Life Stabilizers – Pastor Dave

February 24, 2012  
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James 1:6 Here are two more life-stabilizers. The first is submission. Our ego always wants to “do it my way,” for my purpose, and my pleasure. The result is a hardening of our attitude which becomes a dangerous resistance to God. That’s why Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another daily.”
Like water in a pond that gradually freezes over in the winter, our will slowly hardens, destroying our spiritual sensitivity. Then the Holy Spirit’s gentle influence no longer motivates us. We feel content and justified doing our thing. It’s not wrong to have your own will, God won’t deliver you from it. But His intention is for your will to line up with His. A great race horse must have the will to win, but it also must be submitted to the rider’s direction or winning will be impossible.
Second, self-sacrifice is critical to the success of every believer. This is the opposite of the worlds view of “get and keep all you can.” Few things sabotage our peace and stability like this philosophy. This is not a Kingdom principle!
Matthew 16:25 declares: For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Psychologists say that holding tightly onto things and people only make us anxious, possessive, and controlling. In Luke 17:33, Jesus proclaims (the Message Bible), “If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms.” You’ve tried everything else, why not try giving yourself completely to God!

Harvest Hands – Tiffany

February 6, 2012  
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When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” (Matthew 9:36-38 MSG)

Jesus loves us so much, he still and always will have a heart for people. No matter how bad we mess up, he will always take us back. Jesus saw our hurting and foolish ways and wanted a better way for us he wants a change in us. And the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings cared so much for us that he commanded his disciples to pray for more leaders, “harvest hands” to help us and guide us.

As I read this I felt the compassion that Jesus had on the crowd. I thought about how he saw every ones hurts and how they were being confused by the world and it touched his heart. Even though some may not admit it, people really want a change, they really want a better way of life. You might be the only one that sees that or knows a persons pain and sometimes all you can do is pray for them. But know this, it’s one of the greatest things you CAN do for them. So just as Jesus commanded his disciples…. on your knees and pray! Having problems praying? Well then pray that you pray. Nothing wrong with praying for your prayer life.

Someone once said ‘evil prevails when good people do nothing.’ Even though you may take a “neutral” stance, you are not neutral at all, you are in fact taking a malevolent stance. Think about it.

Wishy Washy? – Pastor Liz

January 9, 2012  
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A lot of people walk around claiming to be Christian. They believe Jesus Christ died for them, they believe in going to church, and they may even be involved in the church. But some of these people are claiming to be something they are not. I know….A little harsh? Well someone has to say it!!

Let me first start by saying being a Christian does not mean doing what you want and at night laying down your head to say the same rehearsed prayer you have said since you were 5 years old. Being a Christian doesn’t mean living holy on Sunday and the rest of the week being like the world. Being a Christian doesn’t mean only praying when the mortgage is due or the bill collectors are calling. Don’t say you’re something if you’re not walking it out. If you say it people better recognize the God in you baby!!

I’ve been here. I would say one thing, but deep down believe another. I never walked away from God, but there was a point in my life where I was going through the motions. Life wasn’t looking so great, my heart always felt empty and sad and friends were all walking away and in the process of walking they were stabbing me in the back. Friends who claimed to be Christians. I remember thinking — what’s the point of being a Christian if we only act Christian for 3 hours on Sunday??? My desire for God was slowly slipping away, my desire to get in His Word and read and breathe life was slowly slipping away. I felt like God didn’t hear me. I felt like maybe I messed up too much for God to ever hear me or maybe I had to do something to earn back His love and trust.

I remember one night just crying out to God asking Him why my life was going the way it was? Why was another person walking out of my life? Why would He put them in my life for them just to walk away? Why wasn’t He even hearing me!!! I was so mad, I was confused, but most of all, I was broken. That night God spoke to me and He said “unplug your ears and you’ll hear me” I remember thinking — what does that mean? I’m not plugging my ears to you God. I’m doing the opposite. That’s why I’m here, that’s why I’m asking You why You won’t answer me!!! He said it again “unplug your ears and you’ll hear me” So I was like ok God why am I plugging my ears (I probably had some sarcasm in my voice) He said “your plugging your ears because it’s your safety mechanism. You have been hurt by the things people have said about you, the things they didn’t say, or the empty promises that you were told.” I still didn’t understand…if that was the reason, why would I “plug my ears”? He said “the reason why is “because those words went into your ears and pierced your heart. The words that were said you “HEARD” those things hurt you because they broke your heart so it was easier for you to shut your ears and close out people so they couldn’t hurt you, but in the long run you have closed me out too.”

