As for me and my house we shall serve the LORD.

Are you following Christ? If you have answered yes to this question then my question to you is simple. Is your life changing from how you used to be to how Jesus wants us to be?
   1st Peter 1:23 "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." That is how we are to be changed and approach Jesus then as a new born child with a mind absorbing His Word, changing our lives to be within His life and living Him out in front for everyone to see.
 
   Words of salvation are easy to say, but the actions of a heart for Jesus is shown out in the deeds we do as James said "Faith without works is dead". Are you alive and is your faith displaying works for Christ?


At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light. Where did you first see the light of God? In my office I have a cross hanging and the cross is made up of two nails attached to the cross. The third nail is not there and in my thoughts I am the missing nail, I mean literally my whole person is that nail. Jesus took our sins to the cross for us, yet until I realized that I had to nail my sins to the cross of forgiveness I was lacking in the true freedom He offered me through His death, burial and resurrection. I truly died to Him later in my life and then I was buried with Him in a watery grave from which I arose into a new life and now I know I am free, free indeed. The cross is the most significant piece in our puzzle of life when we fall to our knees and surrender ourselves to it the hole in our heart is filled and then life truly begins. Jesus was sent to us by the Father for we needed a way to be saved from ourselves. As the great loving Father that He is He sacrificed His best for us, He sacrificed His Son. I believe on that day God surely shed tears for Jesus and for us as well "It is finished" John 19:30 are words of life, hope, compassion, mercy, grace and love. They come with a requirement we are to do "take up your cross daily and follow me." We are all called to be missionaries in Matthew 28:19 "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations" this starts in your house, in your neighborhood and continues where your heart leads. From the cross came the beginning of a new life, I came so you can have life and have it more abundantly. Are you living in the freedom the cross offers you, is today the day of your salvation.
 
With every person we touch we leave and indelible print of your lives in them. Many prints last a lifetime and others seem to collect dust, even if we are collecting dust in their lives we are still there somewhere. Let us choose to leave a valued imprint of Christ. That seed someday may be the one that becomes fertile and their life starts changing because of it valued words have great value.  We are all farmers as we travel this life until the end, some plant, some water but God brings the increase. Let us not become discouraged but let us keep planting and watering. If we are of Christ then we sow for Christ and His kingdom. Matthew 13:37 "He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man." As we travel may we sow good seed for Him for faith without works is dead. 

What is eternal life? What will it taste like? What will it smell like? Eternal life is nothing we can fully understand at this side of the kingdom. The first glimpse will happen for many who have surrendered their lives to Him, when Jesus appears in the clouds, the dead will rise first and those who are alive will arise next. What would it be like to miss the resurrection when you believe you have it. 1 John 3:15 gives us a glimpse of how we can miss it when he says to the church "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in Him." Words from the last original disciple of Jesus the Christ. When we do not or we refuse to forgive we harbor the sin in our heart and according to John that is dangerous enough for us to miss eternity. So what do you say forgive and forget or I refuse to do so. Your choice, choose wisely.

Can you smell it, that special aroma of this time of year? The smell of joy, the smell of peace, the smell of redemption. Yes and let us not forget the smell of cookies, breads, pies and the like. This time of year everything smells a little better, tastes more grand yes it is Christmas. We hear the bells ringing, the choirs singing, the Christmas sweaters and ties. December 25th is a special day for those of us you call Jesus Lord for we know what God has given us so we rejoice over the gift of Christmas morn. As we get ready  to start a new year may we carry over this excitement everyday for Christmas truly should be an everyday event in our lives. Matthew 2:7 "For she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." That night the sky lit up with angels rejoicing and kings bearing gifts for the Savior of man had been delivered.  
 
Black Friday is just around the corner the official start day to the holiday season, only one problem I see with this whole mess is we have taken our eyes of the real reason for the season and that it is why it is Christmas. The world has forgotten without "Christ" there is no Christmas, that "C" is important. I notice how it is Happy Holidays and Season Greetings but yet when it comes to December 25 it is Christmas Day. This is a time of year to celebrate, be happy and joyful and to let the world know with a sounding Merry Christmas. Matthew 10:32 "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, Him will I confess also before my father which is in heaven." Choose wisely my friend is it "Merry Christmas" or to be politically correct with "Happy Holidays".

