Watsonville Christian Church


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Jesus: Lord & Savior
Is Jesus Lord of Your Life?

Repentance & Baptism
Want to Become a Real Christian? Here's how...

Prayer
ASK God!
Is Anyone Talking to God?
The Sin of Failing to Pray
We Really Didn't Pray About It
Is Your Bright Idea from The Devil?
The POWER of Prayer!
To Be Like Jesus, Pray Like Jesus!
How to Be an Un-Godly Counselor
The Balloon Story
Quotes on Prayer

Growth
Are You ALL You Can Be?
How to Grow the Most from Attending Church
Don't Be a LAZYdicean!
What's a Church?
The "Me" Church
Are You the 1 out of 10?
Major in the Majors; Minor in the Minors
Poisonous Snakes & Corn Cobs

Encouragement
Our God is an AWESOME God!
We've Been Adopted!
God's Perfect Timing
Do You Have Help?
Annie and the House of Mourning
Depressed?
Need Money?
Do Animals Go To Heaven?
Encouraging Bible Verses
God Has a Positive Answer

Guidance
The Center of God's Will
Knock, Knock!
One Size Fits...One
Remember and Forget
Be BOLD and SHARE Our Faith
Biblical Jesus vs. Postmodern Jesus
God's Yellow Pages
Helpful Words From God
Helpful Words From Books

Lessons From
Dad
Mom
Leroy
Barney
Josiah
Western Union
Goodwill
Hewlett-Packard
Pastoring

Scriptures About
Jesus in the Old & New Testaments
Humility
Listening to God
Thankfulness
Diligence
Favor
Anger
Joy
Avoiding Satan's Spirit World

Is Jesus Lord of Your Life?

Is Jesus truly "Lord" of all areas of your life, including your time, talents, and treasures (your money and possessions), and all the time?

If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all!

Our Watsonville Christian Church mission is "To teach everyone to live unconditionally surrendered to Jesus Christ."

For many Jesus may have been accepted as their Savior, they being thankful He died for them on the cross, but they may not have ever fully surrendered their wills and lives to Him, accepting Him as Lord. According to scripture, He is both; 2 Peter 3:18 "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (Also
2 Peter 1:11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
,
2:20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.
, and
3:2I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
).

The fact that we are not only to accept Jesus as Savior, but also as Lord, is made clear in Romans 10:9 "...if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Although many may have a hard time accepting we are saved by grace and not by works (
Ephesians 2:8-98 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
), we humans may have an even harder time surrendering our lives to Jesus, and truly accepting Him as Lord over all areas of our lives, and at all times. Only by Jesus help can we ever accomplish this, but as Paul said in Philippians 4:13 "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."

This point is further made by reviewing Matthew 7:21-23:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

This passage shows that obeying Christ proves whether He is truly the Lord of our lives, rather than merely saying He is.

We encourage you, if you have not already done so, to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Give Him complete control and look to Him to direct you in every area of your life, and at all times! Then you will have the very best for your life! You must repent, and become Christ-centered, rather than self-centered; doing what He wants for you, rather than what you would like or think is best.

After repenting, be baptized, burying the old self, and then come up out of the watery grave as a new person. He will give you His Holy Spirit to help you in following Him! Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

This will be the best decision you can ever make! God bless you, as you follow Him in every area of your life, and at all times!
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Want to Become a Real Christian?

Here's how...

1) ACCEPT JESUS AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR. PUT HIM FIRST, NOT YOURSELF, OR ANYONE ELSE. A "DISCIPLE" IS A "CHRISTIAN". HERE ARE HELPFUL SCRIPTURES:

Acts 11:26b The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Matthew 10:37-38 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Luke 14:26-27 "Anyone who wants to be my follower must love me far more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters-- yes, more than his own life-- otherwise he cannot be my disciple. And no one can be my disciple who does not carry his own cross and follow me. (TLB)


2) REPENT, WHICH MEANS "CHANGE". CHANGE FROM PUTTING YOURSELF OR ANYONE ELSE FIRST AND PUT JESUS FIRST. OBEY HIM. BEFORE WE BAPTIZE ANYONE WE'RE TO LOOK FOR EVIDENCE THAT JESUS IS FIRST AND THAT THEY ARE FOLLOWING AND DESIRING TO OBEY HIM. HERE ARE HELPFUL SCRIPTURES ABOUT REPENTANCE--CHANGING FROM LIVING YOUR OWN WAY TO WANTING TO LIVE HIS WAY:

Matthew 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Luke 24:46-47 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Acts 20:21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

Acts 26:20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

Romans 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

2 Timothy 2:25-26 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Revelation 3:14-19 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-- neither hot nor cold-- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.


3) AFTER COUNSELING, IF IT IS AGREED YOU ARE READY, BE BAPTIZED. HERE IS INFORMATION ABOUT BAPTISM:

BAPTISM OVERVIEW


Here are some of the instructions I'm given as Pastor:

Baptism is a ritual that symbolizes for Christians the death and burial of the former, unbelieving self and its rising up out of the watery grave to new life in Christ. Peter preached, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (
Acts 2:38Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
).

When a person has received the gift of faith in Jesus, that person usually will seek to be baptized. When a pastor is approached by a believer seeking baptism, he should review the meaning of baptism with the individual and help the believer prepare for the ceremony. Pastors should ensure that 1) the person is repentant, acknowledging that he or she is a sinner in need of God's mercy and 2) accepts Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior and Lord.

After the believer is baptized, the pastor should offer him or her continuing discipleship training so that the new Christian may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.

(Note: We encourage you to attend every Sunday for your maximum spiritual growth! Every Worship Service is Discipleship Training for you! Ideally, come early, stay late, and participate!)


MINIMUM AGE FOR BAPTISM

Scripture does not set forth adult maturity as a criterion for baptism. Apparently, Daniel, David and Samuel were among those God called into his service while they were still in their teen years. Polycarp, the disciple of John, was apparently baptized before he was a teen.

Therefore, the church sets no minimum age for baptism, leaving the decision to the discretion of the child, parents and minister.

Baptism of a young person is a decision that needs to be made with the involvement of the minister, the parents and the young person. A young person requesting baptism should not be baptized if the parents object to it. However, if the parents are approving of the baptism and the minister feels the child has come to faith in Christ, the baptism may be performed.


BAPTISM GUIDELINES

Advise the individual(s) to wear appropriate clothing which they do not mind getting wet. Men and women usually find shirts and some sort of pants or swimsuit convenient. Dresses or skirts are sometimes difficult to keep submerged. Remind the person that some kinds of clothing become transparent when wet and should therefore be avoided.

BAPTISM CEREMONY

The ceremony should begin with prayer, asking God's blessing on this joyous occasion.

Conclude the ceremony with laying on of hands and prayer for the Holy Spirit to walk with and lead the person.
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ASK God!
During our Sunday services we studied the book of Joshua from the Holy Bible. Of the many lessons within this wonderful book is one lesson which stands out to me. It is found in Joshua 9. The heading of this chapter is captioned "The Gibeonite Deception."

This chapter answers the question as to whether a follower of God can be deceived. And the answer is yes, we can! What we find here is Joshua and the Israelites relying on what they were being told, what they saw, and even by what they tasted, to determine what decision to make. What Joshua, and the Israelites, failed to do, however, is found in the latter part of verse fourteen. We find that they made a bad decision and were deceived because they "did not inquire of the LORD"!

They didn't ASK God!

This is a major lesson for each of us! We need to always ask our Lord for guidance, and talk to Him, before making decisions! Of course, we then need to listen to His answer(s)! And then, obey, and follow Him!

He might guide us to read literature or seek out someone or others for direction, or He might simply provide the answer directly to us. If we are led by Him to gather information we then need to go back to Him with it and ask for His direction and guidance before making a final decision.

Our great and wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wants the very best for us, the full and abundant life, as He states in John 10:10b: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

To have the full and abundant life we must remember to always "inquire of the LORD" before making decisions! He always has the very best answers! We can then avoid being deceived, and making the wrong decisions!
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Is Anyone Talking to God?
I heard of an individual that came to a pastor for counseling. The pastor asked, "Have you prayed about this?" and the person replied, "No." There's a saying, "First to the throne, and then to the phone." Sometimes we might not even need to go "to the phone" if we have asked our Lord about a particular issue, and then listened for His answer, and obeyed what He said.

I know of a couple of church meetings that never opened in prayer to ask for His guidance. Of course, then too, we need to listen, and, obey what He tells us.

A church leader once gathered people together to discuss an issue and one participant exclaimed "We don't need to pray about this!." How sad! He reflected often on this person's life and wondered how many things in their life they had not prayed about, or perhaps not prayed enough about. Sad indeed! Should there be any area of our life we leave our Lord out of? None!

A beautiful scripture is Matthew 11:28-30, in which Jesus tells us to "learn from me." If we spend enough time with our Lord and intently surrender and listen He might directly lay upon our heart and mind the answer to what we are dealing with. If He does, it will never conflict with scripture; an excellent reason to know God's Word, the Holy Bible.

Matthew 7:7-8 tells us to ask, seek, and knock, progressively aggressive terms, with seeking being more aggressive than asking, and knocking more aggressive than seeking. We need to be aggressive and diligent in wanting to know our Lord's will!

John 10:27 tells us our Lord's sheep listen to His voice, and follow Him. We need to ask, take time to listen intently to what our Lord tells us, and then, with His help, obey.

Jesus modeled for each of us that prayer must be a priority in our lives. It is a must, not an option. We must also learn to listen to Him, discerning His "voice"/His impression upon our hearts and minds. Mark 1:35-37 states: Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" Today cell phones, television, books, radio, CDs, the garden, work, etc., are "looking for you!" There can be distractions galore!

Jesus also modeled spending extra time in prayer, praying in detail, and listening, before making big decisions. Jesus "spent the night praying to God" before choosing the apostles. Luke 6:12-13: One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.

Proverbs 3:7a tells us "Do not be wise in your own eyes." Don't assume; ask! Listen! And, obey!

We each have 168 hours per week. We need to make praying, listening, and obeying our great Lord our priority! And if anyone should ask you "Is Anyone Talking to God?" you can truthfully say, "Yes! I am!"
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The Sin of Failing to Pray
Ever think not praying for someone or something could be a sin? It can be. It would be what is called a sin of "omission," meaning something we're omitting that we should be doing. There are also of course sins of "commission," doing something we shouldn't be doing.

In 1 Samuel 12:23 God's servant Samuel speaks about failing to pray and calls it a sin. "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you."

We can't pray about everything or everyone. God knows we have limits and He is never unreasonable. God does however prompt our hearts and lays things on them when we're surrendered to Him that He wants us to pray about. We need to listen to our Lord and pray to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and respond accordingly.

Perhaps sometimes we don't pray because we assume we already have the correct answer to something. We can become "self wise." The Bible cautions us not to be "wise in our own eyes." (
Proverbs 3:7"Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil."
)

God tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:16 that "whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." When we come to God, seek the correct answers, and listen to Him, He will remove the veil from our hearts and understanding.

There can be many times in our lives that spontaneously we will agree or disagree with something or someone. It could be a doctrinal issue, administrative, or something entirely different. The wisest thing we can do is to ask God (
Matthew 7:7-8"7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
), then listen for His answer (
John 10:27"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."
), and follow in obedience.

So, don't commit the sin of failing to pray. Our Lord will be pleased and we will be rewarded for our obedience.
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We Really Didn't Pray About It

A long-time church member friend called to ask if I could come to his home. When I was there with his wife he told me they had made a financial decision in the past and said, "We really didn't pray about it." The decision made was obviously not a good one and caused problems for them.

On another occasion a church member commented about a bad housing decision a Christian relative made saying they "didn't pray on it."

Sadly, I've also witnessed church meetings that didn't open with prayer. What may happen is a brain-storming meeting where the only brains stormed are the humans' and not Jesus' brains! Jesus has more brains than all humans combined! Without prayer we might not have God's awesome, greatly needed guidance and counsel.

How many bad decisions have been made in life because "We really didn't pray about it"? Let's examine a passage of scripture that if applied would help us avoid making bad decisions:
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
    in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be
    wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil
." ~Proverbs 3:5-7 NIV-2011
Verse 5: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;"
  • Trust in the Lord, not ourselves!
  • Lean not on our own understanding. What makes up our own understanding? It's the way things have always been done, the way you do things, what we've read, seen, observed, and believe. God might want to do something in a different way that has never been done before! That's one reason why it is always wise to ask Him!
Verse 6: "-in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
  • All means everything. We submit our lives to Him and that means every decision we make.
  • Next we read God's promise to us if we do these things. He will make our paths straight. Straight means clear and what God desires for us.
Verse 7: "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil."
  • One indication of being wise in our own eyes is being unwilling to pray. Another is assuming we have the right answer. Another is being too lazy to take the time to ask God. Not including God in our decision making process is always a bad idea.
  • We are also told to fear God. The Hebrew word for fear is 'yare' which doesn't just mean to be afraid of; it means to revere and show reverence. We fear or revere God by realizing He has all the answers (
    John 21:17"The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"

    Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

    Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
    ), and we don't. Therefore, we ask Him.
Proverbs 3:5-7 is a wonderful passage of scripture and a great one to memorize so we remember to always apply it. If we do, we'll never look back on decisions and say, "We really didn't pray about it."
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Is Your Bright Idea from The Devil?
Ever have a bright idea? If so, you've got company. King David had a bright idea. His bright idea though came from the devil. Perhaps yours has too. We read about David's in 1 Chronicles 21 verse 1: Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

The devil put the thought in David's head to take a census of Israel. David, however, did not ask God if this is what He wanted. David should have asked God, listened to His answer, and then obeyed. Even Joab his pagan commander in chief encouraged David not to take a census (verse 3). This should have been a warning sign, and David again should have prayed and asked God if this is what He wanted.

David sinned. He committed the sin of "omission"; not praying, and asking God (1 Samuel 12:23 "...far be it from me that I should sin by failing to pray..."). First, David didn't ask God before proceeding, and then he didn't ask God when it was suggested that it wasn't a good idea.

David then committed another sin by proceeding to take the census. He then states in verse 8: "I have sinned greatly by doing this...I have done a very foolish thing." What was the result of David's sins? Pain. A lot of pain. Pain inflicted to the extent that 70,000 men died (verse 14). His sins made many widows and orphans.

Whenever an idea from the devil is carried out there are always bad results, and many people can be hurt.

Any time we have a "bright" idea, we need to make certain to spend plenty of time asking our Lord if it's from Him. Ideally, pray over periods of time, continually asking, seeking, and knocking (
Matthew 7:7-87 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
), desiring His will above our own, or anyone else's. We need to learn to listen for His answer (
John 10:27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
). We then need to obey.

The lesson? Some "bright" ideas are from a being who can disguise himself as a "light bringer", the devil (
2 Corinthians 11:14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
). Ask God if the idea is from Him. Then listen for His answer, and obey. Our Lord's ideas are better than "bright." They're perfect!
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The POWER of Prayer!

