Month: July 2017

Praise be to God

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:6

The Bible is full of God’s promises. He is with us always. His is a strong tower. He goes before us. His love will never fail. Thankfully the list goes on.

We can live in full confidence of a God who is everything we could ever need. What if we slowed down and spent time simply praising Him? Regardless of whatever circumstances we face today, He is the same and His love for us knows no limit. The Bible is packed with scripture focused on His praise. Here are 10 scripture references from Psalms for us to declare today.

“I will sing to the Lord of my life. I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” Psalm 104:33

“Great is the Lord and mostly worthy of praise. His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3

“The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.” Psalm 45:7

“My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praise all day long.” Psalm 35:28

I call to the Lord who is worthy of praise and I am saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:3

I will exalt the Lord at all times. His praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord, let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together.”Psalm 34:1-3

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3

“In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust, I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:4

“I shout with joy to God, all the earth. Sing the glory, make His praise glorious. Say to God, how awesome are your deeds. So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.” Psalm 66:1-4

“Open my lips Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.” Psalm 51:15

Today, pray and spend time with Him, giving Him all of the praise and glory. Let His love pour over you, precious child of God.

 

Hide and Seek

By Karen Polich

Are you a seeker or a hider? Jesus’ teaching, using parables, will help us understand where we are and how to make a choice about our obedience.

Parables are meant to point us in one direction, towards God. Dr. Trey Sullins continued, The Parables of Jesus, with Hide and Seek. Stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin take us to the core of what Jesus is asking us to decide. (Luke 15:1-10, Matthew 18:12-16) Listen to the podcast here. Will we hide, not choosing to follow Jesus? When we know Him, will we seek Him and the lost?

Jesus has a heart for the outcast. He calls the righteous to go out and find the lost. When they are found – rejoice! Just as He teaches in the parables, the love of God is huge. He will always seek us out when we are lost. When we know Him, He equips us to seek after the lost for His name’s sake.

Who are the lost? The lost are those who are without a relationship with Christ, a follower who has wandered off or a follower hiding from God. The righteous know God but aren’t doing anything about it or are doing good deeds but missing something related to doing the right things.

“You are either lost and need to be found or found and need to go find the lost.” – Dr. Trey Sullins

God’s Word tells us to go and do, so we need to get up and get going. We can choose to be found; we can choose to seek the lost. Anything less is disobedience. Seek God’s will in your life.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We don’t have to rest on our understanding. When we seek God’s will in our lives, He will direct us. Trust Him. Today, make a choice. Make the decision to follow Christ and to do what He has called you to do.

 

 

Living Water – Part 2

By Gerry Wakeland

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-40 NKJV

“The Church is not about you. In fact, the Church may be the only institution in the world for non-members.”   -Dr. James Draper

Listen to the podcast here.

This is the supposition that Dr. James Draper placed before the fellowship of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church in his message. The church is not a club you join, where you pay membership dues and anticipate benefits in return. Yet, in today’s benefit driven society, that’s what many expect.

“What’s in it for me?”, is a common question in our world today. Based on the words of Jesus found in John 7, Dr. Draper presented two answers.

Provision is offered. Jesus calls out to the thirsty and says “come.” He is offering to satisfy the needs of heart and life. There is no requirement. The offer is made to anyone, anytime and for any need.

What we must recognize is that Jesus is the only one who can satisfy the need. Is your need pleasure; He can fill it. (Psalm 16:11). Do you lack wisdom? Jesus will give it. (James 1:5) If you need salvation, He’s waiting to provide it. (Romans 1:16) There is nothing you need that Jesus is not ready, willing and able to provide.

Promise is given. Jesus promises water. Not just any water, but living water. Thirst is the most driving passion in our lives and sometimes we are not even aware that we are thirsty. Dr. Draper reminds us that the water is there, right in front of us, but we must drink to be satisfied. When we drink of the water we experience the gift of salvation.

