Who Are You?


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Who are you? People who don’t know you think you are a stranger.  People who do know you might call you a parent or a child or a sibling or a spouse or a friend or a coworker or a good citizen.  But who does God say you are?  How does He describe your relationship with Him?  If you have trusted Christ to be your Savior, you have a new identity.  According to 2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”  What is this new creature?  There are many fascinating figures of speech used throughout God’s Word that describe who we are in relation to God once we are saved.

If these do not apply to you, you should ask Christ to save you from your sin and shame and to transform you into the creature described in the following ways:

I am a friend of Christ, a friend of God!  (John 15:14-15, James 2:23)

I am no longer God’s enemy!  (Romans 5:10)

I am a child of God!  (John 1:12, 1 Peter 1:14, Romans 8:16, 2 Cor 6:18)

I am a brother of Christ!  (Hebrews 2:11)

I am part of a chosen generation, and a peculiar people!  (1 Peter 2:9)

I am a Christian (Christ-like one)! (Acts 11:26, 1 Peter 4:16)

I am a follower of God!  (Ephesians 5:1, Luke 9:23)

I am an heir! (Galatians 4:7, 1 Peter 1:4)

I am a child of light, a reflection of God’s light!  (Eph 5:8, Mat 5:14, 2 Cor 3:18, Phi 2:15)

I am a soldier!  (2 Timothy 2:3)

I am a servant!  (Luke 17:10, 2 Cor 4:5)

I am a stranger and pilgrim and sojourner!  (1 Peter 2:11, Eph 2:19, Heb 11:13, 13:14)

I am an ambassador from another country offering reconciliation!  (2 Cor 5:18-20)

I am a preacher!  (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15)

I am a part of a royal priesthood!  (1 Peter 2:5,9)

I am a saint from a holy nation!  (1 Peter 2:9)

 

What a responsibility it is to wear the name Christian!  But it truly is a grand thing to be a Christian.  Let’s live as God has planned for His redeemed to live.

Falling Uphill


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Isaiah 41:10, Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

I have never been particularly clumsy—it is just that I can be walking along in a flowing, easy way, then suddenly experience an adverse reaction to gravity, ha!  At such a time, usually about once I year, I just take a tumble because I didn’t see something that appeared under my feet in time to avoid it!

What has been disconcerting is the fact that, since my chemotherapy for breast cancer eight years ago, I have a tendency to do that falling thing slightly more often, maybe three times a year now.  I have checked and found that, although doctors don’t want to correlate a lack of sensation on the bottom of my right foot with chemotherapy, there are quite a few women who have had exactly that same phenomenon after chemo.  It is not a big deal, just scary when something unexpected happens, usually because I didn’t pick my foot up high enough and caught it on something uneven on the floor or walkway.

My husband and I were out walking around our local lake on Thanksgiving weekend when I did exactly that while stepping over a crack in the asphalt.  I tripped, tried to grab my husband, missed, and ended up faceplanting and breaking my nose.  The discoloration spread for two days until I not only had a red nose, but two blackened eyes and various red splotches on my cheeks.  Quite memorable in a not-so-good way, although it taught me once again that my husband is my hero when he helped me stop the bleeding with his socks, then slowly walked me every step of the way home. (I fell at the halfway point, 1.5 miles from home.) 

And I took a very slight tumble on the sidewalk of Cracker Barrel the other day as I was so excited that I followed my best friend into the parking lot that I did not look down in time to see  the curb while exiting my vehicle.  We were coming from two ends of the state, and I could not believe it when I arrived at the stoplight right behind her.  Thankfully, when I dropped my iPad to the ground, the case protected it.  And I was away from the Cracker Barrel windows, so hopefully no one saw.  Vanity, thy name is woman.

All this to say that God has indeed promised to uphold me with the right hand of His righteousness.  Life is messy, and we are flawed creatures, with bodies that break or respond to things like chemotherapy in weird ways.  But God is faithful and will superintend His plan in our lives all life long.

We can and do face setbacks like my broken nose.  But we can trace the path of His grace even in those moments.  He will always be with us, just as He was with me and ensured my husband was there on that walk when I fell.   

God Said It!


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Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt  believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

I love to read the Word of God for many reasons. The foremost reason is for its message of redemption. There are many more reasons, but today I would like to ask you to think with me about the exactness of the Bible. We will see where God gives us exact steps to follow, and thus he assures us of exact results

In the verse quoted above, you see a perfect example of what I love. The Bible gives me strength, assurance, and a sense of “I (God) said it, that settles it”–the issue is done, settled, no questions necessary. The Bible says thou shalt be saved.

If you look with me at the major aspects of the verse, they are specific and very logical. Man has the problem so he must take the first step in becoming a part of the work already done on the cross. We must confess with our mouth that we are guilty of the sin that we are accused of by God.  This is called repentance.  We see our sin as God sees it.

