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June 22, 2016, 12:00 PM

Child of God


By Greg Higgins

 

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. – Romans 8:15

 

It’s June, which means we celebrate Father’s Day. Or in this case we already celebrated our dads. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. I have a great dad. He’s always been there for me when I’ve needed him. He’s always helped me when I asked. He’s the reason I am so passionate about sports. He’s the reason I’m in church today.

That’s one of the reasons this day is so important for me. In the midst of living life it’s easy to forget the things and the people that have helped mold us into what we are today. This day helps remind me of how lucky I am to have a father who cares for me. I think back about the times that he sacrificed for me and gave up his own wants and desires to make sure I had what I needed.

We weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination. However, we always had what we needed. We always had clothes, a house, food and love. I never felt unloved with my dad. He didn’t always say it or express it like other people, but I always knew he loved me.

This is my earthly father. What about my heavenly father? The verse above tells us that He has adopted us into the family. As an adopted son or daughter we have the right to call Him our Father. Think about that for a second. The God that created the universe and hung every star in its place wants me to call Him my father.

So, whether you had a great earthly father or not, you have a heavenly father that has adopted you. He’s adopted you into His family and you are an heir. You are a child of God.

 

-Greg




June 21, 2016, 12:00 PM

How Do You Know What God's Will Is For Your Life?


by Brenda Farmer

June 20, 2016

 

COMPONENTS OF GOD’S WILL FOR HIS CHILDREN:  (taken from The Battle Plan for Prayer*)

  • GLORY – THAT GOD MAY BE GLORIFIED THROUGH JESUS CHRIST IN EVERYTHING. 

1  PETER 4:10,11  - 10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

  • KINGDOM- TO ADVANCE HIS KINGDOM.  MATT. 6:33 - .33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
  • LORDSHIP – GOD’S WILL IS FOR CHRIST TO BE LORD – TITUS 3:4-8
  • But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,
  • he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
  • He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.
  • Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”
  • This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.
  • LIVING A PURE SANTIFIED LIFE - 1 Thess 4:3 (NLT) - God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.
  • WANTS US REFJOICING, PRAYING AND GRATEFUL IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES - 1 Thess 5:16-18 (NLT) - Always be joyful.17 Never stop praying.18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus
  • WANTS US MATURING IN THE FAITH - Heb 6:1-2 (NLT)1 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.
  • HE WANTS US PRODUCING FRUIT, SEASON AFTER SEASON - John 15:16 (NLT) -  16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.
  • WANTS US IN CLOSE FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER BELIEVERS - Phil 2:2 (NLT) 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose

 

 

* Reference: The Battle Plan For Prayer by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

To be continued…

 

- Brenda




June 17, 2016, 12:00 PM

The Peach Tree


by Haley Hardman

 

            Up until recently, I had a rather strange peach tree standing in my front yard. This tree looked as if it had been burned in the past, it was bent almost to a ninety-degree angle, and the trunk was completely hollow. Even with its looks being so completely fragile, every single year the strange tree always bloomed astonishingly beautiful hot pink flowers and then produced scrumptious peaches. In fact, when the tree started to bear the load of all of the peaches that it would produce, its branches would nearly bend all the way to the ground. With its peculiar character, it stood all the more beautiful in an odd broken and hollow way. I wish I had taken a picture of it before we cut it down. The only picture I have is of a blooming flower on one of its branches (featured above). My family and I adored this tree because of its remarkable strangeness, and to be honest, my mom and I nearly cried when we cut it down, but we had to do this so that the new tree growing out of the same ground could grow straight and get enough nutrients to produce. As we cut it down, we saw the sap coming out of the hollow trunk and knew it was only a matter of time before this old tree was actually as dead on the inside as it looked on the outside.

            While we were cutting away at the seemingly burnt bark, I couldn’t help but think that the cutting away of old flesh and embracing the new is exactly what we do as believers on a daily basis so that we can continue to walk on “the straight and narrow” and gain enough spiritual nutrients to continue producing Godly fruit.

 

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT)

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God- truly righteous and holy.

