Thursday, January 31, 2013

February 1, 2013

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." Romans 12:14

We sing about grace. We hear it preached. We like the sound of it. We love to receive it. We have a harder time extending it. But all the time we have difficulty wrapping our mind around it because it just doesn't come naturally to us.

I will leave it to men greater than me to communicate its significance to you.

Phillip Yancey describes grace in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace. He writes, “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more—no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less—no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much an infinite God can possibly love.”

The attitude of grace is expressed this way by John Newton, the man who penned the lyrics to the timeless hymn "Amazing Grace".

"I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I want to be. I am not what I hope to be. But still, I am not what I used to be. And by the grace of God, I am what I am."

Richard Wurmbrand, who spent fourteen years suffering in a Communist prison, reminds all believers with less than ideal circumstances that “if the heart is cleansed by the love of Jesus Christ, and if the heart loves Him, you can resist all tortures.” He says, “God will not judge us according to how much we endured, but how much we could love.” The love of God demonstrated in the lives of his people is potent. Wurmbrand gives an example:

“A Christian was sentenced to death. Before being executed, he was allowed to see his wife. His last words to his wife were, ‘You must know that I die loving those who kill me. They don’t know what they do and my last request of you is to love them, too. Don’t have bitterness in your heart because they kill your beloved one. We will meet in heaven.’ These words impressed the officer of the secret police who attended the discussion between the two. After he told me the story in prison, where he (the prison guard had been put for becoming a Christian).”

So, what can you do to get a grip on this grace that God purchased at such a tremendous price so that it might given freely to you?

How grace operates:

1) It decides not to hold a grudge – (It forgives)

2) It refuses to get even when given the chance.

3) It refuses gossip when given the chance.

4) It responds graciously when given the chance.

5) It extends forgiveness when confession and repentance happen.

It requires God's grace to understand that you need God's grace and by His grace He sends His Spirit to grace your life, cleansing your eternal soul and transforming how you think and what you desire.

Why would God do such an amazing thing as grace?

Because it is Who He is!

Because it is what we need!

Because it is what others need to receive through you and me!

As believers in Jesus Christ, God needs you and me to grace others.

Today you have opportunity to receive His grace and you will doubtless have a chance to grace someone else. If you miss the opportunities to grace - you disgrace. You don't want to live in disgrace do you?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 31, 2013

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." Romans 12:14

Why would I bless one who persecutes me?

What would keep them from persecuting me more?

If they keep persecuting me do I keep blessing them?

How does that help me? Am I to be a perpetual victim?

What does it mean to bless them?

Good questions!

What would Jesus do?

What DID He do for you?

He loved you, even though you were born a sinner and had no desire for Him.

You lived for yourself and satisfied all your selfish desires. He gave up all the privilege and pleasures of Heaven for you and came to be born as a baby in a manger.

He kept seeking you and reaching out to you as you ignored Him and chased pleasure.

As you cursed Him and took His Name in vain, He prayed for you and blessed you as much as He could.

Long before you had any desire to live for Him, He died for you.

Why would He do that?

That's grace!

What is grace?

God's Riches At Christ's Expense!

God blessed you and removed the curse of sin!

That is why He can call you to bless those who persecute you! Because He did! You can, too.

Who will you bless today?

How will you grace others?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 30, 2013

"Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath." Romans 12:14

Getting a grip on grace requires releasing grudges. Let's talk about how that happens.

Here's a story to help illustrate this truth:

An interesting system has been used for capturing monkeys in the jungles of Africa. The goal is to take the monkeys alive and unharmed for shipment to zoos of America. In an extremely humane way, the captors use heavy bottles, with long narrow necks, into which they deposit a handful of sweet-smelling nuts. The bottles are dropped on the jungle floor, and the captors return the next morning to find a monkey trapped next to each bottle.

How is it accomplished? The monkey, attracted by the aromatic scent of the nuts, comes to investigate the bottle, the nuts, and is trapped. The monkey can't take its hand out of the bottle as long it's holding the nuts, but it is unwilling to open its hand and let them go. The bottle is too heavy to carry away, so the monkey is trapped.