But wait, salvation is not the end, it’s the start.  When we get saved it’s not about us, it’s about Him. It’s about what He has called us to do, share the living water.

If you were to go to Israel today, you would find two bodies of water. The Sea of Galilee in the north is a beautiful, flourishing body of water, fed by underground springs. It is Israel’s largest and most important source of drinking water. The Sea of Galilee receives and gives life through its water.

111 miles south lies the Dead Sea. At approximately 1292 feet below sea level the Dead Sea is the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea because of its mineral content.

The Church is designed to be rivers of living water. As both the body of Christ and individuals, we are called to share the living water of Jesus Christ with all who thirst. We are called to be distributors, giving away what we have received.

If indeed the greatest need in our world today is water – living water, then the only question is, will you be the Sea of Galilee? Or are you the Dead Sea. Think about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Water – Part 1

By Gerry Wakeland

Did you know that water is the most critical need of the human being?

Life cannot exist without water. Our bodies are comprised of 80% water. A person can go weeks without food but only three days without water.

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-40 NKJV

Using this Scripture as a foundation, our guest speaker, Dr. James T. Draper reminded us of the importance of reading Scripture in context. He took us into the passage in John 7 and painted a vivid picture of the scene and its significance. Listen to the podcast here.

It was the last and most important day of the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacle. This feast was the highest, happiest and most holy of the Jewish festivals. We would see it much like a large carnival. It was a feast about water.

Each day the temple priests would lead a procession through Jerusalem’s water gate and pour their jars of water through a great funnel. The crowds would cheer. This was an act of thanksgiving to their God. However, on the last day when the priest would start to pour there was no water in the jar? Why? Because it was the belief of the Jews that the Messiah had not come. The lack of water indicated the absence of a savior. The crowd was silent.

It was during this stony silence that Jesus chose to stand up and cry out. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Let’s look together at the significance of Jesus’ words and actions.

In this day and time Rabbis did not stand and teach; they sat. The only time standing was appropriate was when they were making an official announcement. At the moment when the Jewish people were focused on the jar with no water, Jesus was proclaiming Himself to be the water. He was announcing His place as Messiah.

There are only four passages in the book of John where the writer uses the term “cried out.” In addition to this passage, others include the baptism of Jesus, the triumphal entry, and the crucifixion. All pretty significant passages. This gives you some idea of the magnitude of this announcement at this time.

Now that you have a picture of what was taking place, let’s go back and look at the words of Jesus. He was offering an invitation. An incredible, amazing, wonderful, marvelous invitation. “Come to Me and drink.“ Come and receive the gift of salvation.”

A gift…He was offering them a gift, the greatest gift of all. And all they had to do was receive it.

What about you? Have you received the gift of salvation? Have you drunk of the living water? Water is vital to our life here on earth. Living water is essential to our eternal life.

Don’t delay. Receive the gift. Open the gift and enjoy the gift, today and forever.

 

Dealing with Discouragement

By Ty Haguewood

I have refrained from writing on the topic of discouragement for two reasons. First, I still struggle with discouragement. Second, total transparency scares me. Neither reasons are good enough for me to not write this.

Discouragement is a silent assassin that creeps in when you least expect it. I am not sure about you but it seems that discouragement doesn’t care if the circumstances in your life are good or bad. Most of my discouragement shows up when my circumstances are going well.

The past year has been one of the greatest years of my life. The ministry I am apart of is healthy and growing, my friendships are thriving, and I am healthier than I have been in awhile. Things are going well but that hasn’t stopped discouragement from creeping into my life.

I have been discouraged on some of the greatest days of my life… Let’s just say I hate feeling discouraged.

How can a person move forward if they are feeling discouraged??

I am going to give you some things that help me get through my own discouragement.