WOW talk about being put in your place in a loving way. haha. I was seeing God as I saw the people who walked away and didn’t listen to what I had to say. I was scared of being let down so putting walls up seemed like a great plan!!! This night changed my life and perception of God completely!!! Since then I have realized that he will speak to me in different ways every time. It may be through the message on Sunday, the students in a youth service, or a cashier who is just doing her job. God will use whatever He wants to speak to us!!! It’s the still small voice on the inside of us (others seem to get it mixed up with their “6th sense.” Little do they know it’s Jesus speaking to their hearts)

Something else as Christians we MUST do is get in the Word!!! That would’ve cleared up a lot of questions I was having!!! For one, I would’ve been reminded that in His Word it says “I will never leave you or forsake you” Hebrews 13:5-6

We have the Word available to us. God has given us the answers to all the questions we have but sometimes we are simply too lazy to open the book or we don’t really want to know the answers. I know I was like that once. I knew what God would say and I wasn’t ready to listen or change. So, not getting in the Word helped me not to be reminded of right from wrong. We want the answer but don’t want to do the work. We would rather someone tell us how we should handle a situation or even do it for us. As the body of Christ we have the keys to the kingdom (Matt. 16:19) in our hands and we take it for granted sometimes. We are in a battle and we cannot fight without the word!! It’s sharper than a two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)

Every question we have is waiting for us to discover the answer. To discover these answers we must get in the Word and digest every little thing so that when these questions and doubts try to come in we can say NO MY GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE ME, MY GOD WILL NEVER PLACE MORE ON ME THAN I CAN HANDLE, MY GOD IS FAITHFUL, MY GOD IS CLOSE TO THE BROKENHEARTED, MY GOD IS!!!

Are you a Branch? – Rachel

January 2, 2012  
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I was reading a devotional this morning and was really inspired to keep going no matter what life may throw at me. So I thought I would share it with you.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”
John 15:5-8

To put in perspective, basically, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. As a branch we are called to fulfill God’s desire for us to be fruitful. Branches reproduce life that’s in the vine. The fruit is being like Jesus Christ, not just in our thoughts but also in our actions. The more we become like Jesus, the more fruitful our life will be.

IMPORTANT: In order to be fruitful branches must be pruned. Things in life seem like they’re going great, then all of a sudden SNIP! We ask God, “Why did you do that!?” We believe that was our best branch and was bearing amazing fruit. Vines need drastic pruning to continue to be fruitful. Gardeners will cut 90-95% of a grapevine in pruning. Pruning HURTS. There’s no pruning without pain. BUT in the pain there is the promise of greater fruit.

If you’re going through painful things, be THANKFUL, you’re only being pruned. And you WILL make it through the pruning, and produce GREATER fruit than before!!!

God Can Erase the Hurt – Pastor Liz

December 19, 2011  
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To love like Jesus loves, to forgive like Jesus forgives, to give grace like Jesus gives grace……We preach it, we read about it and we say we do it but do we REALLY???

When we get hurt do we really love, forgive, and give grace to those people?? I’m just going to be honest its hard for me sometimes.

All human beings suffer hurt in their heart. Sometimes the hurt of your heart comes from the circumstances of life like death, accidents, worry, broken relationships, gossip, or estrangement. What do we do when we have a hurting heart? What we must do is take our hurt to God. God knows you. God knows what you go through. Your hurt is God’s hurt. Remember when you hurt you are not alone. When you hurt you are never alone. What is critical for you to understand is that hurt is anti-God. God is about healing not hurting. God detests pain. Pain is not a good thing. God abhors pain. Instead of a heart full of pain. God wants your heart full of joy. The whole being of God is a healing being. The whole being of God is about making the hurt of your heart go away. In your quiet times when your heart is hurting sit quietly and think about how God is trying to erase the hurt from your heart. God erases the hurt from your heart by holding you, by comforting you, by being with you night and day, and by giving you His kind and tender love every second you are alive.

Forgiveness doesn’t come by osmosis. And it’s not easy. It begins in our will and moves through our body as we take steps to change things. It’s humbling to forgive those who hurt us because there’s something in us that wants them to suffer. Sometimes we really really want them to suffer. But those feelings rob us of all the freedom that’s possible to enjoy through Christ. Our freedom and their freedom will not come until we start with forgiveness.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

Thanksgiving

November 21, 2011  
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Luke 17:11 – 16 “And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.”

