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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Restoration

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who asked how I was doing. My response was, “Good…we have a really good life…” I explained to her it was only a year ago when I was so stressed that I truly thought I was having a mental breakdown.  I told her I am fully persuaded the mental health healing I have received is a miracle from God.  “The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.” (Psalm 41:3) She responded, “God restores”.

People spend many hours and large amounts of money to restore an automobile back to the “authentic” condition.  That is exactly what God does through Jesus with us. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were in their “authentic condition”, walking in fellowship with God. But the “authentic condition” became tarnished due to sin.  God had a plan from the beginning to restore all of us back to this original condition. The great restorer is Jesus Christ.  
Allow God to restore you to your “authentic condition”.  Return to God and He promises He will restore you. “If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored…” (Job 22:23) Through the blood of Christ we are restored to the “authentic condition” of fellowship with God. I stand in awe when I think I am able to fellowship with the God of the universe. We no longer are separated from God.  

Do you need restoring in any area of your life? God has promised to restore everything, your relationship with Him, your health, your relationships, your employment, your finances and anything else that needs restoring in your life.
Take time with God and mediate on the following restoration verses.

 “Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Acts 3:21
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” Psalm 51:12

“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” Psalm 71:20
“Lord, by such things people live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health
   and let me live.”
Isaiah 38:16
“You, LORD, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.” Psalm 85:1
“if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your prosperous state.” Job 8:6
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10

Michelle Odom

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Do you remember this song from “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”?

Did you know it’s Biblical? 

“For we walk by faith and not by sight.”  2 Corinthians 5:7

Lately I’ve been thinking of someone who didn’t just walk by faith, but ran by faith.  The example of David and Goliath was used by my pastor a few weeks back in a sermon.  In this historical story, told in 1 Samuel 16 and 17, David had been anointed as King of Israel by Samuel the prophet.  However, he was still just a young man serving as shepherd to his father’s flock.  His father sent him to take food to his brothers, who were on the battlefield with all the armies of Israel.  The Philistines had gathered to battle against them, with their figurehead a great and terrible giant named Goliath.

All the men of Israel were cowering in fear before this giant, who blasphemed the name of God everyday to their faces.

No one dared stand against him.  Until the shepherd boy David arrived on the scene. 

It is a familiar story, but well worth reading again.  The part I am writing of today is found in 1 Samuel 17:48-50.

48 So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David.

There are times to walk by faith and there are times to take off in a hard run – not away from the battle, but towards it.  I believe that as David took those first few steps towards that giant, what he began in faith was encompassed by the very power and glory of God.  As he ran, the Spirit of God came upon him and anointed him, anointed those very rocks that he laid hold of.  David’s part was to act in faith; God’s part was to give him the victory over a giant that was a very real and evil force against the people of God.

And so it can be with you and me.  As we rise up in faith, we can run towards the battles of this life – both big and small.  When we step out in obedience to and faith in God’s Word, He will empower us to overcome every enemy – whether it is the giant of despair and discouragement or the giant of illness or financial loss.  We are empowered as we walk in faith to spread the good news of the Kingdom – the gospel message – to slay the giants of apathy and blindness to the truth of God’s Word. 

Put one foot in front of the other – you may find yourself taking off in a hard run!  And a giant is getting ready to hit the cold hard ground.

(By the way, here are the lyrics to that songJ)

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

You never will get where you’re going
If you never get up on your feet
Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowing
A fast walking man is hard to beat


If you want to change your direction
If your time of life is at hand
Well don’t be the rule be the exception
A good way to start is to stand

If I want to change the reflection
I see in the mirror each morn
You mean that it's just my election
To vote for a chance to be reborn

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Animated)
(ABC) December 13, 1970
New Music by Maury Laws
New Lyrics by Jules Bass



 
Rhonda Roughton

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Stand in Awe

While in the Amazon jungle in Peru we traveled by boat many times at night. I would love to lay my head back and just look at the sky. There is no view like it. Absolutely pure and brilliant! No street lights, now smog, no glow from a city, nothing to distort the glorious expanse of the night sky. Then to think that God created it all simply by speaking the words – I stand in awe!
I often take for granted the unmatchable power of the God that I serve. So, it is always a good thing to be reminded while studying scripture of just who He is and His power!
Nahum was a prophet to the southern kingdom, Judah. He brought a very harsh prophecy not against the Israelites, but against Nineveh. In the prophecy He reminds the Israelites just who God is!
      1.       He is a just God: Nahum 1:3b – “The LORD is slow to anger but great in power;
               the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.”

