How’s Your Vision?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

How is your vision? Are you seeing things clearly? Even if you have perfect vision, there may be a whole world out there you are missing. When I was a Mormon, I met a man named Charles Roesel. This man put his arm around me and said these words I will never forget. He said, “God loves you. One day I am going to baptize you and you’re going to join my church because I am going to be praying for you to get saved. Not only that… God is going to use you in ways you can’t even think or imagine right now.” How is that for vision? Charles had a vision for me before I could have one for myself. He used to make me so angry when he said things like that to me–yet every word of his vision came true.

Does your vision come from God, or is it something you dreamed up yourself? God has a perfect plan for your life, but you can miss out on some of it if you don’t have a clear vision. Your heart is the largest factor that will determine how great your vision is. Jesus often spoke in parables to his audience. A parable is like the skin of the Florida orange that keeps the flavor protected for the diligent, but keeps its delight from the lazy. Jesus explained to the disciples when they questioned him about it.

Matthew 13:13-16
“…I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.

I know many people have vision for the future. They operate businesses, invest for the future, and make diligent plans enabled by their vision. If you have plans for the future that don’t include God’s plan for you, then you do not have eyes to see. There is a vast difference between earthly vision and godly vision.

Proverbs 2:6
For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Do you have vision for others in your life or do you just want to survive? Do you desire to prepare for the eternal future or just the temporal future? God has given us a “corrective lens” to improve our vision. The Bible is a light that gives direction for those who are willing to seek, but it is simply a distraction of life to the lazy who will not open it for the sweet delight inside.

2 Peter 1:19
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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Who’s Hungry?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the Bible story of Daniel in the lion’s den. The story takes place in a land full of hungry men and beast where all these hungers will meet. A group of wicked men were hungry to see the prophet Daniel dead. He was an outsider, being promoted above them by the king. Since these men could find no wrong with Daniel in deed or even neglect that would require him to be executed, they cooked up a scheme they thought would satisfy their appetite. The constitution of their land provided that if the king made a decree, it must be followed without compromise or exception. These men knew Daniel prayed to his God three times a day, so they convinced Darius the king to sign a decree that for the next thirty days, anyone praying to any god or man except the king would be fed to the hungry lions. Once the decree was signed, they knew Daniel’s hunger for his God would not fail. When Daniel prayed, they ran to the king and turned him in.

Daniel 6:10-13
Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king’s injunction, “Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lions’ den?” The king replied, “The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” Then they answered and spoke before the king, Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day.

The king was not happy about the whole situation. His hunger was to find a way to let Daniel off the hook. He realized how foolish his decree was now, but there was nothing he could do but to send Daniel to the hungry lions. The king recognized the hunger Daniel had for his God.

Daniel 6:16
Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.

Even though the king told Daniel his God would deliver him, he spent a restless night worrying about Daniel. He rushed to the lions’ den early in the morning to see if Daniel was alive.

Daniel 6:18-20
Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him. Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions’ den. When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?”

Once Darius saw that Daniel did not even have a mark on him, he declared the God of Daniel was to be feared and recognized as the living God. There were accounts of this incident recorded in other ancient writings as well. Although it is not scripture, the famous and well-respected historian Flavius Josephus wrote the following in his account.

Now when his enemies saw that Daniel had suffered nothing which was terrible, they would not own that he was preserved by God, and by his providence; but they said, that the lions had been filled full with food, and on that account it was, as they supposed, that the lions would not touch Daniel, nor come to him; and this they alleged to the king; but the king, out of an abhorrence of their wickedness, gave order that they should throw in a great deal of flesh to the lions; and when they had filled themselves, he gave farther order that Daniel’s enemies should be cast into the den that he might learn whether the lions, now they were full, would touch them or not; and it appeared plain to Darius, after the princes had been cast to the wild beasts, that it was God who preserved Daniel, for the lions spared none of them, but tore them all to pieces, as if they had been very hungry and wanted food.  I suppose, therefore, it was not their hunger, which had been a little before satisfied with abundance of flesh, but the wickedness of these men that provoked them [to destroy the princes]: for if it so please God, that wickedness might, by even those irrational creatures, be esteemed a plain foundation for their punishment.