 

            If we are all honest with ourselves, we know that becoming a whole new person does not happen overnight. It statistically takes the average person twenty-one days to form a habit and twenty-one days to break a habit. Now, I am in no way saying that God can’t heal people of a bad habit overnight (I’ve actually experienced that myself), but I am saying that in my experience, we have to learn how to live life with God daily instead of thinking that He’s instantly going to take all of our troubles and sins away like a fairy god mother in Cinderella. That is why there is no perfect person living on this earth today. We are all striving to be better in some area or another, and I personally believe that we will never reach full perfection until we stand face to face with God someday.

            In saying all of that, I saw this strange peach tree as a metaphor and I didn’t even realize it until we were cutting it down. This tree was alive, but somewhere on the inside, something was killing it. Some would say that it was a miracle that this tree bloomed and produced things with its trunk being completely hollow- that even with all of its problems, life was still inside. While that is true, the brutal other half of the truth is that the tree was in the process of dying. You could say that the tree had just been hurt too many times, it had come to its last straw, it was at a breaking point, it had too much of a burden to bear, or whatever other excuse you could come up with. In actual reality, it stopped fighting the poison on the inside and instead, started letting the poison take over. It had accepted its defeat and no longer cared to win. You see, when we cut this tree down, it was blooming on only two of its branches. It went from a beautiful picture of perseverance, to what happens when you stop fighting back.

            I think that this happens to believers, young and old, too much to speak of. We get stuck in the mentality that no one can know that we’re hurting because they’ll hurt us even more, so we stand in agony trying to fight a battle inside of ourselves that we were never meant to fight alone. We have a certain thing that eats away at us, but we don’t let anyone else in on our secret because they’ll use it against us, when if the right person knew, they would help us get through our rough seasons. Or, we get stuck in a “victim mentality.” We wallow in our weaknesses and troubles, and we parade them to God like we have an excuse not to bear fruit. It’s heartbreaking to me that we get to the point that we feel like giving up on fighting the good fight-like it’s not worth it. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Not only have all sinned, but all have troubles (John 16:33). As John Dunn said, “No man is an island.” Mike Donehey once said, “If we want to participate in the Divine, then we need to come off our islands, and come back to the shore.”

            So, if we know that everyone goes through troubles, and we know that all sin, then why is it that we get to the point where we stop fighting? I think that is very clear: we forget who we are. And not only do we forget who we are, but we forget who God is. Once we forget who God is, we forget that God didn’t put us on this earth to suffer. No, His Word says that after God had made everything on this earth, it was good (Genesis 1:31). And Jesus came so that we might have life and life abundant (John 10:10). God doesn’t want us to suffer. God doesn’t want us to feel alone. But, we get stuck in a victim mentality, and we lie down, accept our defeat, and let the enemy rake us over the coals. Whether he does that with guilt, pride, isolation, fear, lust, depression, numbness, or pain, he presses all of our buttons and brings down the name of your God and all the while, we think that this is God’s will. “God is taking me through a humbling season.” “God is dealing with me about not attaching myself to others.” “God is closing this door in my life.” “God will fight for me!” “God is going to get me out of this mess.” We come up with all these excuses for our pain and suffering when God is screaming at us to fight! Fight for your joy! Fight for your marriage! Fight for your family! Fight for your friendships! Fight for your salvation! Fight for your purity! Fight for your soul! Fight for the Name of your God! Just FIGHT!! If we willingly let the Enemy trample over us, we cannot claim that we are victims, because God has given us the authority over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19) and all we have to do is remember that He has.

            One of the coolest things in the Bible to me is the monuments that people built to remember certain moments in their walks with God. My favorite is when Jacob builds his monument called Bethel.

 

Genesis 28:11-13, 15-19, 22 (NLT)

At sundown he arrived at a good place to set up camp and stopped there for the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down this stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants… What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. He named the place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although it was previously called Luz… “And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshipping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.”

 

            From then on, every time that Jacob passed that memorial pillar, he remembered who God was to him in that moment and who He would forever be. He would remember the promises that God made to him, the emotions he felt, the Presence he felt. From then on, he wouldn’t forget that God had a plan for him and that he was treasured in God’s sight. The fact is, whether you believe it or not, God has done a work in your life, and He has a plan for you. He treasures you and He loves you. He doesn’t want you to suffer; He doesn’t want you to be in pain. The other fact: there is a devil out there who does want you to suffer. He wants you to be in pain. He wants you to hate. He wants you to be in agony. He wants you destroyed because you are a threat to him when you bear the fruit of God. Don’t cower in fear because of an enemy that has no chance when you stand up to him with the power of God Almighty. Fight. Your life is worth it.

