Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 31, 2016

"He answered, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27

There is a lot of emphasis in fitness and conditioning on developing the “core.” And there is good reason for emphasizing the core because every athletic movement in every sport involves your core. It is your chest muscles and your arm muscles and your abdominal muscle that must be toned in order to produce the strength required to make the throw or swing the bat or put up the shot or go for the pin or make the tackle.

I know of no competitive athlete in any sport at any level who does not understand the importance of strengthening his core! There is no way to improve his performance strengthening his core.

Equally as important as developing the physical core of his body is to master the core fundamental of his sport as well as understanding the core strategies involved in having a chance to win.

Many times a coach has admonished a player to “put his soul into the game”! That means he wants that player to combine all of his strength and skill and knowledge of the game with his full concentration and effort.

That is essentially the point of the Great Commandment which is quoted in the verse above! You must love the Lord with your entire “core”!

“We love the Lord with all our soul by living a life of faithfulness to all that the Lord has required of us. While loving the Lord with all our heart has to do with affection, loving the Lord with all our soul has to do with devotion.

The soul literally is the part of us that defines who we are. The essence of the biblical definition for soul means life, personality, the inner self and our identity. It’s where we make our decisions and choices that ultimately decide our lifestyle and behavior. Think of the soul as the “core you”.

To love the Lord with all your soul means to love Him in the way we live, in the choices we make and in the behavior and lifestyle we adopt.” Greg Simas

Loving God must be a full-time occupation. It should also be an on-going preoccupation.

We already established that a halfhearted love doesn’t please God. Nor does it allow God to fully please you! So, just as you must commit your whole heart to God you must also give your soul to loving Him!

God won’t accept anything less from you than loving Him from your core! He wants to be loved at and by the essence of your being. Only then can he fill you with the essence of His being!

I urge you to continue to strengthen your physical core! It will keep you strong and health!

That will require setting aside some time for a work out today!

But above all, develop your spiritual core by committing to “love God with all your soul”!

That will require time alone with Him today, time to work it out spiritually!

February 1, 2016

"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?

Friday, January 29, 2016

January 30, 2016

Renowned philosopher, Charlie Brown once said, "I love mankind, it's people I can't stand."

Of course that is ridiculous, but then it's a cartoon strip so it is supposed to be funny.

What is equally ridiculous but not nearly as funny is the notion that you can love God but not love people.

When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan it was for the purpose of confronting a religious man who was trying to justify his lack of love for people while posing as a believer in God. However, his own words condemned him when he quoted the Great Commandment in Luke 10:27 - "He answered, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;  and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Clearly then, based on the authority of God's Word, if you don't love your neighbor then you don't truly love God. Period.

Loving others is not in our nature because selfish love is our nature. 

The change from selfish love to selfless love sounds like a radical change. How does something like that happen?

There is only one way to experience a fundamental change in HOW you love. You must change WHO you love. Only when you love God COMPLETELY can you love yourself and others CORRECTLY.

You can no longer love God halfheartedly.

If you are not sold out in your love for God you are a hold out and the best that can happen is a partial change. Loving a little better is not what you need. Loving God completely is the only way to have a complete change of heart.

You can no longer love God around the edges of your life.

How would you feel about God loving you with a halfhearted love. Would that work for you?

Thankfully, that is not Who He is so that can never happen. But in fact, if He only has half of your heart you will only experience His love to that extent.

What gets surrendered to God is what gets blessed.

What gets emptied before God is what gets filled.

If you want to experience more love give God more to love.

If you need to love others more love God most.

January 29, 2016

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9

Sometimes I wonder how people who were led by God appearing in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, a God Who had opened the Red Sea and fed them with manna and given water from a rock could ever have fear or doubt, but they did.

But now the stakes were high because this is moment God had in mind for them since they first left Egypt over 40 years ago. God had led them to this would they trust Him to lead them through it!

When you follow God individually or as a family or as a couple or as a church, there are those strategic moments that may only happen once or twice in a lifetime. For example, in the hundreds of years that God dwelt with His people there were only two times that he led them to the Jordan. They whiffed on the first chance and couldn’t afford to miss this one. Hence, the encouragement for them to be “strong and courageous” and not to be afraid.