I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish that I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task.
"Why doesn't God help me?", I wondered. He answered, "You didn't ask."

I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak;
I wondered why God didn't show me. He said, "But you didn't seek."

I tried to come into God's presence; I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided, "My child, you didn't knock."

I woke up early this morning, and paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish, that I had to take time to pray.

Author Unknown

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To Be Like Jesus, Pray Like Jesus!
Jesus taught and modeled how to have an effective prayer life. If we want to be like Jesus, we need to pray like Jesus! Here are five lessons from His prayer life we can apply to have an effective prayer life of our own.

  1. Make Prayer a Major Priority

    • On one occasion Jesus got up very early in the morning, while it was still dark, left the house and went to a solitary place to pray. Simon and his companions went to look for him and when they found Him they exclaimed, "Everyone is looking for you!" We must find a way to get alone with our Maker and pray even though many things and people may want our time and attention. (
      Mark 1:35-3735 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
      ,
      6:45-4645 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
      ,
      Luke 5:15-1615 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
      )
    • Prayer was so important to Jesus that He said, "My house will be a house of prayer." He could have stated many other great disciplines such as Bible study, fellowship, worship, etc. but prayer was the priority He mentioned. (
      Luke 19:46"It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"
      )

  2. Be Thorough

    • When Jesus was faced with the task of starting His ministry the pressure was so great He spent all night praying to His father. During that time He might have asked many questions - then listened for the answers. We need to remember prayer is a dialogue between us and our Maker, not a monologue. As we ask questions we need to listen for His answers. Jesus needed to know when to start his ministry and who should be apostles. We don't know what physical position Jesus was in while He prayed. At times he might have been on his knees, other times standing, sitting, or walking. Remember the position of our heart is always more important than the postition of our body. (
      Luke 6:12-1612 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
      )
    • Before Jesus was crucified He took time to pray not only for Himself, but for His disciples and all believers. He was thorough. (
      John 17After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6 "I have revealed you[a] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
      13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified....
      )

  3. Be Submissive

    • No one wants to suffer. Jesus was no exception. He prayed three times but always said "...not as I will, but as you will." (
      Matthew 26:39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
      )
    • During His days on earth Jesus offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears and was heard because of His reverent submission. (
      Hebrews 5:7During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
      )

  4. Pray for Others

    • Jesus prayed for others. (John 17:9) To follow His example we must do the same.
    • Jesus prayed specifically for Simon Peter and still lives to intercede for each of us. (
      Luke 22:31-3231 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
      ;
      Hebrews 7:25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
      )

  5. Don't Give Up!

    • Before Jesus was crucified He prayed three times to be spared from this excruciating death. Until or unless the answer is "No" we can still pray for it to be "Yes." Sometimes our perseverance will be tested to find out how much we want something, whether it is a proper desire of our heart, some quality to grow in, or an addiction to overcome.
    • Jesus taught a parable for us to learn that we "should always pray and not give up!" (
      Luke 18:1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
      )

So remember: To be like Jesus, pray like Jesus!
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Pray Like Jesus!
Here are lessons from Jesus prayer life that if applied will help us have an exciting, and effective prayer life!

Remember: To be like Jesus, pray like Jesus!
Mark 1:35-37 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
Lessons: Put prayer first! It is a necessity! Have one-on-one time with God. Even with a busy schedule and people wanting a piece of Him and His time, Jesus put praying first on His list of priorities. We must do the same if we want to be all we can be, fulfill our spiritual potential, and God's plan for our lives!
Mark 6:45-47 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. Lessons: Sometimes we may need to get away from people to be able to pray, and be alone with God. Away time can be pray time. Walk time can be talk to God time. Being out of doors and seeing His creation might also help us in our prayer lives.
Luke 5:15-16 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Lessons: We must find time and a place to pray to God alone. Praying to God is a necessity, and the source of the power and guidance we all need!
Luke 6:12-16 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Lessons: When major decisions need to be made, spend more time in prayer. Start praying early in the decision making process. Be thorough. Ask God questions. Be quiet at other times and learn to listen to Him! Then, with His help, obey!
Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Lessons: If we have a bad habit or addiction to put out of our lives, a good habit or character quality to put in, or something we rightly desire, unless our Lord tells us otherwise, never stop praying for it!
Matthew 26:42-44 He {Jesus} went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Lessons: We must always pray for the will of God rather than our own! We must be alert and not fall asleep spiritually. We can pray about the same thing many times, with heartfelt prayers, pouring our hearts out to our great God!
Hebrews 5:7 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Lessons: Put our hearts into our prayers! He hears, and will answer in His way, and time! Realize we will always be heard if we have a heart and mind that is surrendered to God's will!

If we apply these lessons, and Pray Like Jesus!, we will have a wonderful prayer life, an enjoyable time with our Maker, and will make the very best decisions! So remember: To be like Jesus, pray like Jesus!
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How to Be an Un-Godly Counselor
What? How to be an Un-Godly Counselor? Yes, you read correctly. Some might ask, "Why would I want to read that?" Because many of us can be Un-Godly counselors at times and not know it. We can have a right heart and mean well, yet give Un-Godly advice. God looks on the heart, not the outward appearance (
1 Samuel 16:7But the Lord said to Samuel,"Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
). The ideal, of course, is to pray and ask our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for both: 1) an ideal heart, mind, and motive plus 2) ideal words and actions.

Let's look at Job's three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar in Job 2:11-13. These verses tell us that:
  1. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were "friends," not enemies.
  2. They even left their homes, and most likely therefore their families, and employment.
  3. They went to "sympathize" and "comfort" Job.
  4. They had deep compassion and feeling for Job because they wept aloud, tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.
  5. They also "sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights." This is quite a bit of time and evidently not inside a home.
They also did something very wise: "No one said a word to him..."

But what happened as time went on? They started speaking. First Eliphaz, then Bildad, then Zophar. After each spoke Job had his say, then they spoke again, then he spoke again. Eliphaz and Bildad spoke three times with Job replying each time and Zophar spoke twice with Job replying each time. We don't hear from the Lord until chapter 38 when God asks Job a series of questions he cannot answer. Questions like: "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?" and "Do you know the laws of the universe and how God rules the earth?" Job humbly replies in chapter 42:1-6 (NIV). "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted...Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know...My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Then in the next two verses God shows his displeasure for how Job's well-meaning friends handled the situation. "I am angry with you...because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." God tells them to offer a burnt sacrifice and have Job pray. "My servant Job will pray for you and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."

What can we learn from this?

Job's friends did not talk to the Lord before giving their advice. We don't read of any prayers to the Lord to ask what to say, if anything. Prayerlessness is one of the greatest sins we can commit (1 Samuel 12:23a "...far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray..."). We must pray and listen to our Lord. Then with His help - obey and carry out His will.

Pray, ask God, listen, and with His help surrender ourselves unconditionally to Him so He can speak through us if He desires to do so. Then with His help we will not only have 1) the right heart, but also 2) the right words and actions.

So, how can you be an Un-Godly counselor? Simple: Don't pray, don't ask, don't listen, don't surrender, and you'll be well on your way!
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The Balloon Story
Over twenty-five years ago a San Jose Chruch celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Part of the decorations included beautiful balloons. There that day was a little friend of mine, six-year-old Mandy. She eagerly desired to have one of those balloons, so someone got one for her. We didn't know that God would use that balloon to show His incredible power, reminding us that nothing is impossible with God. (
Genesis 18:14"Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son."
,
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
) Mandy with her mom, aunt and cousin recently visited our Watsonville Christian Church and told our congregation the rest of "The Balloon Story." Here it is in Mandy's own words...

This was not a usual church service. Powdery white balloons with shiny silvery strings decorated the walls and danced tantalizingly over my head. I wanted one of those balloons. After several failed attempts with my very best productions of sad puppy eyes I began to despair, but as we were preparing to leave, all my efforts were rewarded and I was given a balloon. This was the best balloon ever; it was the best day ever! All was right with the world and everything was perfect, at least according to my six-year-old mind as we made our way home on a busy California Highway.

As we drove I was sitting by the slightly open window and the balloon made the most amazing sound as it danced on the swirling wind currents, bouncing back and forth between the door frame and window glass. My dad told me not to do that because the balloon would fly away. "No it won't," I said as I tightened my grip on the string. Then the unspeakable happened. The shiny silvery string slipped through my small fingers and the balloon vanished. I can still hear my dad's words.

"See, I told you." Right on cue the waterworks began and I racked with sobs. This was clearly the worst day ever! After a while, I heard my dad's voice again. "Ok, enough of that. I will get you another balloon." That didn't help. In fact, I cried all the more because I knew his balloon would not be a beautiful helium balloon, but one from a pack of 25 cent balloons he would get at the supermarket.

Then it struck me. I knew who could give me another beautiful balloon. The floodgates snapped shut and I instantly stopped crying. I said, "Dad, you don't have to get me another balloon. God will give me one." My dad argued and said he would get me one, but I just as staunchly countered that God would give me a balloon.

When we got home I ran stright to my room and prayed. The next morning my dad went to the front door to grab the Sunday paper, but soon yelled for my mom and me to come quickly. When I arrived I had to peak around my dad's large frame still standing stunned in the doorway. There, hovering on our front porch and near my father's eye level was the exact same balloon I had lost the previous day. It was clear God had returned it to me and I had expected nothing less.

I turned to my dad, looked up into his stunned eyes and simply said, "See, I told you."
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Martin Luther

"I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer."

"To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing."

"Many times I have learned more from one prayer than I might have learned from much reading..."

"There is no work like prayer."

Abraham Lincoln

"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.
My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day."

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Are You ALL You Can Be?
A few years ago I heard a minister make this statement, "Fulfill God's dream for you!" Have you ever thought that our Lord has a dream for you? Much like parents might have for their child, a teacher for their student, a coach or manager for their player, and a pastor for those in their congregation?

Another question we can all ask ourselves is: Are we fulfilling God's dream for us? Do we have a greater potential than what we have yet realized? Are you fulfilling your potential, especially spiritually? In other words, "Are you ALL you can be?"

God's dream for us is that we fulfill our potential and become ALL we can be.

There's a difference between improving and becoming all we can be. A baseball player might hit .300 and an improvement would be hitting .301. But perhaps if they fully applied themselves and became all they could be they would hit much higher. So, are we just improving or are we becoming ALL we can be?

God's Word has examples of those who were more capable than they imagined of what God could do through them. Moses didn't think he could speak and carry out the calling of God. (
Exodus 3:10-11 10 "So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." 11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
,
4:10-1210 Moses said to the Lord, "Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." 11 The Lord said to him, "Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."
) God called Gideon a "mighty warrior" before he ever fought a battle. Gideon protested to God that he wasn't capable and God let him know otherwise. (
Judges 6:12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior."
,
14-1614 The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" 15 "Pardon me, my lord," Gideon replied, "but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." 16 The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive."
) Jeremiah told God he couldn't speak and was too young to be a prophet (
Jeremiah 1:4-94 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
6 "Alas, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am too young."
7 But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am too young.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord.
9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "I have put my words in your mouth.
)

When we live unconditionally surrendered to Jesus Christ, there might be much more than we imagine that our Lord can accomplish through us. (
Ephesians 3:20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
,
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
,
4:13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
)

Here are a few other scriptures I've found to be motivational in this regard:
  • 2 Timothy 1:6: "...fan into flame the gift of God."
  • Ecclesiastes 9:10: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."
  • Revelation 3:15: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!"
  • Ephesians 5:15-16: "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity."
  • Romans 12:11: "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."
  • Colossians 3:23: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters."
  • Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to give you hope and a future."
  • Ephesians 2:10: "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
  • Matthew 19:26: "...with God all things are possible!"
So, fulfill God's dream for you, and become ALL you can be!
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How to Grow the Most from Attending Church
I've been blessed by attending church for many, many years. Here are some of the lessons I've learned.

You get out of church what you put into it. (
Galatians 6:7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
,
2 Corinthians 9:6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
) Remember the three P's: pray, prepare, participate.
  • Pray before coming. Pray for Christ's guidance about who He wants to come, what songs He wants for that day's worship music, and what He wants for the sermon. Also, here's a little prayer I've found to be very helpful: Lord, please guide us to whoever You want us to go to, and guide whoever You want to come to us.
  • Prepare before coming. We publish in our weekly Spiritual Growth Bulletin the book and chapter(s) we'll be covering in the upcoming week's sermon. It can be helpful to pray about these scriptures, and then read and study ahead. Here are other ways to plan ahead: Get to bed early the night before. Set the alarm clock to get to church at an ideal time. Select beforehand what to wear, make sure you have sufficient gas in the car, etc.
  • Ideally, come early, stay late, and participate.
Be an unselfish listener.
  • You might hear points or stories you've heard many times, but God might be inspiring them again for those who've never heard them, and as a necessary reminder for those who have.
  • Listen and apply the sermons in your life. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (
    James 1:22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
    )
  • Fellowship is more than saying "Hi, nice to meet you" or "Good morning." Get to know others and listen to what they have to say. Spend time with them.
Come to give. Give of your time, talent, and treasure. (
Acts 20:35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
,
Matthew 6:21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
)

Come to encourage others. You can encourage others by being interested in them. Sometimes just showing up can inspire others because they see how important attending church is to you. (
Hebrews 10:25not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
)

Be prepared to take notes. My observation has been that those who come with pen and paper to write down what God is saying to them are those that grow the most. They'll go home, go over the points and scriptures, then try to put what they've learned into practice. God provides the sermons we need to nourish us. (
2 Timothy 4:2Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.
)

If you're a parent, it can be helpful to encourage your young people to follow along in their Bibles (we give everyone a Bible to keep), and then go over it with them when you're at home. As parents, this will also be helpful for you since you'll learn even more by teaching what you've learned. God has assigned parents to be the primary teacher of their children, not the church (
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
).

In Genesis 2:3 we read "Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." Here we have the example God gave us. During the time of the Old Covenant beginning with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and ending at the Crucifixion (
Luke 22:20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."
), it was commanded to keep the seventh day out of seven for holy purposes. In Leviticus 23:3 God further instructed that it was to be a day of "sacred assembly." His followers were not to stay home and keep it by themselves, but were to assemble with others. The New Covenant doesn't prescribe which day out of seven and therefore traditionally in honor of the resurrection of Jesus being determined on a Sunday, most have that day as their day of "sacred assembly." An important point to remember is that it is one out of every seven days to attend a sacred assembly, not every other Sunday, or once a month or less.

To avoid having to get up during the service to go to the bathroom it is wise to limit drinking too much water, coffee, tea etc. before or during the Worship Service. Not getting up during the service is also less distracting for everyone and helps you and them avoid missing important parts of the service.

Limiting talking to others during the service is also respectful and considerate. Your voice can also carry and distract others.