You hold onto a grudge out of a desire to get even with someone who has hurt you or wronged you. But in the attempt to do so, and even in the desire to do so, you are trapped by your own devices. Just like the monkeys, your stubborn refusal to release the grudge keeps you trapped like them. And like them, all you need to do is let go.

But in fact, it is more than letting go, it is grabing something else - GRACE! You release the negative so you can possess the positive. Grace is an incredible gift that is yours for the taking, but to take it you need a free hand. If I held out a gift to you, I could offer it but it would not be yours until you received it. You have to reach out and receive it with open hands.

Grace is a gift that must be received freely and once received it must be passed on to others. You cannot do either if you are trapped in vindictiveness and resentment.

Spring the grudge trap and escape to the freedom of grace!

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 29, 2013

A recent Reader's Digest has an article entitled "How Letting Go of Grudges Can Improve Your Health." It states that forgiveness is indeed divine, but not necessarily easy. It's also very beneficial to physical and mental health states the article. It quotes Frederic Luskin, Ph.D, author of Forgive for Good (HarperCollins, 2002) as saying "People who forgive show less depression, anger and stress and [show] more hopefulness."

That is one reason that Romans 12:14 admonishes: "Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them."

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) " Police say a 30-year grudge boiled over when a former elementary school teacher littered the driveways of former co-workers and bosses with roofing nails and splattered paint on their garage doors. Thomas R. Haberbush, 72, pleaded guilty last Tuesday to one count each of stalking, criminal mischief and criminal tampering, all misdemeanors. Police said that three former school board members, a retired principal and a retired assistant principal at Caroline Street Elementary School were among the nine victims Haberbush targeted over the past two years. Their car tires were damaged by roofing nails that Haberbush threw in the driveways, police said. "It’s very bizarre to carry around a grudge for nearly 30 years," said Saratoga Springs police investigator John Catone. "At least now there can be closure for all those people he terrorized." Police said Haberbush had been angered after receiving poor work reviews. Saratoga County assistant district attorney David Harper requested that Haberbush undergo a mental health evaluation as part of the plea agreement. He also will be barred from contacting the victims in the future.
-It’s like the old saying, “holding grudges is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

-Jesus says, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Will you be a grace-giver or a grudge-holder? That is the decision each of us must make. But for those who are followers of Christ, the choice is clear. There is no room in the heart of a Christian or within the fellowship of a church for holding grudges. The healthy thing to do AND the holy thing to do is to be a grace-giver.

Is there someone you need to forgive?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 28, 2013

Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them." Romans 12:14

During the Korean war a certain military unit had hired a local boy to cook and clean for them. Being a bunch of jokesters, these guys soon took advantage of the boy’s seeming naiveté’.

· They'd put little water buckets over the door so he’d get soaked when he opened the door

· They’d smear Vaseline on the stove handles so that when he’d turn the stove on in the morning he’d get grease all over his fingers.

· They’d  even nail his shoes to the floor during the night.

Day after day the young Korean took the brunt of their practical jokes without saying anything. There was no blame, no self-pity, no temper tantrums.

Finally the men felt guilty about what they were doing, so they sat down with the boy and said, “Look, we know these pranks aren’t funny for you, and we’re sorry. We’re never going to take advantage of you again.” It seemed too good to be true to the houseboy.

“No more sticky on stove?” he asked.

“No more water on door.”


“No more nail shoes to floor?”

“Nope, never again.”

“Okay” the boy said with a smile, “no more spit in soup.”

We chuckle at this story but let me ask you a serious question, "When you get even with someone, do you actually get even? And does it make you feel better?"

I think you know the answer to that question.

In the Bible, who do you think felt better, Peter who cut off a young man's ear in a valiant but vain effort to protect Jesus. But which one of them felt better in the end, Peter or Jesus, Who touched the young Roman and reattached his severed ear?

If your purpose is to overcome evil with good, how can you justify hurting someone just because they have hurt you? When you respond to evil with more evil, you are overcome with the evil. That disobeys God's command.

