Wednesday, November 30, 2016

December 1, 2016

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:34-35

Love is never out of season but the Christmas season is when love shines the brightest. Love is at the heart of the Christmas story because God's love was expressed through the gift of His beloved Son, Jesus.

So, love and Christmas are inseparable. Christmas is so meaningful because love is so powerful.

Love is powerful because it brings significance from the one who loves to the one who is loved.

Love is powerful, too, because it brings security!

When you love someone and they love you back it gives you a sense of security. You know you are not alone in life when someone loves you. You know there is someone you can counsel with and count on if life gets tough. You know there will always be someone who will celebrate with you in the good times.

Security is why God sent Jesus!

Because of God's great love Jesus came to secure your eternal salvation by dying on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He secured your victory over death when He rose from the dead. He secured a personal relationship with you when He sent the Holy Spirit.

In an insecure world, you need the security that comes from loving Jesus and being loved by Him! 

That is why Jesus came at Christmas! You can be secure in that truth! 

God's love brings significance! 

God's love brings security!

Love has a Name and it's Jesus!

Love Has A Name

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again." John 3:16-17 (The Message)

There is good reason that more songs have been written about love than any other single topic. Love is the most powerful emotion human beings are capable of giving or receiving. We all crave it. 

Love can help you more than anything else and it can also hurt you more than anything else.

Genesis one tells us that each of us have been created in the image of God and I believe the need to give and receive love is the remnant of His image hard-wired into our nature.

One reason love is powerful is because it can give you significance and you need to feel significant. 

Your parents play a crucial role in making you feel significant by the manner in which they loved you. But if they failed to do that then there is an even more significant Person Who loves you! His name is Jesus!

That is the good news of John 3:16! God expressed His infinite, everlasting and unconditional love for you by sending His only Son to die for you on the cross! 

Get your mind around that if you can! The most Significant Being in the universe gave His most significant Gift to demonstrate the significance He places in your salvation to eternal life!

Get your heart around that and you will feel the embrace of His significant love!

One of the great gifts of Christmas is the gift of His Significant love!

Love has a name and it's JESUS!

Monday, November 28, 2016

November 29, 2016

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." Galatians 4:4-5

Christmas happened at the perfect time and Christmas means that God's time is always perfect! God is always on time! He has never been late!

I am sure you have wondered about His timing. His timing is almost always different from ours.

Probably Joseph and Mary questioned God's timing. His plan sure messed up theirs. You know that nice big wedding they were planning? It never happened because God's timing was different than theirs.

And remember that census thing when they they had to go all the way to Bethlehem for Joseph to register? Bad timing! Mary was extremely pregnant when that all happened. They had to pack up their bags and hop on a donkey and ride over bumpy roads through rugged terrain. Not a comfortable trip under normal circumstances but REALLY bad when you are nine months pregnant. Terrible timing!

Mary and Joseph were not the only ones traveling to Bethlehem for the census, but they did come far and they did travel slowly. So, when they got to this small town with limited lodging they arrived at a bad time - after everyone else! By the time they went to check in to the inn they where left out of the inn because the inn was out of rooms! Not good timing.

The timing was terrible for Mary and Joseph! There is no two ways about it! God's plan for these two teens was not timed for their comfort or convenience. Were you to have pulled them aside for a moment and asked them, "Hey, guys, what do you think of God's timing?" I am sure they would have been hard pressed to give you a positive answer about God's timing.

But, the important fact is this, they obeyed God! If they questioned His timing they didn't doubt His purpose. They understood that even though God's plans messed up the timing of their plans and caused them terrible stress, they knew there is never a good time to disobey God. That time never comes!

The writer of the Epistle to the Galatians acknowledges that God's timing was the perfect when He sent His Son to save the world. Christmas proves that God's timing is always right. Mary and Joseph had trouble seeing it then, but they know it now!

Are you struggling with God's timing in your life? Have you been waiting for Him to do something that seems overdue? Are you way past impatient and bordering on doubtful? Let me point you to the Christmas story to remind you - GOD IS ALWAYS ON TIME!

Christmas proves it!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

November 28, 2016

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him 'Emmanuel' which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

There is so much good news that surrounds the Christmas story! It tells us a lot of good things about God and how much He loves us.

