God’s Grace Is Sufficient!
God’s Grace Is Sufficient……How does that work?
How sufficient can God’s grace be for you personally if you don’t know how to apply it to make it work? Just because your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life doesn’t mean God’s grace is automatically going to start changing everything in your life. You are in position to be able to receive His grace because you are a member of the family of believers. Your old man can become new, and as he is becoming new, the old man will fall away. The old man, the old sinful nature and all the baggage that went with him, can begin to shrink and lose its form because there is now an opportunity for you to transform. Set before you is a whole new way to live, and all you have to do now is to learn how to connect to this grace that is sufficient.
Let me explain this transformation process of the new man by God’s grace which works by faith in a way you can relate. One day, you decide to make a change to your physical, outward body. You go to a place where you can accomplish this transformation process – the gym. You go and enroll into a membership program, and you automatically become a member of that organization. However, it doesn’t mean you automatically get the body you desire. You are only in position to receive that new body because you are now a bona fide member. Your name is in the book.
You want to put off the old body so you can put on a new one you desire. A personal trainer approaches you and says, “You will find this place is sufficient for all of your physical training needs. By being a member here, you are now in position to receive the new body you’ve always wanted and get rid of the old one you now have. But, you have to follow the instructions on how my fitness program works so you can get the results you are after. Otherwise, it isn’t going to work.”
When I make this comparison to getting spiritually fit, people begin to smile and get excited because they know how physical transformation works. When they hear it explained this way, they begin to hope. All they needed to hear was that there is a simple plan to follow for their spiritual body like there is for their physical body that will allow God’s grace to transform them, thereby being sufficient. Today’s blog was written to bring you hope in knowing the best is yet to come for you. Now you know that God’s grace will be sufficient once you know how to connect to it.
by John Powers
My Only Obsession
My Only Obsession
I’m writing today from what feels like a fragmented heart. Perhaps there will always be remnants of that, if nothing else, to remind me of my total dependence on Abba Father. I have been crying out to Him so much and I know He hears me, so something must be stirring within me.
I remember years ago I wrote that salvation is the process through which God removes all obstacles that keep us from knowing Him. Do you ever feel like sometimes that you are on the ultimate obstacle course… that everything possible is thrown into your path, just when you thought you were making progress? Why are we always struggling for something more?
From the time we are born we have a strong desire to possess, and even as children we say, “this is mine!” We can never truly own anything; we can only borrow it for a short while. God gives us many wonderful things in our lives to enjoy, but these things were never meant to rule over us or drive us. The blessings we have in this life were meant to be held loosely and not clutched in fear or sought after in desperation. However, until our void of need and want is filled with what God intended—to truly know Him and be known by Him—we will continue on the path of possessing.
It is so subtle and our hearts are so easily deceived that only through the Holy Spirit’s revelation can we even see what we are striving to possess. Part of our struggle as humans is that we are obsessively striving to possess the very things that will only bring death and destruction to our hearts and souls. We long for what will never satisfy us and will only bring more emptiness with its loss.
So what are we trying to possess that is so wounding our hearts? One of the greatest wounds we bear in life is loss. If we are trying to possess another person within a relationship, we will experience some kind of rejection or the loss of connection eventually. If we are trying to possess significance, we will at some point suffer the loss of status or reputation. If we are trying to possess material things, we will experience loss through taxes, theft, decay, or the loss of our interest. If we are trying to possess even our own health, we will experience loss every day that we grow older and move toward death.
Sometimes we only cover the pain of our loss and go through our lives using whatever we can find that fits for the moment to help us numb the pain. If we can’t possess it, we use it, and when it is all used up, we move to the next available thing that life offers at the time.
We must realize that we will always experience loss because we were never intended to possess anything but God’s love.
If we look at the life of Jesus we can see His one true obsession—His relationship with His Father. Jesus came to do the will of His Father, which was to restore the breach in our relationship with Him. Jesus wanted so much to reveal His Father’s love and acceptance to us because He knew that was the very thing for which we were made and without it we would forever remain empty.
The Song of Solomon says it well... ”I am my beloved’s and he is mine.” When our obsession, our one true desire, becomes our Abba Father and the lavish love He has for us, we can know fulfillment and true joy for the first time. Once we have tasted the bread from His divine table, nothing else will satisfy. There is no peace so settling, no joy so lasting, and no love so healing to the heart. His loving-kindness is better than life itself! Our hearts were made for Him, and He is the only one who can hold our hearts and fill us to overflowing with the never-ending fountain of His love.