Our Anchor, the one we openly confess as God is Jesus Christ. This open confession requires a relationship with him and a reliance on His ability at all times. This confession is not halfhearted or shallow. We must accept stated truth in the Bible, believe in thine heart. The word heart here among other things includes our intellect, thought process, center of spiritual life, our passions, our will, and more. This is where we get a new direction or a new way or better yet a new life. John 10:28a, And I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish.

We are given one more requirement in our verse and that is to believe that the resurrection of Christ was a victory over sin, death, and the grave. When these factors come together in a life, we have God’s promise, thou shalt be saved. For me, it is a done deal–no questions, no if’s, ands or buts. God is spoken His word; I love the simplicity.

If you’re saved today, you can rejoice with me. Dear friend, if you are not saved, I challenge you to read the Word of God and trust Christ as your Savior. If we can help you in any way call us at 757-424-4673.

 

 

Biscuits!


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One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer.  The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said, “Lord, I hate buttermilk.”

The pastor opened one eye wondering where this was going.  The deacon continued, “Lord, I hate lard.”  Now the pastor was totally perplexed.  The deacon continued, “Lord I ain’t too crazy about plain flour.  But after you mix ‘em all together and bake ‘em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits.”

“Lord, help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don’t like, whenever we don’t understand what You are doing, that we need to wait and see what You are making.  After you get through mixing and baking, it’ll probably be something better than biscuits.  Amen.”

 

Borrowed from Facebook

Four Powerhouse Propositions


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If Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning Messiah’s First Advent – and He did (as Paul declared and demonstrated to the Jews in the synagogue in Thessalonica in Acts 17:1-3) – then four great truths of the Christian Religion necessarily follow:

  1. There is a Great God – for who but He can forecast the future?
  2. This Great God is Lord of History – for who but He can set such a marvelous plan into motion, carry it out across the wide centuries in the face of mounting human and Satanic opposition, and bring it all to pass in due season?
  3. This Lord of History inspired the writers of Holy Scripture – for who but He could pour such brilliance into their spirits?
  4. Jesus of Nazareth is the Promised Messiah – for who but He could even begin to answer to the amazing array of all these ancient announcements?

Keeping Relationships Right!


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Most believers have a challenge in keeping relationships right, as one of our primary concerns every day.  We must keep our relationships right with the Lord in order to begin to keep our relationships right with others.  Proverbs 4:23 challenges us to keep our hearts with all diligence for out of the heart are the issues of life.  The first and greatest Commandment is to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind.  Our Lord deserves every bit of our heart’s devotion.

We are also to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves, and that is very hard on two accounts.  First, God knows how much we love ourselves.  The real challenge is to deny ourselves so that we might obey the Lord Commands.  The second account is that our neighbors may not always deserve, want, or accept our love.  We still have the responsibility to love them as God requires.

Just how do we go about this activity?  This is the place where we often fail.  We often do not have a Biblical Plan to follow.   An imperative in the Biblical Plan is that it must be a daily activity (Luke 9:23).  Every day we must not be wrapped up in ourselves and ignore the maintenance of our personal responsibility in loving and enjoying God’s presence and following through with activities He requires above our old nature desires.  God requires denying these old nature desires and giving Christ the preeminence in our lives (Colossians 1:18), in our fellowship with Him, and in our actions which should follow.

What about relationships with family, friends, and neighbors as God points out our responsibilities in meeting their needs?  We are naturally selfish, and so God states that we should love them as much as we love ourselves.  God requires that our needs be met in His Plan so that we will be able to reach out and meet the needs of others.  Maintaining our personal lives spiritually, physically, and materially and then reaching out to meet others needs as much is really a daily challenge.

It takes a daily personal check before the Lord in our communication with Him in order to keep all of these areas in our relationships within the perspective of the Scriptures.  God’s Word gives particular responsibilities which must be fulfilled and the order in which we should follow them.  Depending upon the daily opportunities God gives us, helps determine particular needs that must be addressed.  Only He can direct us in each one.  Setting a daily personal check time is extremely beneficial in accomplishing this goal.

We need wisdom, insight, understanding, and discernment which only He can give in answer to our requests.  He is able, and we are responsible to Him in all of these matters.  It is a daily challenge, and we must accept that challenge.   He is willing and able to help us in all of these responsibilities He sets before us for His glory (Philippians 4:13).

 

An Audience of One


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An audience of One – I recently heard this phrase in reference to our attitude in respect to praise and worship during congregational singing. I think that is a very appropriate attitude – our praise and worship should be personal and have one focus – an audience of One, our great God. The Scriptures, especially Psalms, use personal pronouns in referring to praise and worship – I will extol Thee, praise ye the Lord, I will sing praises. When we lose focus of the true audience of our worship, we often turn to entertaining the congregation instead of directing our praise to an audience of One. 

