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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: August 22, 2011                           
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.
Test everything. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”

Looking out into the world today it appears that we may be headed down a very dangerous path.  Independent, self-oriented individuals seem to be falling into the trap of embracing the next best thing that comes along. It is also quite evident that some people have fallen away from the principles introduced by the founding fathers/mothers of this great country. These principles were derived from their dependence, not independence, of the Word of God. They valued their Bible and used it as a daily guidepost.

Guidepost: “anything serving as a guide; guideline.”

In America we don't seem to be anchored to any one particular guidepost. In fact, it seems to be a bit of a free-for all out there.  With so many choices, how does one select correctly? May I suggest that when it comes to religion, God, and the Bible, we don’t fall prey to the next best sounding idea? It is important that we check out the theories against the Scriptures. This is what Jude (Jesus’ half-brother) was telling the people in his short, one-chapter portion of the New Testament. Within his writings he warns about sin and the doom of godless men, the danger of false teachers, a call to persevere, and the duty to fight for God’s truth. He was reminding the church of the need to be vigilant, to remain strong in faith, and to oppose heresy. I believe we could benefit from this reminder today.

Heresy: opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system.

With so much religious “doctrine” and personal opinion in our world today, it is important that we understand what Jude was attempting to teach. According to commentary, he was trying to get people to understand that the Bible is not to be compromised because it gives us real facts about Jesus and our need for salvation. The Apostle Paul also taught young Timothy this truth. In 2 Timothy 3:16, we are told that the Word of God (the Bible) was inspired by God for the purpose of teaching, rebuking and correcting. It sounds to me that this Word of God is not something to be twisted and manipulated to fit into ones agenda.

Doctrine: a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government.”

Life’s Application Commentary:
By warning us not to “stifle the Holy Spirit,” Paul means we should not ignore or toss aside the gifts the Holy Spirit gives. We should also not stifle the Holy Spirit’s work in anyone’s life but encourage the full expression of their gifts to benefit the whole body of Christ.

We shouldn’t make fun of those who are called to speak for God, but we should always “test everything that is said,” checking their words against the Bible. We are on dangerous ground if we scoff at a person who speaks truth. Instead, we should carefully check out what people say, accepting what is true and rejecting what is false.

I am grateful for the gift of encouragement and the ability to share forward what God has been teaching me. However, like any student I may not always get it right and thus the point of checking it against Scripture. If something doesn’t sit right with you, go before God and ask Him to clarify it through His Word. That’s exactly what I do. Who better to ask than the One who inspired the writings of His Holy Word? I will never be offended that you allow God to interpret that of what He has given me to share.

Additional Scripture Reading: Jude 1 and 2, Ephesians 4:30-32, 1 Corinthians 14

Today’s prayer:
Heavenly Father, it is almost impossible to avoid every form of evil and the lure of temptation in this world. Help us to avoid giving into the temptations that keep us bound to sin. May we not give Satan a foothold into our life by hanging onto things that we know are not part of Your will for our life. Give us a desire to get into Your Word on a regular basis so that we can recognize when we are in danger of living outside Your will. Help us encourage those who are willing to teach, but may we never be deceived by wrong doctrines. Prompt us in the inner parts of our being if something is wrong so we can check it out for our self. In Jesus’ name we pray believing we will have Your very best.  Amen!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of August 14, 2011             
Sharing by: Pam Crawford
                                                    1 Timothy 6:6
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

What a frustrating chain of events! Although I hesitate to think that things could get worse, I have lived long enough to know better. It is in times such as these that I am reminded of the importance of Biblical contentment. The Apostle Paul was an example of someone who learned to become content in whatever he was up against. As I have studied his life, I have discovered a man who learned to trust God in all circumstances.  As he took time to know God, he uncovered His character and the many promises which belong to God’s children. This led to an overwhelming confidence in who God was and what He alone could do.  From this knowledge Paul did something that many of us miss. Paul broke free from allowing his circumstances to rule his heart. 