In conclusion, here is something I read that shows how important it is to attend church.

A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've gone for 30 years now," He wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

This started a real controversy in the Letters to the Editor column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher: "I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this... they all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me those meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"

Thank God for our physical AND our spiritual nourishment!
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Don't Be a LAZYdicean!
Okay, you might ask, "What is a LAZYdicean?" It's a slight change from the wording you find in Revelation 3:14-22 about the Laodiceans. You see, these people were not on fire for the Lord. They were downright L-A-Z-Y! Spiritually lazy! In the scripture they're called lukewarm, a temperature our Lord does not like! The scripture goes on to state that being lukewarm will cause our Lord to "spit" them out of His mouth! Doesn't sound too pleasant does it? Let's read it:

Revelation 3:15-16 "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm --- neither hot nor cold --- I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

Sadly, sometimes the term "laid back" really might mean "lazy."

Rather, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be a FILLadelphian! Yes, this too is a variation, from Philadelphian. We can read about these people in Revelation 3:7-13. Our Lord only says good things about them. We need to strive to so please our Lord that He would only say good things about us. How can we be a FILLadephian?

Here are some ways to help:

On our weekly Spiritual Growth Bulletin which we give to everyone each Sunday we have information that can help you (you can see a sample by clicking here: Spiritual Growth Bulletin). Here's some of that information:

Grow to be Christ-like! Correctly apply Spiritual Disciplines, crucify The 7 Deadly Sins, and become ALL you can be!
1) Pray 2) Listen 3) Study 4) Fast 5) Meditate
6) Fellowship 7) Serve 8) Give 9) Solitude 10) Worship 11) Thank 12) Balance 13) Simplify 14) Sacrifice 15) Trust 16) Silence 17) Quiet 18) Memorize 19) Rest 20) Obey. The 7 Deadly Sins: 1) Ego 2) Envy 3) Anger 4) Laziness 5) Greed 6) Gluttony 7) Lust.

Feed Yourself Spiritually Each Day!
Pray continually (
1 Thessalonians 5:17pray continually,
), listen to our Lord, and follow Him (
John 10:27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
). Pray for discernment and guidance before studying. Get informed to be transformed into Christ-likeness (
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
). Get renewed each day (
2 Corinthians 4:16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
). Knowledge alone puffs up (
1 Corinthians 8:1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that "We all possess knowledge." But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
); it must be applied (
Matthew 4:4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
). Get into God's Word, and God's Word into you. The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things. Major in the majors; minor in the minors.

So, don't be a LAZYdicean, be a FILLadephian!
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What's a Church?
Have you heard the one about the $1 bill meeting the $50 bill?

$1 bill: "Hello $50, where have you been?"

$50 bill: "Hello $1! I've been to Nordstrom's, Saks Fifth Avenue, most of the malls, concerts, ball games, movies, cruises and lots of other places. Where have you been?"

$1 bill: "I've been to lots of churches - the Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, independent churches, and many others."

$50 bill looked puzzled and asked: "What's a church?"

You see, the $50 bill had never been to a church.

Now this is not a ploy to get us to put more money in the offering each week; it is merely a way to pose the question: what is a church? And more specifically, what is the biblical description of a Christian church?

Before our congregation changed its name to Watsonville Christian Church we examined this question. Scripture makes it quite clear. On the day of Pentecost at the beginning of the New Testament/New Covenant Church, God inspired the Apostle Peter to tell us what they did to constitute a church. Let's look at it together.

Acts 2:42 tells us they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Therefore, to be a Christian church we must be devoted to these things.

The Apostles' Teachings: God's Word, the Holy Bible, must be taught.
  • The Apostle Matthew tells us Jesus said that man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (
    Matthew 4:4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
    )
  • The Apostle Paul taught that all scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (
    2 Timothy 3:16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
    )
  • The Apostle Peter wrote that scriptures are completely reliable and we would do well to pay attention to them. (
    2 Peter 1:19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
    )
  • The Apostle Jesus, our Lord and Savior and greatest Apostle, gave us The Great Commission to go and make disciples who make disciples. (
    Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.
    ,
    Matthew 28:19-2019 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
    )
Fellowship: We must regularly gather together and encourage one another.
  • "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (
    Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
    )
  • "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (
    1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
    )
The Breaking of Bread: Taking Communion and eating together are both necessary.
  • We are instructed to remember Christ through Communion. "...The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.'" (
    1 Corinthians 11:23-26 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
    )
  • Early Christians set an example for us by continuing to meet together in the temple courts. They also broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. (
    Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
    )
Prayer: We must continually pray, including for one another.
  • Jesus said, "My house will be a house of prayer." (
    Luke 19:46 "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"
    )
  • We are instructed to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (
    Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
    )
  • We are also admonished to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests, plus keep on praying for all God's people. (
    Ephesians 6:18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.
    )
So now if you run into that $50 bill you'll be able to answer his question, "What's a church?"
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The "Me" Church
"I want to teach The Word!" they said as they pounded their hand on their Bible. They went on to say, "This is what I'm looking for" as they gave us their list and left. 2 Timothy 4:3 tells us about those with itching ears and church hoppers. Do we want to go to a church that is all about us and what we want, or all about God?

Do we ever ask our Lord Jesus, "Where do You want me?" "Where would You prefer me to be?" "What would You prefer for me to do, Lord?"

I remember Dr. Joseph Tkach stated: "Half the time I wear a tie and half the time I don't. That way I can equally offend everyone." How often do we ask our Lord how He would like for us to dress in coming to a worship service? We had someone come to our church services and told me they thought everyone should be dressed up. If we each asked our Lord how He would prefer for us to dress when we come to a worship service He might have some of us dress up and some of us dress down. Do we ever ask Him what He would prefer for us? Not only in this area of our lives, but in every area - and all the time?

We sing the song with the lyrics "It's all about You, Jesus," but in our lives is it really ALL about Him? It should be! How often do we ask Him if there's anything in any area of our lives that He would like changed? "I surrender all" is another familiar song lyric. I've semi-kiddingly asked our congregation if we could each honestly sing the lyrics to this and other songs. If we were truthful we might sing "It's sometimes about you, Jesus," or "I surrender some," or "I surrender once in a while," or "I surrender none," or "I surrender 50%."

How many decisions have we made in our lives without consulting our Lord (Joshua 9)? Are we the Lord of our lives, or is Jesus?

Our Mission at the Watsonville Christian Church is "To teach everyone to live unconditionally surrendered to Jesus Christ." Some might accept Jesus as Savior but do we also accept Him as Lord of every area of our lives and at all times? Living unconditionally surrendered to Jesus Christ is an everyday - 24/7 - wonderful challenge. If we ask for His help to do it He will surely supply the desire and power to do so. (
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
)

If we look to Jesus to help us live unconditionally surrendered to His will at all times, we will have the abundant life He wants us to have (
John 10:10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
). We reap what we sow (
Galatians 6:7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
). If we sow "surrender," we will reap "abundant!"

Do we really want a "me" church, one that is all about our wants and desires? Or do we want a church that is all about HIM?
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Are You the 1 out of 10?
We had a recent visitor to our worship services. She had been in a number of churches over the years. When things pertaining to the Old Testament were mentioned she had a number of questions. Like many, she may not have ever read the entirety of God's Word. Statistics show that only 1 out of 10 professing Christians have read the entire Bible.

Napoleon Kauffman, a successful football player with the Oakland Raiders, was in his late twenties when he responded to our Lord's call to leave football and become a minister. Today he is a pastor. When he was becoming a Christian his pastor advised him, "Before you read anything else, read The Bible." Good advice!

I've been asked by those new to the faith, "What do I do?", and "Where do I begin?" Along with learning to pray, reading and studying The Bible is something very needed. Christians offer different opinions about where a new believer should start. Some feel they should start in Genesis, reading the Old Testament first and then the New; others feel it's better to start in the Gospels, reading the New Testament first and then the Old. Ask God where He would like you to start. He loves you, and always knows what's best for you.

Let's look at a few scriptures that should encourage us to read the entire Bible:


  • Matthew 4:4: Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" How can we live "on every word" if we haven't read every word?
  • Matthew 22:29: Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." The "Scriptures" are both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus says we're in error if we don't know them. How can we know them if we haven't read them?
  • Romans 15:4: "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Everything that was written in the past is to teach us. This means everything before this verse, going back to Genesis 1:1.
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." All Scripture means both the Old and New Testaments. This verse goes on to tell us the value of reading the entirety of God's Word. Today there are so many other Christian things that could be read, watched, listened to, or attended so many in fact that they can actually be a distraction from reading and studying the entire Word of God.

    So, "Are You the 1 out of 10?" If not, we encourage you to read ALL of the greatest Book ever written!
  • From Abraham Lincoln
    In regard to this Great Book [The Bible], I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for men's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.

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    Major in the Majors; Minor in the Minors
    The Main Things are the Plain Things; the Plain Things are the Main Things
    And what are these?

    Some of the Majors:
    • Jesus is the only One through whom we can be given the gift of salvation. Christianity is the one and only true religion (
      John 14:6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
      ,
      Acts 4:12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."
      ).
    • Love the Lord your God first and before anyone else, including yourself (
      Matthew 22:37-38 37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
      ,
      Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
      ,
      Luke 9:23Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
      ,
      10:27He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
      ).
    • The Bible is the infallible and authoritative Word of God (
      2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
      ).
    • Jesus is coming back to earth ; His Second Coming (
      Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
      ,
      24:27For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
      ,
      Hebrews 9:28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
      ).
    Some of the Minors:
    • What viewpoint on the Book of Revelation is correct? Some state there are four viewpoints, another says there are five and variations within them. Some who state there are four viewpoints call them by different names. Here are two sets of four of them: Idealist, preterist, historicist, and futurist. And: dispensational premillennialism, historic premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism.
    • What viewpoint on the Millennium is correct? Is a thousand years to be taken literally, or figuratively (
      Revelation 20:2-72 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
      4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
      7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison
      )?
    • What day of the week was Jesus crucified (some think Wednesday, some Thursday, and some Friday)?
    • What day was Jesus resurrected? The tomb was empty Sunday morning but was He resurrected on a Sunday, or on Saturday afternoon as some have believed, or some other time?
    • What constitutes the "Last Days" or "End Time"? The Apostle Paul thought he was living in the last days, the end times (
      1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
      ). Scripture says to God a thousand years is like a day (
      Psalms 90:4 A thousand years in your sight
      are like a day that has just gone by,
      or like a watch in the night.
      ,
      2 Peter 3:8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
      ) so in that case it's only been to God about two days since Jesus was on earth (
      Revelation 3:11I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
      ,
      22:12"Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.
      ,
      20He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."
      Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
      ).
    • The date of Jesus return (
      Matthew 24:36But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son but only the Father.
      ,
      42Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
      ).
    The Bible, God's Holy Word, is not clear about everything.  If the Bible is not clear about something, we shouldn't say it is clear.

    Proverbs 18:17 states: "The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." Something might sound correct when we first hear it but this scripture should encourage us to pray, and study, to find out if there are other possible views.

    The Biblical word for sin in the original Greek language of the New Testament is "hamartia" which means "a missing of the mark." We "miss the mark" if we state something is Biblically clear when it isn't. Saying something is clear when it isn't clear causes many divisions within the Body of Christ, His Church.

    So let's Major in the Majors and Minor in the Minors, remembering the Main Things are the Plain Things and the Plain Things are the Main Things.
    A Longtime Christian Saying...

    "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity."
    Here are points from the above article using this longtime Christian saying:

    What are some of the "essentials" of our Christian faith where we need "unity" and that are clear?
    • Jesus is the only One through whom we can be given the gift of salvation. Christianity is the one and only true religion (
      John 14:6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
      ,
      Acts 4:12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."
      ).
    • Love the Lord your God first and before anyone else, including yourself (
      Matthew 22:37-3837 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment
      ,
      Mark 12:30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
      ,
      Luke 9:23Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
      ,
      10:27He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
      ).
    • The Bible is the infallible and authoritative Word of God (
      2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
      ).
    • Jesus will come back to earth - His Second Coming (
      Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
      ,
      24:27For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
      ,
      30Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.
      ,
      Hebrews 9:28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
      ).
    What are some of the "non-essentials" that aren't clear?
    • What viewpoint on the Book of Revelation is correct? Some state there are four viewpoints, others say there are five and variations within them. Some who state there are four viewpoints call them by different names. Here is one set of four of them: Idealist, preterist, historicist, and futurist. Here is another set of four: dispensational premillennialism, historic premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism.
    • What viewpoint on the Millennium is correct? Is a thousand years to be taken literally, or figuratively (
      Revelation 20:2-72 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
      4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
      7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison
      )?
    • What day of the week was Jesus crucified (some think Wednesday, some Thursday, and some Friday)?
    • What day was Jesus resurrected? The tomb was empty Sunday morning but was He resurrected on a Sunday, or on Saturday afternoon as some have believed, or some other time?
    • What are the "Last Days" or "End Times" referred to in the Bible? The Apostle Paul thought he was living in the last days, the end times (
      1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
      ). Scripture says to God a thousand years is like a day (
      Psalms 90:4A thousand years in your sight
      are like a day that has just gone by,
      or like a watch in the night.
      ,
      2 Peter 3:8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
      ) so in that case it's only been to God about two days since Jesus was on earth (
      Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
      ,
      22:12"Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done."
      ,
      20He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."
      Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
      ).
    • The date of Jesus return (
      Matthew 24:36But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
      ,
      42Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
      ).
    What does 'charity' in all things mean?
    • Spiritually speaking charity means love.
    • We are commanded to speak the truth in love (
      Ephesians 4:15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
      ), doing everything from the motive of loving God first, then everyone else.
    • We can be strong and unmovable in the "essentials" and at the same time be respectful and non-abrasive.
    So let's have unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials, and charity in all things.
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    Poisonous Snakes & Corn Cobs
    In my mid-teen years, my childhood friend Robert and I were tag-team wrestling with David and his younger brother Dougie on a grassy area in Scotts Valley, California, when God opened my eyes to a world I wasn't aware of.

    I had encountered a number of non-poisonous snakes there over the years, including one over four feet long, and never liked any of them. I warned David and Dougie that we might encounter a snake or more where we were wrestling.

    David then exclaimed "That's nothing! Where we're going back to there are pythons, boa constrictors, and cobras. There's no indoor plumbing so during the night when we need to go to the outhouse we hope we don't step on any of them. When we get there we don't have toilet paper. We use corn cobs."

    Where they would be returning with their parents was the Belgian Congo in Africa. Their parents were Christian missionaries. If I had any thoughts of being a missionary they disappeared quickly. If the poisonous snakes weren't enough to discourage me the corn cobs definitely were!