Thanksgiving is not a day, a season, or even a meal. But it is our attitude of the heart. These lepers whose fate seemed to be inevitable cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus gave them an instruction. An instruction that they were willing to follow. Verse 14 says, “as they went they were cleansed.” How incredible that must have been. Out of the ten lepers that were healed only one came back to give thanks. How thankful are you? Or are you a grumbler and complainer? Unthankfulness blinds us to the goodness of God.

Let me share with you four things that I believe can help you cultivate the spirit of gratitude.

First of all, learn to be grateful for imperfect gifts. Because that is all you get in this life. Waiting on others to be perfect before you celebrate them, could cause you to wait a long time. Don’t just see whats wrong, look at whats right.

Second, learn to be thankful in times of anxiety and frustration.  Philippians 4:6 declares, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” That is the key.

Third, express gratitude openly and often. Make a phone call, write a note, or send a card. Declare a fast on criticism. Proclaim that to the best of your ability, you’ll not be critical for seven days.

Fourth, develop worship in your life. Open your heart to God. What value is Jesus to you? Begin to thank Him for all He is and for what He has done.

Cultivate these things in your life and God will do great things.

People Turn to God When Things Get Bad – Pastor Liz

November 14, 2011  
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That’s the sentence I heard last night and it sparked something in me. Why do we wait for the worse sometimes??? If we believe in God and believe He can do a miracle because we are going to God why do we still wait until things are soooo bad that we can’t go anywhere else????

A friend of mine wrote this recently about her life —

“For me, there was a point in my life where if life was good, friends were great and growing in numbers, school was going good, I had some extra cash and I felt needed by people I was ok, I talked to God but I didn’t really TALK to God I just said my morning prayer (if I didn’t forget) and went on with my day. I loved him, I really did. But I didn’t give him that time you do when you’re in a relationship with someone. Then one day reality hit me and situations I was in turned bad, friends left, school went downhill and suddenly I was in a place where I never thought I would be. It for one taught me the importance of a DAILY relationship with God and also to not be so quick to judge because that thing you so willingly took time to judge and analyze could knock on your door one day. But I didn’t get really serious with my relationship until a few years back when things got dark, when I was in situations I needed out of but had nowhere to turn because I ALLOWED myself to believe a lie that  it was too big to share, that people would shun me and say “I told you so”. I remember how I finally surrendered when it was too dark to see. When all the avenues shut down. Whether it was guys, friendships or quick fixes.  I was in a dark place that made me finally quit being bull headed and just surrendered. Why did I wait?? Well after thinking about it, I think I waited because I wanted to be in charge of my life because in my mind, it would be so much better. I could make things work out and if they didn’t fix them quick. I was wrong. Things went right when I let God take full control of my life, and when things went wrong I knew who to turn to for Guidance.”

So, why can’t we just surrender to him in the Good times and bad? I have never been more at peace in the “bad” times because I have a real relationship with God!!! When you have that open communication it eases so much fear, it takes away your pain, it validates you, and it can comfort you in the worst of times and can comfort you in the best of times. I don’t have to wait to be at church to talk to Him. I can do it wherever, whenever, and however I want. I don’t have to sound like an English major I can just be myself with Him, I can say words that don’t exist and say words wrong but He gets me!!!

This is an excerpt from a daily devotional I read and it really sums up what a daily communication means. “It’s natural to turn to God when things go wrong-when you are in pain or when you are frightened or depressed. It’s easy to turn to God in times of joy-at a birth or a wedding, or on a holiday. But making the commitment to open your heart up to God every single day is quite a challenge. There are days when we feel moved, and there are days when we feel nothing. All too often, daily prayer seems like a tedious burden. We want our experiences of prayer to be inspirational, exceptional, but daily prayer is rooted in the unspectacular routine of our lives. Daily prayer is a far more pleasant way to achieve the same goal. Taking the time to pray heightens our awareness of God’s presence in our lives. It reminds us that God is constantly calling out to us. We are in a relationship with God every day whether we notice it or not. God is waiting for our response.”

Our deepest praise is not always on the mountaintops of life, sometimes they are in the deepest darkest valleys. But whether we are at the highest point in our lives or the lowest point.  I pray that you will go to God in both situations. I pray that you will have that relationship that only you can understand, a relationship that fulfills every desire you have and can meet you wherever you are. God is waiting for your response.

