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I No Longer Live

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Throughout the Bible, the Holy Spirit frequently chose to ask probing questions and make incredibly thought-provoking statements designed to get the reader's attention. One such occasion is in Paul's letter to the Galatians when he writes,

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

In this one verse can be found numerous lessons that are good for every Christian to consider and reconsider. First, when Jesus was crucified, we must remember that it was His voluntary decision to undergo that horrible death. While everyone else in history who had been crucified did so unwillingly, Jesus of Nazareth chose to lay down His life so that others could live. Similarly, no one will force us to sacrifice for His cause. Instead, we get to volunteer for service to our God.

Second, we must allow Jesus to truly take over our lives as He is the one who lives. In simple terms, our lives as saints are a battle between self and service, a struggle between me and Him. The more we live for self and me, the more we're like the world and that, of course, is what we are to work hard to avoid. In choices that we make, we must think about pure things and always approach our lives as if Jesus Christ was truly making the decisions for us.

Third, lives we live after becoming children of God are lives of faith. After all, we are told that we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). As part of this, that may very well mean that there'll be some uncertainties in our future. Because we have made the choice to dramatically change our perspectives and ways of life, oftentimes our choices will not make sense to our non-Christian friends. Then again, we may even wonder ourselves why God has asked us to endure a particular difficulty. When those days come, we must remember that we have been called to be children of faith.

Finally, we need to never, ever forget that God loves us and that our God gave His Son so that we could live. Little children can tell you that the song says, "Jesus Loves Me" because, "The Bible Tells Me So!" Amen! That's exactly what Paul writes to these early Christians, telling them to not listen to those who would say that they need something besides Jesus in order to be saved but rather to believe and obey Him--period. The only way that message made sense was with the complete awareness that salvation comes through Jesus who loved us, loves us, and ALWAYS will!

As we continue to serve God, let us always consider the important truth that we no longer live, but Christ must live in us!!

Courageous (Part 5)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Teenagers

Don Case

Let no one despise your youth, instead, you should be an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12

What a pleasure it is to see our teenagers believe, obey and grow into faithful Christians. Society is continuously evolving but one thing remains constant, the period of time between childhood and maturity is difficult. It is tough being a teenager. We appreciate the pressures they face and we know that there is so much for them to overcome. Our young people are making a difference and they will be leaving a mark on society. They may never become famous but they are people who listen to God, believe Him, and have convictions and purposes. God sees them for what they can become as he works in their lives. Their godly lives have endless possibilities as their examples greatly influence others.

Need For Radical Change in Society

There is decay in many American homes due to the negative influence of the media, entertainment, drugs and alcohol . Absentee fathers are destroying families and neighborhoods. Many teenagers today are biblically illiterate. They are not taught what conduct is right and wrong.

Many do not have the knowledge or encouragement to stand against societal pressure and make wise decisions in the face of evil.

The teen years can be gut-wrenching for them and their parents. Fathers and mothers should be constantly involved in their teenager's education, recreation, social life, and spiritual training. They should lead by example and give sound advice. Parents should be teaching young people to make wise decisions, be responsible, and live lives that matter.

We each have choices; we can be average, or exceptional. Teens must be taught how to make wise decisions that can influence the rest of their lives. They must learn to be responsible and to influence others. "Respecting the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Society desperately needs idols, teenagers who can lead, show by example, influence, and be a catalyst for change. Our young people are willing to step-up and help change their generation, let's support them.

Wake Up, Clean Up, Grow Up, and Stir Up

Reference: Courageous Teens by Michael Catt and Amy Parker, part of the book series from the movie, Courageous.

What It Means To Be A Saint

Saturday, March 15, 2014

For many people, tomorrow will "necessitate" wearing green. After all, not doing so on "Saint Patrick's Day" is not only "bad luck" but also makes one subject to getting pinched. But who was "Saint Patrick?" And, what does it mean to be a "Saint?" Consider the following important observations.

First, a little background is helpful. "Saint Patrick" was born in Great Britain and spent much of his life in Ireland in the 5th century,, spending most of his adult life as a Catholic bishop on the famous "Green Island." As one of the most famous and important religious leaders in Ireland, his identity and that of Ireland are now inextricably linked. The trappings of "Saint Patrick's Day" have numerous, though sometimes loose, connections with Patrick's life, mission, and teachings. As with other Catholic luminaries, Patrick is considered to be a "Saint," a title reserved (typically) for deceased men and women whose good deeds and efforts are noteworthy enough that the Catholic church (the Pope) deeming the person a "saint."

The problem with all of this is that the Bible uses the term "saint" in a dramatically different fashion. The term saint or saints is used some 30 times in the Old Testament and an additional 65 times in the New Testament. In using this term, inspired writers repeatedly refer to living men and women as saints and not only those who have been dead for hundreds of years. In short, in biblical times, God viewed saints as living, breathing men and women who had surrendered their lives to His service.

Furthermore, the notion that the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, or other man-made institutions are the ones who have the right to call a person a saint is totally unfounded in scripture. Instead, just as God is the one who called us and adds us to His church, He is the one who calls us saints (Acts 2:47). To pick and choose who is and is not a saint is not only non-biblical, but it also makes it so that human beings are putting themselves in the place of God making decisions that He Himself has the right to make.