I think this is very relevant to how God is leading us at FredWes. Over the past several years as God has favored us with growth we have been exploring options to provide the space for continued health and growth. Here are some of the things we have considered in our extensive search:

1) Purchasing the white building behind us and converting it to Youth and Children Ministry space but the purchase price was too high and renovation costs even higher. That was dismissed as an option.

2) We investigated the purchase of portable classrooms to move onto the property north of the church building. But regulations and cost factors ruled this out as a good option.

3) We spent one year and over $5,000 investigating the feasibility of building onto the existing building and discovered it wasn’t a cost-effective option and wouldn’t meet all of our needs.

4) We began looking for existing buildings and set criterion for what we thought we needed:
·        At least 10,000 sq. ft. on one level
·        Adequate paved parking
·        Visible location
·        Adaptable space
·        Within 15 minutes of current location

5) Nearly two years ago we approved listing the 6.2 acres we owned out on Rt. 3 West of town. This past Summer we accepted a contract for $300,000 for the sale of this property. We closed on that sale just last Thursday, January 21. We realized a profit of $269,010.

6) We looked at several possible buildings and identified two that we preferred.
·        A 14,200 sq. ft. commercial building in Cosner’s Corner retail complex with approx. 7,000 sq. ft. finished and 7,000 unfinished. It had 92 paved parking spots. Good location with good location for $1.8 M.
·        A 22,500 sq. ft. industrial building at Rt. 1 and 606 off of Exit 118 in Thornburg. This building had 300 paved parking spots and had been used by a church for several years. It was within but on the edge of our desired radius and was also listed at $1.8 M.

7) Recently we were made aware of an opportunity to partner with Tricord Construction in their new residential development in the New Post area of the County. The plan calls for 425 units, some apartments, some townhomes, mostly single-family homes and estate homes. In every one of their developments they dedicate land to a church near the center of the development. The parcel they donate to the church is approximately four acres and the church is required to pay Tricord $1,500 per parking space (244 paved spaces in our case) for a finished parking lot and a 20,000 sq. ft. building pad with utilities on site ready for construction. So, our cost to have a relocation site ready to build in a prime growth area at a major intersection of US 17 and VA 2 will be in the $450,000 to $500,000 range. Tricord is very interested in working with FredWes. On Monday evening the Leadership Team unanimously voted to recommend this site as our relocation option. If you vote to accept their recommendation we will enter into a letter of intent with Tricord which will allow your TEAM and Trustees to enter negotiation with Tricord on final conditions and cost of the project before we sign a contract. We are in the ballpark money-wise and will have time to raise funds or arrange necessary financing if the numbers are right.

8) This is not exactly pillar of cloud or pillar of fire type of guidance but the fact that this opportunity presented itself near the time of our closing Rt. 3 property when we were seeking direction seems as though it could be Providential.

Over 40 years of wandering through the desert God gave His people just two opportunities to enter into His Land of Promise. Incidentally, those opportunities were 40 years apart. That’s how rare these seasons of opportunity and favor can be. If there is anything we learn from these first few Old Testament Books it is the necessity of moving when God says move.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January 28, 2016

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 naivete’.
· 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?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 27, 2016

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." Proverbs 14:34

This is a very straight forward statement. It is very simple and yet quite complex.

I would think that if you ask the average citizen of any nation, "Would you rather have your nation be righteous or disgraced?" My guess is that most of them would say, "I want a righteous nation!"

While righteousness is important to any nation, it is absolutely essential to the United States!

Here's why!

America is the only nation to have been founded on the idea that human rights are given by God and the purpose of government is to protect those rights. And America is the only nation to ever have codified those protections in a legal document (The Constitution).

Rights have as much to do with responsibility as they do with freedom. In a sense, that what righteousness is - the responsible exercise of freedom. The responsible exercise of freedom means doing what God says is right! How can you hope to maintain your rights if you do what God says is wrong? Unrighteousness is therefore, a direct threat to freedom! When you under mind what is right you under mind your rights!

Think about that if you think that righteousness does not matter.