Martin Luther in his 95 Thesis meant no harm to anyone his hope was to put the church back on the correct path. His thesis was met with harsh words and treatment by the Catholic church and from Martin Luther's words the protestant church was birthed. This is the 500th year of his posting the "thesis" known around the world today. As many will celebrate the holiday known as "halloween" few know the real beginning behind this, now worldly, day. This day started off as "all hallows eve" meant to remember the those Christian saints who have since gone on. Just as Martin Luther posted his thesis to try and get the Catholic church back on track so should we remind people of the truth behind our holidays. May we take time on October 31, 2017 to remember this was the day protestants were born into true religious freedom. 

What is JOY and how do we show this to others. In the church I pastor is a lady who went through breast cancer, six months ago she was diagnosed in remission. The family was relieved that all was well and her life was moving forward. She started a personal ministry in crocheting hats which are delivered to families, hospice centers and those in need to be given to the one who has cancer or to a family members who have lost a loved one to cancer. From the moment I first was able to meet her she always had "Joy" in all and through all. As the time has past she now also does booties for babies that are delivered to a pregnancy center and given to ladies who are contemplating an abortion. What a spirit that surrounds her and her ministries, she amplifies the scripture "Joy unspeakable and full of glory." Through her I have come to add a definition for "Joy" in her life. That definition is Jesus Over You, she displays that love and care for all who come near her and she is one of my prayer warriors. Last week she called me asking for prayer, at her 6 month checkup they found something. This week she informed me she was having to go through CHEMO all over again. I know she has joy and exemplifies joy in just her words, It is all good God is in control. When you look for joy to be in your life find someone who know matter what they are going through turn their life's circumstances over to God and you will see "Joy unspeakable and full of Glory." 1 Peter 1:8

Servitude is something we have choice in, we can choose to do so or not to that is the beauty of what God gives us in free choice. Luke 12:31 "But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you." Many times Jesus was pressed from all sides, many times he was tired and still He did not turn anyone away from what they needed. There were times healing was needed, forgiveness instead of punishment, compassion instead of judgment, kindness in the face of ignorance. Jesus set for the whole world to see, read and to comprehend servitude. Since we have such a great king may we turn to His actions and in return act the same way as He did. With five loaves and two fish He showed how much He cared for all those that were there, have you helped in such a great manner lately?

In Genesis 18:25, Abraham asked a question, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" As humans we shy away from the concept of judgment. Our question seems to be If God loves us so much why would he destroy the world? His judgment comes from our lack of respect and honor we bestow upon Him. We ask what happens to those who have not heard the message of Christ. God assured us all with have heard before judgment will come. We do not fully understand how the presence of evil is taking over all of what we say and do. When I grew up there were no practices for sports on Wednesday evening and definitely no tournaments or games on Sundays. I am not sure when it all changed yet that change indicated how we as a nation wanted to pull away from God. Revelation 19:2 should bring our thoughts back into proper alignment "True and righteous are His judgments." Without the judgement of God, sin and suffering would be unhindered, unfettered, and unending. God's judgment is certain, we can praise Him that all this deceit and evil will come to an end. Just as Noah was asked to build the ark to end the corruption in his time God has set in motion from the beginning to end all evil once and for all. If you believe in Him then you know the Judge of all the world will do right, He is and always will be true and righteous.

Gardens are everywhere and the plants are reaching towards the sky preparing themselves to bear their fruit and be harvested. We are the fruit of the Lord and someday the harvest will come for us, will the fruit you bear be fruit worthy of harvesting? Jesus tells us the tares will grow with the wheat and when it is time to harvest the field a great separation will occur. Matthew 13:30 "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers. Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." When the harvest comes will you be burned or brought into the barn?

Growing season is upon us, gardens are being tilled, plants are being planted. As we look out at the fields we wait to see the first sign of a young shoot of the plant to show itself through the soil. The strength of the plant depends on the nutrients within the soil, that is why we fertilize and water as needed. Watching a plant grow as it shoots up to the time of its harvest we can look in a mirror and directly see how the planting, fertilizing and watering has done for us in our lives to be worthy of harvesting. 2nd Corinthians 9:11 "Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God." What kind of plants will grow from the soil richness you have or do not have in your life? Will you be worthy of the harvest at the time when Jesus returns. We are but farmers and farmers know what kind of soil it takes to produce a healthy crop. My hope and prayer is we are all worthy of God's thanksgiving.