So in this broken place today, I can be thankful that I’m aware of my losses; I’m aware of my emptiness; I’m aware of my need, my hunger, my thirst. I can lay all of this brokenness at His feet, knowing that He will not turn me away empty but will give me the one thing I need the most—Himself…
my only obsession!
Written By: Karen Ward @ blog.hopetojoy.com
Embrace The Donkey In Your Life
Mary and Joseph left Nazareth and began their journey to Bethlehem riding on a donkey. It would take a week or so to reach the launching place of Jesus Christ life and ministry.
I have pondered all day, “what was Mary thinking?” as she rode mile after mile on the hard and rocky terrain… on the smelly, sweaty donkey.
As the donkeys foot would slip or hit a rock Mary would have to reach down and clinch the neck of the donkey….when she was tired she would put her cheek on the head of the smelly, sweaty donkey.
MARY HAD TO EMBRACE THE DONKEY IN HER LIFE TO REACH THE LAUNCHING PLACE OF JESUS LIFE AND MINISTRY!!
So what or who are the donkeys in your life that God is using to walk you into your destiny? An unsaved husband, an unfair boss, unemployment, a child with a life-long disability? Whatever or whoever are the donkey’s in your life, EMBRACE THE DONKEY!!
I am not suggesting you “live with” the situation, not at all! You embrace Your Donkey by faith. You keep walking but you do it by faith and here are some suggestions:
1. Embrace Your Donkey
2. Rid Yourself of Unforgiveness and Doubt
3. Confess God’s Word and Trust in God as Mary did, “According to thy Word” Luke 1:38
4. Keep Walking Towards Your Destiny Until You Reach It!!
THE DONKEY IN YOUR LIFE IS WALKING YOU INTO YOUR DESTINY!! EMBRACE IT!!
What is Advent?
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14 NKJV).
The Incarnation of the Eternal Word – Jesus Christ – is the great redemptive miracle of the Christian faith. The union of humanity and divinity in the person of Jesus means that his crucifixion and resurrection have defeated the power of sin and death and brings the promise of eternal life to all who believe. This redemptive event is most often associated with the celebration of Christmas. However, in the last century the celebration of Christmas has lost its Christological focus. So, the challenge before us is to discover, or rediscover, ways by which the church can once again focus its worship on this wonderful event.
Many centuries ago, the church established a sacred calendar to inspire its worship. The sacred calendar focused on God’s saving acts as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. The first sacred season is Advent. Advent is a season of expectation. For centuries the Hebrew prophets declared the coming of the Anointed One. The Hebrew people patiently waited for the “consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). Each year as the church celebrates Advent, the people of God experience a season of hopeful expectation. Just as the ancient Hebrews anticipated the advent of the messiah, the church presently anticipates the second advent of Jesus Christ. Advent focuses our worship on the fullness of Christ’s redemption – Incarnation and consummation. Thinking of the sacred calendar as a clock is helpful to understanding Advent. Just as twelve o’clock is the ending and beginning of the day (AM and PM), so too Advent is the ending and beginning of the sacred calendar.
Advent began this year on December 2, 2012 (on the fourth Sunday before Christmas ). The four Sundays of Advent are celebrated by emphasizing biblical themes of expectation and hope. The first Sunday of Advent emphasizes the Second Advent of Christ (Matthew 24:37-44; Mark 13:24-37; Luke 21:25-36). The theme for the second and third Sundays of Advent focuses on the ministry of the John the Baptist: Prepare the Way of the Lord (Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-6) and The Coming One (Matthew 11:2-11; John 1:6-8; 19-28; Luke 3:7-18). The fourth Sunday of Advent focuses on the Virgin birth of Christ (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 1:39-55).
Because Advent has not been celebrated in most Pentecostal churches, the various Advent themes may seem somewhat alien. But there are many ways that Advent can be observed that will be helpful in Pentecostal congregations. The celebration of Advent is traditionally centered on the Advent wreath. It is comprised of a wreath of evergreens with four candles placed around the circumference and a fifth candle in the center – the Christ candle. The wreath should be placed at the altar, or on the stage. Each Sunday, beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, the appropriate candle is lighted with an appropriate song or hymn and reading from the Scripture. This is a good opportunity to involve children, or entire families. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the growing anticipation of the coming of the Light of the world. The Christ candle should be lighted during a Christmas Eve service, or as the final act of worship on the fourth Sunday of Advent. The lighting of candles for Advent is an ancient Christian tradition. According to legend, during the 4th and 5th centuries, the entire Roman Empire was illuminated by the candles of believers during Advent. The Advent wreath could also be used in Christian homes as a teaching device to instruct our children about the “reason for the season.”