As a very simple example remember what happened when you were a child and you did something wrong. When your parents discovered you had done wrong you were punished and that punishment involved some sort of loss of freedom. Maybe you were grounded for a day or maybe you had to go to your room for an hour or two - your "unrighteousness" caused you to lose (if only temporarily) some rights.

What happened on a very small scale in your home is a microcosm of what happens on a national scale when unrighteousness becomes epidemic.

More great empires have crumbled from within due to the moral and cultural decay resulting from rampant unrighteousness.

In addition to the Holy Scriptures, many of the Founding Fathers cautioned against immoral and irresponsible actions of unrighteousness!

Doing what is right is essential to keeping America free and strong. Not only does righteousness protect freedom (and it does) more importantly it earns God's favor and blessing. There is no substitute for that!

Wonder what is wrong with American? Unrighteousness is what is wrong with America!

Do you want to get America right again? Then do right by obeying God and living according to His Word!

Monday, January 25, 2016

January 26, 2016

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”  He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:26-28

So what?

So how do I know if I really love God?

I know I should love Him.

I think I love Him.

I want to love Him.

Is there a way I can know for sure?

Yes, there is! It is clearly defined in these verses!

You know you truly love God when you actually love others in the same way you love yourself!

Your natural inclination is to love yourself first and best and better than anyone else. You will fight for what is yours and cheat to get it if you have to. You want to win and make sure the other guy loses. So, when you find yourself suddenly wanting the best for another person. You know that God’s love is at work in your heart. When you find joy in the success and good fortune of others you know God has changed your heart! When you find yourself willing to do without so another person can have what you really wanted you know God’s love is resident in your heart and mind.

When you love God with all your heart, your heart will be tender and sensitive and sincere toward other people in the very same way God is tender, sensitive and sincere in His love toward you! And you will want to express that great love God has given you to others who may not have it. When your heart is hurting rather than nursing your hurt, you reach out to another one who is hurting and extend to them the love, support and comfort you would like someone to give to you that’s evidence you love God!

You know you love God with all your soul when you are willing to make yourself vulnerable to another person even though it frightens you and your instincts prompt you to protect yourself. When comforting another or affirming someone is more important to you than guarding your soul then you know it is the love of God at work in you!

Further evidence of God’s love resident in your heart is when you devote your strength, energy and efforts to another when you feel like you’re exhausted. You know God’s love is active in your life when you are more concerned with strengthening another person than you are about becoming weakened. Using your strength to shore up another person’s weakness so they appear to be the strong one and you are perceived as weak is a sign of God’s love at work in you!

One more sign you are fortified and filled with the love of God is when your mind is under the control of your Heavenly Father. When dealing with another person you find your first thought, “How does God want me to think about this person?” and your next thought is, “How would I want to be thought of by this person?” When your mind is filled with God’s Word and your heart is filled with His Spirit He will transform and renew your mind so it is easier for you to think like God thinks in regard to other people.

So what?

So, when you actually love your neighbor the way God loves you and in the way you want to be loved that is evidence that’s God’s love is operating in and through you!

That is evidence of a love that is true flowing through your soul to the love another’s soul.

That’s what!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January 25, 2016

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”  He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:26-28

So what?

At FredWes we say we “Love you to LIFE”.

That has a really nice sound to it, but what does it mean?

It means you “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

It means you must be all in as in, ““‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”

You are to “love your neighbor as yourself”. When it comes to loving yourself are you all in on that aren’t you?

Loving people to life is not for half-hearted people who can only give a half-hearted effort. Loving people to life is for those who are all in to love others as much as they love themselves.

How do you do that?

By being totally into loving God.

Your heart must be totally into loving God. That means choosing God above everything and everyone every time.

Does that describe you?

If not you are not all in.

Your soul should be totally into loving God. That means you follow and obey God when you feel like it and when you don’t.

Do you love God in that way?

If you don’t you’re not all in.

Your strength should be totally invested in loving and serving God. Loving Him means devoting the best of your strength not your left-overs.

Do you love like that?

You do if you are all in.

You are to love God with all your mind. That means you fill your mind with His Word and all your thoughts are to be guided by it.

Do you love like that?

If you are all in you will.

