Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Power of Generosity for 2014!

There is an overwhelming consumer mentality that exists in our American culture. We live in a culture that often prefers grabbing to giving. The cultural message seems to say “you are what you own.”  But in the midst of this cultural mindset there are millions of people who are generous and who practice generosity daily. Someone made a quote that stated “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give!”

The dictionary defines generous as “of a noble nature, willing to give or share; large, ample.” We think of God as a generous Creator who offers life to us as a gift. We read in the Bible that a generous person is someone we should emulate. (Psalm 112:5 NIV) “Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely….” Or “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9 NIV)

In one church survey it was discovered what causes some members to be more generous than others. The most significant factor that determined why some people are more generous than others was whether the person had been taught generosity as a child. The impact of parents in  teaching their children to give was the key that opened the world of giving.  Generosity is about people, and it starts with you and me. If we are going to grow, it will be in relationship with someone else, even if it is a brief one. We must pursue opportunities to express our care and concern for others. Our commitment to grow often will require risk-taking and a willingness to move outside of our comfort zones. Jumping at the opportunity to bless someone or offer help to someone with a need.

Recently all the ministers from the Shell Lake community met for a breakfast gathering at a local restaurant. We were informed that our waitress had just moved to Shell Lake from Alaska to start a new life here with just her 2 year old son. Her child sitter was in Trego which she had to drive twice daily to take him and pick him up. The childcare fee was $3/hour. Her income at the restaurant was $3/hour plus tips. It was an obvious need and one of the pastors expressed that we should provide a large tip to help her. It was over $40 we came up with to bless her. It was a joy to see the joy that came on her face.

“When a person is down in the world, an ounce of help is better than a pound of preaching.” (Edward G. Lytton) Generosity is part of the lubrication that makes life go better by lifting our spirits and reinforcing our connection with someone else. Generosity makes a profound difference in people’s lives! The power of generosity makes a difference in the lives of those who choose to give. It’s a beautiful thing! It is something that we can all purpose in our hearts to become in 2014! A blessed New Year to all of you!           

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christ - The Stability of Our Times!

The world, our nation, the people of the lands, and you and I need someone strong, intelligent, and wise to anchor us in these perilous times of instability and uncertainty. Bible prophecy and biblical history records the coming of a Messiah who will sit upon the throne of Israel. He will have the wisdom and knowledge to carry out all events of the future.

The prophet Micah spoke of the birthplace of this future leader to be in the small town of Bethlehem in the county of Ephrathah. He said that this ruler’s origin would be from the ancient past and would come out from the clan of Judah. Micah predicted that this ruler (Christ Jesus) would give up (the children of Israel) until the time when (the Church) who is in travail has brought forth the “man child” of Revelation 12:5. He would be brought forth to rule all the nations. Without a doubt, only the Eternal King is able to carry out these future events.

Isaiah prophesied that when “the strength of salvation comes (Jesus Christ), He will fill Jerusalem with justice and righteousness” and “wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times. (Isaiah 33:5, 6)  This reference speaks of the stabilizing force God will provide to the believers, even in the midst of this present age. The New Testament speaks of this Christ as the “hope that we have as an anchor of our soul, that is steadfast and sure.” Hebrews 6:19

So, let us remember that Christmas is not just some creation of the human mind to enjoy another celebration of fun and frivolity. NO! Peace on earth will only be established first in the individual heart of those who believe, trust, and place their hope in the only one who can bring us consolation.  Christ was born to become our High Priest who provided a better covenant for us and who was a perfect High Priest and a perfect sacrifice for sins. He alone was enabled by God to bring a salvation that lacks nothing.  Isaiah 32:2 says “Christ will be as a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the tempest, a river of waters in a dry place, and a shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Is there another who is so capable of provided us with this stability in these times? Make Jesus your aim, and you will be right on target. Make Him the center and He will take care of the circumference.

Enjoy the blessed Christ of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas in the Country = Compassion!