    The experience, however, made me realize we must go wherever our Lord leads us, and that wherever He guides, He provides. He provides the clarity, giftedness, determination, courage, and whatever else is needed for us to accomplish the purpose for which He sent us. (
    Philippians 2:13for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
    ,
    4:19And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
    )

    It also made me realize how blessed we are living in America with all its comforts and that we should never take these things for granted. Most of the world doesn't have them. (
    Ephesians 5:20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    ,
    1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
    )

    Further, its prompted me to continually pray for both the spiritual and physical protection of all our brothers and sisters in Christ wherever they may be. (
    Ephesians 6:18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.
    ) Many have grown up in areas hostile to Christianity and others have been sent there by our Lord.

    So, if you get up during the night and your experience doesn't include encountering any poisonous snakes or corn cobs, be thankful!
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    Our God is an AWESOME God!
    I use to think God controlled the future. I still believe that. What I didn't believe however was that God knew the future. I reasoned "How could God know what I'm going to do before I've done it?" I thought that was impossible.

    Let's examine some scriptures that prove Jesus not only controls the future but already knows it.

    Peter was certain he would lay down his life for Jesus.

    John 13:36-38
    36 Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."
    37 Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."
    38 Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

    Jesus knew Peter wouldn't lay down his life for Him. At least not then. In verse 36 Jesus is actually telling Peter he wasn't able spiritually to follow Jesus to crucifixion and martyrdom then but he would do so later in his life. Peter didn't yet have God's Holy Spirit, the power from God within him, to do what he desired to do. Peter didn't have the Godly "agape" love that is a powerful part of God's indwelling Holy Spirit.

    In fact, Jesus knew Peter would disown Him three times before the rooster crowed. How precise is that? Jesus knew Peter just like He perfectly knows you and me. We have free choice but God knows what the choice is going to be. That is awesome!

    Later when Peter had disowned Jesus three times before the rooster crowed he stated to Jesus in John 21:17 ..."Lord, you know all things..."

    Once Peter realized Jesus not only controlled the future but knew it he was convinced of what Jesus would tell him about his future.

    John 21:18-19
    18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."
    19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

    Jesus told Peter what would happen when Peter was "old"; not "older" which would be the next day, month, year etc. but when he was "old." This meant Peter wouldn't die of natural causes before then, nor by an accident, take his own life, or be martyred before being "old."

    Tradition states Peter, over thirty years later, when he was old, was crucified upside down with his wife. Truly Jesus knew the future when he said "...you will stretch out your hands..." as in the posture of a crucifixion. And that this would be "the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God."

    That is awesome!
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    We've Been Adopted!
    Part of my youth was spent in beautiful Scotts Valley, California. Back then Scotts Valley was very much like living out in the country. Across the road were my good childhood friends Robert, Mary Ann, and Dennis. We had great times together.

    Each of them was adopted. Each came from different biological parents. Ernie and Rose adopted them and Robert, Mary Ann, and Dennis were wanted and loved by them. They weren't "accidents" of Ernie and Rose. They had been hand-picked by them.

    Many famous people have been adopted, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Reagan, Mark Twain, Art Linkletter, Nat King Cole, Charles Dickens, James Michener, Babe Ruth, and many others.

    In God's Word we read about other famous adoptions: Moses by the Princess of Egypt (
    Exodus 2:1-102 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. 5 Then Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. "This is one of the Hebrew babies," she said. 7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?" 8 "Yes, go," she answered. So the girl went and got the baby's mother. 9 Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you." So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water."
    ), Esther by Mordecai (
    Esther 2:15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her.
    ) and Jesus by Joseph.

    But you and I have also been adopted. Hand-picked! Not accidents! Special to our Father, Lord, and Holy Spirit!
    • Ephesians 1:4-5: "In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will."
    • 2 Corinthians 6:18: "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
    • 1 John 3:1 "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"
    Adoptions aren't cheap. They can be very costly. They also take quite a bit of time. There can also be a great distance to travel. The same was true for each of us. The cost of being adopted by God was very expensive. God adopted us, even though we're all "special needs" kids. We're also behaviorally challenged (what an understatement!).

    The Father sent His Son a long way to adopt us: from heaven to earth. The trip to and from in human terms would take a long time. They would be apart while the adoption process was taking place. The cost: living a blemish free, spotless, sinless life for thirty-three years as our Passover Lamb. (
    1 Corinthians 5:7Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
    ) And the added cost of being beaten, tortured on a cross, shedding His blood, taking on the punishment for the sins of every one - past, present, and future.

    God will only adopt the sinless, and Christ became sin for us, putting into us His righteousness. (
    2 Corinthians 5:21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
    ,
    1 Peter 2:24"He himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed."
    ,
    Romans 8:1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
    )

    We're not "accidents." Our Father and Lord went to unimaginable costly lengths to adopt us! We're hand-picked. We're special! We're now part of their family forever! Praise God! We've been adopted!
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    Do You Have Help?
    I recently had dinner with long-time friends from another congregation. I was asked in regards to our Watsonville Christian Church, "Do you have help?"

    "Yes," I said. "I have excellent help." I'm very thankful for the helpers God has provided! Fortunately our congregation has caught the vision of each member being God's servant. What a blessing!

    After a recent Celebration of Life service at which our little flock served 100 or more people, the comment was made. "Your people are servants." That's true, and I let our congregation know of this compliment.

    We're all called by God to be His servants now and for all eternity. The main way we serve God is by serving others. God's Word says a lot about this. Here are a few verses.
    • Mark 10:45: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
    • Galatians 5:13: "...serve one another humbly in love."
    • Ephesians 6:7: "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people..."
    • 1 Peter 4:10: "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms."
    Here are just five ways each of us can serve. I'm sure you can think of many more.
    1. Live unconditionally surrendered to Jesus Christ so He can use our lives however He desires.
    2. Pray for our Lord to guide us and those we meet every day, in every way.
    3. Pray for God to guide all of His leaders to make the wisest decisions.
    4. Pray for God's guidance in the preparation and outcome of each Worship Service and Bible Study.
    5. If your congregaton has an email prayer list, get a copy and take the time to pray for those in need. (James 5:16b)
    Remember this promise from Hebrews 6:10-12. "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."
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    Annie and the House of Mourning
    I first met little Annie Macedo at Valley Heights Senior Community where each Thursday night I facilitated a Bible study for the residents, our congregation, and the community. Annie was the first to come that particular evening. With her Bible in hand she told me she was nervous, didn't know what to expect and it took some courage to come. Praise God, everything worked out so well that Annie soon started attending our Sunday worship services, bringing her good friend Ann, and later her brother Lino who was eventually baptized by us.

    Annie moved to Oregon due to declining health and later died there. We were blessed to be asked to hold her Celebration of Life Service where our congregation hosted approximately 100 or more. It was held at the same time and location on Sunday where Annie regularly worshipped with us for the last three years of her life.

    We celebrated her life with a moving service, obviously inspired by our great God. For many though, it was not only a celebration of her life, but also a "house of mourning." I saw tears of thankfulness for her life, but also the expression of the holes in the hearts of many who would miss her. Ecclesiastes 7:2 states, "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart." I asked our congregation later why they thought this was so. Here are some of their responses and my own as to how we can apply this scripture and its principle.
    • We can never summarize anyone's life until it is over.
    • We may never know in this lifetime the spiritual seeds we sow. We heard testimonies of how Annie had sown spiritual seeds into many lives and the fruit borne from them. It was a great example to us to sow seeds as God directs us and never think a seed is too small (
      Zechariah 4:10"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?"
      ).
    • Houses of mourning may not only be at funeral homes, celebration of life or graveside services, but also many other places such as homes, hospitals, and churches where God can provide His comfort through us to others mourning and hurting.
    • We learn how much the deceased meant to those who loved him/her.
    • We can praise God for a person's spiritual journey and for molding lives into what He wants them to be.
    • We learn how God's Holy Word provides incredible scriptures for insight and comfort. Here are just a few:
      Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life;
      - you will fill me with joy in your presence,
      - with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
      ,
      Psalm 116:15Precious in the sight of the Lord
      - is the death of his faithful servants.
      ,
      Psalm 139:16Your eyes saw my unformed body;
      - all the days ordained for me were written in your book
      - before one of them came to be.
      ,
      1 Corinthians 15:51-53 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
      ,
      1 Thessalonians 4:13-1413 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
      ,
      18Therefore encourage one another with these words.
      , and
      Revelation 21:4 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
      .
    We thank our awesome God for the great blessing of bringing Annie to us and our congregation! We also thank Him that we will all see little Annie again!
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    God's Perfect Timing
    Sunday, November 20, 2016 will be a day I'll never forget. It had been raining so the roads were a bit wet but there wasn't much traffic. I left San Jose and was on Highway 17 making my way to our Watsonville Christian Church.

    I was in the slow lane of the two lane highway thinking how pleasant a drive it was with few vehicles on the road. After getting to the Summit I headed down the winding road when I made a turn around a blind curve and to my shock encountered a parked car in my lane. I slammed on the brakes---there wasn't time to do anything else! The horrible sound of crashing into the back of the parked car wasn't as bad as the airbag hitting me in my mouth. It hit so hard I immediately looked at the rear view mirror expecting to see all my upper teeth broken out. To my shock they were still intact, but didn't feel firmly implanted.

    Smoke came from under the hood which was bent so I couldn't see in front of me, followed by the smell inside the car just before I got out. There were two parked cars in front of me and in front of them a car that had spun out of control blocking both lanes.

    My car was totaled, but praise God, I wasn't! People passing by asked if I needed an ambulance and volunteered to call 911. I knew God had protected me. I then experienced God's hand even more, reminding me of His perfect timing.

    A young man drove up and asked if I needed help. I said "Yes." He asked what he could do and I told him I needed a ride to Watsonville. I was still hoping to get there on-time for our 10 a.m. Worship Service. To my surprise he said he would. He waited about an hour while the CHP officers and drivers were exchanging information and for the tow truck to arrive to take away my car. I hopped in his car and we headed to Watsonville.

    He then asked where Watsonville was! I told him and we proceeded. I asked his name. "Josh," he said. He told me he was a Christian living in Mt. View and attending a church in San Jose. This particular morning he would be going to a church in Aptos where his girl friend would be playing the piano.

    Before he left home he was meditating on how God's timing is perfect. He asked God to guide him to know when to leave and requested he would be part of God's perfect timing that day. He arrived right when I needed him. I told him I also was a Christian, and a pastor heading to church! We laughed, knowing our meeting wasn't an accident. Our conversation was so upbeat it seemed like this was all a blessing in disguise.

    I had hoped I'd be on time. When he dropped me off at the door of the church we looked at the time and it was 9:59 a.m. When I walked into church it was exactly 10 a.m. I was on time. God's perfect timing!
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    Depressed?
    If you are, you have plenty of company! The Word of God has great examples of His servants that had bouts of depression. The good news? HE got each of them out of the pit! He can get you out too!

    Let's look at these servants:

    Moses:
    Numbers 11:11-15
    11 He asked the LORD, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?
    12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers?
    13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!'
    14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.
    15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now-- if I have found favor in your eyes-- and do not let me face my own ruin."

    Elijah:
    I Kings 19:3-4
    3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there,
    4 while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."

    Job:
    Job 3:1-4, 11, 16
    1 After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.
    2 He said:
    3 "May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, 'A boy is born!'
    4 That day-- may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it.

    11 "Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?

    16 Or why was I not hidden in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day?

    Jeremiah:
    Jeremiah 20:14-18
    14 Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
    15 Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, "A child is born to you-- a son!"
    16 May that man be like the towns the LORD overthrew without pity. May he hear wailing in the morning, a battle cry at noon.
    17 For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged forever.
    18 Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?

    Lessons we can learn:
    Talk to God! Respectfully, of course, but express how you feel. Ask for His help. Learn to listen, then follow.

    He can not only get you out of the pit of depression but help you become a great servant for Him.

    Each of these servants of God went on to live a productive life for our Lord. God does not show favoritism (
    Romans 2:11For God does not show favoritism.
    ). What He did for them in picking them up He can do for you.

    Ask (
    Matthew 7:7-87 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
    ) our Great God to 1) strengthen, 2) inspire, and 3) encourage you, and He will!


    Do You Feel Empty?

    Only God Can Fill You! Here's how...

    Have you ever felt empty?

    God's faithful prophet Elijah went from spiritually full to spiritually empty, but got re-filled! Here's how God can also fill you, so you are no longer empty!

    First, let's read Elijah's story:

    1 Kings 19:4b-8, 11-13a:

    He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

    The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.


    Examining these verses we learn how God can fill us:

    1) Talk to God: let Him know how you feel ("I have had enough, Lord": "Take my life")
    2) Catch-up on lost sleep ("he lay down under the tree and fell asleep")
    3) Don't over-sleep ("Get up...")
    4) Eat and drink healthy, nourishing food and drink in the right amounts ("He ate and drank")
    5) Spend time with God (Elijah fasted 40 days; he spent time with God. Talk to God, listen to Him, and read the Bible)
    6) Exercise (Elijah "traveled" from where he was to "the mountain of God"; we too need to go to God)
    7) Get outside and be inspired by His creation (from where he was to Mt. Horeb was out-of-doors)

    When we do these things, as Elijah did, we can be filled, and even recognize the Lord's "voice" as Elijah did! It only took "a gentle whisper."

    So, if you feel empty apply these points and let God fill you, as only He can!
    I Asked The Lord to Bless You

    I asked the Lord to bless you as I prayed for you today,
    To guide you and protect you as you go along your way.

    His love is always with you, His promises are true,
    And when we give Him all our cares, you know He'll see us through.

    So when the road you're traveling on seems difficult at best,
    Just remember I'm here praying and God will do the rest.

    Author Unknown

    Anti-Depressant Psalms
    Psalm 42
    1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
    2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
    3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, "Where is your God?"
    4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
    5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and
    6 my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon-- from Mount Mizar.
    7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
    8 By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me-- a prayer to the God of my life.
    9 I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?"
    10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "Where is your God?"
    11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

    Psalm 43
    1 Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.
    2 You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?
    3 Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.
    4 Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.
    5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
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    Need Money?
    These are difficult financial times for many people. By the time you read this you may be wondering where to get the money to pay your taxes, everyday expenses like food and shelter, and other bills.

    One of the Bible stories I find very helpful and encouraging when it comes to having sufficient money to pay our bills is found in Matthew 17:24-27:


    After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?" "Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes--from their own sons or from others?" "From others," Peter answered. "Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. "But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."

    Let's look at these verses a bit more closely and see how they apply to you and me today.

    One, it tells us that Jesus paid the temple tax. We're also told in Romans 13:7 that we should pay our taxes to the authorities we live under.

    We also see an example of doing something so others are not offended.

    We further see that very possibly Peter, and perhaps Jesus too, did not have the money to pay the tax. But Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is also our Provider. He isn't broke! He can direct each of us to the solution to every problem, including not having enough money to pay a tax, or any bill!

    We learn from these verses that we can always go to our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for any need (
    Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
    ). Jesus has all the answers.