 

- Haley




June 16, 2016, 12:00 PM

Where Is Your Focus?


By Greg Higgins

 

“And Jesus said unto him, ‘No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”                            - Luke 9:62

Here we find a riveting passage of scripture from Jesus. He is in the middle of trying to get people to follow Him. He’s telling people to lay down their lives and follow after Him. One man approaches and says he needs to bury his dead and another says he needs to run home and tell everyone goodbye.

This is where we find Jesus when He gives out the command above. Why did He say that? What did it mean? First thing you have to understand is that He always speaks where we understand. These people knew exactly what He meant when he referenced a plough.

A plough is a tool used in farming for cultivating soil to prepare for sowing seeds. It’s something that every person in Jesus time was used to seeing. Sometimes animals were used to operate the plough, but often times it was human powered. This is why Jesus used the reference. He knew they would understand.

As is the case today, crops are planted in straight rows. This means the ground had to be ploughed in straight paths. It’s also important to watch out for debris that could be lying in the pathway of the plough. Whether animals or humans work the plough, it’s imperative that it be done in a straight line.

But why did Jesus say what He said? I’m glad you asked. Have you ever tried walking in a straight line when you’re constantly looking over your shoulder at something behind you? It’s nearly impossible. What happens is you start to drift towards whichever side you’re turned towards. By the time you finished, you would turn around and see that your ploughed work resembles more of a snake than a straight line.

Jesus compared following Him to walking the straight and narrow path. Sounds like a ploughed field to me and that’s the point He was trying to make. Also, if you are looking back, how are you going to see any obstacles or pitfalls ahead? You won’t be able to. You’ll fall or stumble because you didn’t have your eyes fixed in front of you. Stop looking behind and keep your eyes in front of you fixated on Jesus. Everything else will fall into place.

 

- Greg




June 15, 2016, 12:00 PM

Faith In The Father


by Brenda Farmer

6/13/16

 

 

Jesus was very clear that He was sent to earth to do the Will of The Father: 

John 5:30 (NLT)  I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

Jesus is noted for doing the unexpected to accomplish God’s Will for His Life.  For example, Luke 4:39 tells about Jesus going to Simon Peter’s home where his mother-in-law was ill with fever.  Luke writes that Jesus “spoke” to the fever, rebuked it, and the fever immediately left her! 

 

Luke also writes in 5:12, 13 about a man who had an advanced case of leprosy, and he wanted Jesus to heal him.  Jesus reached out and “touched” him, and the leprosy instantly disappeared!  

 

My nursing background has clearly taught me to not contaminate clean with dirty.  Anyone who willingly touches one with open, infected lesions from leprosy would be asking to become infected themselves.  I would be very afraid to do that.  I am thinking that I would rather “touch” the fever and “speak” to the leprosy…But not Jesus!  He does the unexpected!

 

Jesus had faith in His Father.  His Father is Jehovah Rophe, “The Lord Heals”.  What belongs to The Father, belongs to His Son, Jesus.  Jesus had incredible faith in His Father.  He knew His Father was not going to leave Him on His own!

 

On the flip side, Jesus did not heal many of those who lived in His hometown of Nazareth because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:57, 58 ).  They lacked faith in Jesus being the Son of God.  In both of the situations described in Luke, the people with Peter’s mother-in-law and the man with leprosy “besought” (KJV) Jesus to heal them.  The definition of besought is:  to beg eagerly; to implore urgently.  The people knew Jesus was able to heal, and they revealed their faith in Him by urging Him to heal them.

 

Today, I encourage you to have faith in God and receive His Holy gifts of salvation, healing and deliverance, in The Name of His Son, Jesus.

Be Blessed with courage and wisdom to do the unexpected for the Glory of God,

just as Jesus did.

 

“Have Faith in The Father, for He Loves You Passionately”

 

- Brenda


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