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Character impresses people, INTEGRITY impresses God.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29
It has been said that our current generation has had one prominent thing impacting their lives.  That they have been virtually let down in everything and have confidence in almost nothing. 
Why is this?  Because they have yet to consistently see integrity modeled to them.  Think about it.  Integrity, and the lack thereof, might be the most important issue in North America today.  Even in ministry, very few have been so gifted that they did not need this essential quality.
You don’t have to be highly educated, wealthy, talented or attractive to be used by God.  BUT, you have to have integrity.  As far as equipment or tools… considering our lives, God can hit the ball out of the park.  But it won’t go too far with a crooked bat!
Believe this… people will examine you, long before you can affect them!  People will also love you and forgive your faults, as long as you are honest.  That’s the thing we must remember.  Don’t hide your flaws or mistakes when they are noticed.  Admit them and keep it moving.  Integrity is honesty.  Integrity is also truthfulness… that you and I will do what is expected of a man or woman of God.  
Let me encourage you.  Despite what’s going on in the world.  Keep your word, keep pure, stay on your knees and above all else… know that you are empowered to live transparent and honest [Romans 8:12; Galatians 5:22-23].  Integrity is like a rudder on a ship, it seems like a small insignificant piece, but guiding our lives by it we stay on the right course.


God Among Us

Matthew 1:18-21

The heavenly announcement of Jesus into the world was God in pursuit of us from His birth until now.  While Mary was betrothed (basically engaged to Joseph for simplicity sake), she being a very young virgin, was found “with child from the Holy Spirit.”  Just imagine Joseph wrapping his head around this.  The Holy Spirit/God, the 3rd person of the Trinity!  What a gift! But it wasn’t just for her… thank you Mary for being used of God.

Naturally, he considered what to do. Wouldn’t we?  But God initiates the first move from heaven again and sends an angel.  Not just any… but, Gabriel, a messenger of God, whose name means “God is great!”  So… as Joseph considers many things, as not to shame his young fiancé, God finds him right in the midst of his thoughts, thoughts we might even have had and sends him a message.  No worries… I am here.

How could this be?  It was the message of God during Christmas… Do not fear, I’m going to save the world! But how will you do this Lord?  By coming among you and providing hope and peace in this name:  JESUS!  In Jesus, everything Mary needed could be found and all that Joseph considered would be settled.  Because when heaven sent this gift to humanity from God, it was God’s gift to save the world… one individual at a time. 

Blessings



What’s Going on Around Us

Rom 8:18-39 (NLT)

Ever wonder why there seems to be so much change in the weather in recent years?  I mean everywhere not just here in North America?  Well, the Bible has something to say about that.  We are living in the “last days” according to Scripture.   2 Timothy 3:1-17 says this period of time is in reference to our world and how things are going.  Actually the last days began long ago with the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost found in Acts 2:17.  The days of the Messiah was known by this term as well as the return of Jesus.

What do we do while we await Jesus return?  We continue to believe and reach others with hope of them having redeemed souls.  Just knowing that the Bible teaches things that have come to past gives me comfort that nothing catches God by surprise.  He knows about the hurricanes, the Tsunamis, the fires on the west coast and the floods.  He also knows about humanities’ fickle ways to love themselves more than their creator.  Yet, God has made a way for us to be redeemed and to live with Him in heaven.   A place where we don’t deserve. 

Much of what’s going on around us is due to sin’s effects on a fallen world.  In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 the world was made perfect and God was pleased.  But since Adam sinned by disobeying God, sin entered and we are still paying the price today (Gen. 3:1-19).  However, don’t look at your surroundings with doom and gloom.  Be informed, trust in God’s plan for your life and remember… the Scriptures are God’s way of preparing His people of what’s to come!



Pay It Forward

I Timothy 1:16

Recently this has become a popular way of saying pass on to someone else the blessing that has been given to you.  You often hear about people in the drive through of a fast food restaurant  paying for the car behind them.  Someone giving of themselves without any expectation of anything in return.  Many often chose to demonstrate this act under the cover of anonymity.  Not wanting any glory but only the satisfaction that comes with giving (glorifying God through obedience), it is truly “better to give then receive”.

Paul in this verse is not talking about paying forward any monetary item but something much more valuable, MERCY!  He was able to show mercy towards others because of the mercy that  God continually supplied to Him daily. He described himself as the worst of sinners and that God displayed his “unlimited patience” as an example for us to follow. Being reminded of Gods patience towards us makes it so much easier to PAY THAT FORWARD! Make a constant effort daily to demonstrate the unlimited patience that God so mercifully pours out on us! Mercy is not giving someone what they deserve. 

Let God fight your battles, “those that are merciful shall also obtain mercy”. Keep that in mind when responding to others!


Can Satan Stop Us?

1 Thessalonians  2:17-20 
The Apostle to the gentiles found himself in a situation where Satan and his followers attempted to stop the Lord’s work.  Paul was confronted by opposition (the Jews) only three weeks into his visit to Thessalonica; a church that he planted! He had to leave at a critical time in their growth and development. When you’re serving the Lord you can expect some challenges, but Paul didn’t let the challenges prevent him from sharing the truth. He sent a message by way of a letter that would remind the church that, “the gates of hell will NOT prevail” He wanted to come, again and again, but Satan stopped Him? That’s right, Satan is the adversary, eager to stop the saints from GROWING IN THEIR FAITH and SERVING THOSE IN NEED!
Did Satan stop them or inspire them to go about the work another way (perspective is everything)?
The TRUTH captured their hearts even though it was written from a distance. He reminded them and reminds us today that our HOPE, our JOY and our CROWN is in the fact that the Lord is coming back. Enemy… you can get a false sense of victory if you want to, but never forget that JESUS has the final say and we, the church represent God’s GLORY!
God “PRESERVES” US!
Don’t let Satan stop you from fully serving the Lord. If one door closes, the Lord has already provided a way of escape (another way for His will to be done)! What God starts, no one can stop, unless YOU STOP!