    We additionally learn that we must listen to Him. And then, obey Him (
    John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
    )! Jesus is still there for each of us! He is still working miracles. He has not, nor will He, run out of miracles (
    Ephesians 3:20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
    ).

    I also find it interesting what Jesus did not tell Peter: He didn't tell him specifically what part of the lake to go to, nor what exact time of day or night to do so. Merely, go fishing, and the first fish you catch open it's mouth, and you'll find the coin!

    We also notice the coin was the exact amount needed; no more, no less. Jesus can still provide for all of our needs, not necessarily our greeds (
    Philippians 4:19And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
    ).

    So take heart! We can, and should, always look to our great and wonderful Lord, Savior, and Provider, Jesus, for our every need. We need to then listen, obey, and follow where He leads (
    John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
    ).
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    Do Animals Go To Heaven?
    "Pastor, do animals go to heaven?" I've been asked that question a number of times. It has been asked by those who have animals they have truly loved, and considered part of their family.

    I've been asked by one of our members if I would anoint their dog for healing, and I said "Yes!", and did. In fact, I anointed their beloved Wanda a couple of times. She too was a beloved animal of their household, and of others, like myself, who knew her.

    We went through the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible over a period of weeks during our Sunday worship services. Solomon, who was inspired by God to write the book, may have also wondered about the future of animals. Here is what he wrote:

    Ecclesiastes 3:21
    Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?

    Solomon realized though that the spirit of man returns to God as he later writes in Ecclesiastes 12:7b: the spirit returns to God who gave it.

    What happens though to "the spirit of the animal" he refers to in Ecclesiastes 3:21 above?

    One of the most humorous and amazing stories about animals we'll read in the Bible is of God opening the mouth of a donkey so she could speak.  Besides the serpent in the Garden of Eden, did animals at one time talk in our own languages? Here is the scripture about Balaam's donkey:

    Numbers 22:28a & b:
    Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam...

    Although we don't know for certain if animals will be in heaven, one thing we do know: there's plenty of room for them. And why wouldn't we be able to again enjoy our beloved animals, and they enjoy us? I expect them to be there, anxiously waiting and looking for us. Perhaps we'll speak with them as well, and our relationship with them then will be even greater than it was here on earth. Maybe they'll tell us how much they appreciated us taking care of them when they were on earth, and being part of our families. I expect it to be an awesome time. We have a lot to look forward to. After all, the place is called Heaven!
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    THE RAINBOW BRIDGE
    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
    Author unknown

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    Encouraging Bible Verses
    "For I know I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -- Jeremiah 29:11

    Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. -- Psalm 34:8

    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -- Romans 8:28

    If God is for us, who can be against us? -- Romans 8:31b

    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -- Romans 15:13

    For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -- 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

    For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear; I will help you." -- Isaiah 41:13

    Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. -- James 1:2-3

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    God Has a Positive Answer (click on a verse)
    YOU SAYGOD SAYSBIBLE VERSES
    You say: "It's impossible"God says: All things are possible(Luke 18:27)
    You say: "I'm too tired"God says: I will give you rest(Matthew 11:28-30)
    You say: "Nobody really loves me"God says: I love you(John 3:16)  (John 3:34)
    You say: "I can't go on"God says: My grace is sufficient(II Corinthians 12:9)  (Psalm 91:15)
    You say: "I can't figure things out"God says: I will direct your steps(Proverbs 3:5-6)
    You say: "I can't do it"God says: You can do all things(Philippians 4:13)
    You say: "I'm not able"God says: I am able(II Corinthians 9:8)
    You say: "It's not worth it"God says: It will be worth it(Romans 8:28)
    You say: "I can't forgive myself"God says: I forgive you(I John 1:9) & (Romans 8:1)
    You say: "I can't manage"God says: I will supply all your needs(Philippians 4:19)
    You say: "I'm afraid"God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear(II Timothy 1:7)
    You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated"God says: Cast all your cares on ME(I Peter 5:7)
    You say: "I'm not smart enough"God says: I give you wisdom(I Corinthians 1:30)
    You say: "I feel all alone"God says: I will never leave you or forsake you(Hebrews 13:5)

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    The Center of God's Will

    The following six points were part of a sermon given at Watsonville Christian Church.  The scriptures below them will help each of us get, and stay, in the Center of God's Will, when they are applied!

    Prayerful Steps to be in the Center of God's Will

    1)  Come to God with your will surrendered

    2)  Ask God for guidance

    3)  Ask God if He has a preference

    4)  Ask God to open and close doors

    5)  Ask God to make things 100% clear

    6)  Be patient; wait for the Lord to make it clear.

    Proverbs 3:5-7
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
    in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
    Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.


    Matthew 7:7-8
    "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
    For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.


    John 10:27
    My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

    Psalm 27:14
    Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
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    Knock, Knock!
    It was the only sales appointment I had that night. The couple invited me to come and told me they would be there at 9 p.m. I left San Jose and headed for their condo in Morgan Hill. I arrived about fifteen minutes early, so I decided to wait until 8:55 p.m. before knocking on their door.

    I knocked. No one answered. I waited a few minutes to see if someone would come to the door. Since no one did, I knocked again, but this time a bit harder. Still no answer. I waited a few more minutes and knocked again, but this time much harder. Still, no response. Finally, I decided I'd knock one last time, but this time I would knock so hard that even if they had died, the sound of the knock would resurrect them!

    And then, the door opened! No, not their door. I had knocked so hard on their door that the neighbor next door thought I was knocking on their door. I apologized and explained what I was doing. They asked what I was selling. I told them and they said they were just talking about that product and invited me in! I never met the other couple!

    My experience reminds me of this "knock, knock" joke:
    Knock, knock!
    Who's there?
    Iva
    Iva who?
    Iva sore hand from knocking on the door!
    But do you know that God tells us to "knock." He tells us first to ask. Then, if necessary, to seek, and then, if necessary, to knock. These are progressively aggressive terms. Sometimes we might not get an immediate answer to a question or request we make to God. He might now want us to stop, however, but to seek, and then if necessary, to knock. Many times God wants us to learn to persevere, and not give up. (
    Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
    ) It might also be that He wants us to spend more time with Him. Matthew 7:7 says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

    There are other times when God might be doing the knocking - on the door of our hearts. Revelation 3:20 says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

    Responding to the knock of God on our hearts will build the relationship with Him that He wants. Our Lord wants us to spend time with Him. He wants to "come in and eat" with us. When we "eat" with God, we spend time with Him doing something that's enjoyable. So when He knocks, don't delay; open the door of your heart and let Him in!
    Knock, knock!
    Who's there?
    Harry.
    Harry who?
    Harry up and open the door!
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    One Size Fits...One
    You may have heard the term "one size fits all." You might also have heard, "We know it's not one size fits all." But might the truth be that "one size fits...one"? Meaning that just like fingerprints or snowflakes no two circumstances, individuals, or congregations are 100% identical.

    Our present world of "Christianity" is filled with programs, formulas, and strategies that worked for someone and produced great results. If we're not careful we might be tempted or encouraged to apply the same program, formula, or strategy so we, too, will be "successful." And if we're not careful we can possibly put in place some program, formula, or strategy instead of God's unique plan for us or our congregation.

    Could we be guilty of laziness in not spending sufficient time in prayer asking, seeking, and knocking (
    Matthew 7:7-87 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
    ,
    James 4:2You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.
    ), then listening (
    John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
    ) so we will know God's unique plan for each of us and our congregations? The tendency might be to think there's no need to pray and ask our Lord what His unique plan is for each of us or our congregation because we can just simply apply the latest program, formula, or strategy.

    Sometimes the programs, formulas, and strategies are about more and more numbers, making the church bigger and bigger, or building an empire instead of following our Lord's plan of making genuine disciples and true followers of Christ.

    Jesus prayed all night before selecting the twelve apostles (
    Luke 6:12-16 12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
    ). We may have to exercise some prayer work and spend time with our Lord to find out what "...His good, pleasing and perfect will (
    Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
    )" is for us. Are we willing to put forth the effort?

    You are unique. All the hairs on your head are numbered (
    Matthew 10:30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
    ,
    Luke 12:7Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
    ). God knows not only the total number of hairs on your head, but He also has each one numbered. How intricate and detailed is that? God made you special (
    Psalm 1391 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand- when I awake, I am still with you. 19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! 20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
    ). There's only one of you. There's never been one of you before and there won't be another of you later. The Lord has His own special dream for you. The same is true of congregations. Each congregation is also unique and God has His own special dream for each.

    Perhaps we need to "...fix our eyes on Jesus... (
    Hebrews 12:2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
    )" instead of the latest program, formula, or strategy. In other words we need to pray and listen to God to find out if there is any program, formula, or strategy He wants us to apply, and whether it's all of it, parts of it, or none of it. After all, He wants what is best for each of us and for each congregation.

    Remember, it's not one size fits all; it's really "one size fits...one."
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    Remember and Forget
    Over time in any of our lives there will be many things we should remember and some things we should forget. What? Some things we should forget? Yes!

    Giving in to human nature, we might remember what our Lord wants us to forget and forget what He wants us to remember. Here's a prayer I believe will help each of us grow and accomplish the most from our lives: "Lord, please help us remember everything You want us to remember and forget everything You want us to forget."

    Here are a few examples of things we should remember and things we should forget.

    Remember (
    1 Chronicles 16:12-1312 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
    13 you his servants, the descendants of Israel, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
    ;
    Psalm 77:11-12 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
    12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds."
    )
    • God's Holy Word: Pray for the help to have God's Word written on the tablet of our hearts - especially those specific words He knows will help us the most.
    • God's Hand in Our Lives: Reviewing where God's hand has guided us throughout our lives can be very inspiring and encouraging. We can ask the Lord to help us remember these things and even show us areas where we didn't recognize His hand and involvement in our lives.
    • Friendships: Remember the wonderful friends God has blessed us with and how they've helped enrich our lives.
    • Joy: Remember the many fun, funny, and enjoyable moments.
    • Blessings: All blessings are worth remembering and especially the unexpected ones.
    • Lessons Learned from Trials: We want to remember how God has brought us through our trials and the lessons learned that will help us grow.
    Forget (
    Proverbs 19:11A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense.
    ;
    Luke 9:62Jesus replied, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
    ;
    Philippians 3:13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
    )
    • Mistakes: Once we've repented and learned the lesson from them, move on just like the Apostle Paul did. We don't need to remember the mistakes we've made, things we've done or didn't do, words we've said or didn't say.
    • Negativity: We don't need to remember certain things done to us, including insults and negative things said. (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22) Learn to listen and discern what the Lord says through people and not be adversely affected by what people may be saying on their own. Extract everything we can learn from the negativity and then move on.
    • False Teachings and Lies: These could be in any area of our lives, such as spiritually, relationships, business, health, etc. Forgetting these will free our minds to think on what is true. (
      Philippians 4:8-98 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
      )
    So Lord, please help us remember everything You want us to remember and forget everything You want us to forget!
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    Be BOLD and SHARE Our Faith
    I heard a Christian pastor state, "Everyone's come out of the closet except the Christians."

    It that true of us?

    How bold are we in sharing our faith? Or are we shy and timid and afraid of the response? Here are a couple of definitions of "bold" from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary: Showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit; standing out prominently.

    There's a difference, of course, between being bold and being obnoxious. Some Christians have an "in your face" way of spreading Christianity. This can definitely turn-off anyone. Opportunities do come up though to boldly share our faith without being obnoxious.

    A church member commented how interesting it is that I've been able to share my faith with others. The reason, though, is that it's intentional. Let me explain. I've prayed for God to help me and all other Christians be bold in sharing our faith. He then has given me opportunities to put it into practice. Actually the opportunities have always been there for me, and are there for you too. Sometimes we can share our faith by simply answering questions when we are asked. Here are some examples:

    On the way to our church regional conference I take a taxi to the airport. When the driver would ask where I'm going I used to say, "I'll be getting together with some friends." Now I say, "I'm going to a Christian conference. Are you a Christian?" This has produced good conversations with the drivers, including having them tell me what they don't like about Christianity. It's provided great opportunities to share my faith. On one occasion I actually ended up asking a driver if he would like me to pray for him. He said yes, and I did - right there in his taxi. This approach has helped me sharpen my own beliefs and learn to explain the difference between real and false Christianity. Many times what people are turned-off to is the false Christianity. This gives us the opportunity to explain to them true Christianity.

    On other occasions I'll be in the check-out line at the supermarket. If the cashier asks, "Have any plans for the weekend?" I've responded with, "Yes, I'm going to church on Sunday. I pastor a little church in Watsonville. How about you?" Most cashiers have been non-Christians but I've also met a wonderful Christian brother and sister with this approach. He put his hand out and said, "Welcome brother!" Then he proclaimed about the bagger, "She's a believer too!"

    I've also been asked a number of times by business associates what I'll be doing for the weekend. These are great opportunities to share our faith. They are great opportunities to be bold, and not hide what we'll be doing, but putting it out front. Sometimes it'll prompt other questions by those who've asked. It can add to the excitement our Christian lives can have by sharing our Lord and beliefs with others. Spiritual seeds can be sown, watered, and sometimes we may even reap. (
    1 Corinthians 3:6-76 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
    )

    I've had Muslim and Hindu friends. When my Hindu neighbor has been sick I've told him I'd be praying for him. He'd thank me, and then I'd pray that if it be His will our Lord would heal him, and that my Hindu neighbor would realize it came from Him. Sometimes just telling people you'll pray for them can be sharing our faith. We can then pray for our Lord to answer the prayers as He wills and that the person we prayed for realize it came from Him. The purpose is to lead people to Christ, not necessarily to a particular church, or denomination, but the place of His choice for them.

    Of course our examples are very important. There's a saying that the only thing wrong with Christianity are the Christians. With the help of our Great Lord the more Christ-like we can be in our lives the more effective we can be in sharing Him with others. We can always pray to be used by Him in sharing Him with others. We must, of course, be led by God, but then not hold back.