When you are all into loving God you will be filled with His love in your heart, your soul, your strength and your mind and loving people to life will be a way of life.

That’s what!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 24, 2016

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27

“Loving you to LIFE” is the vision statement for FredWes. It is a rather catchy and looks good on our website and our bulletin cover. However, it sets a high standard. If you make a claim like that you’d better live up to it!

So how do we do that?

The answer lies within the Great Commandment quoted by the lawyer in this text.

Loving people to life means loving God passionately and then love other people like you want to be loved. Jesus told a story to show what that looks like:

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor? ”In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Luke 10:29-35

The Good Samaritan literally loved this man to life by treating him the ways he would like to have been treated.

First, he saw the needy neighbor, V.33

Unlike the priest and the Levite who threw a quick glance at the badly beaten victim and passed him by, the Samaritan saw him, felt compassion for him and went to help him. He didn’t just see him with his eyes he saw him with his heart.

Compassion means to “feel with” another person’s pain or misfortune. When he saw the needy neighbor he thought that if it was him lying there dying he would want someone to see his need and help. He loved this neighbor as he loved himself!

Second, he served the needy neighbor, V. 34

Not only did the Samaritan see this poor man but he stopped and came to his aid. The verse mentioned three ways he served this seriously injured man:

·         He treated him by bandaging his wounds after cleansing them with oil and wine
·         He transported him by putting him on his donkey and taking him to an inn.
·         He took care of him once he got him to the inn – physically and financially.

The Samaritan love this needy neighbor to live by doing for him what he would have wanted done for himself.

There is a saying, “Talk is cheap”, but when you out your money into something it is a sign of sincerity. This Samaritan took two days wages out of his own wallet to pay for the needy neighbor’s room and medical care and then left a blank check out of his own check book to provide for whatever else he would need.

Why would he do that? That represented quite a sacrifice!

It’s simple, he did for this neighbor in need what he would have wanted the neighbor to do for him! He loved his neighbor as himself. He love him to life!

But there is one more thing he did for this needy neighbor, he stayed involved with him!, V. 35b

Sometimes it is easier to just write a check and get on your way. But this Good Samaritan was generous with both his money AND his time! He pledged to return and continue his involvement with his needy neighbor.

The most precious thing we can give to another person is time and this Samaritan gave his needy neighbor what we would have loved to have – his time. He loved his neighbor as his self.

Leave it to Jesus to tell a story that perfectly and simply illustrates a powerful truth, when you love people as you want to be loved you love life into them!

But as wonderful as this story is, it was just that – a story. It didn’t really happen. Jesus wanted it to happen and He challenged the lawyer, “Go and do like this Samaritan did!” Or, put another way Jesus said, “Go make this happen! Love people to life!”

As you read this well-known story I want you should take that challenge personally as well! “Go and do likewise!” “Go love people to life.”

Imagine how that could change your life!

Imagine how that could improve your marriage and your family!

Imagine how that could rock your world!

Friday, January 22, 2016

January 23, 2016

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27

So what?

Why should I be concerned about loving people to life?

What would happen if I don’t?

How will I know whether I do or not?

Those are significant questions aren’t they?

In answer to a question from Jesus, a Jewish lawyer quoted this great commandment and in giving this answer addressed each of these questions I posed.

Why should I be concerned about loving people to life?

Because that’s what people do who truly love God. If you love God you will love others to life.

What happens if I don’t love others to life?

If you don’t love others it’s because you don’t love God. If you don’t love God you haven’t been loved to life and you cannot love others.

Jesus said to this lawyer, “Do this (love God and others) and you will live.” Or, you can imply the opposite, “You won’t live if you don’t love God and others.”

How will I know whether I do or not?

I think I answered that didn’t I? When you love God fully you will love others faithfully. If you don’t, you won’t.

It’s clear that just knowing what we should do isn’t enough. Knowing what to do doesn’t mean we will do it. This man knew how he should love but he was only interested in trying to justify himself before Jesus.

The big “so what” in life is loving God with all your being and giving all that you know about yourself to all that you understand about Him.

Loving Him like that allows Him to love you to life.

Loving Him like that enables you to love others to life.

That’s what!