Advent worship could also include dramas and dances that depict the theme of the season. Also, choral songs and sermons should be presented during worship that serves to keep the redemptive theme of Advent prominent in the minds of worshipers. For the past several years, I have designated the midweek services during Advent to teach the biblical and traditional foundations for the Advent/Christmas season. This includes lessons on the infancy narratives of the Gospel, and historical background behind other seasonal images, such as: the Virgin Mary, the three wise men, and the star of Bethlehem. Also, this is an excellent time to teach the story and traditions about Nicholas of Myra, the ancient Bishop who has been transformed into Santa Claus.
It may surprise many Christian parents to discover that most of the contemporary themes of Advent and Christmas celebrations – Santa Claus, gift giving, and Rudolf – are less than 150 years old. The present culture has co-opted, redefined, and even paganized an important holy season of the Christian church. If we are to succeed in preserving the significance of the Advent season, it must begin with intentional observances in church, and at home.-- Author, Daniel Toberlin http://www.danieltomberlin.net/
Can You Hear Me Now?
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12).
One of the most personal gifts of the creator is the promise we (His children) can hear his voice. God has called you to an intimate relationship with Him that includes being able to hear Him speak into your life.
We are the height of His creation, and because of that we can and should be able to hear His voice and recognize it as Him. Demons hear God’s voice and they obey. Nature hears His voice and obeys. We too can hear His voice and obey. Hearing His voice is part of the eternal life package.
Let me give you a few thoughts to put in place in your life that will help you to hear the voice of God more consistently.
1. Being familiar with His written word begets being familiar with His voice
The more you read the Word of God, the better you will become at recognizing the voice of God when He speaks to your heart. As you daily read His word, ask God to teach you to hear His voice. I promise it’s a prayer He will answer.
2. Don’t disregard every thought that runs through your head as your own.
God often places a thought that is highlighted more vibrate than a normal passing thought. For me, this seems to happen as I’m driving. I almost never turn on the radio. I use my commute time to listen to my thoughts, and many times, God drops His thoughts into the water of my thoughts. A ripple takes places, and I know it’s Him speaking.
3. During my prayer time I sing worship songs and then stop for silent time.
When I praise Him through worship songs, I can feel my soul being cleansed. I feel God drawing me closer to Him. Worship opens the ears of my heart to Hear Him more clearly.
God bless you as you listen for Him to speak.
Adapted from author Steve Wrights, 1/29/13, at http://stevewright.info/2013/01/29/can-you-hear-me-now/
The Power of Interdependence
God would have never given us the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel if He never intended for that to really happen. Second Peter 3:9 tells us that, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” God would not say this if it were not possible. But none of us can do this alone. No Pastor can fulfill this calling by himself, no matter how gifted he may be.
At FWC, God has given us a Mission:
“Family Worship Center is a community of Spirit-Filled Believers committed to God’s Purpose of changing lives, by Worshipping God, leading others to Jesus, and building unified teams to reach and care for all in every stage of life”
This is our Mission. God is holding all of us accountable to fulfill the Mission He has given us. But we have to understand that none of us can do it alone. God never intended for us to do it alone. But, we can do it together.
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, in his book, Doing Church As A Team, says:
“May we learn God’s design for His people and begin to respect and appreciate each other’s giftings. There are few things more beautiful to God than seeing His people serving and working together is a unified rhythm. It’s like a symphony to His ears. That’s how we were created to function. God has designed us to need each other! For us to reach our communities, much less the world, we will need every ministry doing it’s part and every member of the congregation excitedly doing church as a team.”
This is called “Interdependence”. Webster defines “Interdependence” as “a relationship in which each member is mutually dependent on the others”. The Apostle Paul basically says the same thing in Romans 12:4-5: “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” And again in First Corinthians 12:14-21: “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
This is “Interdependence”. Interdependence is not the same as independence. Independence means “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like of others”. While this may sound good at face value, the truth is that one day you will look around and discover that you are all alone–that you do not have any support, any help, or any one around you to lift you up, to encourage you, or to work with you–and it’s then that you realize just how small and inadequate you really are. God never intended any of us to be this way. Having an independent spirit is a weakness, not a strength.
Stephen Covey, in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, says:
“Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players. They’re not coming from the paradigm of interdependence necessary to succeed in marriage, family, or organizational reality.”
If you are going to move forward in you personal life and enter into the place of fruitfulness and effectiveness that God has for you, then you are going to have to rid yourself of an independent spirit and embrace the power of Interdependence.