What if the next time you are hurt by someone you overcome that pain by showing grace rather than getting even? What if you do what Jesus did - you take the pain and give them the gain? How would that change your relationships? How would that shape your world? What would that do for your heart? More importantly, you would show the love of God in a powerful way! You would be acting on faith not feelings.

Is it time for you to stop spitting in the soup?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 27, 2013

“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back” Proverbs 29:11
Modern technology with social media on the world-wide internet provides a vast scope of accessibility to spread God’s love and His plan of salvation to the entire world. But it also has potential to cause great harm to the Faith and the Church.
Let me illustrate:
Monday, during the inauguration for President Obama's second and final term, Pastor Mark Driscoll tweeted a controversial statement that launched a very heated reply and retweet conversation.
In the hot-button tweet, Driscoll says, "Praying for our President, who today will be placing his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know."
In response, church leaders like Scott Hodge, Eugene Cho, Jason Boyett and Carlos Whittaker shared their strong disdain for Driscoll's tweet and perceived it as judgmental, ultra-critical and unhelpful. Actress Alyssa Milano also responded to Driscoll's tweet saying, "Your last tweet is not very Christian of you. Shouldn't you be inspiring people to love and have compassion and respect?"
However, in the midst of the heated discussion surrounding the inauguration tweet, it has received more than 2,100 retweets from like-minded leaders. So, we'd like to pose the question to you.
Do you think Driscoll's tweet is way off-base, right on or somewhere in between?
The response to this question about the propriety of Mark Driscoll’s tweet brought 238 comments from every possible side of the issue. How about you? Would you tweet a statement like this or post it on Facebook? Should you?
Here’s what I am going to do, I am going to approach this topic of the benefits and dangers of social media for Christians by first, putting it in the context of some Scriptures and the offering some counsel from the Scriptures.
Consider some Scriptures regarding this issue to put it in context.
“The Bible has something to say about social media,” You ask?
Well, the Bible says a lot about how to speak and communicate and that is what social media is, right?
“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”  Proverbs 10:19
For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” James 3:2-6
“The tongue is a fire” “it is set on fire by hell” – Pretty strong statements!
What happens if a fire touches something valuable?
What happens if a fire sends out burning embers into the wind?
When you combine the truths of those two Scriptures together it comes out like this – THE TONGUE IS HARD TO CONTROL AND CONTAMINATED BY SIN SO MORE WORDS = MORE CHANCES TO SIN. FEWER WORDS = FEWER CHANCES TO SIN.
Does that shed any light on Mark Driscoll’s tweet?
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.  But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. James 3:7-12
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20
“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these comes from evil.” Matthew 5:37 (Jesus speaking from Sermon on Mount)
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Luke 6:45
Does this shed light on Mark Driscoll’s tweet?
View Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms for what they are – VAST PUBLIC FORUMS – with massive opportunities to spread the Gospel as well as massive potential to discredit it. View social media as a power tool with great power to create or damage. Use carefully and wear goggles!
Three Big Issues:

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.’  Ephesians 5:16
What does it mean to “redeem the time?” The word “redeeming” in the Greek can mean “to buy up, ransom, or rescue from loss.” We need to rescue from loss the time that remains in our life. We can only redeem today and plan to redeem tomorrow, for yesterday is gone! We alone are responsible for using what God has given to each of us—time—to prepare for our spiritual calling.
Am I using this time to glorify or edify?
Am I spending more time one Facebook than in God’s Book?
Am I making good use of this person’s time?
2) TESTIMONY – “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back”
“And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him.” Colossian 3:17
Will this glorify or edify?
If I were an non-believer would this make me more or less likely to believe?
Will I feel good about having 10,000 people reading this?
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8
Three areas of temptation:
A) Strife – Mark Driscoll’s Post – - - Do we need to know everything about us?
B) Straying – Am I flirting or becoming emotionally involved?
C) Sexual Sin – Am I involved in pornography on the internet?