The Bible is clear about the clash of all these hungry men and beast, and it is clear about what our hunger should be. Are you as hungry as the lions that wanted their needs met? Are you hungry for answers to the things you worry about like the king was? Are you hungry to make things happen for yourself like the men who schemed against Daniel? Are you hungry to have fellowship with God like Daniel was? A quick self-exam of your actions will reveal where your heart is in this matter. Would the king have seen in you the evidence that your God may protect you? Would the wicked need to build a scheme to trap you, or would you hand them enough to get you in trouble just by looking at the truth? Spend time with God on a regular basis and cast all your trouble on Him. He is the one who can shut that hungry lion’s mouth.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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Want To Lose The Wait?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Many people would like to lose weight, but many more may want to lose “wait”, although they may not think about it in those terms. Waiting on God can be a frustrating thing. Imagine with me for a moment of a world without waiting. No smells of the fine cooking coming from the kitchen as you wait in anticipation of the flavors dancing in your mouth. No waiting in anticipation as a child waiting to open the Christmas gifts. Perhaps no one wants to wait in line to buy the anticipated gifts anyway. Don’t bother enjoying that movie night, the ending is now instant. No waiting seems like such a loss of treasured memories. You have accepted the fact that next Tuesday cannot arrive until then. All of history would need be condensed into the now without this thing called waiting.

Would all the prophecies of the Bible be erased (since there was no waiting) and be updated by telling a historic perspective? The vision came immediately and you most certainly have heard about it by this time. The promise came without delay, and if there was such a thing as waiting–but there is not, I would then look forward to the anticipation of the next thing in line for me.

When it comes to waiting on God, we think we know best about the timing of it all. If we never had to wait on something from God, would it void this thing we know as faith? Faith is not a lonely thing you use to get what you want; it is an interactive thing that is rewarded by waiting on God’s perfect time to deliver His promise.

Habakkuk 2:3
For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

We should be able to be at peace with the wait, since it is God himself that is delivering us through the situation. The battles you face are won or lost in the wait time first, long before they become part of our physical world.

Isaiah 40:31
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

When our expectations and desires are counted all lost, it is most often because we failed to manage the wait. Inspiration to wait on God is the spiritual truth that has not yet been experienced in the natural–nevertheless it is just as real. Do you really want to lose wait? Can you see what an impossible thing that is and how interactive waiting on God is meant to be? Enjoy the anticipation of what God will do next as you wait—knowing it will be in His time–the way you wait on the natural events in your life.

James 5:7
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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Are Looks Everything?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Many people would say that looks are not important. Most people spend more time evaluating looks than they might think, but is it important? Have you ever wondered how a certain guy ended up with a certain beautiful woman? On the other hand, companies spend millions of dollars each year to research how to make packaging for their products more attractive. So are looks really important, or not? Before you judge your looks, not including grooming and hygiene, let me say God created you just as you look, unless you didn’t like His taste and changed something. I want to give you three ways God says you can change the way you look.

1. Look Forward
Change the way you look forward. Are you worried about something in the future? Do you have anything to look forward to? When you have lost hope it may seem useless to look forward. God has wonderful plans for you even when you don’t have them for yourself.

Jeremiah 29:11
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
NASB

Proverbs 23:18
Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off.
NASB

Proverbs 23:17-18
Don’t envy evil men but continue to reverence the Lord all the time, for surely you have a wonderful future ahead of you. There is hope for you yet!
TLB

When the past seems irreparable, the future does not appear irresistible. The sense of failure seems always to corrupt perception of the future. If allowed, the past will constrain your actions until failure repeats itself.

2. Look Back
For this reason it is important to change the way we look back. Some may think if only things were the way they used to be, if only I could go back. Things are not generally as great as we romanticize them. The people of Israel wanted to go back to the past, and it was foolish.

Numbers 14:1-5
Then all the people began weeping aloud, and they carried on all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of complaint against Moses and Aaron. We wish we had died in Egypt,” they wailed, “or even here in the wilderness, rather than be taken into this country ahead of us. Jehovah will kill us there, and our wives and little ones will become slaves. Let’s get out of here and return to Egypt!” The idea swept the camp. “Let’s elect a leader to take us back to Egypt!” they shouted.
TLB

The Bible is full of contrasting stories about how people looked at the past. There are also stories where people gained encouragement from looking to the past. Isaiah wrote that we should remember all the good things God has done in the past and not doubt Him for the future.