    Here are some scriptures about being bold:
    • Psalm 138:3 When I called, you answered me; you made me bold...
    • Proverbs 28:1 ...the righteous are as bold as a lion.
    • Acts 4:29 ...enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
    • Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
    • 2 Corinthians 3:12 ...since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
    The opportunties are there for all of us. So let's "Be BOLD and SHARE Our Faith" with others! They need our Lord, just like we do!
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    Biblical Jesus vs. Postmodern Jesus


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    Helpful Words From God
    (Click on the verse)
    You are sad
    John 14
    You have sinned Psalm 51
    You are facing danger Psalm 91
    People have failed you Psalm 27
    It feels as though God is far from you Psalm 139
    You need examples of faith Hebrews 11
    You are alone and scared Psalm 23
    You are worried Matthew 6:25-34
    You are hurt or critical 1 Corinthians 13
    You wonder about Christianity 2 Corinthians 5:15-18
    You feel like an outcast Romans 8:31-39
    You are seeking peace Matthew 11:25-30
    You want a victorious life Romans 8:1-39
    You are leaving home for a trip Psalm 121
    You require courage for a task Joshua 1
    Inflation and investments are hogging your thoughts Mark 10:17-31
    You are depressed Psalm 27
    Your bank account is empty Psalm 37
    You lose faith in mankind 1 Corinthians 13
    It looks like people are unfriendly John 15:18-25
    You are losing hope Psalm 126
    You feel the world is small compared to you Psalm 19
    You want to bear fruit John 15:1-17
    Paul's secret for happiness Colossians 3:12-17
    Invitation to the spiritually thirsty Isaiah 55
    To get along with other people Romans 12
    For security Psalm 121:3
    For assurance Mark 8:35
    For reassurance Psalm 145:18
    FEED Your Faith, and Starve Your Doubt!
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    Helpful Words From Books
    The Cost of Discipleship
    The Disciple-Making Pastor
    How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth

    The Cost of Discipleship
    by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, explains the cost of being a disciple, a follower of Jesus, and the difference between what he calls "cheap grace" and "costly grace."

    From the Foreword by G. K. A. Bell: "He was crystal clear in his convictions; and young as he was, and humble-minded as he was, he saw the truth, and spoke it with a complete absence of fear."

    From the Memoir by G. Leibholz "When asked...What will you do when war comes? he answered: "I shall pray to Christ to give me the power not to take up arms." "Dietrich Bonhoeffer...wrote in later years "I am sure of God's hand and guidance...You must never doubt that I am thankful and glad to go the way which I am being led." "...he considered self-righteousness and complacency great sins..." "We know that Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was never tried, went steadfastly on his last way to be hanged, and died with admirable calmness and dignity." "God heard his prayer and granted him the "costly grace"---that is, the privilege of taking the cross for others and of affirming his faith by martyrdom." "No doubt, Bonhoeffer was a great patriot and he loved his country so much that he preferred death to safety." "...not only in its material standards, but also in its spiritual vitality, has Western civilization been falling steadily and with increasing rapidity into ruin and desolation."

    From Bonhoeffer's Introduction: "Jesus asks nothing of us without giving us the strength to perform it." "Discipleship means joy."

    From a chapter titled "Costly Grace": "Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting to-day for costly grace." "In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin." "Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before." "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession..." "Costly grace...is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin..." "Luther did not hear the word: "Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness." "Is there a more diabolical abuse of grace than to sin and rely on the grace which God has given?" "...the collapse of the organized Church is only the inevitable consequence of our policy of making grace available to all at too low a cost." "What had happened to all those warnings of Luther's against preaching the gospel in such a manner as to make men rest secure in their ungodly living?" "...they had in fact lost the power to live the life of discipleship and obedience. The word of cheap grace has been the ruin of more Christians than any commandment of works."

    Other points, quoting from Bonhoeffer: "The disciple places himself at the Master's disposal..." "You can only learn what obedience is by obeying." "...rely on Christ's word, and cling to it as offering greater security than all the securities in the world." "...the whole Word of the Scriptures summons us to follow Jesus." "Obedience to the call of Jesus never lies within our own power."

    "To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self..." "He leads the way, keep close to him." "Jesus says that every Christian has his own cross waiting for him, a cross destined and appointed by God. Each must endure his allotted share of suffering and rejection." "As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ..." "...only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ." "...his followers are to maintain their communion with Christ by their endurance."

    "Who is pure in heart? Only those who have surrendered their hearts completely to Jesus..."

    "The Church is not to be a national community like the old Israel, but a community of believers without political or national ties." "Strict exercise of self-control is an essential feature of the Christian's life." "...there is a need for daily self-discipline."

    "The disciples are few in number, and will always be few." "Never let a disciple of Jesus pin his hopes on large numbers." "The rest of the world are many, and will always be many." "At any moment the nominal Christians may be separated from the real ones."

    "All the activity of the disciples is subject to the clear precept of their Lord. They are not left free to choose their own methods or adopt their own conception of their task.  Their work is to be Christ-work, and therefore they are absolutely dependent on the will of Jesus." "To tell men that the cause is urgent, and that the kingdom of God is at hand is the most charitable and merciful act we can perform, the most joyous news we can bring."

    "...Jesus never called his disciples into a state of uncertainty, but to one of supreme certainty." "Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men." "The time is short. Eternity is long. It is the time of decision." "The baptized Christian has ceased to belong to the world and is no longer its slave."

    "In Christ we no longer live our own lives, but he lives his life in us. The life of the faithful in the Church is indeed the Life of Christ in them..." "The offices of the Church are 'ministries'. They are appointed in the Church of God...by Christ...and by the Holy Spirit... They are not appointed by the Church." "It is a matter of life and death for the Church that the utmost care be exercised with regard to ordinations."

    "...the Christian life is not one of gloom, but of ever increasing joy in the Lord." "...if we surrender ourselves utterly to him, we cannot help bearing his image ourselves." "Jesus Christ, incarnate, crucified and glorified, has entered my life and taken charge." "The Holy Trinity himself has made his dwelling in the Christian heart, filling his whole being, and transforming him into the divine image."
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    The Disciple-Making Pastor
    by Bill Hull - 2007 Edition

    The author's main point is that Pastors need to make disciples, and that those disciples need to also make disciples. Some key points: from the Foreword by Robert E. Coleman "It is no secret that the organized church today is in trouble." In "2007 Introduction" by the author Bill Hull he makes the point that just coming forward at an altar call, or merely saying the words to "The Sinner's Prayer" for many is the end of their spiritual journey with them thinking they are saved and therefore they never grow to become true disciples of Jesus and accept Him as their Lord. So many therefore of professing American Christians do not display the fruits of true Christianity. His statement: "The American gospel understands faith as agreement, so saying the prayer or walking down the aisle is the finish line rather than the starting line." And "When Jesus commanded us to "make disciples," He meant more than converts or church members; He meant those who take up their cross daily and follow Him." "The gospel has been stripped of repentance and the basic call of Christ to deny oneself and follow Him."

    "The challenge for pastors is to be a disciple first, seeking God daily and practicing the spiritual disciplines he or she advocates." "The key to our souls is contemplation, the acquired habit of being alone with God to hear His voice." "My advice to all pastors is to simply rearrange your life around the practices of Jesus." "He prayed, He prayed alone, and He prayed at special times of pressure and decision."

    He also writes of "...our idolatrous worship of the American superchurch." "The all-too-common measure of greatness is the number of people gathered for worship." "The right question is, "What are these people like?" "Jesus described a disciple as one who abides in Him, is obedient, bears fruit, glorifies God, has joy, and loves (see
    John 15:7-177 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
    9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
    )." "... prepare people to be self-feeding Christians..."

    Other points: "The church does not exist for itself." "...emphasis on how many gather for worship is pre-Christian and pagan." "You can always get a crowd, if you demand very little and put on a show." "What is being asked of the people, are they living and serving the way God planned? The purpose of gathering Christians is for training..." "...parents in evangelical churches...They are not committed as a whole; therefore, the children reflect the same slippage of commitment." "George Gallup says that among evangelicals, there are a highly committed group of 10 percent. These people carry the load and will make the difference." "Quoting the late Dr. Kenneth Kantzer: "As a culture, our nation and, indeed Western Europe are moving away from Biblical Christianity."

    "The measure of a person is faithfulness, not numerical success. The real issue continues to be the kind of people we are producing in our churches." "A number of years ago, faithful attendees were present eight out of every ten Sundays. More recently, that ratio has changed to six out of every ten Sundays." "...a diminished sense of commitment."

    "The people sitting in the pew are products of television more than the Word of God." "The superficial Christian wants to have all the benefits of a victorious Christian life without the commitment." "Satan can see disciple making in action, and he is ready to oppose it at every turn." "We must be alert to how crafty the enemy can be. He and his system can be subtle."

    "...teaching people to obey is the most important ongoing ingredient for a meaningful Christian life." "...the totally committed person whom Jesus described in
    Luke 14:25-35 25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
    28 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, 'This person began to build and wasn't able to finish.'
    31 "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won't he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
    34 "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

    "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear."
    , who puts Christ before possessions, self, and family..." "...the old problem of being Christian without being Christlike." "The individual walk with Christ determines the quality of person." "It really means to cease to make myself the center of my life and actions. I relinquish the right to call all the shots; it is no longer my body, my career, my money, my time." "Self-denial means the sustained willingness to say no to self so I can say yes to God." "Whatever mission God has given me is my cross. I may enjoy it; I may need to endure it."

    "Satan and his gang are busy distracting you, throwing one obstacle after another in your path and draining the joy from your life." "Critical spirits are without joy and contentment, are resistant to authority in their lives, and are not filled with the Spirit." "Faith is the conviction that the plan He has developed for me is better and more affirming than my own." "The church must lead people to maturity." "...what are Christians like in their day-to-day lives?" "I believe there is no distinction between the everyday life and the spiritual life. We all have just one life; everything in it is interwoven, and God works in all of it." "When I obey, I feel His pleasure."
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    How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
    by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart
    The main purpose was stated in the title: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. They stressed exegesis which included debunking the "Needle's Eye" story of camels going through a gate and having to kneel to do so: "There never was such a gate in Jerusalem at any time in its history." They also showed the value of commentaries in explaining scriptures: "Surely it makes a difference in understanding to know that the denarius ("penny" KJV!) offered to the workers in Matthew 20:1-16 was the equivalent of a full days' wage."

    Strong statements were made regarding translations in Chapter Two: "The Basic Tool: A Good Translation". "...the NKJV (which is based on poor, late manuscripts)..." "This is why for study you should use almost any modern translation rather than the KJV or the NKJV." "...the basic translation for reading and studying should be something in the TNIV/NIV/NRSV range." "The TNIV (and NIV) is a committee translation by the best scholarship in the evangelical tradition." "The GNB is an outstanding translation by a single scholar, Robert G. Bratcher..." "...the TNIV (or NIV)...If you were regularly to read this translation, and then consult at least one from three other categories (NRSV/NASU; GNB/NAB; REB/NJB), you would be giving yourself the best possible start to an intelligent reading and study of the Bible."

    Other helpful statements: "What God wants us to know he has communicated to us; what he has not told us may still hold our interest, but our uncertainty at these points should make us hesitant about being dogmatic." In reference to 1 Corinthians 15:29 and being baptized for the dead: "Finally, we suggest that even scholars do not have all the answers. You can more or less count on it that, where there are four to fourteen viable options as to what a text meant, even the scholars are guessing! Texts like 1 Corinthians 15:29 (on which there are at least forty different guesses) should serve to give us proper humility."

    Regarding the poor: "On such points most people tend to have only half a canon. Traditional evangelicals tend to read only "the poor in spirit"; social activists tend to read only "you who are poor." We insist that both are canonical."

    In Chapter 9 "The Law(s): Covenant Stipulations for Israel" they state: "God expects of his people---us---somewhat different evidences of obedience and loyalty from those he expected from the Old Testament Israelites. The loyalty itself is still expected. It is how one shows this loyalty that has been changed in certain ways.."

    Regarding the Book of Revelation: "...there are at least five major schools of interpretation, not to mention significant variations within each of the schools." Regarding the antichrist: "It is the ambiguity of the New Testament texts themselves that leads to our caution and lack of dogmatic certainty."
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    Lessons from Dad
    Statistics show that approximately 73% of men in prison did not have a father or father figure while growing up. Many others may not have had a good father, one who provided necessary guidance. I'm thankful for my father and the guidance he gave me. Here are a few lessons my dad taught me, but they're really lessons for each of us.

    There's Always Room for Improvement

    When I was in junior high, I had worked very hard to get the best grades I could. One report card stood out (I believe I had all "A"s). I was excited to show it to my dad. He looked at it. Then, with a sparkle in his eye and a smile he couldn't contain, told me, "This is good, but you can do better." He wasn't displeased. He was merely stating a fact. He didn't want me to be complacent, but wanted me to always strive to do better and not be lazy. I might have had the same grades, I thought later, but perhaps I could have learned even more that I did. (
    Philippians 1:9-119 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.
    ,
    3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
    ;
    2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
    )

    Keep Your Commitments

    When I approached entering high school I wanted to go to Lowell, the best academic college prep school in the city. It was, however, quite a distance from our home. My dad thought going to the closest school was good enough. It was arguably the worst academically and had gang members attending there. I fought with my dad and won. After a year and a half of experiencing a lot of stress and difficulty, I approached my dad and told him he was right - I should go to the closest school. My dad saw through it and made this comment: "You fought with me to get into Lowell and you won. Now you're fighting with me to get out and you're going to lose." I'm thankful I lost. My dad wouldn't let me back out of my commitment just because things were difficult. (
    Ecclesiastes 5:5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.
    ;
    Matthew 5:37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
    ;
    Luke 14:28-3028 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, 'This person began to build and wasn't able to finish.'
    ;
    18:1hen Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
    )

    Fight the Good Fight

    After my dad retired, he was living on his pension and social security. The social security administration at that time increased the monthly amount recipients would receive so they could keep up with the cost of living. The pension administrators, however, then reduced the amount they were providing by the same amount. My dad felt this was an injustice and formed the "Committee for Pension Justice." He rallied the retirees and employees of the city and county of San Francisco and fought. I remember him saying he'd take it all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. The Apostle Paul stated he too had fought a good fight. Paul's statement is an example for all of us to follow. "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (
    2 Timothy 4:7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
    )

    Although my father died many years ago, I'm still thankful for him, and the lessons he taught me. Thanks, Dad!
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    Lessons from Mom
    Many times I've seen athletes being inducted into their sport's hall of fame and they acknowledge those who had the greatest influence in their lives. So many times they've given special recognition to their moms. As I look back on my own life, I am very thankful for my mom and the influence she had on me. Here are two lessons that stand out.

    The Value of a Great Teacher

    I was in fourth grade and was very consistent. Each week we had a spelling test of twenty words. Each week I got all twenty wrong. My teacher contacted my mom and had her come to school. That's when my mom sprang into action and I learned the value of a great teacher.

    My mom became my personal tutor. She sat me down and ever so patiently helped me phonetically learn to spell. She was kind, competent, and determined. By the time the school year ended, I was my class spelling bee champion. I was also the spelling bee champion each year through the eighth grade. I give my mom 100% credit for this!

    But we all have a great Teacher. (
    John 13:13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am.
    ) In fact, the greatest! And He is always willing to teach us, and ever so patiently! He too is kind, competent, and determined! (
    Matthew 11:28-29 28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
    29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
    ,
    Philippians 1:6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
    )

    Be Willing to be Placed Where We're Most Needed

    I wanted to have a paper route and thought of the money I would make. It sounded so good. My parents thought otherwise.