The Apostle Paul had a heart for God’s people. In his letters to the Philippians, which was written while he was being imprisoned for his faith, Paul attempted to teach them how to have joy in suffering, serving, believing, and giving. He expressed to them over and over again throughout his writings that this is accomplished by having the right focus. Like some of the Philippians and maybe even some of you, it is not always my natural reaction to shift my focus onto Christ at the onset of a crisis. I have had to work at this with utter diligence, and in all honesty it has not always been easy.  My natural tendency is often to dwell in the situation before taking it to prayer. Instead of getting on my knees at the first sign of trouble, I often put my own hands and feet in motion to come up with some sort of solution.  Then there are those times when I simply waste valuable time sulking in the thing. The end result in doing things my way is usually the opposite of contentment.  When I allow troubles to scare and overwhelm me, I usually end up with a real sense of defeat.  I imagine I am not alone in this.

In an article titled Handling Difficult Circumstances, Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch ministries writes “fear and defeat cannot live long in a heart that trusts the Lord. I'm not saying you'll forget what you're going through, but you can choose to dwell on His provision and care instead. He is the Deliverer (2 Cor. 1:10). He is the Healer (Deut. 32:39). He is the Guide (Prov. 3:6).  The believer who lays claim to divine promises discovers that God pushes back negative emotions. In their place, hope, confidence, and contentment take up residence (Phil. 4:11). You aren't going to be happy about a difficult situation, but you can be satisfied that God is in control and up to something good in the midst of trouble.”

One of my favorite Scriptures is found in the book of Psalms, chapter 91 verses 1-2. It says, “ He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” These words are helping me become accountable to what I claim I believe.

Life’s Application Commentary:  91:1-2
God is a shelter, a refuge when we are afraid. The writer’s faith in almighty God as protector would carry him through all the dangers and fears of life. This should be a picture of our trust – trading all our fears for faith in him, no matter how intense our fears. To do this we must “live” and “rest” with him. By entrusting ourselves to his protection and pledging our daily devotion to him, we will be kept safe.”

When we shift our focus onto Christ above our circumstances; we too can experience that true sense of peace and contentment that surpasses our understanding.  Although our situation might not change and the pain might be tough to endure at times, I can assure you that you are not alone. The Bible says that God "has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all" (Ps. 103:19). He is in absolute control. We may not understand His reasons for permitting hardship or pain in our lives, but His plan is always for our good and His glory (Jeremiah. 29:11).

If you have invited Christ to be your Savior, your helper, your guide; then you have all you need to get through yet another day. If you have not yet taken the step of surrender, may I suggest that there is no better time than the present? It is my prayer to move towards spiritual maturity and live my life as less a victim and more of a victor. How about you?

Today’s prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of transformation found in the life of the Apostle Paul. It is our prayer to gain momentum as we seek to know You as, Savior and Sovereign LORD. Help us to reflect on the many positive things in our life. Help us to discard the negatives as they only seek to destroy us.  Show us today how to become beautiful, effective servants for Your Kingdom. Grant us Your peace Lord that surpasses our understanding and empower us to fight as mighty warriors against the schemes of the evil one. We thank you for what you will do in our lives to strengthen us. And, we submit our prayers in Jesus Name.

“There is no victory to be had in dwelling on our hurts.”
                                                            – Dr. Stanley

Monday, August 8, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: August 8, 2011       
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

                                             1 John 4:16b,17
"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like him."                                        

Doesn't it feel wonderful to be loved? As a wife and a mother I treasure the times when my husband and children do special things to show me just how much they love and appreciate how I care for them.  Although most of the time I love on them not expecting anything in return; I have to say that it really does mean a lot when you feel that love expressed back. I don’t think many of us can deny the desire to feel loved and appreciated by others. It might not surprise you then to learn that God desires to be loved and appreciated too.  How can we determine if we are giving Him true love?

John 14:21, NIV 
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." 

It is important that we understand what the Bible teaches about the words written in red. These words are representative of Jesus’ instructions.  Read them over carefully and allow them to absorb within your heart as they will prove to be very important.

