Monday, March 26, 2012

Hungry Games - Pastor Sean

But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.” John 4:32 NLT

For some reason this weekend I've had a phrase about hunger and games stuck in my mind.  Not sure where I heard it, but it has caused me to ponder.  What type of hunger should we "play" with?

A big meal provides comfort, sustenance, and even a feeling of security.  But, sometimes it is too much of a good thing if there are tasks to be accomplished.

Im sure you've experienced the effect of a full stomach, especially on a spring Sunday afternoon.  Sitting on the couch, golf providing soothing background noise on TV, eye lids are struggling to stay open and suddenly...zzzzzzzz.  Now there is nothing wrong with a good rest, unless it leads to complacency.

A complacent Christian is lazily content with where they are and what they have with God. Life with Jesus has become stale.  A complacent Christian may be prone to sin or embracing the influence of culture and missing the opportunity to build for God.

The lukewarm believers of the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3 were unaware God saw them as “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).  They were not fulfilling their God given purpose.  Regardless of how long a person has been in the Lord, we need to guard against complacency.

 Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Hunger and thirst are strong motivators in human life. Just think of the many times we have exaggerated our level of hunger by stating, "I'm starving!"
How much more should they motivate our spiritual lives.

“For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” Psalm 107:9.  Jesus said that it is the thirsty person that will come to Him to drink and be filled with “rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

The best way to steer clear of complacency is to keep ourselves in a constant state of spiritual hunger.

Smith Wigglesworth said, “Spiritual hunger is when nothing in the world fascinates me as much as being near to God.”

Moses is an example. His request,“Show me Your glory”(Exodus 33:18), reveals a deep hunger for more of God.  Remember that Moses had already been in God’s manifest presence for forty days, and his face was glowing with God’s glory. Yet he asks for more of God’s presence.

Wherever you turn your attention, you will have a desire for more of that same thing in your life. The more you receive, the more of God you want!

Spiritual hunger is an indicator of the Holy Spirit at work in you! If you honestly lack a real hunger for God, ask Him to create the desire for Him within you. I believe that is one prayer to which He will gladly and quickly respond.

Why do we need to avoid complacent attitudes?  The answer may come as we look back in the book of John to an earlier story.

The disciples have gone looking for bread. Jesus engages a Samaritan woman in a saving conversation. The disciples return with food and say, "Rabbi, eat!" He answers, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." They think someone else has beaten them there and slipped him a Reuben sandwich. He says, "My food is to do the will of the One who sent me and to accomplish his work. . . . Look, the fields are ripe for harvest!"

Complacency can lead us to think only of ourselves and miss the impact we can have in the life of others.

We too are to do the will of God, and it happens as God feeds our deepest hunger with the bread of life. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Trusting God - Pastor Jenn

“And we have such TRUST through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God." 1 Corinthians 3: 4-5(NKJV)

I read this story the other day and it really got me thinking…

A little girl and her father were crossing a bridge. The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter, “Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don’t fall into the river.” The little girl said, “No, Dad, you hold my hand. “ “What’s the difference?” asked the puzzled father. “There’s a big difference,” replied the little girl, “if I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go.”
I believe that so many times in our life when it comes to trusting God we hold his hand and in doing that it is so easy to let go when we get scared or unsure of what is happening. As the little girl knew that if we allow him to hold our hand then we know for sure no matter what happens He will never let us go. 
God is all sufficient for every need that we walk through! We need to step back and start to trust like a child!!! Children start to trust from the day they are born, they trust you to feed them and take care of them. They have no doubt that you as their parent will provide everything they need. Why don’t we have this much trust in our Heavenly Father?

In his word he tells us that we can trust in him...
He is the Stronghold. 
Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will TRUST, my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”

He is the Protector.
2 Samuel 22:31 “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who TRUST in Him.”

He will Deliver as Promised.
Psalms 22:4 “Our fathers trusted in You; they TRUSTED, and 
You delivered them”

Nothing on Earth Can Compare.
Psalms 32:10 “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he that TRUST in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.”

As a believer in Christ we have be renewed and restored. Our lives have been changed!!! Christ died to set us free! It is time that we put all our TRUST in him! Sometimes I have to remind myself that if God can hold the planets in orbit then He can handle my life. I have to daily put my TRUST in God.
How do we TRUST God with everything we have walked through that still has hold on our life and everything that we are currently walking through:

  1. Believe in who God says He is. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last , the beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13
  2. Believe in who God says you are. “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
  3. Acknowledge your need for help. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22.
  4. Cover yourself with His Word. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
  5. Allow Him to hold your hand. “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

Today begin a new journey in TRUSTING in God!!! He is everything that you need for everything that you.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy and You Know It - Pastor Sean

The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22 NLT)

Blessed is the people of whom this is true; blessed is the people whose God is the Lord. (Psalm 144:15 NIV)

"Are you happy now?  It's a question asked when someone finally gets what they wanted.  Oftentimes it's in reference to the fact that before they got it, they whined about how much they needed it, or were at a disadvantage without it. 