Outsider or Insider!

Colossians 4:5-6

Nobody ever wants to feel like an outsider. You don’t feel welcome in the group. There are people who grew up in environments that made it seem as if they didn’t belong. People who have this in their background can spend a lifetime trying to fit in. In these two verses Paul is letting us know how important it is to make sure that NO ONE feels like an outsider on a Christian’s watch. Matter of fact he tells us that we should look for opportunities to bring the outsiders, inside the family of faith

Judgement makes people feel like outsiders, but grace gently ushers them in. God has made available a free gift that we can’t keep to ourselves. Let no one feel like an outsider around you. It is your mission to make every one recognize how special they are in the sight of God. Let our conversation lead people towards the Lord’s table and not away from it. The church is an insider to truth. Make known to the world that God’s desire is that all people would be insiders (believers in Him).



I have a Secret to Tell

Philippians 4:11-13
Does God keep secrets from us? Curiosity always kicks in when people talk about having a secret. Doesn’t even always matter what the secret is. There’s something about being in “the know” that makes us feel special. Thankfully in God’s sight we are “all” SPECIAL! God by way of the Apostle Paul has revealed a secret to us that can dramatically change our lives for the better. It doesn’t matter what your going through. It’s a gift you can’t buy and only Christian maturity will embrace it. This secret is summed up in one word…………………………………..CONTENTMENT!
Wait a second Pastor, you’re not telling us the problem is going to be fixed? You’re telling us that contentment in Christ can give us the strength to endure ANYTHING?! I’m saying that God might just decide to fix it immediately, but even if that is not His will, our salvation doesn’t go away. Our contentment is not based on our situation, but it’s based on who HOLDS our situation. Christian maturity says, “I embrace suffering for the cause of Christ”. That we carry our cross gladly for our Savior and Lord. Is it easy?…No, but the Apostle is sharing a secret as to why he can endure hardship and remain faithful to the cause of Christ.
“Be content”, whatever the circumstances! Jesus is enough! This is a secret you can share!


Peace Please

Romans 12:18   

How can you make peace with someone who refuses to accept it? Have you ever tried to be the bigger person, taken the high ground but still found yourself disappointed? This is a very real challenge of Christian service.  God I’m trying to be obedient to the bible but “they” won’t let me, lol. Is being obedient to God enough for you to rest in His peace? Do we need people to give us something that God has already provided? Matter of fact “peace” is not something that man can provide. It is a spiritual gift according to Galatians which means that it originates with God, for those adopted by God.

Verses 9-21 says that peace is an extension of love. This peace that we all seek rests in the idea of fully receiving God’s love. Fully receiving God’s love enables us to be at “peace“, even when others promote chaos. Perfect peace is not based on what is happening around us but what God has already done in us (peace I give you, peace I leave with you). Receive the peace of God as you move forward in His calling on your life. Peace be still doesn’t only work on the winds and the waves, it also settles the storms in our minds and hearts.



Does God Really forgive and forget?

Isaiah 43:25 (ESV) 

Forgiveness is not always as easy as some make it seem. Just forgive!, why can’t you let it go!, how long are you going to hold on to that? Hurt, betrayal and disappointment can change us into someone we don’t recognize. That seed of un-forgiveness continues to grow and it impacts our relationship with Jesus, our friends and family; even how we see ourselves. How can we release something that seems to have a hold on us that is unshakable? Some say they can forgive but will never forget! Does God forgive that way. I forgive you but it will remain a part of your permanent record. Is that “real” forgiveness?

Thankfully the text reminds us that in Christ we have true forgiveness. Forgiveness that says if you confess to me with a sincere heart and turn from those ways I WILL FORGIVE AND FORGET! What Good News!  No matter what you have done, my love and my grace will wipe the sin away. Not only wipe it away but it is as if it NEVER happened. We can choose to hold on to un-forgiveness or we can follow the example of our Savior. God help me forgive others the way you have forgiven me. Set yourself free by allowing God’s forgiveness to cover you!

 
MB


Seek the Kingdom First!

Matthew 6:33 (ESV)   

Even as Christians there are times when we worry. What can I do to fix this, who can I call on for help, I just can’t get this off my mind.  Some even feel guilty for having these thoughts, but Jesus recognized that “worry” as a part of the human condition. Our text encourages us to seek God in all things, and leave the results of everything to Him.  Could it be that simple, give God our full attention and not look for righteousness in the law (rule following) but in our faith in Him?

He says you can continue to worry but by worrying you can’t add a single hour to your life.  He talks about how people that don’t have a relationship with Him worry about everything. What they’re going to eat, drink, and wear. That people who hold non-christian beliefs are concerned about those things. As believers we go to God not just in crisis but every moment of everyday. Why can we believe that seeking Him first and His righteousness is what’s best? Because He loves us and He knows what’s best for us. If your heavenly Father provides for the birds of the air, are you not MORE VALUABLE than them? How much more will He provide for us! By faith, we don’t worry.

*Pastor Jason Shaw (who’s currently stationed in Fl.) has provided this week’s devotional thought. 

Thank you Jason for this helpful reminder…