Have you ever noticed how many times you see the word love throughout the Bible? I honestly don’t think that we take it seriously enough. What does the Bible say about Love? My favorite verse on this subject is:

1 Corinthians 13:13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I see so many Christians these days trying their hardest to be pure and Christ-like in their daily walk, that they don’t realize the importance of love. Why is love so important in getting back to the basics of faith?

When you look at the verse above, you’ll notice that love even trumps faith in importance. The reason is this, without a loving heart, faith and hope can’t live. The basis of the Christian faith is the ability to turn a bitter heart into one filled with love. It’s like trying to grow a new lawn, if the ground is hard and dry (without love), then it’s not going to grow. If we water and fertilize the ground (like love), then the grass/faith, will grow abundantly.

If you want to restore your walk with Jesus, then learn to love again. A loving heart is the perfect foundation for the fruit of the Spirit to grow. It releases anger, envy, hate, jealousy, etc. The best thing about cultivating a loving heart is that it makes your walk with Christ a lot easier.

Today we should all pray for a more loving heart. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to fill our entire body with love for God, family, and friends. I assure you that when we become wrapped up in love, we will feel a lot better.

Yesterday I focused on the at of recommitting ourselves, our lives, to God. How did you do? Today our focus is going to be on something a lot more difficult, self-discipline.

sin

Wouldn’t it be nice if resisting sin, and keeping God’s commandments, were as easy as sin? It seems so easy to fall into the traps that the Bible warns us about? I’ve often prayed that it would be easier to be more disciplined in the ways of the Lord, but it’s always been hard for me. I’m sure it’s the same way for everyone. We see great leaders of the Bible that struggled with it on a regular basis. We see than many lost that battle, but were later used for greatness. So how do we win the battle against what seems gratifying to the flesh? What is it that we can do to win the constant fight? For me, I like to remember this powerful verse.

Hebrews 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

The most important step in self discipline is to catch yourself before you fall. Take a look at the verse above and memorize it. Remember that as you are struggling with temptation that the Word of God tells us that it will be “Painful” to resist, but later, we will receive the fruits of righteousness. I liken this to when you first start working out. The pain the first day is enough to make most people quit, but the ones who do stick it out eventually find that it becomes as easy, and as normal, as breathing. This is how we need to look at self discipline. The first few times it will become hard as working out. It will be painful to wean ourselves off of the ways of the world, but eventually it will become second nature to us. Our Spiritual muscles will grow stronger each day. We will become Spiritual Superstars.

Let’s pray for more discipline today. Let us pray for each other as well as ourselves. Never forget that the pain you endure for Christ today will be rewarded with an eternal life of joy. So much joy that the pain will be forgotten. Be well today, and let me know if you need anything.

Yesterday was one of those days where you look around and realize that it’s time to take a step back to the basics in my relationship with God. There wasn’t anything real dramatic that brought me to this conclusion, but I felt like my book knowledge of the Bible wasn’t giving me the satisfaction that I needed in my relationship with Jesus. My sermons were becoming more of a showcase for my knowledge than helping people to reach a deeper relationship with our Lord. So this morning I start the first in a 30 day series of strengthening our ties with God through becoming like children again (Matthew 18:3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.)

This idea was originally going to be a personal experience, but when I posted it on Facebook, I had a number of people ask to join me, so here we go. Please note that we are not going to go especially deep into the verses because I feel that the depth to which you go should be a personal journey led by the Holy Spirit. This will merely be a guide to deepening your roots with the lord. Having said that, let’s begin.

Please feel free to ask others to join in by sharing this post, and also feel free to reply to it and post your thoughts and prayer requests.

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Today we are looking at the study of recommitting our lives to Jesus. It’s not that we have become separated from the Lord, it’s more of a focus on getting back on track in our spiritual lives.

Nothing in this world will mess our lives up more than sin and distance from the Lord. We allow one little sin to gain foothold in our lives, and pretty soon Satan is in full control and we start spiraling out of control. Sometimes it’s not that dramatic, Satan lies dormant just waiting to use that sin against us in a moment of weakness. Either way, that sin is there, and we need to root it out, and we’re usually not strong enough to do it on our own. This is where we need to get back in tune with the Lord, and that starts with confessing that we are sinners and need Him to rescue us.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Psalm 51. Yip, the entire passage. It reminds me that I am a sinner, but that doesn’t mean that I am without hope. It means that although we hurt God with our transgressions, He loved us enough to give us a second chance by offering His beloved son as an atonement for our sins. Would we be willing to give our children as a sacrifice so that someone else could live? That is the depth to which God loves us. He is bigger than our problems, and His love is more profound than we can ever understand.

I have posted Psalm 51 below, and invite you to meditate on it today. Recite is over and over until it hits home. Take your favorite part of it and let it sink in. the first part of getting back to the basics of our faith is to confess our sins, and allow the blood that Jesus shed on the cross to wash you clean. Holding ourselves captive to the Word of God is the first step in freedom. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

1Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion

blot out my transgressions.

