Statement of faith

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
- Warren


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

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Week of June 20, 2011                                                       pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Sharing by: Pastor Mark Mavar
ministry of Iglesia de la Gracia - Panama

LIFE BENEATH THE SURFACE
One morning I was returning home from my morning run and was crying out unto the Lord.  "Lord I want to see your hand move in the ministry here.  Lord I want to see your hand work in the lives of so-and-so and such-and-such.  Lord I want to see the marriages restored, people brought to repentance and lives changed.  Lord I want to see!  Lord, why is it that it seems that Satan is always winning?  Why can't we advance to the next level in our ministry?  Why does it appear that very few care?  Lord, do something to change it all. I want to see."

Then I came across a creek that I cross all the time.  But on this day it was very muddy.  It had rained the day before and the water had become rusty brown.  I stopped to observe.  The rusty brown water was moving oh so slowly.  There was debris pushed up upon the shore where the water level had crested; a large branch had hung up in the flow and had collected plastic bags; the high grass had been pushed down by the water flow.  The water pipe that crossed the creek was now submerged and invisible.  Mud residue was covering what was left of the shore.  I could not see anything beyond the surface of the water and the shore.  Nevertheless I knew that there was life beneath the surface.  I had previously caught sardines and river shrimp from this creek.  I had seen the the water swirl after a large fish was startled and swam off.  I had seen frogs jumping in when I had passed by before.  I KNEW that this creek had a whole eco-system below the surface of that rusty stained water, I just could not see it.

Then I thought "isn't that just the way that the Lord works"  Just because we can't see his hand moving, does not mean that He is not working in the lives of his people.  Then I was reminded of Isaiah 55:8,9
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

One never knows what the Lord is doing in the heart of man.  Just because I can't see results right now, does not mean that the Lord is not chipping off the dross from his people and even chipping it from me by showing me nothing but muddy water.  I am reminded that my responsibility is to be faithful in what the Lord has called me to do. 1 Corinthians 4:2  "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."

I am not required to see and give testimony to results, I am required to be faithful, to sew seeds of the Gospel, to preach the whole counsel of God, and to shepherd those whom the Lord has chosen to put into my path at this time, whether the water be muddy or clear.

Funny thing is the very next day, as I crossed over the creek, it was crystal clear.  I could see the  bottom, I could see the water pipe just like before.  The sardines and river shrimp were still there, the frogs and fish were all still there.  The fact that I could not see them before did not mean that they were gone.  God still preserved them in the midst of the muddy waters.
"For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."  Isaiah 55:10,11

Pastor Mark Mavar
Still fighting fire
Ephesians 6:12

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

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Week of June 13, 2011                         pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

John 15:15
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know
 his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything
I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

A TREASURED FRIENDSHIP 
One of my all time favorite Christian songs is “I am a friend of God.” I love to sing this up-beat song that repeats the words “I am a friend of God, He calls me friend!”  These lyrics reflect biblical truth and they connect me with an excitement to God. 

John 15:15 tells us that we are more to Jesus than just simple
acquaintances.  I will tell you from personal experience, once you grasp this truth your relationship with God will move to a whole new level.  I battle keeping God first in my life and I’m sure some of you will be able to relate to this too. However, the Bible tells us that we should be looking to Jesus as our example. So what did Jesus do? Jesus sought out His Father before all things. He slipped away and got quiet and He consciously never allowed himself to disconnect because there was too much at stake.  

When I first read the following article I was convicted that maybe I didn’t really understand what” true friendship with Jesus” really requires.  I believe however that this teaching from Turning Point Ministries is something that should be shared.  I hope it shines some light on how important this particular friendship ought to be.  We have so much to gain as we determine to look at our friendship with Jesus as our most valuable asset.  From this, we can learn to work on and cherish our earthly friendships as true blessings from our Lord as we await His return. As you read this today, please know that you too have a friend in Jesus. 

Look Up in the Morning,
Friends of God
By Dr. David Jeremiah

Bertha Smith served the Lord in a bitterly cold part of China. During the day she wore thirty pounds of clothing, and at night she slept under heavy bedding with a hot water bottle. Her greatest challenge came in the early morning hours when she wanted to rise early so she could have her quiet time before the scores of interruptions that each day brought.  She would struggle in the darkness to put on her layers of clothing, and then break the ice to wash her face in the cold water; and she would slip out to a particular haystack where she would rake aside the frosted part of the hay, kneel down, and spend time with the Lord before the sun came up.

Shame on us when we neglect our morning devotions!  Most of us live in heated and air-conditioned homes, with padded slippers, hot showers, and plentiful breakfasts.

Psalm 5:3
My voice you shall hear in the morning, O Lord, in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.

There’s no better way to launch a new day than with the Lord through Bible study and prayer. Even Jesus himself rose a great while before daylight to slip to a nearby mountainside for prayer before the day’s work began (Mark 1:35).

Exodus 33:11
So the Lord spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend.

Prayer isn’t a ritual we keep, but a relationship we enjoy. It’s not just mouthing words or reviewing a list. It’s developing an awareness of the presence of the heavenly Father and talking to Him, face-to-face, as it were, like speaking with a friend. It’s practicing the words of that older song that says “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief’s to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!”

