Prepared

Seasons of Life

By Kristin Overman

I went straight into earning my master’s degree my senior year of college. After six years of full-time college I was so ready to be done. I wanted to move on to the next phase of life, get a job, and make money. Now I am a mom of four boys and wish I had more time to read and write. Life happens in seasons.

God ordains the seasons. He made seasons for creation, changes that cycle, constants that repeat. Every summer brings heat, animals store up their food. The winter brings cold, animals burrow and hibernate. Matthew 6 describes how God provides for the lilies and the sparrow. He does not clothe the lily in winter, nor provide food for the sparrow in cold. They have to be where He has made provision. Could the same principle, that there are repeating cycles apply to us as well? Could we experience seasons that are common to us all? I believe a purposeful God has given us patterns and cycles we can predict.

Being aware of these seasons can help us succeed, be better prepared, and skillful at dealing with life. Within His plan is where the blessing is.

Psalm 90:1-2 says, “As for the days of our life they contain seventy years, or if due to strength eighty years…For soon it is gone and we fly away…So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” I believe wisdom is to do the right things, at the right time, and in the right place. When you are young, learn all you can about the Bible, history, and people. Learn to be good at something. Become an expert. Believe me, when you are in the next phase you won’t have as much time. As a young adult build your wealth, work hard, invest in your children and establish your home. In the next phase those kids will be gone. In middle age invest in the church and younger generations. Pass on the wisdom you gained from going through it. As an elder use it all to influence and lead your community.

God’s plan works and it is good!

 

 

 

 

Stephen

By Trey Sullins

A few weeks ago I watched to see who would receive the title of the greatest in college football. The Heisman would go to the one competing at the highest level. I was fascinated by the videos of each player. Film reels did not just start in college, and were not just shots of the games played. Each player’s tape reflected years of playing, and hours and hours of practice time. Laboring in all types of weather, enduring the pain, and staying focused on the prize. The prize of greatness was at stake.

Most of us know we will never earn the right to strike the Heisman pose, but something in all of us craves some kind of greatness. For believers, that craving often comes when we meet or read about a person in their Christian walk that God is allowing to be part of His great plan. They are people used by God to give the gospel to many, or those trusted to go overseas in His name. We read the stories in the Bible of the true legends of faith, knowing what was done in the name of God by men like Abraham, Moses and Paul was nothing less than greatness. It also seems like that one thing that can rarely be attained…. The greatness for God.

In my study to see what the Bible would say about greatness I found myself with Stephen. Acts 6 starts the account we have of this man of greatness. In its briefness, we can see true keys to greatness.

First, those who are great for God make it clear from where their greatness comes. It is clear that Stephen is full of the Holy Spirit. Greatness cannot be achieved alone. No matter if it is greatness for God or greatness in football. When we choose to surrender our lives to God we are filled with the Holy Spirit; filled with His greatness. Never again will we be called to do anything on our own power.

Second, we see that those who are great spend a massive amount of time preparing. Stephen was a Jew, and God used him to speak to the Jews. He was ready for the role God had for him because he had prepared. Stephen spends all of chapter 7 in Acts reciting the ways God worked in the Old Testament. As he gave example after example, it clear Stephen knew the Scripture. He had learned the truth about God from the writings and teachings.

There is no short cut to greatness. God is able to use those who choose to take the time to prepare their hearts for Him. He uses those who take the time to know Him, and there is no way to know Him without knowing His Word.

Third, Stephen teaches us is that greatness doesn’t guarantee a happy ending. A believer who is great for God is not guaranteed an ideal outcome, just like winning the Heisman trophy doesn’t guarantee playing time at the next level or the ideal injury free career. Oh, we can know it will be exactly what God wants for us, but His will does not always line up with what the world would tell us is best.

The believer who finds His greatness in God has to hold on to the truth that God’s plan is perfect even if it doesn’t line up with ours. In Stephen’s case, it cost him his life.

Such a simple formula to write about, yet it often seems impossible. Like the three sitting on the front row, waiting for the chance to hold the Heisman trophy, those who run the race for the true prize are part of a slim crowd. These are the few that understand the prize at stake and what it takes to achieve the title when it is all said and done. “Well done, good and faithful Servant”. (Matthew 25:23)

Listen to The Great Ones sermon series here.

 

 

Preparing for Battle

By LuAnn Edwards

With the recent release of the movie “War Room,” the importance of prayer and my desire to be a “Miss Clara” moved me to search the scriptures for some fundamental principles regarding prayer. When troubles are all around us and our lives are being shaken by disturbing circumstances, we need to be on our knees praying for God’s intervention. It is time to take a stand and fight for what God promised us in His Word. To pray effectively, we must prepare ourselves for battle by building up our faith, walking in love and forgiveness, and submitting daily to Christ, which includes bearing fruit.

Mark 11:22 says, “Have faith in God…” Mark 11:24 goes on to say, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

To have true faith in God, there is no room for doubt and unbelief. We must give ourselves to Him in total surrender and spend time in fellowship with Him. Our unbelief will fade away, and we will accept His Word as truth. We may then come before Him and make our requests known to Him in confidence that He will hear us.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).

Prayer and love go hand-in-hand.