    My mom shopped regularly at a little corner grocery store a block from our home. It was run by a Syrian refugee who we called Jaber George. His wife and three children were still in Syria. He was lonely, so my mom arranged it so I would start working for him. I was eleven years old, the same age as the oldest of his sons. I worked for him for two years, after which his family arrived.

    I found out he had written to his family about me. His wife accepted me like I was another of her sons. It was heart-warming for me to experience the reaction from her and her appreciation of my having been in her husband's life during a very difficult time. I'm thankful I was placed where I was most needed!

    When we yield to our Lord Jesus, He places us where He wants us to be. (
    1 Corinthians 12:18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
    ,
    28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.
    ,
    Acts 17:26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
    ). And when He does, it will be where we're most needed! (
    Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
    )

    My mom died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage at age sixty-two. I was only twenty-one years old at the time. Although I didn't have her for a very long time in my life, I'm forever thankful for the time I did, and for what she taught me. Thanks, Mom!
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    Lessons from Leroy

    Leroy Cole was our San Jose Pastor from 1980 - 1987.
    On July 17, 2018, he went home to be with our Lord.
    It was April 1980 when Leroy Cole with his wife Jean and their daughters Julie, Lynda, and Lauretta came to San Jose to be our new pastor. He continued in that role until the end of July 1987. During those seven years there were two major lessons I learned from him. Here they are:

    Be thorough:

    A couple of areas come to mind when I think of Leroy being thorough. One was about church baptisms. All the church baptisms during the period Leroy pastored in San Jose were conducted at my town home. I calculate there were one-hundred-and-fifty or more. Although he had already counseled with those getting baptized, he made certain to do so again at my town home. These weren't going to be "token" baptisms - just baptizing someone to put on a monthly report. The intensity in his voice and his demeanor said otherwise. I was thankful for his thoroughness and doing his best to make certain everyone realized the commitment they were making. (
    Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
    ,
    Matthew 10:37-3937 "Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
    ,
    Acts 2:38Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    )

    Next I remember that Leroy wanted to start an annual "Singles Weekend" where singles would come from many states and even outside the country to meet and enjoy fellowship. Part of the weekend included having our own band for an approximately three-hour dance. Leroy wanted to make certain the music played would be acceptable in God's sight so he invited me to his home to go over each song, the title, lyrics, etc. I appreciated his desire to please God and his willingness to be painstakingly thorough in order to do so. (
    Ecclesiastes 9:10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
    )

    Always be listening to God:

    If we were going to be speaking at church, Leroy asked us to call and let him know what we would be speaking about the Friday night beforehand. He taught us, however, to leave room for inspiration and not be so tied to our notes that we were no longer listening to God.

    One time I spent six weeks preparing a sermonette, which is a shorter message that would precede the sermon. Even after all that time, I wasn't super excited about what I had to give. But time had run out and I had to make my call to Leroy. The next morning, however, the Lord gave me something different to give. I had the dilemma of realizing I couldn't change what I told Leroy I would speak about, but on the other hand, I felt what I now had would be more helpful.

    At church, I waited for an appropriate moment to approach him. Then I prayerfully, and with some anxiety, let him know I had something else I could speak about that might be more helpful than what I told him the night before. He smiled, and without asking me what it was, said "Go ahead and give it!" Then he added, "I also changed my sermon!" He taught me to always be listening to God! (
    John 10:27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
    )

    I'm thankful for these lessons Leroy taught me. He may be gone, but his Christian legacy lives on.
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    Lessons from Barney
    "Go, Jetter, go!" yelled Barney from what is now called John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Barney was in his car along with the senior members of our cross country team encouraging me to run faster and faster. It was very encouraging and a great help. Barney Wolf was my Lowell High School cross country coach.

    You see, Barney evidently felt the name "Jester" didn't sound fast, so like a name change from Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Simon to Peter, and Saul to Paul, he may have felt a name change from "Jester" to "Jetter" was in order, with the hope it would make me faster. It didn't work!

    And in case you're wondering, Barney wasn't purple, although those stogies he smoked might have made me turn purple if I had gotten much closer to them.

    Here are SEVEN lessons I learned from Barney. But, they're really Biblical principles that apply to you too!

    1. Become ALL we can be. (
      Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
      ) Some just want to "improve." But we can continually improve and just grow in small amounts instead of becoming ALL we can be.

    2. Think BIG. Don't limit what God can do through us. (
      Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
      )

    3. Make all necessary changes. For example, Barney would tell us the importance of keeping junk food out of our diets. (
      1 Corinthians 9:24-2724 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
      ) Is there anything that is holding us back from becoming ALL we can be? (
      Hebrews 12:1-2a Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
      ) Ask God what He would like changed, listen, and with His help make those changes.

    4. Encourage others. It's been over fifty years but the memory of Barney and those cheering me on still encourages me to this day. There are enough discouragers around. Praise God and give Him thanks for the encouragers, then strive to encourage others. (
      1 Thessalonians 5:11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
      ,
      Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
      ,
      10:25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
      )

    5. See the progress in your life and others and celebrate it. (
      Ezra 3:10-1110 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:

      "He is good;
        his love toward Israel endures forever."
      And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
      ) After each cross country meet Barney would get the team together and mention the name of anyone whose time was better than what they had previously accomplished. We celebrated each other's growth. Celebrate the growth in ourselves and others. It will be very inspiring!

    6. Realize the value of good pain. We need to push ourselves as God directs so we can grow. (
      Philippians 3:13-1513 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
      15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
      ) The Apostle Paul said he "strained" and would "press" towards the goal. This good pain will produce growth.

    7. Never give up. In running we had to put one foot in front of the other, step by step, legs getting wobbly, gasping for air, but never giving up! With God's help, we can finish the race He has set for us. Never, ever, give up! (
      Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
      ,
      2 Timothy 4:7-87 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
      )

    With Barney's help I was able to run faster than I thought possible and fulfill my potential in cross country. But much more important were the spiritual lessons I learned. We can all apply these same lessons to our spiritual lives and become ALL we can be! I praise God for the lessons I learned from Barney.
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    Lessons from a King
    One of my favorite Kings in the Bible is King Josiah of Judah (2 Kings 22, 23:1-30, 2 Chronicles 34 & 35). He is described very favorably by God. (
    2 Kings 22:2He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
    ,
    2 Chronicles 34:2He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
    ) The Bible describes what he did at five distinct ages. Here are lessons we can learn from his life.

    1. Age 8: He became King. (
      2 Kings 22:1Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother's name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath.
      ,
      2 Chronicles 34:1Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.
      ) At any age, God may allow us to be placed in certain roles, or He can orchestrate events to place us where He wants us to be. One of those having responsibility at a young age was Jesus at age twelve being in the temple discussing scriptures with others and later telling His parents "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" (
      Luke 2:41-4741 Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.
      ,
      49"Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father's house?"
      )

    2. Age 16: He began to seek God. (
      2 Chronicles 34:3In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols.
      ) It's always exciting whenever someone comes to Christ. Some, however, have committed their lives at a very young age. Apparently, Daniel, David and Samuel were among those God called into his service while they were still in their teen years. Polycarp, the disciple of John, was apparently baptized before he was a teen.

    3. In modern times we have Dr. James Dobson (founder of Focus on the Family) who committed his life to Christ at age three, Robert and Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth (Christian authors) who both did so at age four, and Pastor Robert Jeffress (Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, author, host of Pathway to Victory) at age five. (
      John 6:44No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
      ,
      65He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them."
      ,
      Philippians 2:13for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
      )

    4. Age 20: He began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of all the pagan idols. (
      2 Chronicles 34:3-73 In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols. 4 Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles and the idols. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. 6 In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, 7 he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
      ) Josiah set an excellent example for all of us by getting rid of the things we need to get rid of so we can best serve God. In our own lives this might mean getting rid of old habits, such as excessive television watching, or distancing ourselves from friends that lead us away from God, or the clutter in our lives. (
      Hebrews 12:1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
      )

    5. Age 26: He sent servants to repair the temple of God and there they found the Book of the Law. (2 Kings 22:3 through 23:28, 2 Chronicles 34:8 through 35:19) Josiah wanted to make the place where God would be worshiped a beautiful place. We should strive to do the same wherever we meet.

    6. Josiah wasn't aware of God's teachings contained in the Book of the Law and immediately began to make reforms putting God's instructions into practice. We should always read the Bible to be transformed, not just informed. We need to put into practice what He teaches us. (
      Matthew 4:4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
      ,
      James 1:22-2522 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 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.
      )

    7. Age 39: He died in battle. (
      2 Kings 22:1Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath.
      ,
      2 Chronicles 35:20-2720 After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Necho king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. 21 But Necho sent messengers to him, saying, "What quarrel is there, king of Judah, between you and me? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you."
      22 Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Necho had said at God's command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.
      23 Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, "Take me away; I am badly wounded." 24 So they took him out of his chariot, put him in his other chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him.
      25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments.
      26 The other events of Josiah's reign and his acts of devotion in accordance with what is written in the Law of the Lord- 27 all the events, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.
      ) Josiah's heart was right, but his action was wrong. (
      1 Samuel 16:7But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
      ) He assumed he knew what action to take and proceeded ahead. Unfortunately he was wrong and ended up going against God's will and died because of it. What can we learn from this? Don't assume! Pray; ask God! (
      Matthew 7:7-87 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
      ,
      Proverbs 3:5-75 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
        and lean not on your own understanding;
      6 in all your ways submit to him,
         and he will make your paths straight.
      7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
         fear the Lord and shun evil.
      ) Let's always pray that not only will our heart be right with God, but our actions as well!
    Thank you Lord, for these lessons from a King!


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    Lessons from Western Union
    The world taught me I should go to college, get a degree, then enter the work force. While in college I was taking a Business Letter Writing course when I realized I hadn't prayed for the Lord to guide me. After spending time in prayer over a number of days, seeking our Lord's will for my life, I decided to leave college. (
    Proverbs 3:5-65 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;
    6 in all your ways submit to him,
       and he will make your paths straight.
    ,
    16:9In their hearts humans plan their course,
        but the Lord establishes their steps.
    ,
    Psalm 32:8I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
        I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
    )

    I continued praying, again over a period of time, and again asking the Lord to guide me. (
    Matthew 7:7-87 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
    ,
    James 1:5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
    ,
    John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
    ) I then went to an employment office where they told me they believed they had the ideal job for me. They called Al Gumbs at the Western Union Telegraph Company. I interviewed and was hired. I was what he was looking for; someone who hadn't been taught in college but who could be taught on-the-job.

    There were two major lessons I learned from this, which really apply to each of us.

    1. When you unconditionally surrender your life to Jesus Christ you can be sure He will place you where He wants you to be. (
      1 Corinthians 12:18But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
      ,
      Acts 17:26From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
      ,
      Ephesians 2:10For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
      )

      Mr. Gumbs started me as an office boy. After a month he promoted me to Recapitulation Clerk. After two more months I was promoted to Statistical Accounting Clerk. What did that job involve? Business letter writing! Our branch was responsible for the seven western states and he would take me into the office of the head man over them, C.W. Ernst, and they would critique my writing. This was in the real world, not from the college teacher I had who informed us he had never been in the business world.

    2. God can give you favor. (
      Proverbs 3:3-43 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
         bind them around your neck,
         write them on the tablet of your heart.
      4 Then you will win favor and a good name
         in the sight of God and man.
      ,
      8:35For those who find me find life
          and receive favor from the Lord.
      ,
      Psalm 5:12Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
          you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
      )

      What is "favor"? God doing something special for you, which can include making you look good, and better than what you really are.

      I was eighteen years old. All the other employees were older, especially Muriel, who was near retirement age. I had a job commensurate with her income. This didn't sit well with her. God then showed-up to make me look good, especially to Muriel.

      Mr. Gumbs walked up to my desk and asked, with everyone listening, "You know you need to take copious notes. You know what copious means?" Yes, I said."What is it?" Take many notes, I replied. "Otherwise it could be like osmosis. You know what osmosis is?" Yes, I said. "What is it?" Osmosis is diffusion through a semi-permeable membrane, I answered. "Uh, yes, t-h-a-t-s, t-h-a-t-s correct" he responded as he looked stunned and walked away. About a year earlier I had taken a physiology course and we had to memorize the meaning of various words. Osmosis was the only word I remembered, and I had no idea what it meant.

      At break time, Muriel, on the other side of a partition speaking to everyone, not knowing I'm hearing her, said, "Did you hear what Gumbs asked that kid? That kid is brilliant!" (Ha! Boy, was she fooled!) After that I had no more problems from Muriel. She probably though I'd be company president in a few years!

      When we unconditionally surrender our lives to Jesus Christ we can be sure He will place us where He wants us to be. He can also give us favor!

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    Lessons from Goodwill
    As a young man I had the blessing of serving at Goodwill Industries for over two years. Part of the purpose of Goodwill was to provide job opportunities and training for the mentally, physically, and socially disabled. Here are FIVE lessons I learned from this experience.

    1. Be thankful for what we have. I worked with people born with disabilities and others who became disabled during their lifetime. Seeing people every day with disabilities made me appreciate what I had. I felt greatly thankful I could walk, move my arms, see, hear and speak. I worked side-by-side with many who did not have all these blessings. (
      1 Thessalonians 5:18But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
      )

    2. We can become disabled in an instant. We are all so very fragile. I remember the artist who painted with his right arm but lost that ability in an accident. And the very bright young man who had been attending Stanford University but went through a very traumatic event in his life that lead to him being placed in a mental institution. (
      Ecclesiastes 9:11I have seen something else under the sun:

      The race is not to the swift
         or the battle to the strong,
         nor does food come to the wise
         or wealth to the brilliant
         or favor to the learned;
         but time and chance happen to them all.
      )

    3. Being disabled can give you an advantage. When I was working in the personnel department I would help applicants complete an information card. This included the deaf mute lady who wrote notes to me letting me know she would be a better employee than others because she wouldn't be distracted by those talking around her, nor would she be wasting time talking to anyone. (
      Ecclesiastes 9:10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
      ,
      Ephesians 5:15-1615 Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
      )

    4. Don't let any disability stop you from being all our Lord desires you to be. Sometimes having a disability also gets attention that can give you a platform you wouldn't otherwise have. I recall Don Lathrop, who was the director of the four-hundred-and-fifty employees in the county. Don, however, was also legally blind. We'd see him with his German Shepherd guide dog beside him at his desk, and guiding him across the street. Seeing what Don achieved, and what he could do in spite of his disability, to the point of needing a guide dog, was very inspiring and got our attention. (
      2 Corinthians 12:9-109 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
      )

    5. We can cause our own disabilites. You might be wondering what it means to be "socially" disabled. One of those ways is by becoming a heroin addict that would lead to breaking the law, putting you in prison. Having this on their record classified them as "socially" disabled. Goodwill was also for rehabilitating ex-convicts, giving them a chance to prove themselves. The heroin addict/ex-convict I'm referring to came to Goodwill as a very clean cut, pleasant speaking, personable middle-aged man. He remorsefully told me how the addiction had severely harmed his life and his family. After some time at Goodwill, proving he was capable of working and not going back to his prior drug addiction, he left for a better job. Within a few weeks I was shocked and saddened to read on the front page of the local newspaper of his death -- from a heroin overdose! (
      1 Corinthians 15:33-3433 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God-I say this to your shame.
      ,
      Proverbs 26:11As a dog returns to its vomit,
         so fools repeat their folly.
      ,
      2 Peter 2:22Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud."
      )

    I'm thankful to God for the time I spent at Goodwill, the many people I met, and the lessons I learned from them!