If your Church is going to move forward to a new level, and experience the level of effectiveness that God intends for it to function in, then it will have to rid itself of an independent spirit and embrace the power of Interdependence. There are no limits to what we can accomplish for God if we understand and embrace The Power of Interdependence.
Four Steps To Embrace Interdependence
1. See everybody as important:
Everybody has something to offer to the kingdom of God. God has a purpose and a plan for everyone reading this today. You are important to the plan of God! Two Stories in The Word Of God that illustrate this are found in Luke 19:1-10 and Luke 7:36-50. Take a minute and check it out.
2. Accept the fact that God has gifted everyone to serve:
Everyone has been given specific gifts from God to serve in some capacity. I don’t have every gift. You don’t have every gift. But I do have some God-Given gifts, and so do you! The Apostle Peter says,
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
3. Rally around a common Mission:
Interdependence is not about “doing your own thing”. It’s about coming together to accomplish something much bigger than what you could ever do on your own. This is where you must know the Mission of your Church and keep it constantly before your leaders and your congregation. Genesis 11:4-8 is a great story of a group of people that were united around their mission. God said of them, “… nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.” Take a minute and read it.
4. Get busy and go to work:
Lastly, there comes a time when you just have to join a team, get busy, and get it done! I have to do my part; You have to do your part. I have to carry part of the load; You have to carry part of the load. I don’t have to carry it all, and neither do you. But, each of us are expected by God to do our part.
The rewards of the Power of Interdependence is seen in the words of the Apostle Paul, “…As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:14-16).
This is Interdependence. This is what it’s going to take for you personally to experience a SHIFT. This is what it’s going to take for every Church to experience a SHIFT. It’s time to make the change. Don’t continue to stay in the rut you’re in. God has something better for you! Make the SHIFT; Experience The Power Of Interdependence!
Written by Pastor Johnny Moore @ http://ruralpastor.com/
I Can Do But Am I Suppose To?
"I can do all things 'IN' Christ who strengthens me."
I CAN...but am I supposed to?
This is where we sometimes 'miss the mark.'
We get emotional and zealous and bite off more than we can chew.
We hear a passionate appeal and commit to doing something without consulting Yahweh (God) or even thinking it over.
We see a need and assume it's our responsibility to meet that need.
We see or hear of an opportunity to minister and dive right in.
We fail to stop and ask the Lord if this is our assignment...is this something He even wants us to do?
Far too often we get out of the Lord's will. We get committed to too many things and then find ourselves 'burnt out,' weak, frustrated and worn out.
Do I have your attention?
God will strengthen us by His Spirit in Christ Jesus to do all things. But He won't strengthen us to do the things that are outside of His will. He won't strengthen us to do dumb stuff. He won't strengthen us to do the things He has not called us to do.
Before you, in a moment of enthusiasm, volunteer to do something, pray. Ask God for direction. Seek His face and His will and then wait on His answer.
Did you get that?
Don't jump into anything until you are given divine direction. Don't tell God or people that you are going to do something and then change your mind when you realize you spoke too soon.
I like what the Living Bible says in Ecclesiastes 5:4-7_
"So when you talk to God and vow to Him that you will do something, don't delay in doing it, for God has no pleasure in fools. Keep your promise to Him. It is far better not to say you'll do something than to say you will and then not do it. In that case, your mouth is making you sin. Don't try to defend yourself by telling the messenger from God that it was a mistake (to make the promise). That would make God very angry; and He might destroy your prosperity.
Dreaming instead of doing is foolishness, and there is ruin in a flood of empty words; Fear God instead."
Written by: Dale Croft
Building Trust: God’s Word
So my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty it will accomplish what I please. Isaiah 55:11
Yesterday, I wrote the devotion on trust. At the end I encouraged you, the reader, to remember that who you trust determines your destiny. It was David's trust in God when Saul was trying to kill him that preserved his life and allowed him to fulfill what God had for him. In the same way, it is your trust in God that will preserve your life and allow you to fulfill all God has for you.
I continued to think about what I wrote. It was inspiring to write and I hope it inspired you if you read it but honestly a command without a teaching of how is one of my greatest personal annoyances. I cannot stand it. I detest it and there is no other way to explain it except wrong. That is why today I wanted to talk about a way to build that trust, God's word.
Before a person can even make a decision to trust, they have to first know what they are trusting. When crisis hits and God is the only answer the reason why many people have a hard time hearing and trusting God is the simple fact that they don't really know him. Can you imagine having to go to a person you have hardly talked to for help if a life-altering event was happening? Reality is this is what we try to do with God many times.
How is it possible to get to know God for real? I mean really know him like a best friend.