Maybe you've  heard people say something like,

"If only I had a better job"
"I wish our house was bigger"
"Someday we'll be able to afford that ____________"
"If only my team could win."

They are statements of pursuit. A pursuit for life to be more exciting, fulfilling, or meaningful.  But, is it really what makes us happy? More importantly, is it what God promises makes us happy.

The Greek word for blessed is Makarios, translated it means,
"blissfully fulfilled as a result of right living."
Godly blessing/happiness is not a subjective feeling based on what we own or how we measure to cultural expectations.  But rather, it is a measure of our submission to God's plan.   Note this, the opposite of blessing is not unhappiness, it is to be cursed. 

Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount that happiness belongs to the mourners, poor in spirit, meek, seekers of righteousness, persecuted, and merciful.  Not exactly the mental picture we get of the family pursuing a house with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a dog that doesn't shed. 

American culture has long held to the foundational concept revealed in our Declaration of Independence, that we are allowed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Put another way, Faith, Freedom, and Financial Gain.  So, when in the course of human events, the pursuit of gain hinders or weakens our faith or freedom, something is out of balance.  It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking as long as it gets us ahead financially or makes us happy, we can sacrifice a tenant of faith, or a portion of freedom.  But, instead of finding blessing we find a curse.

God want us to be blessed.  To be biblically happy.   But the idea of happiness so many have is not the same idea of blessing that God has. 

There is no doubt scripture promises God's obedient children will be blessed beyond measure (Num 6:24-27; Luke 6:38; Rom 8:28; Heb 11:24-26) with a prosperity that includes health, wisdom, and finances.  In fact, it's a generational promise made to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) that because of His obedience, all His descendants would be blessed.  The blessing is tied to obedience.  Our pursuit of holiness.

It is normally the most known verses that can be the least practiced.  Matthew 6:33, instructs for us to seek God's Kingdom FIRST, and we are guaranteed blessing.  Happiness is....obeying God.

Friday, March 9, 2012

By Faith - Pastor Kristin

Hebrews 11 is the hall of faith chapter where we read of the mighty men and women of God conquering in faith.  Verse 6 is a familiar one but has been in my mind all morning. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

We are called believers because everything flows out of our believing in God! You cannot be an unbelieving believer. We must first believe that God is … Like God told Moses He is the I Am.   We must believe that He is the healer, provider, redeemer, counselor, etc.  Then we have to hold on to the promise that as we seek Him, He imparts those things to us.  And then we will have the same testimony of the heroes of faith who by faith overcame the obstacle.

Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'"

The power is there for the believer. For every Christian this is a walk of faith from beginning to end. We begin in faith and we will only progress in faith. Like Paul says in these verses it will be from faith to faith. We will live by our faith.

Romans chapter 4 is another faith chapter that reminds us that the faith of Abraham began a covenant that we have inherited.   And that faith produces righteousness.  Chapter 5 goes on to say…

Romans 5:1 "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

You're Connected to the Vine, Not the Report - Pastor Ty

I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. John 15:5 AMP

There is plenty of negative in the world today to contaminate our faith. But the good news is that we stand on Gods Word and what He says is all that matters. My mentor Jeremiah Castille always use to say to me, "When you got faith the facts don't count."

The good news is there is not a recession in heaven. God has not had to cut back because of high gas prices. He's not having a shortage of food and supplies. I'm happy to report that all is well. At times, it may be difficult, and you might wonder how it's all going to work out. But just remember this: as God took the five loaves and the two fish and multiplied it to feed thousands of people, God can multiply what you have. He can multiply your time and help you to get more done. He can multiply your wisdom and help you to make better decisions. God can multiply your finances and cause them to go further. This may sound kind of far out, but God can cause your car to get better gas mileage. He can cause you to stay out of those traffic jams. God can help you find the best deals at the stores, find things that are on sale that are usually never on sale. God is in complete control.