Why do we push God’s grace? – Pastor Liz

October 24, 2011  
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Why do we try to get so close to the edge of the cliff without falling off? I don’t think we truly understand what GRACE is…

Acts 5:1-11 “But a man named Ananias—his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him—sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God.”Ananias, when he heard those words, fell down dead. That put the fear of God into everyone who heard of it. The younger men went right to work and wrapped him up, then carried him out and buried him.Not more than three hours later, his wife, knowing nothing of what had happened, came in. Peter said, “Tell me, were you given this price for your field?””Yes,” she said, “that price.”Peter responded, “What’s going on here that you connived to conspire against the Spirit of the Master? The men who buried your husband are at the door, and you’re next.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than she also fell down, dead. When the young men returned they found her body. They carried her out and buried her beside her husband.By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with.”

Don’t push God’s grace. I have heard many messages on “the God of the second chance”. I have been guilty in my life of rolling the dice and counting on God’s grace to be there. Let me share something with you today that you MUST listen to. There is NO PLACE in the bible that promises you a second chance.

The messages on “the God of the second chance” are testimonies….NOT Biblical promises. Again, there is NO PLACE in the Bible where God promises you a second chance. However I do believe, that as long as you have breath, you can receive God’s grace. That is where you are playing spiritual roulette. The Bible does tell us that tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. Read the Scripture about Ananias and Sapphira.

This is a warning, a wake-up call to those who are living in rebellion to God’s will and plan for their life. Those who are betting that they can enjoy the fruits of sin and at some point “get right” with God…that may work…you may get lucky. But are you willing to bet eternity on a few moments of pleasure? Let me tell you the other fallacy in that thinking.

Once you are involved in sinful activities, it becomes like quicksand. You may want out, but at some point you realize that you can’t get out. Sin lures you in, like the Venus flytrap, and all of the sudden you can’t escape. You stop praying, you stop reading the Bible, you stop going to church, and you turn off any message of God. It becomes a slippery slope and each day you fall farther, making it harder to escape.

The answer? God sends His Word to you at various times to help you escape. He loves you! He has a perfect plan for your life. This could be one of those times that God is speaking directly to your heart. It is not an accident that you are reading this today. The answer? Run from your sin and run to God before it is too late. The story of Ananias and Sapphira is NOT a work of fiction.

It happened. These were real people. They tempted God, pushed His grace, and lost! God is giving you an opportunity today to turn away from your sin. He will help you. He will strengthen you. Don’t miss this chance, because THERE IS NO GUARANTEE YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER ONE.

I love you and care about you. These are tough words because I know so many are hurting and in the midst of great turmoil. However, I have to be honest with you, because you need someone to tell it like it is. You can count on me to pray, and if I can help, I always will.

The most important question to ask yourself is this– am I really happy with my life, living in rebellion to God? If the answer is no, then find a place right now, and simply ask God to forgive you, repent of your sins, and ask Him to help you come back to Him. He is extending His grace to you today. Don’t take that grace for granted.

Pray for our Leaders

October 11, 2011  
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I Timothy 2:1-2 “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

In the Old Testament Abraham interceded before God on behalf of Sodom. Moses stood between God and Israel and saved Israel from destruction. When Achan sinned, Joshua brought the peoples case before God! We live in a day of dwindling regard for authority and its easy to add our voice to the crowd of critics. Even if you didn’t vote for those who are in power, the Bible says, Pray for rulers and all who have authority. It is simple, it pleases God. We should ask God to give our leaders three things.

First of all, humility, Proverbs 15:33 says, “before honour is humility.” Servant-leadership is the height of strength. It involves the acknowledging of our limitations and seeking God for guidance.

Secondly, our leaders need wisdom. Instead of praying for the advancement of our own political agenda, ask God to give our leaders sound judgement and ability to make wise decisions.

Third, our leaders need courage. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” In the face of global terrorism, financial unrest accompanied with a climate of fear, pray that God will give our leaders the strength to do whats right not just whats popular.

What Are You Called to Do?

September 26, 2011  
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1 Corinthians 9:16 “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”

Only when you accept failure, are you a failure. Anytime you learn from failure, you take a step toward success. Babe Ruth, baseball legend, hit a record 714 home runs, but he also struck out over 1,300 times. During an interview he was asked how he overcame discouragement. Ruth replied, “If I just keep swinging the bat the law of averages says I’ll catch up. In fact, when I’m in a slump, I feel sorry for the pitcher because I know sooner or later he’s going to pay for it.”

How can I embrace my destiny? First, your destiny is a desire that won’t let you go. Second, your destiny will be a joy. Third, your destiny will unlock your creativity. When God called Gideon, “a mighty man of valor”, he was hiding by a winepress. But God wasn’t addressing his present condition, He was speaking to the potential within him.

What are you called to do?

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