In two separate accounts about the coming of Christ the good news is revealed regarding God's desire to be with us. He was to reveal Himself to us. He wants to be known by us. He wants to fellowship with us. Amazing isn't it?

We have always known that God is for us. He created us! The Old Testament is filled with the news that God is for us. It it rife with demonstrations of His power and might on our behalf. There is no way you can read the Old Testament and not conclude that God is for us.

If there is someone you want to be for you it is most certainly God!

The wonder of the Christmas story is how a God Who is for us came to be with us. It happened in a most amazing and wonderfully peculiar way! Only the mind of God could conjure such a perfect plan! All the Gods of the pagans demanded that their adherents somehow measure up to their status. But our God, the true God of the universe, humbled Himself and condescended to us!

More amazing than the fact that He did it is how He did it. God called a teen-aged virgin to be the mother of His Son. This child would have to be conceived by the Holy Spirit so He could be born sinless. Why sinless? Because only a sinless Son could become an atoning sacrifice for sin. Perfect!

God, through the mystery of the incarnation, came to be with us because He was for us!

But the news is even better! The God Who is FOR us came to be WITH us because He wants to be IN us!

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God"  John 1:12

God's desire is for us to receive Him through faith in Jesus so He can fill us with His Spirit and transform our heart and mind. He wants us to deliver us from our spiritual death and darkness and lead us into His life and light! When He does that He tranforms our mind and gives us eternal life.

So here is the wonderful news of the Christmas miracle, the God Who was FOR us, came to be WITH us, so He could be IN us - because He wants us to be WITH Him for eternity!

Christmas is "Emmanuel" - God with us! 

That changes everything! 

Will you let Him change you?

November 27, 2016

"Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books." II Peter 1:3-9 (The Message)

There is no reason or no excuse for failing to grow. God has built growth into everything that is healthy and alive. Peter reminds us here that God has sovereignly and supernaturally provided Christ-followers with everything they need to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

In this series of blogs at the end of this Thanksgiving week I have been examining how growth happens:

1) You must know what to know, then
2) You must grow in what you know, then
3) You must know how to continue to grow!

There are many things you can know and many things to know and many things you'll never know but the one thing you MUST know is Jesus!

Do you know Him?

The purpose of learning is to live better! What's the point of always learning but never applying your knowledge to every day living? Wisdom is the diligent learning of life-giving principles and then using that knowledge to improve your life skills.

Are you living wisely?

When you fully appreciate the importance and necessity of growth you will devise and implement a plan to continue growing!

Do you have one?

If so, stay at it! Since God has placed within you all you need to keep growing through His Spirit intentionally draw deeply from that well!

But if you don't I will recommend one taught to me years ago by none other that John Maxwell, one of the best-known and respected experts on personal growth!
The Plan
1) Make it a practice to personally encourage at least five other people every week! Whether it is a phone call, a tweet, an email, a text or a card via snail mail lift others up along life's way!

2) Read a chapter (at least) in the Bible daily! Billy Graham testifies that he reads one Proverb and three Psalms every day thus reading the Proverbs and the Psalms through every month! Imagine how that could stimulate spiritual growth!

3) Read a chapter a day in a good book! If you read a chapter per day you will read a book a month (at least). Leaders are readers!

4) Pray and journal every day! I have found there is something in the discipline of the empty page that inspires me to pray. The additional benefit is being able to periodically review and be reminded how God has answered prayers!

5) Schedule a day alone with God every month! Take your Bible and a pen and your notebook and listen to God in a quiet secluded spot. Write down what you hear from Him and pray for wisdom to apply it. If you can't do a day make it a half-day. You may just find it to be your best day of the month!

If you fail to plan you are planning to fail! It may be trite but it is true!

Are you planning to grow?

Friday, November 25, 2016

November 26, 2016

"Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." II Peter 3:17-18

The aging Apostle Peter gives a stern warning as you might expect from a spiritual father and a concerned pastor: "If you fail to continue growing you will fall prey to false teaching and drift from the truth."

As a Christian spiritual growth is not optional. Just like any other aspect of life what doesn't grow begins to die.

Spiritual growth has three aspects that I am exploring in my message this week:

1) You must know what you need to know
2) You must grow in what you know
3) You must know how to keep growing

In a previous post I made the point that what you must know is Jesus. All spiritual growth begins with a personal saving spiritual through faith in Jesus Christ.
There is little value in knowing anything until you know Jesus.

