt out the words, “I’ll do it!” or “You can count on me!”

When we take a look at the Christian church, it’s sad but true that so many begin with good intentions, but soon their passion for Christ fizzles out, and they slowly become another casualty of the Christian battle.

Commitment is missing in many relationships. For example, some marriages result in a one-night stand, running down to the Elvis Chapel and tying the “Love me Tender” knot, only to find that it’s easy to say words, “I Will Always Love You,” but it’s a different thing to live them.

Not only is commitment lacking in marriages, but it also is missing in jobs and careers. We make commitments until we find out precisely what all is involved and expected of us, then it’s not long before many tell their boss, “Take this job and shove It!”

What a tragedy, that when it comes to the Kingdom of God and eternity, many do the same thing with their commitments to Christ! They boast with a lot of enthusiasm for how much they love Christ and His church; of how they want to win people and to see others changed; but then it’s not long before the passion is gone, like the air escaping from a balloon.

When people don’t keep commitments, they not only hurt themselves but also a host of other people, for no one lives or dies to himself.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Articles

A Collapse of Courage

Oftentimes people work very hard to achieve a particular goal, yet at the edge of seeing their dream come to pass, they miss it.

One of the reasons is because they don’t have the courage to grasp what God has provided. They may have even prayed and hoped that He would answer, but when He does, their courage collapses.

Courage is the quality of mind or spirit enabling one to meet danger or face opposition or the challenges of life with fearlessness, calmness, and firmness. The story in Numbers 13-14 is an illustration of what happens when we lose our courage and fail to follow through in full obedience to the Lord.

Israel’s Situation

After God had miraculously rescued the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, parted the Red Sea for their escape, and led them through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, He gave them His law that was to govern their nation and their worship. From there, He led them across the desert until they arrived at the edge of the land He’d promised to give them.

At this point, the Lord told Moses to select twelve leaders from each of the tribes to spy out the land and return with a report (Numbers 13:1-2). The spies came back with a sample of the fruit—some figs, pomegranates, and a single cluster of grapes so big that it was carried on a pole between two men. The land was certainly fruitful and productive. However, the cities were large and strongly fortified, and the people were extremely strong. The spies even reported seeing giants there.

The Spies’ Reports

Because God had promised to give the Israelites the land, Caleb said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). But ten of the spies discouraged the people by giving a bad report. Instead of remembering God’s promise and power, these spies focused on the situation and raised the following objections.

  • “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us” (v. 31).
  • “The land . . . devours its inhabitants” (v. 32).
  • “We became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (v. 33).

As a result of the negative report, the people wept, grumbled, and accused the Lord of bringing them to this land “to fall by the sword” (Numbers 14:3). They wanted to stone Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb and appoint another leader to take them back to Egypt. How quickly they forgot their previous slavery and God’s supernatural work on their behalf.

The Reasons for the Collapse of Courage

The Israelites came to the wrong conclusion for several reasons.

  • They forgot God’s promise. Although the Lord had promised to give them the land, the people let the negative reports overshadow and diminish what God had said.
  • They focused on their resources rather than the Lord’s. Looking at their own abilities, they saw no way to defeat the people of the land. But God has the power to do whatever is required to fulfill His promises whether we understand His ways or not.
  • They chose to listen to doubters rather than believers. When the people rejected the counsel of the two men who believed God would empower them to defeat their enemies, but instead listened to the spies who doubted Him, they made a disastrous decision. That’s why we should be careful about taking advice from those who don’t believe in the Lord’s power and promises in Scripture.
  • They left God out of the decision process. Even though Joshua and Caleb encouraged them to believe that the Lord could bring them into the land, the people didn’t even consider Him in their reasoning. We are often guilty of the same thing. Instead of seeking God’s will in the matter, we rely on information, opinions, and our own reasoning. Like the Israelites, we have the promise of His presence, power, and provision to enable us to accomplish whatever He calls us to do, if we will only trust and obey Him.
  • They allowed negative reports to overshadow God’s promises. After hearing about all the obstacles that awaited them in the Promised Land, they didn’t remember all that God had done for them in the past. After being supernaturally rescued from Egypt and given divine provision in the wilderness, they had no legitimate reason for doubting that the Lord could bring them into the land. But they listened to men, not the Lord.
  • They forgot God’s previous promises and work in their lives. Instead of realizing that the Lord had brought them this far and would take them into the land, they wanted a new leader to take them back to Egypt. They refused to believe the Lord’s promise and trust Him to overcome their enemies. Any time we leave God out of the equation, we’re going to make foolish choices.

The Consequences

Everything the Israelites longed for was across the border, but because they wouldn’t obey the Lord, His judgment came upon them. He declared that they would wander in the wilderness for forty years until all the men who were twenty years and older when they left Egypt had died. When they heard this, they changed their minds and went out to take possession of Canaan, but because the Lord wasn’t with them, they were defeated.

Sometimes God gives us opportunities that only come once. If our courage fails, we will never receive a second chance. This is why obedience is so important, even if we’re afraid or reluctant. When we live in daily obedience to God, we’ll never miss the opportunities He has for us, and He will supply whatever we need to accomplish what He’s called us to do.

The Key to Obedience

Meditation on God’s Word keeps us in line with His will. This includes reading the Scripture each day, talking to God, and bringing Him every issue that concerns us. The promises we need to strengthen our obedience are found in His Word. Scripture has the power to change our minds and attitudes from fear and uncertainty to confident courage. And it also reminds us that we are never alone if Jesus is our Savior. His Spirit lives within us, giving us guidance to know what to do and the power to accomplish it. When we trust the Lord and believe His promises, we have nothing to fear as we courageously move forward in obedience.

source: Dr. Charles Stanley/In Touch Ministries