There is a lot of buzz about the coming “Christmas in the Country” day on Sunday, December 15th. The church has been excitedly preparing for this opportunity to reach out to the community and the area and touch some people with some very real needs.  I have always been impressed with the heart people of this congregation to respond to the call to help minister to people in need. It clearly shows the love of God and the real compassion of Christ.

Peter writes that we are all to “have compassion for one another.” Compassion is seeing someone who is in trouble or in a hard situation, making an identity with them, and responding to their need by doing something to help them. The afternoon of December 15th, we will have the privilege of serving people who will be coming into the church between 1 and 3 p.m. We will provide gifts and food and share the love of Jesus with them. At 2 p.m. there will be a Christmas musical for all who wish to attend and some surprise gifts will be given.

Our vision statement is to “Know God - Grow People - Love the World.” As “kings and priests” unto the Lord, we have a ministry of representing God to the people, and representing the people to God. Our priestly duty is to step out of ourselves and what’s comfortable for us, to touch someone else on behalf of God through the kindness and love of Christ in action. When we can better understand what others are going through, it will help us to have real compassion toward others in their need.

“Christ Jesus had to become just like us in everything, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people; for in that he himself has suffered, being tested, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” Jesus qualified for His priestly role by identifying with us in every way. That’s how He understands our weaknesses. Our priestly role is perfected when we take time to understand and care for others who are weak. When we care enough to understand where others come from with their needs, we will be led to a place of compassion towards them. Let’s make this Christmas a time to give the gift of UNDERSTANDING and COMPASSION.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our Nation at the Crossroad

Dr. Billy Graham in a recent interview with Newsmax stated, “there was a headline recently about Americans tailoring religion to fit their needs; mixing a little Christianity with the religions of the world. It is called a “trendy faith”. Society does not object to this kind of faith. We have dismissed God, resulting in skewed thinking and consciences that are desensitizes to right and wrong, basing moral decisions solely on what ‘fits in’ with our individual preferences.

Graham said, “I watch the news daily and my heart is burdened. When I hear despair in people’s voices, when I see turmoil on people’s faces, it tells me that hopelessness abounds . . .  We as a nation have turned our back on God who blessed our country because its fundamental principles were grounded in the word of God. People want designer religion, but I pray that they instead will submit to their creator who longs to become their God and Savior. He has designed eternal life in heaven for all those who would receive His salvation.”

“Scripture tells us there will be signs pointing toward the return of the Lord. I believe all these signs are prevalent today; I would not want to live in any other time. The Bible speaks powerfully of trouble ahead with storm warnings that carry a looming jolt of truth. Regardless of what society says, we cannot go on much longer in the sea of immorality without divine judgment coming. We are at a crossroads, and there are profound moral issues at stake. It is time to return to biblical truth. It is time for the people of the nation and world to turn to God.”

If Billy Graham is correct that Jesus' return is near, then America is now in the process of being divinely diminished on the world stage so that the one world government of the Antichrist can arise as scripture so clearly teaches (2 Thessalonians 2:3-11, Revelation 13:1-10, 16-18). Who can deny that America is declining as the world's superpower? We have declined governmentally, spiritually, militarily, diplomatically, and especially economically. Isaiah 60:12, “For a nation or kingdom that will not serve the Lord will perish. It will be utterly ruined.” Psalms 25:6-7, “No one from the east or the west can exalt a man (or nation). But it is God who judges. He brings down one, he exalts another.”

The rise or fall of a nation, including America, must be seen in the context of God’s sovereignty. After all, He is the Lord of history, the Lord of the nations, and the Lord of Lords! He will have the last word! “All things serve Him” (Psalm 119:91).

How should true believers approach these uncertain days before our Lords’ return? Paul wrote in Philippians 4:5-7 “Be anxious about nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

God has a sovereign plan with His plan for America and the end of this age. An appropriate verse for us to live out each day is found in Titus 2:11-14. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live sober, upright, and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving! You are loved.