Seek the Lord

Isn’t that a given?  In theory, I think most Christians, would say we should seek the Lord. How often do we run from God or try to take things into our own hands when things turn negative? We try to find solutions outside of the Lord and fail miserably. Listen, the Lord desires for our delight to be in Him. Ultimately, God is the greatest source of encouragement. It changes things when you know and believe that on your worst day, in your worst mood, in your darkest state, God loves you more than you can imagine. God should be the first person we run to not the last.

Self-Awareness

There is little hope for moving forward if you cannot identify the things that trigger discouragement in your life. If you cannot identify these triggers, it becomes difficult to seek encouragement. Why? How can you know what to pray for or seek advice for if you don’t know what is causing discouragement in the first place? If self-awareness is something you struggle with, I recommend keeping a journal. Write about the discouragement and try to find common factors that seem present every time you feel discouraged.

Community

Surround yourself with people that you can be honest with you. People that will be there when you are feeling discouraged. Be around people that encourage you as a person.  People that push you to Christ in all circumstances.

I wish I could tell you that discouragement or dark days are gone. The truth is pain still hurts, discouragement still creeps in, and darkness still clouds. The hope for the believer is not a superficial promise to get happier but rather an eternal satisfaction in the Lord of All. We have hope.

Confident Living

By Karen Polich

A solid foundation means we can live in complete confidence. It means we can walk with assurance all the time.

At the suggestion of Dr. Sullins, I placed a rock on my desk this week and started to think about my foundations. (You can listen to his message on foundations here). I found myself in 2 Corinthians and was reminded of God’s great power. I came back to the following post that first appeared on Beyond First in 2016.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians (NT8)

This isn’t shaky ground. We can walk through life with the confidence that comes from God. Yet, why do we often sit in worry and fear? Of course it is easier to live with confidence when the path is smooth, but God has called us to be used in His kingdom regardless of circumstances. God chose to fill us with His mighty power.  We are “jars of clay”, fragile and sometimes broken, the perfect place for Him to shine.

We can choose to set our life on the foundation of Christ’s sacrifice for us and approach each day with the full confidence that comes when we truly live by faith. Great season? Faith. Crushing season? Faith. Serving Him in all things? Faith.

This is what sets us apart. Living by faith is what opens doors for others to see the glory of God. His light shines through us when we focus on Him. Paul did not refer to “jars of clay” because of their strength. He referred to them because though fragile, they served a great purpose for what filled them.

List the ways you have seen God work in your life and share them! How has He shown His strength and faithfulness? You might be the encouragement someone else needs today.

Have faith and choose to live a life filled with confidence. It is God who works through us in all things. What better foundation could we ask for?

 

 

 

 

 

Foundations, the Wise Man & the Foolish Man

By Karen Polich

Building a firm foundation is not cheap or easy. It takes time. It requires an investment. We must seek God, spend time with Him and follow what He says. A strong foundation readies us for life’s storms. It prepares us for whatever lies ahead, grounding us in His truth and grace. If we wait until the storm is raging, it’s too late to lay a foundation that will last.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Matthew 7:25-27

Sunday Dr. Trey Sullins began teaching on Jesus’ parables. What can we learn to live a life built on the Rock? Listen to the podcast here.

Are you prepared? Have you put your faith and trust in God? Jesus taught not everyone who hears these words will listen. There is a simple difference between the wise man and the foolish man. The wise man hears the words and puts them into practice. The foolish man hears the words and does nothing.

What a difference our choices can make!

In order to have a firm foundation, Jesus must be the center, the cornerstone of life. If He is not, we will fail. – Trey Sullins

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. Luke 6:47-49

The wise man heard and did what Jesus said, building his foundation on God and His promises. He is not easily swayed by circumstances. The foolish man heard, did not listen and act on Jesus’ words, putting his trust in people, gathering things on earth.

There is a warning in this story; not if a storm is coming but when storms come. Our foundation is everything. If you don’t have Jesus as your foundation, wait no longer.

Today’s challenge: Firm up your foundation. Hear the words of Jesus and live like the wise builder. Invest in God’s Word, focus on His journey for your life and keep Him at the center.