Try this simple experiment during your next prayer time. Visualize the Lord Jesus sitting across the table from you. He has assured us of His presence, and we know He is near at hand; so try talking aloud to Him just as the disciples spoke with Him by the campfires or along the pathways of Galilee. Pray conversationally, talking to the Lord as naturally as you speak to a friend.

All vexations and annoyances will be comparatively
unimportant while you know that you have such a Friend.
                                                                    -  St. Francis de Sales

TODAY IN THE WORD COMMENTARY:
We face many obstacles to presenting ourselves to Jesus.  External barriers of limited time, overextended schedules, and demanding relationships press against us.  Internal conditions, like pride and insecurity, are sometimes the greatest impediments to our pursuit of Jesus.

Failure to be disciplined to meet with Jesus keeps us away; skepticism and moral failure erect walls between us and Him.  Today, remember Christ’s faithfulness and power to heal.  Pray for faith to unroof the roof that separates you from Him.

Additional Scripture Readings:   Psalm 59:16-17, Mark 2:1-12, John 15:12-17

Today’s prayer:  Father I thank you that you call me friend.  Please continue to remind me of the importance of our friendship.  Provide me with the time, desire and opportunity to sit at Your feet daily to give You thanks, praise, and my prayers. Open up timeslots in my week for me to participate in Bible study in order to get to know you on a more personal level. I know that these are key elements to a fulfilled lifelong
friendship which is what I pray for today.  In Jesus' name I offer this prayer to You Lord.  Amen.



In Christ by grace,
Pam


                                                                                                                                                                  


Monday, June 6, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

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                                                                                                     pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Week of: June 6, 2011
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

1 John 2:3-6
“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

Reality FYI
Oh my, “walk as Jesus did.”  How is that possible? Jesus was a perfect, sinless man. He loved all people, and He is the Master when it comes to forgiving others. I certainly fall short of those characteristics so I may be tempted to wonder, am I doomed? You might read that word “liar” in verse 4 and end up walking away feeling a bit challenged by this statement yourself.

When we read God’s Word it is important that we explore the “context” of how it is written in order to better understand what the writer is trying to relay. Begin always by asking God to help you discern what He is trying to say to you.

Over the past month I have been giving some insight into how to understand and how to study the Bible. It is also important to point out the importance of reading the “Vital Statistics” of a particular book before you dive into it. Not all Bibles give you this information in the front of each chapter, so you might have to seek out that information on your own. Although I use several different translations as I study God’s Word, I do rely on the Life’s Application Bible for an overall glimpse into the particular book that I am studying. Before I share what I learned about 1 John 2:3-6, let me share some components of this book. I have taken this information from the Life’s Application Study translation.

VITAL STATISTICS:
Purpose: To reassure Christians in their faith and to counter false teachings.
Author: The Apostle John
Written to: The letter is untitled and was written to no particular church. It was sent as a pastoral letter to several Gentile congregations. It was also written to all believers everywhere.
Date written: Probably between A.D. 85 and 90 from Ephesus
Setting: John was an older man and perhaps the only surviving apostle at the time. He had not yet been banished to the island of Patmos, where he would live in exile. As an eyewitness of Christ, he wrote authoritatively to give this new generation of believer’s assurance and confidence in God and their faith.
Key verse: “I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (5:13).
Key people: John, Jesus
Special features: John is the apostle of love, and love is mentioned throughout this letter. There are a number of similarities between this letter and John’s Gospel – in vocabulary, style, and main ideas. John uses brief statements and simple words, and he features sharp contrasts – light and darkness, truth and error, God and Satan, life and death, love and hate.

As I studied this book I learned that “First John was written to help us know the reality of God in our life through faith in Christ, to assure us that we have eternal life, and to encourage us to remain in fellowship with the God who is light and love. It is also for the purpose of countering false
teachings” (LASB). So what might John be trying to help us understand when he uses the word “liar” and tells us  ”whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did?” Could it be that he is warning us of the same thing Jesus’ brother James warns us of in James 1:22; “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says.”  May I suggest that they are both trying to help us grasp the importance of “putting into action what we learn.” This is how we begin to walk like Christ. We can’t just sit and observe religion and it's traditions; we have to become active participants to what God reveals through His Word. For example if you read that you are to refrain from gossip, or being drunk, what would that mean to you? Do you take it seriously or do you think those instructions were only for people in Bible times?

When I read and then studied the following verses in the Book of Ephesians, I began to become convicted to make some changes in my own life. I found out very quickly that my walk did not always align to God’s Word and thus I began my journey from simply doing church on Sunday mornings, to applying what I was taught Monday through Saturday. Please hear me, I have not yet arrived! God shows me on a regular basis the things He desires that I adjust.  I do not share these verses for the purpose of condemnation. I share them only to help you better understand what the Apostle Paul, John and Jesus’ brother James were outlining for those who desired to become “Children of the Light.”

Ephesians 4:17-32 (NIV translation)
“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them to due to the hardening of the hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, range and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Commentary note:
“The Good News will seem foolish to those who forsake faith and rely on their own understanding. For the believer you will begin to reflect parts of Christ’s character and carry out your special role in his work. You will desire to put on the new nature, head in the new direction, and have the new way of thinking that the Holy Spirit gives.” The bottom line to this lesson: James 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

In Christ by grace,
Pam