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    Lessons from Hewlett-Packard
    I wanted to work for the very best company. At least the best in Silicon Valley. For me, that company was Hewlett-Packard.

    I heard great things about the company so I applied for a job. There weren't any openings for me at the time so each week day I would call to one of three people on a rotational basis at the company trying to get in. Finally, I got accepted.

    I worked there twelve years. Thankfully, it was during the time when Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were alive and running the company. Here are FIVE lessons I learned from working there.
    1. Don't have a meeting unless it's necessary. Don't have meetings for meetings sake. And if a meeting is necessary don't try to come up with things to fill-up the time. (
      Ephesians 5:15-16 15 Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
      )

    2. Do the highest quality work you can do, and produce the highest quality product. HP besides meaning Hewlett-Packard also within the company meant Have Pride. (
      Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
      ,
      Colossians 3:23-24 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
      )

    3. If you're in a leadership role be concerned for the people you're leading. HP was innovative in doing special things for their employees, treating them like family. We had flexible work hours, got twenty-five percent off in purchasing company stock, and each quarter got a portion of the company's profits. At break-time we had fresh fruit and other items brought to our offices (
      Proverbs 27:23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
         give careful attention to your herds;
      ,
      Matthew 20:25-28 25 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
      )

    4. Set the example. During the time I was there our country was going through a recession. HP had never laid off any one but the employees were concerned it might happen for the first time. Our concerns were relieved when Bill Hewlett got on the intercom and told everyone there would be no lay off. To do so, however, everyone would be taking a ten-percent pay cut, beginning with him! How many heads of companies would set this type of example by voluntarily taking a pay cut? (
      Psalm 78:72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
         with skillful hands he led them.
      ,
      Matthew 7:12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
      )

    5. When possible, apply the personal touch. During the time I worked for HP my father died. I was twenty-five years old. I didn't expect to get a personal sympathy card from the President of the company, Bill Hewlett, but I did. A stamped signature on a card would have been special, but I received more. He wrote on the card a personal note sympathizing with me and expressing the loss he felt when his father died. He was twelve years old. When my father died HP was worldwide and had thousands of employees. I was working in Mt. View at a pretty lowly job, and he was working in Palo Alto as the President of the company. His personal touch was something I've always cherished. (
      2 Corinthians 1:3-4 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
      ,
      Philippians 2:3-43 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
      )

    To summarize, what I experienced were Chrisian principles put into practice by both Bill and Dave, as the employees referred to them. When we ask and allow Christ to live through us hopefully we can all touch people the way they did! (
    Philippians 2:5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
    ,
    Colossians 1:27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
    )


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    Lessons from Pastoring
    It was 1997 when I read in our denomination's newsletter that I could apply to become a bi-vocational pastor, which is someone who makes their living at a secular job and volunteers as pastor. I thought you'd have to be out of your mind to apply! You mean you work all day long, many times at a stressful job (like mine), and perhaps more than forty hours a week, and then after that pastor a church?! I thought, you'd have to be insane!

    Fast forward to 2002 when members in Watsonville asked me to come and be their pastor. Frankly, it was automatically on my mental list of things I never wanted to do! Soon after, at the conclusion of an elder's meeting in San Jose where it was discussed, I was told "I think you're being drafted." And soon after that, I became one of the "insane"!

    Here are two major lessons I've learned as a pastor that also apply to everyone.

    1. When you do The Great Commission, expect opposition. (
      Matthew 28:19-20 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
      ,
      Galatians 1:10Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
      ,
      Acts 5:29Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than human beings!
      ) At the time, we were meeting on Saturday, 2:30 p.m., upstairs in an office building. It became clear the day, time, and location were all stumbling blocks, things that were keeping people from coming to church. After over a year and a half of sermons and surveys to seek the Lord's guidance, I with our leaders made the decision to move to Sunday, 10 a.m. at a new location downtown. Unfortunately, it wasn't met with enthusiasm from everyone.

    2. When God guides, God provides. (
      Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
      ,
      2 Timothy 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
      ,
      Hebrews 13:5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

        "Never will I leave you;
        never will I forsake you."
      ) I'm forever thankful, however, for the District Superintendent I had at the time who told me "If Jesus Christ guides you to move the church to Sunday you need to do so whether anyone follows you or not." He had my back!

    God provided encouragement, and also a warning. A long-time full-time pastor friend told me "I'm warning you. I know God is guiding you to move the church to Sunday but whenever I do what Jesus wants me to do I get attacked." I had already been attacked, but before the day was over I would be even more attacked, receiving what I refer to as my "Letter from Hell", seemingly giving every conceivable reason why we shouldn't be making the move. (
    2 Timothy 2:25-26 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
    )

    Two days later I received the opposite -- the encouragement I needed. A member called, mid-day from work telling me "John, I just had to call you! I have never been more convinced of anything in my life but that God wants you to move the church to Sunday! And if you need any encouragement to do so you can call me twenty-four hours a day, and I will encourage you!"

    I'm thankful for our Lord Jesus guiding us to remove the stumbling blocks so we could better do His Great Commission! Since then we've had many wonderful people come, including the ones we have now! He continues to bless us abundantly, with more than we have asked or imagined! Thank you, Lord Jesus, thank you! (
    Ephesians 3:20-2120 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
    )


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    Jesus in the Old & New Testaments
    Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

    Matthew 1:23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" - which means, "God with us."

    Luke 1:35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

    Isaiah 9:6-7
    6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

    Isaiah 40:11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

    John 1:1-4
    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    2 He was with God in the beginning.
    3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
    4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

    John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    Daniel 7:13-14
    13 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.
    14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that wll never be destroyed.

    Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

    Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

    Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

    Matthew 21:5 "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"

    Luke 1:32-33
    32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
    33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

    Luke 2:11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

    Luke 24:44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."

    John 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

    John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.

    2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

    Galatians 4:4-5
    4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of woman, born under law,
    5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

    Colossians 1:13-20
    13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
    14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
    15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
    16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
    17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
    18 And his is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
    19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
    20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    1 Timothy 3:16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

    Hebrews 1:1-3
    1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
    2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
    3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

    Hebrews 3:6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

    1 John 5:20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true -- even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
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    Humility
    Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

    Numbers 12:3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

    Psalm 147:6 The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

    Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

    James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

    1 Samuel 15:17-18 Samuel said, "Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel."

    Matthew 18:1-5 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

    James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."

    1 Samuel 2:3 "Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed."

    Proverbs 3:34 He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

    Proverbs 29:23 Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

    Isaiah 2:11 The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

    Isaiah 2:17-18 The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

    Daniel 4:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

    Daniel 5:20-21 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.

    Matthew 23:11-12 The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    Luke 1:46-49, 51-52 And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me---holy is his name. ...He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

    Luke 14:11 "For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

    Luke 18:14 "...For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

    1 Peter 5:5-6 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

    2 Chronicles 32:24-26 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah's heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord's wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord's wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah.

    Proverbs 15:33 Wisdom's instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.

    Proverbs 18:12 Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.

    Proverbs 22:4 Humility is the fear of the Lord; and its wages are riches and honor and life.
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    Listening to God
    "Listen": mentioned 354 times in the Bible.

    Many times God will use repetition to get our attention. In the Bible seven (7) people had their names called twice. The example of Samuel in the verse below and also "Abraham! Abraham!" (
    Genesis 22:11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"

    "Here I am," he replied.
    ), "Jacob! Jacob!" (
    Genesis 46:2And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, "Jacob! Jacob!"

    "Here I am," he replied.
    ), "Moses! Moses!" (
    Exodus 3:4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"

    And Moses said, "Here I am."
    ), "Martha, Martha" (
    Luke 10:41"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things,
    ), "Simon, Simon" (
    Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.
    ), & "Saul, Saul" (
    Acts 9:4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
    ).

    1 Samuel 3:10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

    Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

    Psalm 34:11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

    Psalm 136 - Another example of repetition: the latter part of all 26 verses read: His love endures forever.

    Proverbs 8:32-34 "Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.

    Isaiah 30:9 For these are the rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord's instruction.

    Isaiah 42:20 "You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen."

    Isaiah 46:12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are now far from my rightousness.

    Isaiah 50:4-5 ...He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.

    Jeremiah 7:13 While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer.

    Jeremiah 7:24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.

    Jeremiah 17:23 Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline.

    Zechariah 7:13 '"When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,' says the Lord Almighty.

    Malachi 2:2 If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name," says the Lord Almighty, "I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings.

    Matthew 15:10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand."

    Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

    Luke 8:18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen.

    John 9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.

    John 10:3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

    John 10:4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

    John 10:16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

    John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

    Acts 3:22 For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you.'

    James 1:22-25 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.

    Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Listen to obey, not just to know.

    If you want to grow spiritually, here are questions you can ask our Lord at any time, then listen for His answer:
    1) Was everything as You wanted it to be?
    2) Is everything as You want it to be?
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    Thankfulness
    Ezra 3:10-11
    10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel.
    11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever." And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

    Nehemiah 11:17a Mattaniah son of Mica, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the director who led in thanksgiving and prayer;

    Nehemiah 12:8 The Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and also Mattaniah, who, together with his associates, was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving.

    Nehemiah 12:46 For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the singers and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.

    Psalm 30:11-12 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

    Psalm 35:18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you.

    Psalm 42:1-4
    1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
    2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
    3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, "Where is your God?"
    4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.

    Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

    Psalm 105:1 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

    Psalm 106:1 Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

    Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

    Psalm 136:1-3
    1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
    2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
    3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.

    Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

    Matthew 26:27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.

    John 6:11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

    Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.

    1 Corinthians 15:55-58
    55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
    56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
    57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    58 Therefore, my dear brothers, 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.

    2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

    Ephesians 1:16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

    Ephesians 5:19-20 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Philippians 4:6-7
    6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
    7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    Colossians 2:7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

    Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

    Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

    1 Thessalonians 1:1-3
    1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.
    2 We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.
    3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of man, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
    16 Be joyful always;
    17 pray continually;
    18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

    II Thessalonians 1:1-3
    1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
    2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.

    1 Timothy 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.

    1 Timothy 2:1-4
    1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone---
    2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
    3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
    4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
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    Diligence
    Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

    1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder that all of them---yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

    Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

    Revelation 3:15-16 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm---neither hot nor cold---I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

    Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

    Psalm 119:10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.

    Psalm 119:145 I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord, and I will obey your decrees.

    Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

    Ecclesiates 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

    Ephesians 6:7-8 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

    Proverbs 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

    Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.

    1 Timothy 4:12-16 Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

    Hebrews 6:10-12 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

    John 4:34 "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."

    John 5:17 In his defense Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working."

    John 17:4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.

    Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

    Romans 16:12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.

    1 Corinthians 15:58 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.

    2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat."

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
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    Favor
    What is "favor"? We answered this in our article titled Western Union under the Lessons From category on our Articles page. Within that article was also a personal example of God giving us "favor." Here are scriptures on that topic from the Bible.

    Genesis 6:8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

    Genesis 19:19a Your servant [Lot] has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life.

    Genesis 39:3-4 When his [Josephs'] master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.

    Genesis 39:20-21 Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the yes of the prison warden.

    Exodus 3:21 And I [God] will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed.

    Exodus 12:35-36 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

    Exodus 33:12-13a Moses said to the Lord, "You have been telling me 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.

    Ruth 2:10 At this, she [Ruth] bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, "Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me --a foreigner?"

    1 Samuel 2:26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.

    Psalm 5:12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

    Psalm 30:5a For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime;

    Psalm 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

    Psalm 90:17a May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;

    Proverbs 3:3-4 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

    Proverbs 3:34 He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

    Proverbs 8:35 For those who find Me find life and receive favor from the Lord.

    Proverbs 12:2 Good people obtain favor from the Lord, but He condemns those who devise wicked schemes.

    Daniel 1:9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel.

    Luke 1:30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

    Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

    Acts 2:46 who [David] enjoyed God's favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.
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    Anger
    Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret---it leads only to evil.

    Psalm 86:15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

    Psalm 145:8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

    Proverbs 14:29 Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.

    Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

    Proverbs 16:32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

    Proverbs 17:27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.

    Proverbs 19:11 A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense.

    Proverbs 29:20 Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.

    Proverbs 30:33 For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.

    Ecclesiastes 7:9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

    Jeremiah 23:20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart.

    Joel 2:13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

    Jonah 4:2 I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

    Romans 2:8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

    Ephesians 4:26-27 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

    Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

    Colossians 3:8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

    James 1:19-20 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.
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    Joy
    Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

    Luke 10:21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

    John 15:9-11
    9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
    10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.
    11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

    John 17:13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.

    Acts 2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.

    Acts 16:34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God---he and his whole family.

    Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    2 Corinthians 7:4 I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

    2 Corinthians 7:7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

    2 Corinthians 8:1-2
    1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
    2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.

    Galatians 5:22-23
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
    23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    Philippians 1:4-6
    4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy
    5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
    6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

    Plilippians 1:25-26
    25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,
    26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

    1 Thessalonians 1:6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

    1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
    19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?
    20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

    Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    James 1:2-3
    2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
    3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

    1 Peter 1:8-9
    8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
    9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

    Jude 1:24-25
    24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy---
    25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
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    Avoiding Satan's Spirit World
    Leviticus 19:26 Do not practice divination or seek omens.
    Divination: the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge.
    Omen: an occurrence or phenomenon believed to indicate in advance a future event.
    Leviticus 19:31 Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.
    Mediumship is the practice of certain people-known as mediums-to purportedly mediate communication between spirits of the dead and living human beings. There are different types of mediumship including spirit channeling, and ouija.
    Leviticus 20:6 I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people.

    Deuteronomy 18:10-12 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or cast spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.
    Sorcery: the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits.
    2 Kings 23:24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem.

    1 Chronicles 10:13-14 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance and did not inquire of the Lord.

    1 Chronicles 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

    2 Chronicles 33:6 He [Manasseh] sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums, and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.

    Isaiah 8:19-20 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Consult God's instruction and the testimony of warning.

    Acts 16:16-19 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face authorities.

    Acts 19:19-20 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (Note: a drachma was a silver coin worth about a days' wages.)

    2 Timothy 2:25-26 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

    Revelation 22:14-15 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices false hood.
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    Scriptures on this website are from the NIV-1984, 2011 or GNB.
    Articles were written by Pastor John unless otherwise noted.

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