24
May
16

The Will And Plans Of God

Zechariah 4:8-14 (NIV)

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it.Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.

10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”

11 Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?”

12 Again I asked him, “What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?”

13 He replied, “Do you not know what these are?”

“No, my lord,” I said.

14 So he said, “These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth.”

 
Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah and the angel told Zechariah that Zerubbabel would finish building the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. What had once seemed impossible would be a cause for great rejoicing. When the people of Israel and Judah had been carried off into exile, they probably had no idea that they would one day return to rebuild the temple. But God had other plans.
It works this way in our lives, doesn’t it? A door will close to a situation or a possibility and we think, “Well, that’s the end of that!” But God has other plans. We would do well to ensure that we are in the center of His will. His plans are perfect and they never fail. If we are constantly seeking His will, we will never be disappointed. Instead of trying to accomplish our own purposes and plans, let us seek to fulfill the plans of God. He knows what He’s doing! We need to be more like Jesus who prayed, “Not my will be done, but Yours.” Just when thing seem bleak and hopeless, God works His will out for the best. Don’t give up on God or your faith in Him. Let Him accomplish His purposes in your life.
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, I want to seek Your will today. I want to be right in the middle of Your will so that I may accomplish Your purposes and plans. Help me to remember that Your ways and plans are perfect. I may not understand them right now, but I know that You will work them out for  good. Thank You in Jesus’ name, amen.
23
May
16

I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke

We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.” Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them. That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote:

“For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing praises to your name.”

10 And in another place it is written,

“Rejoice with his people,
you Gentiles.”

11 And yet again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles.
Praise him, all you people of the earth.”

12 And in another place Isaiah said,

“The heir to David’s throne will come,
and he will rule over the Gentiles.
They will place their hope on him.”

13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:1-13, NLT)

Romans 15:5 is such an important verse for those of us who are called by the name of Christ.  We need God’s help to live in complete harmony with one another.  It is vital that the church learns to live with each other in harmony.  Do you watch some of these talent shows on television?  Sometimes they will have groups on the show that can really sing in harmony.  The notes are perfect and they sound amazing!  It is so pleasing to the ear and you just sit and marvel at how they can hear and sing with perfect pitch.  Then they will have some groups that aren’t quite there.  There is a note or two that misses the mark.  You’ll wince as you hear a note that is flat or sharp.  Even if it is off by just a half-step, it is kind of painful to listen to.  I wonder if God looks at His church in much the same way.  How pleasing it is to God when we are united and living in harmony (Psalm 133:1)!  It is like beautiful harmonies when we get along and work together to build His Kingdom.  I wonder if it makes Him wince and I wonder if it hurts His heart when He sees His people fighting and not getting along.  God desires unity and harmony in His church.  What can you do today to sing in harmony with others?  We might need to do some forgiving.  We might need to do some encouraging.  We might need to be more loving and patient.  How can we get past the bitterness and the grudges so that we can sing in harmony?  And may our “song” be a sweet, sweet sound in the ears of the Lord.
PRAYER: Lord, we ask today that you would fill Your church with peace and harmony. May we set an example to the world of what unity looks like when Jesus is at the center. We repent of our fighting and bickering and ask that You would forgive Your people when we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
22
May
16

A Family Bears With One Another

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.  This is the second sermon in our “Family Matters” series and is based on Ephesians 4:1-6.

20
May
16

Father Knows Best

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. — John 14:1 (NIV)

It can be so hard to let go of that which we hold so dear.  Jesus told His disciples that He was going to die and they just didn’t want to let go.  He could sense their troubled hearts and said those comforting words of John 14:1.  The word that is translated “trust” is the same word for faith or belief.  Faith and trust are hard.  Especially when we are called to believe that which we cannot see.  The disciples could not see that what Jesus was talking about was not only for their own good, but it was for their own best.  What Jesus was going to endure on the cross was the best thing that could ever happen to them.  Jesus’ sacrifice brought about forgiveness from sins.  His death paved the way for His resurrection.  His resurrection makes our own resurrection possible.

I believe that there are three keys to trusting in God and Christ:

1) God knows what is best — God can see the big picture.  He knows how this whole thing works out.  In the grand scheme of things, God’s sight is infinite and we can barely see past the reach of our arms.

2) God will always provide what we need — God will not always give us what we want, but He will always provide what we need.  This goes along with God knowing what is best.  What we want is not always the best thing for us.  God, who knows what is best, will always provide what we need.

3) God will always do what is loving — God is love according to 1 John.  Day after day God pours out His love on us.  Over and over He demonstrates His incomprehensible love for His children.  It only makes sense that this God of love would only act compassionately and lovingly towards His children.  We can trust Him because He loves us and will always do what is loving.