Here's the key: as long as our source is okay, we're going to be okay! If we'll just stay connected to the vine, keeping God first, believing and expecting for His favor; then as His branches, we're not going to just survive. We're going to thrive. So remember that you're connected to the vine, not the report. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Choose Life - Pastor Reeves

We will never enjoy life unless we make a quality decision to do so. Satan is an expert at stealing our joy and it is one of his favorite targets. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that "the joy of the Lord is our strength." In John 10:10 we are told that "the thief" comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but that Jesus came that we might have and enjoy life. Satan is the thief, and one of the things he seeks to steal is our joy. If he can steal our joy from us, we will be weak; and when we are weak, the enemy takes advantage of us.
Weak believers are no threat to him and his work of destruction. In order to live as God intends for us to live, the first thing we must do is truly believe that it is God's will for us to experience continual joy. Then we must decide to enter into that joy. Experiencing enjoyment in our souls is vitally important to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones." It is God's will for us to enjoy life! Now it is time to decide to enter into the full and abundant life that God wills for us.
Joy and enjoyment are available just as misery is available. Righteousness and peace are available and so are condemnation and turmoil. There are blessings and curses available, and that is why Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us to choose life and blessings.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Never More Satisfied - Pastor Sean

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,“I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT)

Mark it down, bet your bottom dollar, take it to the bank.  We crave the security of statements that are made to convince of a sure thing.  But are we ever really sure what is being promised will be equal to what is produced?

We often strive for the assurance that life will be everything its supposed to be.  BUT, the big evaluation is who is influencing our concept of what life is supposed to be?

Hollywood, stock brokers, late night infomercial sales people and even dog food makers are constantly pushing something new and improved.  It could lead us to believe nothing is ever going to be good enough, it always has to be better.  Then I read Hebrews.

Some promises are good.  Some promises are great.  But, what God promises in Hebrews 13 is beyond good, great or any other superlative.  What compares to the creator of the universe promising to NEVER abandon or fail His children?

Ponder the magnitude of what you just read.

God says, I will always be with you!  Jesus said it to the disciples, but sometimes I forget the message applies to us just as vividly today.

And, it's the first portion of the verse that really brings to light an important truth.  If we try too hard to be more satisfied by material benefits we miss the point.  God is promising we can always have Him!

The command for us to be free and content is grounded in the guarantee that God is always there.  We can be free from wanting more and happy with what we have because we have God.

Freedom from loving money and contentment with what we have is based on the reality that we can always say "we have a better possession and an abiding one" (Hebrews 10:34).

I'll take the promise, not to the just to the bank, but to every place I know.

Monday, March 5, 2012

All Tied Up - Pastor Enid

As part of his message yesterday, Sean used an illustration of a rope to symbolize the "path" we take in life. He talked about how we sometimes view our choices in life as a spiritual tug-of-war, with God holding one end of the rope and us the other. The point of the illustration was that God refuses to play games with us. If we insist on "pulling" in a different direction, he will simply drop the rope. When this happens, it doesn't represent God's abandonment or rejection of us-- in fact it represents just the opposite. God's refusal to participate in our agenda is birthed out of His love for us! Because He knows that His way is not merely better than ours, it's perfect. It is the extravagant and unfailing love of God that pursues us through mountaintop and valley, day and night, everywhere we go.

"Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture.... None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." (Romans 8:34-39 MSG)

That rope illustration has stuck with me, and I have been thinking about it all morning. The key point is that regardless of our intention to follow Christ and fulfill his purpose for us, we simply cannot do so if we are still holding our own rope. His intention is that we willingly give Him our whole rope-- our job, our finances, our marriage, our relationships, our possessions, our emotions and attitudes, our opinions, our future-- the whole thing.  And only then, when He holds both ends of the rope can we truly dwell in his presence. There is no way we can step out of sync with His purpose and plan because we are tied to Him! Now instead of Him pursuing us, we find ourselves pursuing Him!

Have you ever noticed how ropes, strings, cords and necklace chains seem to tie themselves in knots without any help? I can't count how many times I have taken knots out of my daughter's necklace chains or the cord of my vacuum cleaner, and yet not once has anyone tied those knots. They just happen, like the weeds that are popping up all over our yard! And when we hold our own rope, it is inevitable that it will eventually get all tied up, twisted and entangled in the things of this world. And despite how smart we are or how pure our intentions, one day we will look down at our rope and discover that it is a mess.