I think this phrase can also have a broader application. What about our daily life? I Corinthians 10:31 says -“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Whatsoever ye do – all encompassing, do all to the glory of God – to an audience of One. Who is your audience?

Are You Praying with a Mouth Wide Open?


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Psalm 81:10 – “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” [emphasis mine]

The Psalmist recounts for us in Psalm 81 some of the amazing ways that the Lord delivered the children of Israel.  He starts the Psalm in verses 1-5 giving praise to God for all He had done for Israel, Jacob, and Joseph.  He protected them when they were in a strange land among the Egyptians and delivered them from slavery (vs. 6-7).  He delivered the people from sure disaster in the desert at Meribah (vs. 7).  Then the Psalmist shifts from praise to admonition of the Israelites’ need to “hearken” or listen carefully to the LORD (vs. 8-9).  Then we get to Psalm 81:10 quoted for you above.  The Psalmist has laid out for us some of the amazing things God did for His people.  He then uses words that bring to mind an image of a little bird with its mouth wide open waiting for its mother to fill it with food.  God desires to care for us in so many ways.

Recently I have personally experienced a vivid example of having my mouth filled!  I have been on deputation as a missionary to England for about two years now.  Early on in the process of deputation, I figured out that my Outfit and Passage needs would total almost $28,000!  That figure includes areas of need such as visa application, airfare, shipping, six-month down-payment on an apartment, furniture, appliances, driving lessons, driver’s license and test, and a vehicle.  As you can imagine, my mind began to run wild – How will I ever come up with all that money?  How can I ask churches who are already supporting me to send more money for these needs?  Where will it come from?  Maybe this is too much to ask for…  Then I heard a message during one of my weeks of training with Baptist World Mission on Psalm 81:10.

You see the rest of the Psalm details the fact that the Israelites didn’t listen to the Lord’s voice (vs. 11).  They went their own way and did things on their own terms (vs. 12).  The Lord wanted to help them by subduing their enemies and taking care of their adversaries, but they refused (vs. 13-14).  The Lord wanted to give them so much that would have satisfied their hearts, but He couldn’t because they refused to listen to His word (vs. 15-16).

I was challenged from that sermon and from studying this passage to pray in such a way that would allow the Lord to give me what He desires for me and in His own way.  I had to stop trying to figure out how it would all come together.  Instead I had to hearken to word of my omnipotent God and let Him fill my mouth!  I began to pray that way and ask the Lord to keep my heart from fearing in the “what if’s”!  Last month, I received over $23,000 toward my Outfit and Passage needs as well as added monthly support that raised my percentage to over 93%!  Who else can do that kind of work but our omnipotent God as He directs His people to do His will?

God wants us to listen and heed what He says to us in His Word.  Don’t pray with small faith – we serve an omnipotent God Who owns it all and can do with it what He wants!  Then He gets all the glory when He provides.  Start out this New Year praying with your mouth wide open and watch Him fill it!

A New Year


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A new year brings new opportunities, new responsibilities, new ideas, new relationships, and many other new things.  What a blessed thought to think that this year may be the first for something!  We will learn something new, take a trip to some place we have not been, meet new people, experience something new, or endure a hardship we have not known before.  In all that happens in 2017, may we ask the Lord to be in it with us!  His companionship, leadership, and guidance will help us weather whatever is before us.  The following hymn is a great thought with which to start the new year:

Jesus, Savior, pilot me

Over life’s tempestuous sea;

Unknown waves before me roll,

Hiding rock and treacherous shoal.

Chart and compass come from Thee;

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

John 8:12, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

Underneath the Rags May Be a Millionaire!


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There was a millionaire that was quite tired of those around him, as they were all “yes men” and “hangers on” looking only to get for themselves.

One day, the man decided to visit a diner for a cup of coffee.  He visited alone and in some old clothes gotten at a local thrift store.

As he entered, the waitress greeted him, flashing a huge smile and giving a cheery, “Hello, my friend!”  The man was taken back by the kindness of a stranger.  He had coffee and a donut while he conversed with the local folk, truly enjoying himself!

This activity became, over a few months, the rich man’s way to unwind and relax.  He became friends with those accustomed to meeting in the diner.

In less than a year, the rich man died.  His business partners were stunned to hear he had given most of his vast wealth to the smiling waitress that had become his friend.  He also left money to the owner of the diner and provided, “free” coffee and donuts for his fellow guests!

Quite stunned were all involved.  We never know who we shall meet.  We must be as the Lord and not respect persons because of their wealth or station in life.  We never know … We may befriend a “ragged millionaire”!

And so it is with the Word of God.  We are to share it with all we meet.  The one in the gutter needs the Gospel just as the man in the rich clothing!

“For there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11).