Friday, January 25, 2013

January 26, 2013

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13

For the most part, much of America is really struggling to be passionate about life!

4 out of 5 Americans feel that they lack passion in their lives. - Harris Poll, 2007

That means only 20% of Americans woke up today saying, “Come on, let’s go for it!”

Why is passion so hard to come by? What is it?

Passion is - “A strong feeling, a great devotion and intense conviction which fuels or motivates us toward compelling action.”

How do I know if I have a godly passion?

Look at your kids. Generally, your kids will catch your passion. At least, up to a certain age your kids will reflect your passion. They will tend to embrace what matters to you and reject what you dislike.

Look at your checkbook. Where you spend your money betrays your passion. Are you spending it on yourself and your wants and wishes? The register at the back of your checkbook does not lie. It may be revealing to look at it once and awhile.
Look at your date book. Where you spend your time shows your passion. How much of your leisure time is devoted to faith, family or friends? How much is dedicated to your favorite stuff? Your Day-Timer doesn't lie. Your record will reveal your passions.
Joy, according to this verse, is an indication of the source of your passion. Do you find joy in serving God and His people?

Faithfulness in serving, praying and sharing is a third evidence that your passion is genuine and godly.

A church that has passion is a church where "Discouraged folks cheer up, dishonest folks fess up, sour folks sweeten up, closed folk, open up, gossipers shut up, conflicted folks make up, sleeping folks wake up, lukewarm folk, fire up, dry bones shake up, and pew potatoes stand up! But most of all, Christ the Savior of the entire world is lifted up."

Passion has positive power!

How do I know I have passion? I have joy as I serve!

Do I recognize joy in my life?

How do I know I have passion? I can serve patiently!

Do I recognize patience in my life?

How do I know I have passion? I can pray faithfully!

Do I recognize patience in my life?

Do I demonstrate faithfulness?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 25, 2013

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Passion begins with a connection. Passion can be catching, you can get it from someone else who has it. No one is more passionate about life and love than Jesus!

Secondly, passion grows with conviction. Passion takes root in a belief and strengthens as you become more convinced about what you believe. Belief typically grows through experience. Experience is when your belief moves from your head to your heart. When something that you believe in your mind actually gets put to the test in life and you discover it works! From then on you believe it more!

When reality challenges your beliefs and you cling to that belief and act on it and find it passes the test, you have a stronger belief and a new view of reality. When what you hoped in proved to be worthy of your hope - your hope grows! You move from hoping to real hope! Not only does your belief get stronger but so does your passion!

It is sort like when you first walked out on the ice covering a pond or a like. You have watched it freeze and seen the ice cover more of the surface until it covers all the water. You wait while it thickens and then when you think it be thick enough you take that first tentative step. To your joy and relief your find it does support your weight. With each step your confidence grows. Soon you are skating and having a wonderful time! You have moved from hoping you were right to knowing it and enjoying it!

Conviction is discovering that you can hope in what you hoped you could believe! Then you hope more and believe stronger. Each time your belief stands the tests of life and validates your hopes you grow more passionate about what you believe. That allows you to be more patient in the face of difficulties.

Stronger hope and greater patience helps you pray with more faith! Prayer strengthen both your connection WITH Jesus and your conviction of what be believe ABOUT Him. Prayer becomes less of a job and more of a joy. It changes prayer from a last resort to a first response.

Passion originates with a connection and deepens with a conviction. When you believe what you say you believe you will find more hope, patience and prayerfulness.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 24, 2013