In what ways do you struggle with trusting God?  Is it finances?  Family?  Faith?  How has God proved Himself faithful in the past?  How does that comfort you and help you trust in the present and into the future?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to remember that You truly know what is best for me today. I want to trust You with my life and my future. Thank You for loving me with Your unconditional love. Amen.

19
May
16

By The Power Of God’s Spirit

Zechariah 4:1-7 (NIV)

Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep. He asked me, “What do you see?”

I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”

I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”

He answered, “Do you not know what these are?”

“No, my lord,” I replied.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

“What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”
The visions Zechariah continue into chapter 4. He sees a very bright lamp with seven lamps and seven channels to the seven lamps. These channels are connected to two olive trees that provide an endless supply of oil to these lamps. Zechariah asks about the olive trees, but is not given an answer until later in chapter 4. Instead, the angel gives a prophetic word to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel. He was in charge of rebuilding the temple. The key to rebuilding the temple is found in verse 6. Zerubbabel would not rebuild the temple by military might nor human power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even the mountains would be flattened by the power of God’s Spirit when it came to rebuilding God’s temple.
We can attempt to do many things in our own power. We can try to overcome obstacles and mountains in our own lives. The fact is that we are powerless in our own strength. We need the power of God’s Spirit to overcome the mountains we face each day. It might be an obstacle of sin. It might be a mountain of fear. It could be a struggle with doubt. On our own, we are weak and frail. But with the power of God’s Spirit within us, those mountains and struggles may as well be flattened. Quit trying to do life on your own. Let God flatten your fears. Let His Holy Spirit level the mountains of doubt. Let Him lift you high above the peaks of doubt. It is not in your strength that you can overcome. It is by God’s Spirit that you can have victory.
 
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to overcome the fears, doubts and struggles in my life. The journey is hard and the climb is difficult. Fill me with Your Spirit today as You flatten the mountains in my life. Let me hear the voice of the Holy Spirit as I face these mountains today. Give me Your strength so that I may have victory and You may receive glory and praise. Amen.
18
May
16

ALL Our Sins

Colossians 2:6-15 (NIV)

6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Look at verses 13-14 of Colossians 2:

 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. – Colossians 2:13-14 (NIV)

I love the last part of verse 13:

He forgave us all our sins… – Colossians 2:13b (NIV)

What a wonderful phrase (Hakuna matata?  Nah!)!  I would like you to focus on one word in that phrase: all.  Paul says that it is while we were dead in our sin that God made us alive with Christ.  He has raised us from the spiritual grave.  It was while we were sinners, not when we were perfect.  Instead of making us clean up our acts and get everything in order, God took the first step.  He reached out to us in grace and forgiveness through the cross.  Through Jesus, all of our sins are forgiven – past, present and future!  They are gone!  They are no more!  The debt has been paid once and for all!  Stop focusing on your sin and start living in the freedom of grace.  God has washed us clean in the blood of Christ and though we were once dead, we are now alive.  Notice the difference – we are no longer dead in our sins.  We are alive with Christ!  Just as He lives, so too do we.  Because we have this wonderful gift of love, we should desire to please God.  How do we do that?  Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV) tells us:

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

 
The fact is that we can live lives that please God and because of His grace and mercy and forgiveness, that is what we should strive for.
PRAYER: God, I want to live a life that pleases You today. Thank You for Your grace, mercy and forgiveness that have saved me from ALL of my sins. I praise You for Your compassion and love. Thank You for saving me. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.
17
May
16

To Love Or Not Sin?

Romans 13:8-14 (NIV)

Love Fulfills God’s Requirements

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”  These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.

In the last half of Romans 13, Paul wonderfully sums up what being a Christian is all about – love.  When we love God and we love others (Matthew 22:36-40), we’ll keep the requirements of God’s Law.  How?  Because when we perfectly love God, we won’t sin against Him.  When we perfectly love our neighbor as ourselves, we won’t sin against them.  I really think that we put the emphasis on the wrong things in our Christian walk.  We worry so much about not sinning that we forget to focus on loving God and others.  We live our lives with a negative emphasis instead of a positive one.  Worry over sin is self-focused, but living a life of love focuses on God and others.  Do you see the difference?  Instead of turning our sight inward, it is much better to turn our sight outward and focus on love.  When we truly become people of love, we will find ourselves sinning less and less.  May your day be filled with so much of God’s love today that it overflows and pours out into those around you!
PRAYER: Father, help me to focus on loving You by loving people today. Help me to focus on loving and serving others instead of worrying about my own sins. Help me to be like Jesus.  Amen.



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