a.       God’s holy nature & love for His people demand that sin be punished & the righteous be defended. He is patient with sinners but His restraint will not last forever! Proverbs 29:1 says “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed without remedy.”
2.       He is an omnipotent God: Nahum 1:4-5 – “He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry… The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.”
a.       God has ALL power! Mountains quake and melt away, seas dries up, winds cease at His command – we can trust Him to handle ALL our problems! His desire is to take care of His children!
3.       He is a good God: Nahum 1:7 – “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”
a.       He is the one we can run to when life seems too much to bear! His goodness assures His children that He will care for them. It also assures that He will defend His children against those that attempt to do harm to them.
4.       He is an invincible God:  Nahum 1:9a – “Whatever they plot against the LORD
he will bring to an end…”
a.       No matter what attempts the enemy makes – they are all futile! God is unstoppable and cannot be defeated! He will squash whatever effort is made against His children.
5.       He is a saving God: Nahum 1:13 – “Now I will break their (the Ninevites) yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away.”
a.       Our God is mighty to save!  He promises to set us free from our enemies and all the things that oppress us and hold us in bondage. Our enemies, our habits, our addictions and our sins – He sets us free!
Today I challenge you to ponder on the amazing attributes of who God is! There is no other god like our God! None can compare to His love, His power nor His might! Trust in Him – He’s got our back!

Crystal Owens

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Friends Helping Friends


Four friends are discussing their paralyzed friend. They want so much for him to be healed.  They believe if only they can get him in to see the one everyone is talking about, he would be healed. One friend asks,” how are we going to get him there?” They decided that all four of them could carry him there. So, the four friends go to the home of their paralyzed friend and carry him through the streets of Capernaum. Once they get to the place where He was, they see a large crowd and are unable to get through the door. One of them says, “Oh no, what are we going to do?” They come up with a plan to hoist their friend up on the roof; they dug an opening in the roof and they lowered the man down through the hole to a place in front of Him.  (My dramatization of Mark 2:3-5.)

Then they came, bringing a paralytic to Him, who had been picked up and was being carried by four men. And when they could not get him to a place in front of Jesus because of the throng, they dug through the roof above Him; and when they had scooped out an opening, they let down the [thickly padded] quilt or mat upon which the paralyzed man lay.

And when Jesus saw their faith [their confidence in God through Him], He said to the paralyzed man, Son, your sins are forgiven [you] and put away [that is, the penalty is remitted, the sense of guilt removed, and you are made upright and in right standing with God]. Mark 2:3-5

This is a wonderful account of friends helping friends. It only took four friends to get this man to Jesus. Once he met Jesus he was healed and saved because the friends made a commitment to get their friend to Jesus no matter what it took. It is clear to me they were on a mission!
I have never had too many friends and I use to be envious of those popular people that had tons of friends. But I have recently realized it is not the quantity of friends, but the quality of friends. My friends may be few but I know they are people that love me, pray for me, encourage me and inspire me. 
If you feel you do not have a friend in this world, be encouraged Jesus has promised to be your friend.  Jesus also has promised not to leave us alone; He left the Holy Spirit to be our friend and helper.

“…but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24c

"I'm telling you these things while I'm still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I'm leaving you well and whole. That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught.” John 14:26 MSG

Do you have friends in your life that need to meet Jesus? You can be the friend that brings them to Jesus. Make a commitment to help someone that may be “paralyzed” by questions and doubts about Jesus. Have the faith that your friends will be healed and saved. We each are on a “mission” for God to help others to the place where they met Jesus.

“No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends. You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do. I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]”  John 15:13-15MSG

Michelle Odom

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Your Choice

As believers in Christ, we are no longer under the curse of sin.  However, it is possible to be a believer and remain under the curse of the law.  Paul wrote to the Galatians on just that subject.  He admonished them that even though they had been saved by faith in Christ, they had gone back to the way of the law in their everyday lives – what we would call a “works mentality”.  A works mentality will cause us to try to please God by our good deeds.  If you read Galatians 3, you will understand how easy it is to revert to this type of lifestyle, even as a Christian.  Unfortunately, this type of lifestyle brings the curse of the law on anyone who practices it. 