A conversation takes place at the table with friends, a statement is made that come this time tomorrow I will be dead and one of you will make it happen. In unbelief and shock we start looking around at who it could be then within ourselves we ask how does he know he will be dead and how does he know who is the guilty party. Then in stark reality inside the question comes, Will it be me? The night, the last supper, all 12 of the disciples asked Jesus one by one "Is it I?" When it came to Judas turn the deceiver who did his deed in the dark was brought into the light. Have you accepted Jesus? If so, then what is in your dark closet that needs to be brought into the light? If you have hidden secrets then "Is it I would be answered the same way as Judas received his answer. Ask for forgiveness, repent, stop crucifying Jesus again and again. Luke 11:35 "Take heed therefore that the light which is in you be not darkness."

Have you ever become frustrated, I mean the kind of frustration that just makes you want to scream? When storms come our way, we often forget some of the most important promises that God made. There is one that comes to mind from Hebrews 13:5 "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Today is Valentines Day you know the day when you are supposed to remember that special someone in your life. Faith is that special someone to all of us for it is through faith we find the unending love God has for us. A love that travels with us to the tops of mountains and carries us through the deepest, darkest valleys. God meant it when He said "I love you this much as they spread the arms of His Son and nailed His hands to a cross. He has never left us nor forsook us for His love is never ending. Do you feel like screaming today, instead how about thanking God for carrying you through the past, present and future frustrations. All we have to do is cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us.

"...and give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." What does it mean to take up the cross and follow me? There are many times when God gives us opportunities to take up the cross and serve Him in many simple ways.  Here is an example of how. I am looking outside my window and the snow is falling, the wind is blowing. To me this is a beautiful sight to see but to many it is scary.  The ice is on the road and traveling is dangerous so today I will be calling the elderly in church making sure they are alright. In today's world of social media, we could use that tool and offer our service to someone who might need it. All we have to do is make ourselves available to help those in need, a phone call, cleaning off a walkway, taking out garbage, a visit and conversation. God asks us to be servants and Jesus showed us how to be, are you willing to walk in His footsteps and follow His lead? A heart and soul committed to God is a blessing.  Share yourselves to others in their needs. In our Spirit we will hear God say, well done my good and faithful servant.

"...wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger..." This did not seem befitting for a baby to have to be laid in a manger in a barn with the animals. How could He be a king? The only visitors of royalty came in clothes dirty and that smell, the smell of poor and uneducated? Why you might ask.  Let me tell you why. This babe was not an ordinary king, this king would live among the people reaching out to the lowly, destitute those in need of a king who cared about them. This king was for the people. He was different.  He wanted to help them. God does not deal in the ordinary ways.  He deals in the extraordinary ways, ways that He knows will work. This Christmas when you remember the babe in the manger, thank God for His wisdom caring about all the people no matter where they came from and opening His kingdom so that all are welcome.

The elections are over, the country is settling down, we have crossed another hurdle. I am thankful for the God who is in control of everything and I look forward to that day when I will see Him face to face. How precious are scriptures that bring to mind how special of a relationship we have in Him. Titus 2:13 is one of those scriptures that bring about the hope we have in an eternal life that is waiting for us; "Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." The problems of this world will continue until on that day of His appearance in the clouds when the dead in Christ will rise and those who are alive in Him will ascend as well. God is in control so take time to enjoy each and every day He gives us.

Tomorrow is election day and the presidency of the United States will be acknowledged. I encourage all to vote, that is our God given right in this country. My prayers are that every one who declares they are a Christian will take upon themselves to vote. Isaiah 9:16 "For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed." Yes I know God is in control and He knows already who will be elected. What we don"t know is who until it is over so exercise your right, get out and vote." Take the time to know the platform of each candidate and how they align themselves with God's law. We have no right to complain about who is elected if we did not vote in the first place.

My apologies for not posting last month. 
Luke 12:32 "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." It is interesting to note that Jesus himself calls those entering the kingdom a little flock. Is it possible He is trying to tell us not many will be invited to enter in? Yes! it is possible the number will be limited to those who follow Him by His rules and not the ones they want to follow for there peace and comfort of feeling good. If a doctor tells you are ill and subscribes a prescription that when taken will make you well again will you take it or not. If you do not take it and your illness gets worse whose fault will that be? Jesus stated if you love me keep my commandments as I have kept the father's. If you want to be part of the little flock then maybe we should follow the words of our Lord.

Matthew 18:21-22 "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." What does forgiveness mean? When you forgive someone do you forget what that person has done and move on or what happened to you do you return to over and over again? If that is the case than truly you have not forgiven that person at all. How often does God forgive us? Seventy times seven, in other words He will forgive us as often as we ask for forgiveness. He does not expect us to return to the same sin over and over and ask for forgiveness He expects us to learn from our faults and to fix them. Of this we can be sure God does not grow weary of forgiving us and since He forgives us over and over again we should do the same to those who need forgiveness as well.