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Romans 12:11
The word "zeal" has practically disappeared from common use. You can still find it in a dictionary and it makes a good word in Scrabble, but think about the last time you heard it in a conversation? Paul here couples "zeal" with the synonym "fervor".
In the rare instances it is used it appears in the word "zealot" which usually has a negative connotation.
The concept of "zeal" is expressed in the word "passion" these days. So let's talk about passion since this verse demands that you and I are responsible for fueling the spiritual passion for God. It is expected to be a constant in our lives.
If we were to be honest we would admit the place we most often see passion is in regard to sports teams. I confess to being passionate about the Chicago Bears and the Virginia Tech Hokies.
That begs two questions, "what does passion look like" and "why does it express itself in this form"?
My passion for these two football teams shows in the fact that I think about them most every day. Their websites are on my favorites tab and I always look for the latest news on them. My passion is shown in how I order my priorities around the during Satudays and Sundays in the Fall. When the games are on I am mentally and emotionally engaged in them. I get excited by a big play and aggravated by the bad plays. I care what happens to my teams from the opening kickoff until the final play! For those three hours that game is the center of my universe. A win by either  team lifts my week-end. If they both win it is real uplifting! When one or both lose it casts a pall over the next few days.
That's passion!
So, why is it so easy to maintain my passion for football and so difficult to "keep my spiritual fervor"?
Here's a thought from one of my mentors, Rush Limbaugh. El Rushbo says that we are passionate about sports teams because we can become totally engaged with our favorite team and gain a sense of significance, satisfaction, belonging, entertainment and pleasant diversion without it costing us anything. Granted, if you buy a ticket and pay for parking and food to the event or set aside a day to attend the event, that can be costly. But in terms of commitment, the cost is minimal! Passion over sports teams has a high cost to benefit factor.
On the other hand, commitment to Christ costs you much (everything, in fact) and the biggest rewards are delayed. You can switch on the TV or click on their website and see the Bears or Hokies, but you open the Bible and you see words - lots of words. It takes much more commitment to get passionate and stay passionate about an invisible concept than a tangible team.
Would you like to be as passionate about your faith as you are about your football? If not, you can check out here. But if you do, you are closer than you think.
Surrender to the "team Spirit".
Become as committed to faith as you are to football.
Devote the same amount of time as you do to God as to your team - reading, watching, and thinking about them.
Follow Christ as enthusiastically, consistently and regularly as you do your team.
Talk about your faith as much as you do your football team.
Invest at least as much time and energy on your faith as you do on your football. Make it a time priority as your football games. Hang out with faith "fans" like you hang out football fans.
If you know how to fuel your passion for the Bears, Redskins, Ravens, Hokies or 'Hoos, you have a foundation for becoming a passionate follower of Christ. It may just cost you more - but the benefits are out of this world!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 23, 2013

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Romans 12:11
Perhaps you buy into the notion that passion is a spontatneous and intense emotional response to some great spiritual experience or a move of God.
Maybe you understand passion to be something that springs up within randomly or capriciously and then disappears just a unpredictably.
Verse 11 presents a different idea of passion.
Passion happens intentionally, "Never be lacking in zeal", v. 11 a
Like most other things in life, passion happens because someone wants it to happen and does what it takes to make it happen. What needs to happen is zeal. Zeal is a form of passion or even a synonym for it. An intentional decision must be made to be zealous toward the Lord, His Church and the people that make up your local church. You decide that you will maintain the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual commitment necessary to stay zealous for the Lord. You devote body, mind and, spirit to knowing and serving the Lord. You aggressively pursue it or preserve it.
Second, passion happens internally.
Passion is something that stirs within you once you decide to pursue it and possess it. Zeal comes to your mind and spirit as a result of committing them to God's Spirit. It comes from His Word as you hide it in your heart and meditate on it in your mind. Once you intentionally commit to pleasing God, His pleasure fills you from the inside out.
Passion happens in service to God.
Zeal increases as it is expressed by self-sacrificing service. Passion is something you can put your hands around. Zeal cannot be contained. What obedience and surrender allow the Spirit to stir within in you will have to express itself by serving others. Passion that seeks God must also service God.
Passion is a decision. Zeal is a determination to know God, to experience God, and to show God in your piety, your personal relationship to him and your personal investment ministering to the needs of others.
Are you zealous for the Lord?