The Message Bible spells it out plainly enough:
Galatians 3:2-6    “Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

 Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.”

The word curse means – a cause of great harm or misfortune (Merriam-Webster).  The Greek word for curse “katara” -  means to imprecate (invoke evil on) or execrate (to declare to be evil or detestable). 

The word blessed means – bringing pleasure, contentment, or good fortune.  The Hebrew word for blessing “brakah” – is benediction (the invocation of a blessing); by implication prosperity.  The Hebrew word for bless “barak” – means to kneel; by implication to bless God and man abundantly.  This carries with it the knowledge that God and man are joined together – that all God has is available to man and all man has is available to God.  It is astounding to me that the word “bless” means to kneel – for God Himself said it to Abraham. 

Galatians 3:10-14 (New King James Version):  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.


One of the amazing things about the blessing that God gave to Abraham is that it continues throughout time to include all those who are in Christ.  Abraham is our spiritual father, and we are heirs of the promises of God.  This blessing covers every area of our lives – the natural as well as the spiritual – and causes us to prosper in all things.  We are blessed to be a blessing, just as Abraham was.  But this blessing is conditional – we cannot work our way into the blessing.  It is received by grace through faith and obedience to the Word of God.

I choose the blessing!  How about you?

Rhonda J. Roughton

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How’s Your Moral Compass?

Romans 12:2
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Many times when my children do something that is inappropriate, I immediately jump and discipline. However, on the days when I have had about all that I can stand and I am tired, I tend to let the little “sins” slip by. Not because I want them to do wrong, but because I am just tired and do not feel like dealing with it.

The same thing happens with our encounter with the world. We watch the news everyday in order to hear the same stories. We encounter many people daily, who we think, “just do not have a clue”. Because of the current state of our world, it is easy to grow numb to the things around us. We, as believers, are surrounded everyday with people who are involved in immoral activities. Whether we agree with the lifestyles of those around us or not, it is easy to get sucked in to their ideas and views. While we may not agree with what they are doing, we don’t want to judge, so we remain quiet. What happens when we allow the activities of others to become “normal” to our ears? It begins to decrease our moral/spiritual compass. We begin to take the non-judging mindset that we have and accept the actions that are blatantly unbiblical as OK. It is one thing to accept others as they are, but it is not OK to accept their sin as it is.
The Bible calls us to live set apart. We have a standard to live by, a code of conduct so to speak. We must daily be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2) if we are not transformed, we will conform to the standards of the world out of sheer exhaustion. Once we are transformed, we will be able to stand for what is right in the sight of God and NOT man.  Let’s use Biblical standards as our moral compass and not the standards of the world. Be transformed.

Kasey Scott

Friday, October 14, 2011

Serving God while Scrubbing Toilets...

"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord.” Luke 1:45-46

Mary was a young lady who was wise beyond her years and had the faith of a child! The angel of the Lord spoke to her an impossible thing: she was chosen to give birth to the Son of God. The impossibility was there on so many levels. She was a virgin, this was an angel speaking to her and she was going to birth the Son of God. Many of us upon the first sight of the angel would have quickly scattered! It would have been fright night for sure! We wouldn’t have given him a chance to speak! But Mary listened.

Mary did more than listen. She took what was spoken and pondered it in her heart. She believed that God would do it. She was a willing vessel. Mary was going to face an enormous amount of criticism to the point of possible death. Yet, she accepted the role God had chosen her for and served Him faithfully in that role.

We struggle with this. If it is a glorious role that God has called us to fill there is no problem. But when He calls us to fill the “dirty job”, we struggle, make excuses, reason our way out of it. If we do it, we complain about it.

God wants us to serve with a glad heart. He desires us to be cheerful givers, not just of money, but also of our time and talents. Every part of running a church is as important as the preaching or the worship leading or the other “big name” positions. A clean restroom, a great greeter, loving and nurturing childcare, energetic children’s church – all these allow for someone to be ministered to in the service.

Has God called you to serve in a way that you feel is beneath you? Do you serve God begrudgingly? Or are you willing to serve God wholeheartedly? When we serve Him in gladness, no matter what we are doing, we bring glory to His name!

Crystal Owens