Month: September 2017

Praying for Growth and Momentum

By Karen Polich

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

As Christ followers, we should seek growth in our lives. It doesn’t happen without our choosing to be intentional in our relationship with Him. Corporate prayer for Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church over the past weeks has been a blessing, showing how His people seek Him with a fervor and passion for His will. Baptisms, new members, growth in the attendance of ministries and personal growth of His people are all reflections of the work God is doing at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church.

God is not stagnant. He is ever moving, constantly active, and faithful to complete the works He began.

It is something inspiring to see at AFBC. In a season of change, God remains steadfast. His promises never fail and He has called us to bear fruit.

Our prayer focus for the next week is one of growth and momentum for the work God is doing. Praying for our church in these areas shows hope for things yet to come and gratitude for the work He is doing now. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1a

Is your life reflecting this? Are you rejoicing over what God has done in you as you ask Him to continue to grow you in new ways? “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) When we choose to abide in Him and seek His will, we will bear fruit worthy of His Kingdom.

Over the next week, pray for God’s plans in your life. Ask Him to use you and see where He leads.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Praying for our Pastors

By Karen Polich

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only… James 1:22

Pastors take on role after role to serve others. They teach, preach, counsel, lead, disciple, pray and worship; that’s just on a Sunday morning.  On “quiet” days, hours are spent seeking God in the Word, making hospital visits, working on budgets, and meeting need after need of their congregation. What can we do to help them keep their hearts renewed? We can pray.

We can embrace praying for our pastors and staff with eagerness. Knowing people are praying lightens burdens and multiplies joy. The pastors and staff at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church pour themselves into service, giving their time and talents to answer God’s call. We need to pray for them with a fervor that ignites passion and purpose, not just in the hearts of the staff but in the hearts of the congregation.

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Luke 18:27

God is at work, building up His Kingdom. We have the opportunity to seek Him and ask for His guidance and strength for those who serve Him and lead the church. Take time to pray over the next week for the pastors and staff as they live in obedience to His call.

Here are some ways we can pray for our pastors.

  1. Intimacy with Christ. Ask God to strengthen their relationship with Him. Pray for the opportunity to worship and grow closer to the Lord. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
  2. Pray for leadership grounded in Truth. Ask God to give them protection and time to grow together. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
  3. Pray for the opportunity to refresh and refuel. Ask God to grant times of rest. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
  4. Pray for discernment and the wisdom that can only come from God. “For the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

Make praying over those who serve a priority this week. God will continue to do great things as we seek Him.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, What Do You See?

By Karen Polich

Right now we are all reflecting something. The influences in our lives pour out onto those around us. Despite the influences of the world, we can choose to reflect Him. Who or what are we reflecting?

Sunday’s sermon, delivered by Steve Freeman reminded us that we have a choice when it comes to what we reflect. He gave us three things we can do to shine His light. Listen to the podcast for more.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:19-27

Pursue God’s desire for your life. Spend time with Him, studying His Word. Be kind and slow to speak. Encourage others. Love them and bring them into your world to see Christ. God desires for us to love our neighbor and love Him. He calls us to be consistent in these two areas.

Be the real deal. We should be a mirror of His love for us. We need to be consistent in our behavior. Jesus is the perfector of our faith. Seek Him.

Talk is cheap. Action means everything. How often do you help someone who can give you nothing in return? We have the power to change lives for eternity.

Today, let’s choose to be intentional about the reflection others see in us. Shine His light right where you are. It might be the only source of Him someone else sees.

 

Seek Wisdom

By Evan Anderson

God has promised His people that He would never leave nor forsake them. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Time after time He has proven Himself faithful to them, even amid trials and tribulation.

James writes to a scattered people during their trials and oppression with the purpose of encouraging them in their pursuit of faith. He writes this, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:7) James tells these people that when they are lacking wisdom, they need to run to God.