2 Corinthians 12:9 "...My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Many times we mumble, grumble and complain in areas like I wish I had a better car or maybe I need a new dress. These areas of mumbling are nothing new under the sun in fact Paul at one time asked God to remove a thorn (burden) he had. Actually Paul asked on three separate occasions and God's response to him was simple "my grace is sufficient." As we enter into each day may we also remember that God's grace is sufficient in all that we face daily. Yet there is one question I would like to ask, is some of the mumbling, grumbling and complaining we do because our neighbor just bought a new dress or a new car? Are we getting these ideas because we allowed a garbage truck to dump toxic waste in our living room through our televisions or computers. Paul reminds us sometimes we are in this state due to choices we make, chose wisely which god you will serve the God of the bible or the gods of this world.

Matthew 5:13 "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."
Last night at our Wednesday evening fellowship meal I picked up the salt and added some to my food for additional flavor. My mind thought of this scripture in Matthew about how he labeled us as "the salt of the earth". I pondered on why would Jesus call us salt and not the dirt or plants or water or air of the earth. Why would Jesus call us Sodium Chloride, NaCl, then I remembered to look at the time frame in which He stated us as salt. Salt can change, preserve, and add value to whatever it touches yet it is up to us to use it--or not. We are reminded by our Lord and Savior that we can flavor a life around us, that we can preserve His Word correctly and that we can change the world for His glory. Let us step out boldly and be the salt to the world who so desperately needs His flavor. Let us not fall into the last half of this verse where we will be good for nothing, cast out and be walked over instead let us shine His light so if you would please pass the salt.


Exodus 20:7 "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."
As we walked up and down the avenue when we were on vacation it was obvious this world has become more and more out of touch with the Lord and His words. It did not matter where one looked the obvious of meeting world standards stood out, the body markings of many leaned towards the demonic culture. The piercings and the dark dreary clothes many were wearing stood out in direct contrast to the brightness of the stores decorations. I heard words that my mom and dad used to tell us not to use being used in everyday language as common as going into Wal-Mart to shop. 

Although I did not like what I saw I had to remember God has given to each and everyone of us free will and free choice to decide the lifestyle we will live. In this process though there were certain words used that God directly instructed us not to be part of, those words are any that directly or indirectly take the name of the Lord in vain. Yes I must say we are on a steady crash and burn course, that is why it is so important to stand for our faith in the face of adversity. We can still reach many that have been misguided along there journey. We are not to grow weary instead we are to gather our strength from the Lord and march into the  heated battle declaring unto the whole world who our Savior Jesus is. 

John 2:24-25 "But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men. And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." 
The final judgement will not require witnesses for or against us Jesus already knows our hearts, all of it. There is no sin you are keeping from Him that He does not know already and yet we cover these up in front of man believing we are fooling all. When you look out of a window and on the outside there is this spot that just has to be cleaned since it is interfering with the view you are looking at. The longer you let that spot on the window go the bigger and dirtier it seems to get until it is blurring your whole vision. That dirty window is a picture of a man's heart, as long as the glass is clean we are visible for all to see. But wait what if our glass has a spot on it and we do not clean it, sooner or later that spot will encompass our glass and we will no longer be visible to be seen. Sin works that way the longer we try to cover it or contain it the dirtier the sin gets and the more out of focus we become. Brothers and Sisters clean your glass often so we will not have anything hidden when we present ourselves to the Lord for examination.

Mark 7:7-8, Luke 17:2 "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups and many other such things ye do...It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
When reading the newspaper or listening to the news on television we often hear of or see great offenses brought upon children and for the most part we would agree to a millstone being placed around their neck and cast into the sea. Jesus is very specific in scriptures about following his commandments yet in Mark 7:7-8 what is he telling us about the world, "in vain do they worship me." This scripture through time has been tested by fire and is polished as bright shining brass today yet many of us do not see the light it is shining. We believe we are honoring the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior to all mankind by chasing bunnies and eggs.
I have heard the stories well, "it is fun for the children", "I did this when I was a child", along with many other things that were not correct as well. When I surrendered my life to Jesus I became a follower and not a fan.  Many who come to Jesus just come to believe Jesus is the Savior but do not want to change their life since it will be an inconvenience to do so. The difference is now I know chasing bunnies and eggs is a commandment or tradition of men and has nothing to do with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Now a choice needs to be made, continue teaching children traditions allowing their spiritual learning to be tainted or teaching the truth and break from the traditions of chasing idols that are associated with a pagan god. Would you like the millstone to be placed around your neck and to perish?
The Bible says in the time of the end, knowledge will greatly increase.  We are also told "yet they have eyes they will not see and ears they will not hear." Joshua told us "as for me and my house we will serve the Lord".  Is your heart serving the Lord and His commandments or following the world? Jesus told us He has overcome the world and if we follow Him He will come back for those who love Him and have declared Him as their Lord and Savior. Jesus also instructed us to "come out of the world and be ye separate".  What do you choose: serving the Lord or being part of the world?