Are you passionate for Him?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 22, 2013

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Romans 12:11 (TNIV)

“Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame." Romans 12:11 (The Message)

What are you passionate about?
How do you fuel that passion?
What robs you of your passion?
Those are some of the issues addressed in this middle section of Romans 12.
How do you define passion? Is it an emotional state? Is it an attitude? Is it a spiritual condition?
Here, Paul defines it as a level of commitment. He equates it with "zeal".
Commitment implies a narrowed focus. When you are committed to numerous things you are, in fact, not committed. You may have multiple interests but minimal commitment. Most people nowadays can relate to the concept of being "over committed".
What happens to over committed people? Don't they usually become over stressed? Once you are over stressed what happens to your passion? What happens to your energy level? What happens to your level of performance?
I established at the beginning of this series that God calls you to the purpose of overcoming evil with His goodness. But what are the chances of overcoming evil if you are overwhelmed by too many commitments?
"But, Brad" you argue, "The things I am committed to are all good things! Isn't that how you overcome evil?"
While I will give you that if you are going to be overwhelmed it is better to be overwhelmed with good things than by bad things, but the net result is pretty much the same. In my experience, the most common hindrance to believers overcoming evil WITH good is being overcome BY good. Doing the good things is usually what prevents you from doing the best things.
"So," you ask, "How do I narrow my focus? How do I prioritize my commitments?"
Discover that and you will take a giant step toward living with passion.
I will give you a hint, Jesus said, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

January 21, 2013

We are a team at FredWes – every member has a position to play and the team wins as each member plays his position and gets wins at that position. Each of us matters and it matters to the team what we do.

We are a body – every member has an equally important place in that body and must find it for the body to become healthy and growing.

Our Unity – comes from surrendering to God:
Our Ego
Our Evil
Our Efforts

Our Community – comes from serving in the church in the Spirit

How do we preserve and maintain this healthy climate in the church?


“Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves.” Romans 12:9-10
PURITY = MATURITY, as in, mature love. That is what we have seen displayed in David and Trish Tait over the years they have served FWC. It is the love that Gerald and Brenda have modeled when they led the church and even now as they serve.

Once a team, once a body finds the unity and community that are essential to a godly, growing, healthy church – then they must maintain it. How?


1) HONEST – “Love must be honest and true……”

This deals with your motives. Honest love isn’t manipulative. Honest love faces the hard truth of selfish love and repents of it. Get real with God!

2) HOLY – “…..hate what is evil….”

This deals with your Master. Who is the source of your love? How do you get it? You have to hate your selfish love to get sincere love. This will take some true repentance. It will require some discipline. You can’t love and hate at the same time.

3) HELPFUL – “….hold onto what is good….”

This deals with your mission. The purpose of believers is to be confront the evil in the world with the goodness of God!

4) HEARTY – “… each other deeply…..”

This deals with your meaning. Are you going to devote your life to self-seeking or are you going to invest in others? Are you willing to be vulnerable? Will you risk getting hurt by others in order to be able to help them?

5) HUMBLE – “…..honor others more than yourselves.”

This deals with your maturity. Are you willing to stand in the shadows and shine the spotlight on others? Are you willing to be a “nobody” to help make “somebodys”. Will you decrease so others can increase?







Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 20, 2013

"Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves." Romans 12:9-10
Telling someone to love like this is equivalent to telling your dog to act like a cat. It is unnatural. The love that God demands of you in this portion of Scripture is unnatural. Think about it!
To love this way you must be sincere, i.e. - authentic, the real deal! That is not your nature! It is natural to fake it. You show only your best side and mask or hide your faults, flaws and weaknesses. You don't like those parts of your nature and you are sure that if others knew how you really are they wouldn't like you either!
Loving others with a real, true, genuine and sincere love is not natural!
Likewise, expecting someone to hate evil and cling to good is very idealistic isn't it? That won't really happen. It is not the way we are! How can you hate evil when your very nature is controlled by evil? Your natural way of loving is selfish love. It is a love that manipulates others to get what it wants. Therefore selfish love uses other people, sometimes abuses them to gratify its desires.
Loving others with a holy and unselfish love is unnatural.
So it is with brotherly love or a love that prefers others above your own wants and needs. It is not in your nature to honor others. You want the spotlight! You want the credit! Center-stage belongs to you! You deserve the honor! You have earned it!
Honor others? Why?
Pure love requires a maturity that is not natural. True love, Christian love, requires a fundamental change in your nature. As the Scripture declares, you must "be transformed by the renewing of your mind"! That is not just unnatural it is supernatural! Only God can do that because only God loves like that! It begins the moment you recieve the love that God has for you in Christ Jesus! When you recieve His love you also recieve the desire to love others. Along with that desire comes the ability to love others because - HE LOVES THROUGH YOU!
Are you ready for some radical love? Are you tired of shallow self-centered love? Are you wanting to help others rather than hurting them?
Repent of your selfish love and surrender to the supernatural endless love of God!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 18, 2013

"Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves." Romans 12:9-10
"Love each other deeply" says the Scripture. The word that is used is the word for "brotherly love". Within the fellowship of the church you are to love others like family. The "phileo" type of love is the highest measure of love which human beings are capable of sharing. It refers to a genuine warm emotional feeling of fondness and familiarity. In other words, when you love a fellow Christian give it all you've got. Don't hold back.
Why should you not love your fellow believers like you love family? After all, you have the same Father. If you love God you certainly should love those in your church fellowship who also love God. You love them because God, your Father loves them. You love them deeply because they are spiritual family.
And why should you not love your fellow believers who not only share you Father, but also share your faith. Faith is a powerful force in the life of a believer. Faith is a set of beliefs about Who God is, how He operates, how He loves you and what He wants you to do and to become. A common system of beliefs and values can form a strong bond for friendship and fellowship among believers in a local church. Sharing strong beliefs at the core of your being with other believers is a strong uniting factor.
Also, when you worship and work together within the fellowship of a church you share the same focus. You want that fellowship to prosper and grow. The people and the pastors and the ministries of that church has inspired you and instructed you and invested in you over the years and it has become an important part of your life. Because you value that you value others who share your passion for the the health of that church. You are a team, you are members of the body who are working together to achieve shared goals. That is a strong common bond.
Love one another deeply as you would a brother or a sister. Live in unity and harmony with them. Share spiritual community as you worship together, serve each other and reach out to the needs in your city.
Having the same Father, the same faith and an identical focus are important factors in loving each other deeply (like brothers or sisters) within a local church fellowship. It is a powerful bond! It will bless you in your spirit and build you in your spiritual development!
Do you have a brotherly love for those who worship with you?

If not, why not?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 17, 2013

"Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves." Romans 12:9-10
Who doesn't want true love? Who wouldn't benefit from it? What church couldn't use more of it? True love is hard to find. Maybe that is because it is hard to do. Which could be why it is hard to recognize.
In these two verses Paul gives us perhaps the most concise description of true love found anywhere - even more concise than I Corinthians 13.
Life is all about relationships and therefore, love is essential. God wired you to thrive within loving relationships but sin infected your nature with selfishness and selfishness is the great "anti-love".
So, the reason it is hard for you to love me is because you love yourself more. Until you want to love more than be loved you will struggle with true love. Wow, that's honest!
Perhaps that's why this verse describing true love begins by demanding honesty. Until you are honest about your lack of love how can you ever hope to honestly love?
Selfish love is manipulative. It always look for an edge or an angle to get what it wants. When you are angling for what YOU want you will not be interested in what I want. Selfish love is the "anti-love".
Insincere love uses people rather than serves them. When I feel used by you not only do I not feel loved by you, it can erode my self-esteem. No one wants to feel like an object.
How do you get over the selfish love so you can love others with a sincere love?
Back to the honesty! True love begins with you repenting to God for your selfish love. Call it what it is - SIN. Do you find it interesting that the first three letters of sincere are "SIN"? The root of all sin is selfishness and that must be dug out by the root! Only the God of perfect love can do that.
The antidote for selfish love is God's love. Maybe that is why Jesus commanded us to "Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself". Until you love God more that you love you it will be impossible to love others without trying to manipulate them. Actually, you will try to manipulate God, too!

Get over it! Root out SIN and get sincere!