We will all face trials and oppressions. As disciples of Christ, when we lack the knowledge of what to do, we are called by God to run to Him in dependency and security.  This wisdom of God that He promises to all who ask Him is founded not from a place of human intelligence, but from a place of submission.

We are not called to be wise in our own self, we are called to be submissive to the one who is all wise and sovereignly in control. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction”. In addition, Proverbs 3:7 tells us, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” The wisdom we are given by God drives us more to dependency on God, not to self-glorification. God is the source of wisdom, we are not.

Know that when you ask God for wisdom in difficult situations, God will freely give it for the betterment of your soul and sanctification.  God has given us His Word and every ounce of wisdom from God should stem from the Word of God.  God’s wisdom from His Word helps direct and inform us on how to live.

We may not always be gifted with the understanding of why life has taken a dramatic turn, but God’s wisdom informs us on how to take that turn in a way that pleases and glorifies Him.

During this season in the life of our church, we desperately need to devote time to pray and ask God to grant wisdom to our leaders, pastors, teams, and everyone within our church body.  We need to dive deep into God’s Word expecting Him to draw us closer to Him, and to grant us the wisdom to make the choices we need to make today. All of this is said because only a wisdom that comes from God will truly enable us to endure our trials with joy and humility.

 

 

I Choose Life

By Ty Haguewood

The call to follow Jesus is not a small call. It is a call to abandon yourself and surrender completely. The real question is, “Why should I surrender?”

I mean seriously.

I want to give you a working definition of what surrender looks like for the Jesus follower. Are you ready?

Our call to surrender, or self-abandonment, is a call to leave the shackles of sin and death and finally be free to run to the Author of Life.

The call to follow Jesus is not the call to follow a list of rules and guidelines hoping that you somehow make it out with more good deeds than bad so you can get into heaven. No, it’s quite the opposite.

The call to follow Jesus is simple. It’s ultimately the call to choose life and we have help. Now, we must look at a few different things here.

A Right View of Jesus

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”  Hebrews 1:1-4

We have not been called to follow a good leader, preacher, teacher, or humanitarian. We have been called to follow the Lord of All. We must have a right perspective of Jesus if we are going to rightly follow Him. Understanding that we follow the Author of Life, gives us more confidence in Him giving us Eternal Life.

Jesus is Lord. He inherited a seat at the right hand of God through sacrificing His life to give life to all those who would believe. Jesus calls us to abandon all things that have no eternal worth to surrender to the only thing that can offer eternal worth, namely Himself.

It is through His name that we inherit eternal life. It His through His name that we are saved. It His through His name that we experience freedom. There is no hope if there is no Jesus. He made a way when we had no way. He loved when we deserved condemnation. He laid down His life to bring us to Himself.

A Right View of Surrender

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Titus 3:4-7

I want to focus on the words “regeneration” and “renewing.” These are two different things. We have regeneration which is that God creates new life when a person believes. They are no longer who they used to be, the old is gone but now the new is here. Believers are not improved versions of themselves but rather new creations all together. We see this in John 3 when Jesus says all must be born again to inherit eternal life. He creates us new.

The word renewal speaks of a continual operation of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. The Jesus follower is created new and then empowered by the Holy Spirit who never leaves them. He sanctifies, convicts, guides, intercedes, and emboldens them.

We need to understand that our call to surrender is not a call to figure out our own way to God. It is not a call to live a perfect life nor is it a call to find your own righteousness. Our call to surrender is a call to allow the Spirit of God to move in our lives. There is never a moment in a believer’s life where God is uninvolved. He is with us. Jesus says it best in the great commission. “I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS.”

The call to surrender sounds horrible if you see it as a lonely, empty path. The call to surrender only becomes sweet when the focus of the surrender turns to Jesus. You are not called to lay down your life in vain. It’s not something that only a few religious do. It’s for all those who understand that the call to follow Jesus is simply the call to choose life. It’s the call to choose the better option. It’s the call to be accepted, loved, and forgiven for eternity.