Once you know Jesus you are to grow in that saving grace and in the knowledge of Jesus. The simple truth is until you live it you haven't learned it.
  • Spiritual growth is a pattern
"Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust. So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus." I Peter 1:3-8
  • Spiritual growth is progressive
Growth happens as you build on what you know by showing it in your behavior and in your speech and in your attitude and actions. In our Scripture text there are eight aspects of spiritual growth that lead to godliness. Each of those build on each other.

Progressive means that growth starts at some point and takes you to a better place. Progress can be measured as can the lack of progress.
  • Spiritual growth is practical
Spiritual growth is evidenced in every day life. You know you have grown spiritually when you find the strength to overcome a trial or a temptation for the first time. 

When you overcome a habit that has bound you for years you know you have grown in your spirit.

Or, when you find the courage to take a stand for Christ at your workplace you know you have grown.

Growth happens when you find the faith to live the spiritual truths and principles you have learned.

Spiritual growth is not a theory or a philosophy it is belief expressed in daily behavior. It is being a doer of the Word not just a hearer of the Word.

What is the evidence of spiritual growth in your life? Can you point to practical examples?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

November 25, 2016

"Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." II Peter 3:17-18

Peter, the great fisherman turned apostle, offers an urgent admonition to the believers in his day. "As you get closer to the final days make sure you grow closer to God!"

Since spiritual growth is a high priority for the believer knowing how to grow is vital!

Growth begins by knowing what you need to know!

Every journey has a starting point and the starting point for growth is knowing what you need to know. Knowing what you need to know is determined by where you want to go! 

Since the context of this Scripture text has to do with the last days before Jesus comes the issue is where do you want to go when it all ends? Do you want to go to heaven or do you want to go to hell?

Where you want your life to go determines what you need to know. If you want to live forever in Heaven then what you need to know is Jesus! If Heaven doesn't interest you then it doesn't matter what you know.

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ", says Peter. And that's where spiritual growth begins because that's where spiritual life begins.

You can't grow until you know what you need to know and what you need to know is Jesus! And you need to know Him as your Savior!

Do you?


“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 5:15-20

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” -- Cicero

“The gracious stirrings of grateful affection to God," in which love flows from the heart as a response to the Divine, is one of the surest ways to discern the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person's life.” – Jonathan Edwards.

For this penetrating insight into gratefulness, I am grateful to Dennis Prager, author of the shrewd and perceptive "Happiness is a Serious Problem."

"There is a secret to happiness,'" Prager writes, "and it is gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that it is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become grateful and you will become a much happier person."

This is a keen observation, and it helps explain why the Judeo-Christian tradition places such emphasis on thanking God. The liturgy is filled with expressions of gratitude. "It is good to give thanks to the Lord," begins the 92nd Psalm.

Why? Is it because God needs our gratitude? No: it is because we need it. Learning to be thankful, whether to God or to other people, is the best vaccination against taking good fortune for granted.  And the less you take for granted, the more pleasure and joy life will bring you.



I am thankful that God sent Jesus to pay a sin debt that He didn't owe to redeem me from a debt I couldn't pay!

I am not only thankful that I got what I didn't deserve but also that I didn't get what I did deserve.


I thank God for a Savior Who I can know personally. As the hymn writer put it, "He walks wit me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own......"


The Spirit is the Comforter who helps me through difficult times. He is the Spirit of truth Who leads me into all truth. He helps me when I pray and convicts me when I stray.


I am thankful that the Blood of Christ can cleanse my sinful nature and allow the Holy Spirit to fill me until His will is my will!


I am thankful that when I am in Christ and when His Spirit indwells me, I can know I am secure in His love - forever.


I am very thankful that God has written a love letter to me that reveals all of His truth and details His will.


I am thankful that I get to share my spiritual journey with others who are saved and Spirit -filled and who love the Scriptures and enjoy serving Him within the fellowship of the church.


I am even happy for the struggles of life. Even though I don't enjoy them I understand their value in developing my faith. The only way to really understand how strong and faithful God is through the struggles of life.


I am thankful for a God Who is the First and the Last - the Alpha and Omega - and everything in between! He had the first word in creation and He had the first word in my recreation. Everything is under His control and He is bigger than life and bigger than death!