Just like taking up our cross, handing over our rope is a daily choice. Every morning when we wake up we have to decide which one we are going to carry for the day- our rope or His cross. We simply cannot carry both at the same time. We are either the leader (with God pursuing us), or the follower (with us pursuing God.) And while His love will continue to pursue us, it cannot empower or deliver us until we submit to it. So here are a few warning signs that I've experienced during seasons of my life when I've insisted on carrying my own rope:

You are spiritually tired, exhausted, or burned out. Spiritual burn out never takes place under the weight of the cross. It is unpreventable however under the weight of our rope. The longer we remain in control of our own life, the heavier it gets because it ends up dragging with it unintended baggage. We end up feeling the pressures of regret, guilt, other people's expectations of us, and our own desire to succeed and accomplish.

You are lacking necessary resources or abilities. The beauty and freedom of carrying out His agenda instead of ours is that He foots the bill for His plan! He delights in calling us to do something we are completely unqualified to do, but He will always anoint, empower and equip us to do it.

You lose your appetite for spiritual disciplines. God's presence is addictive. The more time we spend with Him, the hungrier we become for His presence. But when we become too preoccupied with this life, we slowly neglect our time with Him and eventually lose our appetite for spending time in His word or in prayer and worship. These things move from being our delight, to being an obligation, to being a New Year's resolution.

So today let's remember that Galatians 5 tells us that we've been set free by the power of Christ.  So drop your rope and rest in His presence and freedom.

Friday, March 2, 2012

New Season - Pastor Kristin

We are about to enter into a new season, Spring. We all anticipate the next season with enthusiasm. We are tired of our sweaters and jackets we are ready for kites and trips to the park, but just as each season in necessary for growth so is each season of our souls. There will be times of transition like fall, times of overwhelming heat and activity like summer and times of quiet cold that might force us into solitude like winter, but each season gives way to the next and the circumstances change like the weather as we enter into spring. When I see the dormant plants and trees begin to bloom and hear the return of the bird’s song, something happens in my spirit. I am challenged to walk in the new growth that I see all around me.  And I hear God’s word in my heart…

John 15:5 "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."

As I studied this passage I was taken back by two of the definitions. (These are from the King James Version so that I could look them up in the Strong’s Concordance.) 

Abide: To remain as one, not to become another or different. 

There are many definitions to this word and yes it is to wait and rest, but when I read this one I had to stop and evaluate. While I am waiting am I remaining who God made or looking around at another’s growth and trying to follow the pattern. I only have been instructed to abide. Do I trust the Vine to bring all I need?

Forth: Of a gust of wind, to rush.    

Forth also had many definitions but this one excited me because we usually view abiding and waiting as such a calm experience but just like spring has rushes of winds and sudden changes I believe abiding does too. Wait but be ready for the wind of the Spirit to gust or rush over you.

Creation unfolds with beauty so serene
Everything is living, growing and green
It is hard not to feel Your Spirit hovering over the day
Not to see your Joy as children come out to play
Spring is revival of all you have made
Creation’s rebirth on display
Your desire is to renew
So in Spring I see You
Winter’s death has its purpose but spring’s life has come
And to resurrection death must succumb
Spring is here
God is near
Gone is winter’s death

As we take in spring’s breathe

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Addicted to Noise - Pastor Sean

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (Psalm 46:10 NLT)

Do you hear it?  The sound in the background as you read this entry. Go ahead focus for a moment on the noise around you. Unless you happen to be hidden away in a soundproof cave (with rocking wifi) silence is most likely not surrounding you.

We have become accustomed to constant sound, rarely do we find place to enjoy silence and hear God speak. We are overloaded with a cacophony of entertainment and information.

Constant noise keeps us from learning about God and ourselves.  But, we are addicted to it.  Headphones in, tv on, phones always to our ears.  At some point we have to stop and enjoy silence.

Think about this simple illustration.  Let's say I invited a guest to my home.  Within a few minutes of arriving the guest hangs pictures of scantily clad women on the wall, tells my family that dads are stupid, and encourages doing the opposite of just about everything God says to do.  How long will the guest remain welcome in my home?

 Yes, the Internet and television can be beneficial tools.  But we need to  evaluate the sound. Do we give too much influence to noises that detract from the voice of God.

When God told the Israelites to be still...He meant for them to listen and follow His plan. Today, limit  being inundated with so much noise that you aren't able to rely on God.

Silence won't make all problems stop or cause issues to fix themselves but it does provide opportunity to hear from God.

Romans 15:4 reads, "Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled."  Being still helps us wait.

So if it's noisy, seems like the world is crashing in around you, the hope in Scripture is: don’t flinch in your faith.  Listen and stand still — not because of your confidence, not because you are an emotional rock in the middle of storms, and not because “you’ve seen it all.”

Be still, revel in the silence, because of what you know about God.