We must remind ourselves, when given the call to surrender, that Jesus is simply calling us to Himself.

Jesus is worth more than what I am called to surrender. I choose life.

Listen to the podcast.

Patience & Waiting

By Gai Gai Anderson

Waiting on anything in our lives is not easy. Living in this “gotta have it now” world, we pay extra just to have our orders shipped overnight. Waiting on God is not something we can speed up if we really want what God wants in our lives.

Throughout the Bible, we see God’s people waiting on God for help, leadership, and deliverance (Moses in the desert, Noah before the flood, Nehemiah before approaching the king, the Israelites waiting for the Messiah to come, Cornelius to hear God’s truth through Peter, Saul after being blinded, and believers waiting for the Holy Spirit to come after Jesus’ ascension). In all these accounts, the people were waiting on God’s will to be revealed or accomplished.

Patience is an integral part of waiting on God. Patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit given when the Holy Spirit enters a life that has received Jesus as Savior and Lord (Galatians 5:22). Patience has a whole lot to do with waiting on God to intervene.  Like patience is a part of waiting, trust is a part of patience.

It is easier to be patient when you trust the person you are having to wait on. When it comes to trusting, God is faithful in keeping His promises. We can trust Him with everything.

Finding a pastor to lead our church is not an easy task. It requires the desire to first let go of ourselves and to seek and trust God completely. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “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.”

We want God’s man, not ours. This means we must wait on God’s timing. We need to make sure we are praying and seeking God during this interim period between senior pastors. “We must pray with a willingness to wait and wait with a willingness to pray. Waiting and praying go together.” (Quoted from Mom’s Devotional Bible, 1996).

Waiting, praying, and trusting go hand-in-hand. Let’s pray daily for the pastor search committee to find God’s man while trusting God to lead them; and pray for all of us to wait on God to do His work.

Be patient. God will come through.

Guided by the Holy Spirit

By Michelle McFadden

Every day as the kids and I are in the car making our way to school we pray. My prayer is always, “Lord, let your Holy Spirit guide my kids today”. I tell them to do what the Holy Spirit leads them to do throughout the day, not just what they want to do. They find it so amazing that the same God who did healings and miracles came to dwell within them when they accepted Jesus as their Savior. It’s always a teaching moment.

Like the children, I am still learning to discern God’s voice and be led by the Spirit of God. It’s something I am studying with friends at work. Through this study, it has become more and more apparent to me how tough it is to recognize His voice all the time. It takes practice daily to listen and be ready. We need to abide in Him in order to even hear His voice.

This is true for every area of our lives. As we await the Holy Spirit to guide us in our search for a new pastor for our church, we all need to spend time with Him listening. The waiting time is just as important as when the answer will be revealed.

One of my favorite Bible characters is Paul. I admire his obedience and trust in the Holy Spirit to reveal answers to him.

 Trembling and astonished he asked, Lord, what do You desire me to do? The Lord said to him, But arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do. Acts 9:6

Right from his conversion Paul had to wait on the Holy Spirit; and was willing to be obedient in the waiting. He waited three days for Ananias to come to touch him. He expected an answer. He knew without doubt the Father would answer.

“If we come to Him doubting His ability to speak, we will have a difficult time listening. So, we must come expectantly.” – Charles Stanley

In Romans, Paul tells the people, as followers of Christ we will be led by the Holy Spirit. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the Children of God. Romans 8:14

There are two key phrases here. One is “Children of God”. We can only be spoken to by the Holy Spirit if we are believers in Christ. Once we have accepted Christ as our Savior then the Holy Spirit dwells in us and can speak. The second is “led”, not controlled. We are not forced to do His will we are not mere playthings. He allows us to have freedom in our actions.

We can trust His promise, answering our call, and leading us to the right decisions or choices to be made. He will lead our church in the direction He wants and tell us the choice of leadership, we must be willing to have full trust and expect His will to be done.