How about you? Will thanksgiving be just a holiday or a habit?

I will add force to my life by changing the focus of my life:

-       I will commit to thanking God for everything every day.

-       I will commit to thanking others on a daily basis.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November 23, 2016

"Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." II Peter 3:17-18

Perhaps you have found an old favorite sweater in the corner of your hall closet or at the bottom of an old dresser drawer and when you tried it on you were surprised how snug it was!

What used to be so very comfortable now puts the squeeze on you!

So, what happened?

You grew and your sweater didn't!

Or, when you put on your favorite pair of jeans on Friday after your Thanksgiving feast and you quickly notice they fit much tighter than they did on Wednesday!

What happened?

You grew and your jeans haven't.

It is always awkward and uncomfortable when you get too big for your britches!

I have discovered over the years that those who feel uncomfortable in a growing  church or those who feel as they no longer fit in their growing church do so because they are not growing WITH the church. Their church is growing but they are not growing spiritually. Therefore, it doesn't feel as comfortable as it once did.

A growing church requires and results from the growing people within that church. And ideally, the members of the church grow spiritually at the same pace the church grows numerically.

That is the challenge Paul gives to the Christians in the First Century Church is to grow in grace and mature steadily in the Word so each of them are able to keep pace with their brothers and sisters in the congregation.

Obviously, if FredWes is going to go to our new location at New Post, we will need to grow here so we can go there! So, we will need each of our FredWes family members to be intentional in their individual spiritual growth. If you will grow spiritually as the church grows numerically it is far less likely you will not feel left out, uncomfortable or lost in the crowd.

A great illustration of what I am saying is seen in the story of Heritage Wesleyan Church in Rock Island, IL. There are people in key leadership today (at 3,000) who were leading in the church when it was averaging 25 people!  

How did that happen?

These Brothers and Sisters intentionally obeyed the admonition to grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Growth means living in the Word and then living out the Word. Growth means praying regularly, obeying regularly and staying regularly in the Word.

Are you doing that?

Will you take responsibility to intentionally and regularly grow in His Grace and knowledge here so we will be ready, able and willing to grow HERE so we will be able to go THERE (New Post)?

Will you begin today?

Monday, November 21, 2016

November 22, 2016

"The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." Luke 10:17-19

In these two verses you hear the heart of our Savior as He laments the fact that His people have short-changed the world.

What do I mean by that?

Listen to Jesus' words, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." 

In other words, there is a big potential for changed lives but there aren't enough followers willing to be life-changers.

How does that impact you?

Let's put it this way. Aren't you glad that the person God used to bring life-change to you didn't short-change you?

I am thankful I didn't get short-changed!

God help me not to short-change anyone whom You can use me to reach!

There are a couple of significant ideas implied in these words. Let me unpack those for you.

1) The size of the harvest is only limited by the number of available life-changers

2) God will give you more life-changers if you ask Him in prayer

3) Some day you will have to stand before the Lord of the harvest and answer why you short-changed His world.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November 20, 2016

"But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’  I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Luke 10:10-16

When you commit to the thrill of being used by God to change lives there is a predictable thing that will happen. Those who are not thrilled about lives being changed will challenge you!

If you have been on the planet for more than a few years and have ever tried to carry out God's will, you have discovered not everyone appreciates your efforts.

In fact. if you are a Christian and have never been ridiculed or opposed you must not be doing it right!

Jesus was very honest with His followers as He prepared to send them out. He told them that they would run into people who would be rude and not receptive of their witness. He was preparing them for the challenges they would face as they tried to change lives with His Gospel. He also told them when they get rejected He will take it personally and those who oppose them will be opposing Him! He will deal with them!

Jesus is saying, "You will be opposed but when you are I will have your back!"

When you commit to becoming a life-changer you should come to it with eyes wide open! You will find it challenging! You will be opposed! You will get intimidated!

These seventy-two disciples did!

But because Jesus had prepared then they faced the challenges and overcome them by the power of His Word in their mouths!

God used these faithful followers to change lives despite the opposition and challenges they faced. And in fact, rather than stealing away the thrill of God's will it only added to it!

Aren't you glad these followers didn't cower in the face of the challenges they encountered?

Are you allowing the fear of opposition keep you from becoming a life-changer?