Some people say they “love God” but then their actions do not align with that love? I know this, because I've been one of them. I can remember professing my love of God especially on Sunday mornings, and by Sunday afternoon my actions clearly reflected something quite different.  Most of the time, my blindness to my own sin habits hindered the possibility of my love being authentic. Ok, maybe I didn’t break a great big commandment like “Do not murder” but my temper got the best of me and my tongue (my language, attitude) did not reflect love for anyone let alone God. And, when I discovered from the Word that there are no degrees of sin; sin is sin, I realized that my actions didn't always show God the kind of obedient love that He so deserves. I have not yet arrived, but today I am so unsettled when I grieve the Spirit of God that I desire to work at correcting the action He convicts me in sooner than later.                                                   

Loving God is also the key to loving others, even those who treat us unjust. This response is an outward expression of what we receive from God on a daily basis; unconditional, grace-filled love. I continue to be tested in this area even as I strike the keyboard today. I can tell you that staying connected to God's Spirit and obeying His Word is the only way I refrain from giving into my flesh. By taking the time to learn what God’s Word says we will be empowered to correct wrong thinking and actions.

With all due respect, I hate to break it to you - this life, it really isn't about us at all! It's about God and how He desires to use us in this messed up world to display who He is.  I know, I know that was a tough one for me too!

Additional Scripture Reading: 1 John 4 and 5. 

Today's prayer:
Dear Father, teach us how important it is to You that we express our love for You openly and genuinely. Your unconditional “agape” love is beyond our human comprehension, but we want to return love to You in the same manner we receive it. Give us the desire to be in Your presence daily so we may learn Your Word in order to obey and bring glory to You. Help us get to a place in our relationship where we can say “I love you” and it truly brings You great joy.  In Jesus’ name I pray,  Amen.

PS: Forgive me (us) Father for not always reflecting You to others. Change us from the inside out.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of August 1, 2011                               
Guest writer: Connie Kovach
Just A Thought Ministry

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16  
We’ve all heard it.  If we don’t know this verse by heart, we know of it by the man at the football games in the far corner of the TV screen.  I do love this verse because it sums up the idea of the life of Christ.  It exemplifies the awesomeness of God that He can just send (def v: to order or instruct to go to a particular destination or in a particular direction) His Son in the blink of an eye to live to teach us and to die to save us.  It explains the capacity of His love for us; that He would love us so much as to give up His Son for us.  It explains the unbelievable truth that Jesus’ entire existence was for us to be free and have eternal life.
But then I kept reading, John 3:17 says “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  If trying to understand His love for me wasn’t hard enough to wrap my mind around, now to go outside of my mental grasp to see that His Son, Jesus, was here in this world, yet condemnation was not on His to do list.  I have learned so much about God and His love, yet this condemnation thing always gets me.
Romans 8:1 says “Therefore, there is now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” I know this, I memorized this, yet I can’t help but feel condemnation every time my eyes turn away from Him just long enough to sin yet again.  The bottom line is that God isn’t looking for us to sit in a pit of condemnation each time we fall.  He wants us to get up, dust ourselves off, and fix our eyes back on Him again; all while praising Him for the ability to do so.
The idea that we don’t measure up, or can’t live up to the Christian expectation is about a big a lie as the Millie Vanilli’s vocal abilities.  You can’t put something pretty in front of a lie and call it truth.  Sitting in our little pits of condemnation and calling it humility is no better than lip-syncing to a skipping record album.  If you are under thirty, you may have to ask a parent about this last paragraph.
So what about the ones that don’t believe?  John 3:18 says “whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  Believing takes a step of faith.  Hebrews 11:3 says “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”  That’s a lot to absorb.  Basically, believing means we can look at the sun, stars, and the world around us and know that God made them, even though we didn’t see Him do it.  Does it make sense?  Not at all, which is why it’s called faith my friend.
So, by faith, I will walk this journey with the knowledge that God created this universe.  The belief that He sent His Son to die on the cross for my sins.  I believe that I stand before God with no condemnation, just another opportunity to turn my gaze back to Him as I try once again to do it His way.