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance against such there is no law.
Tonight we will finish up this Bible study on fruits of the Spirit. My ending question to all at the Bible study will be this. Is the Spirit that dwells within you encompassed by all of these? We know Jesus lived through all of the fruits but yet is it possible for one of us to do so as well. The answer lies within the disciples and their writings. Paul was persecuted many times yet showed a demeanor that lifted these fruits up to all of those around him. He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and in all of these toils and trials he sought the Lord for guidance through prayer. Peter denied Christ three times yet when Jesus met him on the shoreline for breakfast he changed and displayed these same fruits numerous times to others. John was used over and over to show God's love for us.  He was even boiled in oil, I wonder how he looked after that, yet he was not deterred from displaying the same fruits to all he could. Jesus' own brother James did not even believe in Him until after His resurrection and then became one who loved the people just as they were. He wrote the book of James as a guideline for us to know how to stay inline with Jesus. All of these and many more displayed the fruits of the Spirit even as they were led to their deaths. If we want to declare Jesus as our Lord and Savior then our lives as well need to display these fruits to all, no matter what the circumstance are that seem to ensnare us from doing so. One question I leave with you, are you a fan or a follower?  Your actions will answer that for you.

Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Yesterday I saw a saying posted on the back of an automobile that brought this scripture to mind. The saying was "Don't mess with me I have more gods than you do".  This posting also had different pictures of various gods. At first thought I would like to have a discussion with this person but that most likely would have not gone well. The statement I made to myself was this: how sad they do not know the one true God I serve. My thoughts went back to the Word of God and how He has proven to me He is the one and only true God. He used Moses to displace and put under all the gods Pharaoh served and how he brought Nebuchadnezzar to his knees showing him who the one and only true God is. I am thankful to Him who helped me put away the gods I was holding over Him, taking my hand leading and guiding my day by day footsteps. He will do the same for you if you will let Him into your heart, let go and let God have all of you is one of my best sayings. Are you one who has many gods or are you one who has only one true God?

Matthew 14:30 "...and beginning to sink he cried out, saying "Lord save me!"
The intensity of the storm was increasing and those aboard the ship were fearful and as the storm raged on they looked across the sea and they thought they saw someone walking on the water coming toward them. In this time of desperation they strained there eyes harder and yes they were quite sure of what they were seeing but how was this possible? One of them asked may I come to you and He said yes. He stepped out of the boat with His eyes focused on Him and he walked towards him, yet somewhere in this journey he turned his eyes aside and started to sink. Jesus reached out and raised him from the depths of the watery grave where he was headed. Jesus does the same for us, keep your eyes on Him and He will calm the storms of your life.  Take your eyes off of Him and the storms of life will pull you under.

Matthew 25:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish
The wedding: What a great time that will be seeing Jesus face to face and are welcomed in. The lamp was shining bright as the bride groom approached and the brides were adorned to be ushered into His feast and to be in His presence. The five were ecstatic as to their invitation and the door was closed behind them. The other five who had not prepared correctly now have returned to take part in the celebration, they knock on the door only to find it locked and secured. They thought they were good enough to be part of the celebration. Yet sometime after they received the Bridegroom for their future husband they returned to the ways of the world playing harlot and were subsequently locked out. The world draws many away to partake in its lust and only a few will remain true. Which side of the door will you be on when the Bridegroom comes calling?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

1 Timothy 3:9 Holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience.
When I look outside and see fresh snow on the ground I see a pure and clean ground covering. Jesus came to earth to fulfill God's promise of a lamb pure and clean to take away the sins of the world. When we accept Jesus as our Lord we have this fresh covering over us like new fallen snow. As I look at the strands of weeds, grass or debris rising out of the snow I am reminded how from time to time sin can poke out its ugly head in our lives. This sin does not have to remain if we are willing to confess of it then ask for forgiveness of it. Jesus then covers this sin with the whiteness and purity of His promise and we receive a fresh covering of His righteousness and we look just like a fresh snowfall covering the ground.