We need a good relationship with others for our prayers to make an impact. Are we walking in love and kindness? Or, are we holding onto anger, bitterness and unforgiveness? If we are refusing to forgive, we are not walking in obedience. Forgiveness is a choice we make showing God’s love in action. Why do we think God will answer our prayers if we are unwilling to obey and forgive?

John 15:7-8 says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

We need a life fully submitted to the Lord to pray life-changing prayers.

Are our thoughts and actions pleasing to Him? Are we bearing fruit through our lives? It is not the eloquent words or phrases we use; it is our daily walk and commitment to Christ, living His Word, which allows us the opportunity to pray and believe our prayers reach Him and will be answered.

There are many other scriptures that teach us how to pray. These include 1 John 5:14—pray according to God’s will, Philippians 4:6—pray with thanksgiving, 1 Thessalonians 5:17—pray continually, and Matthew 6:6—pray in secret. It is time to enter our war rooms and fight our battles on our knees. Are we ready? Are we growing in faith? Are we loving and forgiving others? Are we fully submitted to Christ and bearing fruit? Prayer is a powerful weapon. We need to prepare ourselves for battle before we can fight!

Prepare Yourself

By Karen Polich

Digging into God’s Word, Pastor Trey Sullins spoke about the importance of preparing yourself.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The world we live in is sick and dying. Though we may want to protect and shield ourselves or our children from the world, we are called to engage within this world just as Jesus did. We are called to be the salt and light.

Pastor Trey asked, “Do you know how the enemy works?” So often we see others as the enemy, but the true enemy we battle is Satan himself. He creeps in little by little. He hits us where we struggle, but in small ways until we discover that we are consumed. Satan attacks us in the mind. How and what we think affects what we do. We find ourselves in a questionable place and begin to try to reason away the situation, slowly sinking into the pit that has been set before us. We don’t want to tell anyone we have failed or feel defeated. Our pride keeps us focused on ourselves. It is a battle and often the enemy looks like the face we see in the mirror.

We must take captive every thought. There is no partial obedience to Christ, you either are obedient or you are not.

What can we do? How do we prepare ourselves to defeat the enemy? We need His Word. We need daily time with our God and knowledge of the Gospel. The Truth will shine a light on deceptive things as they come.

Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us clear instructions. We are to put on the armor of God. Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 again. As followers of Christ, we have Divine weapons. Do not go to battle with weapons of this world. At our disposal are powerful weapons that can conquer anything. Those weapons will demolish any false reasoning and will destroy strongholds.

If you find that you look like the world, fitting in and using worldly methods, stop and take a good look. A Christ follower, should be different. We all struggle, but we can be prepared! We must go into the dark places to be the salt and light God has designed each of us to be. Victory is ours. John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God has no equal and Satan has already been defeated. Accepting Christ is the beginning of the journey. Walking in the path God has laid before us and preparing ourselves is how we should live out our lives. Know the enemy so that we can flee from him.

It is our choice. We must prepare and make a commitment. We must be aware. There is always a comeback from the pit. We have God with us to do battle in this world.

Where are you today? Are you prepared?

 

 

 

Prepared

By: Karen Polich

We place such value on being prepared. We plan everything from vacations to what we are going to have for dinner. We plan our careers, our weddings, our lives. We plan for excellence. The question is do we really prepare?

The best athletes work tirelessly to be ready for any situation the game throws at them. They know what they need to do to be ready, to build on their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. We celebrate their success, but never see the endless hours they put into the preparation before the big moment. They always come prepared,  leave nothing on the table, and give everything they have.

That is how we should approach our Lord when given the opportunity to share in The Lord’s Supper. We should be ready to offer everything we are, everything we have. Do we prepare for this in the same way we prepare for the things that occur in our daily lives? Do we prepare with the best we have?

Pastor Michael Cook shared what it means to be prepared spiritually. Our preparation is truly an act of faith. Each small action leads up to something that impacts the days ahead. God has placed us here to be extraordinary. We are here to touch lives. We should be pursuing Him with everything. Pastor Cook shared how we can be prepared.

Six areas we need to look at when it comes to preparing ourselves.
1. Surrender Yielding to God in surrender is the beginning point in approaching Him. We are each unworthy, but made worthy in Christ. (Matthew 16:24-25)
2. Know Him We need to really know Him. Matthew 22:37 says, “Jesus replied; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your mind.”
3. Attitude Many times we drag cultural influences into our worship. We think about our rights, what we like or don’t like. Our attitudes and thoughts should be one of a servant. (Romans 12:2)
4. Words/Communication How clean is our communication? Not just our words, but every way we communicate in this fast paced world. Are we ready to account for every empty word? (Matthew 12:36)
5. Relationships The relationship we have with our Lord and with others matters. We should love the unlovable and be willing to restore what is broken. (John 13:34-35)
6. Search our hearts We need to search our hearts for the sins laid out biblically, but also for the sins of omission. The sins we commit because of something we have been called by God to do that we don’t. (Luke 6:46)

Preparation can bring us closer to God. We have every opportunity to prepare ourselves in everything we do. If we are simply willing, we can prepare ourselves to come before our Lord with great reverence and intimacy.

He is waiting. Are you prepared to approach Him?