2Wash away all my iniquity

and cleanse me from my sin.

3For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is always before me.

4Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight;

so you are right in your verdict

and justified when you judge.

5Surely I was sinful at birth,

sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;

you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

8Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquity.

10Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11Do not cast me from your presence

or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

so that sinners will turn back to you.

14Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,

you who are God my Savior,

and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15Open my lips, Lord,

and my mouth will declare your praise.

16You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17My sacrifice, O God, isb a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart

you, God, will not despise.

18May it please you to prosper Zion,

to build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,

in burnt offerings offered whole;

then bulls will be offered on your altar.

A gift of small moments

Posted: August 21, 2015 in Thoughts on God

The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. (John 18:17-18)

It’s easy to imagine ourselves in Peter’s place that night. In fact, it’s even easier to imagine ourselves in Peter’s place AND doing the right thing. We think that if we had walked with Jesus, talked with him face to face, seen him perform miracles time and again, that we wouldn’t have denied him. But here is the truth lurking below the situation: in that moment, for Peter to admit that he was indeed Jesus’ disciple meant probable imprisonment, even death. The truth is, we deny Jesus for a lot less every day.

Remember last week at work when your co-workers were gossiping about someone and you didn’t excuse yourself but joined in instead? Remember when you felt the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart to share the Gospel with a friend or relative when he or she had completely opened up to you, but you said something like, “It’ll all work out, don’t worry”?

Whatever your moments of denial have been it’s important to remember them, not so you feel condemned, but because they are gifts when rightly considered. They are humbling gifts because we get a glimpse of the fear that lives in our hearts and realize that at anytime we too can deny Jesus. It’s not a fear that only rears its head when our life is in danger, it’s a fear that explodes when even the smallest part of our “reputation” is on the line. Examine your heart with the Holy Spirit today and look for those times where you’ve denied Jesus by either your words or actions and count them as a gift, because you won’t repeat them in the future.

Let’s repent of our denial and stay committed to Jesus even in our fear, as he is ever committed to us.

Suffering through a disgrace

Posted: August 17, 2015 in Thoughts on God

Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:41-42 ESV)

Have you ever suffered disgrace? Maybe there was a time when you were humiliated for your faith? Or, maybe you had an experience where you tried to do something for God and instead got extremely discouraged when things didn’t go according to plan. This is what happened to Peter and the other apostles when they stepped out in faith to perform miracles in Jesus’ name. Instead of receiving praise for the miracles they had done, they were arrested and flogged (probably a little worse than the disgrace you and I will ever suffer). It is the apostles’ reaction to this disgrace that encourages us. Not only did they rejoice in suffering but, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopping teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”

In these times of discouragement, we must remember to continue to fight the good fight. Day after day, we must never stop teaching and proclaiming what Christ has done for us. It is from God alone that we receive fulfillment and he is greatly pleased when we commit ourselves to Him at times when we are in the depths of despair. True fulfillment comes from living a life for Christ, no matter what the cost. Let us remember to continue to proclaim His good news everyday!

When you experience discouragement, do you have what it takes to wake up the next morning and continue to proclaim Jesus?

Pray on, Press on

Posted: August 16, 2015 in Thoughts on God

The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. (Exodus 14:15 ESV)

Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt.  God had just performed mighty works and shown his power on their behalf.  He called Moses to lead these people, the Israelites, but, Pharaoh and his army were pressing down on them, just as God had told Moses they would (Exodus 14:1-4).  At this point, Moses had a choice: move forward or stop and pray.

Often times we face these same choices in life.  We feel as though God has called us to do something for Him and as we begin that journey, we encounter roadblocks just as the Red Sea was for the Israelites. But as witnessed here, when we come against barriers and opposition, we can stop and question what God has called us to do. We often mask this in more prayer rather than following God’s calling in our lives. Who knew the very sea that appeared to be their death sentence would actually be God’s instrument of victory? Our scope and perception is limited. Fortunately, we are called, guided, and equipped by a God without limitations. Remember that His ways are not our ways and that this is a good thing (Isaiah 55:8-9)!

Is God calling you to stop asking and start moving forward?

Originally posted on Pastor Mike Says:

home churchThere are a lot of people who are a little tired of the institutionalized Church. Some say that they have gotten a little to rigid and opulent. I agree to an extent, but certainly don’t think that’s the case in all, or even most, Churches. Having said that, many people are looking to home Churches to find a more personal relationship over a corporate style of worship. So there you go, now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of home Churches.

Churches in the New Testament era were indeed small assemblies that met in homes (Acts 2:46; 20:20). So the practice is certainly biblically allowable. There also seem to be some good reasons to have house churches as opposed to large gatherings: greater intimacy, stronger relationships, more comfortable worship, single mindedness, etc. The fact that large churches usually have their own small groups that…

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