First of all, God is God, there are things that even the most experienced Christians do not know. He is infinite and I believe we will spend eternity getting to know him. Don't let this discourage you let this encourage you. Who would want to serve a God they could figure out? Boring.
Second, though there are things we do not know, there he has revealed plenty to keep us occupied for a lifetime. He has given us 66 books bound together in one (a.k.a. The Bible) that declare who he is. Studying these books are a great concrete way of beginning to get to know him. Even those of us as Christians, including myself (even as a theology major! how wrong? inexcusable!), tend to neglect this resource. If we as christians (or as persons interested in being christians) are serious about knowing God we need to get serious about using what God has already given us.
In his word, he declares that if a word comes from his mouth that it will not return to him empty and it will accomplish what he pleases. This truth is a great beginning point of trust and knowledge of God. If you desire to trust God, or to trust him more take hold of this promise. Declare it over your life. Declare it until you believe it because it is true.
One of the foundational principles of God's character is his faithfulness. His love does not fail. In order to grab a hold of him, you must believe this about him.
If you are struggling to trust him or need to trust him more, here is what I know to tell you.
1. Believe his word
This sounds easy but many times is challenging. We have this thing called our flesh that hinders us and rebels from the knowledge of God. It is by constant repetition of God's word that the flesh dies and the spirit rises. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds to God's word. If you are struggling to believe him, look up some of the promises of scripture and take some time to say them until you believe. This is not some magical process that by saying the promises you automatically believe them. The reason I'm encouraging this is because by taking some time to look up the promises and saying them you are making a decision to believe that they are true and you are learning them. It is not incantation but praying these promises that causes you to believe them and allows God to make them manifest in your life.
I hit on this in the last sentence of believing his word. In order to know God, you have to begin communicating with him. Ask him questions. Tell him how you feel. Ask him how he feels and what he thinks. Do not be afraid he longs to hear from you.
Trusting God and believing in him is a life-long pursuit more than a blog can cover. These are a few ways to begin and these are things that have to be continually worked on no matter how mature you are as a christian. In sports, a huge part of continuing in excellence is continuing to practice the fundamentals. If the fundamentals begin to weaken, the whole game falls apart. It is the same in the Christian life. My theology degree is worthless absolutely worthless if I do not continue to build my faith in God's word and if I do not pray. In the same way, it is worthless for mature christians to know this or that and not believe in his word and pray.
All of this is easy in the sense that it does not require a high degree or intellect but it is difficult in the sense that it requires continual discipline. It is not a one time and its finished kind of thing. It is a continual life long effort that requires sacrifice over and over again.
I have said all of this to encourage you to get to know God. It is possible. Just take the time to get to know his word and pray!
By: Danielle O'Neil @danielleoneil.com
There is faith and then there is 'enduring faith.
Have you ever been in the place where there is no way out? An impossible situation? A place of hopelessness? There is absolutely nothing you or anybody else can do about it. Most would think that's a horrible place to be in. But for the Believer, while not pleasant, it can be a blessed place because that's where the God who is able...the God of no limitations...shows up and shows out!
It's a blessed place because it is where we grow in real faith. It's where we learn to hold tightly to the Lord. We recognize that if our God doesn't move on our behalf there is no hope. This is when we are established in an 'enduring faith.' "Having done all to stand, (we) stand."
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (ENDURANCE)."
Yahweh wants to produce in us endurance and enduring faith, not some feeble 'flash in the pan' kind of faith. He wants us to be marathon runners, not sprinters.
There is only one way that 'enduring faith' can be produced...it's through the 'fire of trial.'
The key to finding 'joy' in trials is knowing that Yahweh is giving us opportunities to exercise and increase our faith...to practice 'enduring faith.' This increase of our faith turns us from fear and desperation into great delight and 'joy.'
"Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning."
Shalom!!! Written By: Dale Croft
What Is True Success
Success ISN'T defined by:
-a collection of assets.
-a big salary.
-a big checking account.
-a ton of money in savings.
If that was success, there would be no sorrow at all for those in the highest tax brackets. We know that's not true.
So, what is success?
There are many appropriate definitions but to me it is best defined as follows...
Success is living out Yahweh's purpose for your life. Using the gifting He has given you. And get this...
Success is unique to you. Every single one of us will express it differently, because every single one of us has unique gifts and a unique calling. That means, you can do something that no one else can!
Success isn't dependent on formal education...high IQ...academic abilities or achievements. It is simply discovering and then doing what your Creator gifted and called you to do. Then you will live out your purpose and truly matter.
Yahweh wants you to be SUCCESSFUL!