Finally, it's important to note that the world's view of saints is different than the Lord's (and thanks to be to God for that!) In fact, many times the term "saint" is used to convey the notion that a person is "perfect." One might say, "She's a saint," meaning that she's just so incredible, so kind, and "so-almost perfect." But note this fact. When Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colosse, was he writing to perfect people? A quick review of Paul's letters reminds us that they were anything but perfect! Yet, Paul called all of these believers "saints." This matters A LOT to us. We are saints not because we are perfect, nor because some arbitrary, man-made denomination chose to call us saints, but because the perfect and loving Creator chose to call us saints. If nothing else, "Saint Patrick's Day" should remind us about the Bible really teaches and how truly fortunate we are!

Courageous (Part 4)

Saturday, March 08, 2014
Submitted by Don Case

Wives and Mothers

The movie, Courageous, concluded with a Resolution For Men, however, the companion books continued with resolutions for woman and teenagers.

These proposed resolutions suggest that woman devote themselves to making and keeping pledges that lead to becoming greater Christians. These life changing promises will bring more blessings and joys to life in pursuit of being God's best. Women will understand that these resolutions involve discipline and self-sacrifice. They allow the Word of God to nurture and take control of their lives. There will be a deep impact on the lives of the ladies that agree to this commitment.

These resolutions will also have a positive impact on the families. These are life changing resolutions with God and are principles that He has already established. He is always calling and challenging us towards growth to make our lives more fruitful.

Our desire should be to leave a legacy of faith, compassion, gratitude, perseverance, forgiveness, patience, and love, all carefully crafted and then purposefully passed on to the next generations.

The Resolution For Women: At A Glance

  • I do solemnly resolve before God to embrace my current season of life and live with a spirit of contentment.
  • I will champion God's model for womanhood and teach it to my children
  • I will celebrate my God-given uniqueness and the distinction He has placed in others.
  • I will live as a woman answerable to God and faithfully commit to His Word.
  • I will seek to devote the best of myself to the primary roles God has entrusted to me.
  • I will be quick to listen, slow to speak, and esteem others more highly than myself.
  • I will forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
  • I will not tolerate evil influences in myself or my home but will embrace a life of purity.
  • I will pursue justice, love, mercy, and extend compassion towards others.
  • I will be faithful to my husband and honor him in my conduct and in my conversation, and will aspire to be a suitable partner for him to help him reach his God-given potential.
  • I will teach my children to love God, respect authority, and live responsibly.
  • I will cultivate a peaceful home where God's presence is sensed.
  • I will make today's decisions with tomorrow's impact in mind and consider my current choices in light of future generations.
  • I will courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.

Source: THE RESOLUTION FOR WOMEN, a part of the COURAGEOUS series.

Copies of the RESOLUTION FOR WOMEN are available on the foyer seat

God is Incredible... (Psalm 78:38-39)

Friday, February 28, 2014

The 78th Psalm is a lengthy entry into an otherwise group of generally short, to the point songs written by godly men many years ago. Furthermore, the 78th Psalm serves as a micro-history of some of the more familiar, notable aspects of Israel's history and reminds the reader of the sinful, rebellious, selfish behaviors that were all too common with the characters of the Old Testament and, for that matter, characters of all time. Near the middle of the psalm that, in some ways is discouraging (it tells us about how disappointing we can be to God) comes two verses that prove how incredible God is.

But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity,
And did not destroy them.
Yes, many a time He turned His anger away,
And did not stir up all His wrath;
For He remembered that they were but flesh,
A breath that passes away and does not come again.
-- Psalm 78:38-39

Isn't that incredible?! God wants us to see Him as He is and that means not only seeing His frustration, but also His incredible, indescribable grace. Note the three things said about God in the early part of the text -- His compassion, His forgiving attitude, and His choice to not destroy His people. The author goes on to say that this was not a "one-time" event but rather one of "many" occasions wherein God did not allow His anger to burn so hot so as to utterly destroy those who rebelled against Him. We need to appreciate that that's not just good news for the men and women of old, but that's great news for men and women today!

It's true that God has high expectations for us. And we should have high expectations of ourselves. Yet, the inspired writer of this psalm shares a thought that is both simple and refreshing. That is, we are, "but flesh." God knows that we're not perfect and He has shown time and time again that He is patient, longsuffering, forgiving, and understanding. Without any doubt, He treats us far better than we often treat our fellow man and praise Him for that!

Armed with this understanding, let us resolve to do two things. First, let us be ever mindful of the incredible nature of our God. Let us be thoughtful and prayerful, thanking our Father for His repeated forgiveness and His truly amazing grace. We don't deserve to be treated any better than the men and women of the Old Testament who deserved what they didn't get. And so, we thank our God. Second, let us be encouraged by these truths to do all we can to share God with a lost and dying world. Many people either don't know God or have been misinformed about God. It is up to us as to whether or not we'll do all that we can to share with others how truly incredible our God is.

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