Isaiah 46:9-10
Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
TLB

3. Look up
The only way we can keep the future and the past in proper perspective is to look up. Looking around at the things in this earth will never bring lasting peace. We have to keep our focus on Jesus Christ who is our fortress and our deliverer.

John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

When it comes to finding peace in troubled times, looks are everything. Where are you looking for this peace?

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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Getting the “I’M” out of Impossible

By Rev. Rick Robinson

I don’t discount the value in hard work and strategic planning but there comes a time when no matter how hard you try, some things still seem impossible. You wonder if a thing will ever be complete to your satisfaction. Will God ever help me to accomplish this or that, or is it impossible for me? The “im” in impossible stands for I’m—or “I am” in the way of what God can do. We must learn to be partners with God instead of working against Him.

Matthew 19:26
And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Luke 1:37
“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Satan wants to steal from you and keep the “im” on the front of possible. It is only through Jesus Christ that you will be able to get the im out of impossible.

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I am going to show you four ways that are effective in Satan’s mission to steal from you. The methods used to steal kill and destroy are usually subtle enough to go un-noticed or even seem attractive to us.

1. Ignorance

The lie is the first method ever used to steal from man. It was effective then, and it is equally dangerous today. The lie is used to keep you ignorant of God’s will and direction for your life. Even when you get a clear directive from God, it is the lie that is used to steal it from you and keep you in ignorance.

Genesis 3:1-6
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

2. Impatience

You may be thinking God needs a little help delivering his promise or expects you to figure it out on your own. Satan wants to keep the im in front of possible by making you impatient with God. (Get the im out of impatient too!) We can see a great example of this when Abram was promised a son and then he and Sarai decided God could use some help.

Genesis 16:1-2
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

The weapon of suffering is also used to keep you impatient with God. Your suffering may be real, like pain in your body, or it may not be as bad as all that, but you are convinced how bad you must suffer while others live carefree.

1 Peter 5:10
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

3. Independence

Pride is a tool Satan will use to keep the im in impossible. When you are filled with pride you become independent of God. You don’t care if He says you must forgive, or anything else for that matter, because your circumstances justify your actions. You are independent of His will and pride has shown you a way to elevate yourself from victim to judge. You have come up with a brilliant strategy to hold the door open for Satan while he steals from you.

Proverbs 16:18-19
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

4. Indictment

The last weapon I will remind you about is the indictment Satan brings against you. Satan will accuse you and tell how much trouble you are in. This directly opposes faith, by causing you to focus on yourself. Why would God give you a miracle when you are so not worth it? The Holy Spirit will convict you of sin and compel you to get things right. He does not want you to live in guilt. You need to focus on God and the power He gives you to walk in freedom from the sin that binds. This story is a great example of Satan bringing accusations while God brings hope.

Zechariah 3:1-4
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.”

If you have accepted the work of Jesus to forgive you of your sin, then you too have festal robes as opposed to filthy garments.

If you are living in ignorance because you believed a lie, then study God’s word.

If you are impatient with God while you’re waiting on answers or results then accept God’s grace and peace.

If you are living independent of God, trusting in yourself (or anyone else) for anything, then turn your life and emotions over to God for restoration.

If you feel accused about your sin and failures in the past, Make certain you are trusting in Christ alone for your salvation. If Jesus Christ is your Lord then remember there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://www.MyChurchGrowth.com

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Do I Really Need An Education?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

We have become discontent with so many things in life. Preparing dinner took too long, so frozen TV dinners were introduced. When I was a kid in the 1960’s it was exciting news to hear the traditional family meal at the table would be replaced with a TV dinner for the evening. Yes, we ate them on TV trays, in the living room in front of the TV set. If we were lucky, we had something called a fizzy to drink with it. If you don’t know what a fizzy was, it can perhaps be best described as sweet flavored alka seltzer that fizzed when you dropped it into a glass of water, dispensing the purest of artificial flavors science could deliver.

The discontent we experience today can lead to such a troubled heart. The pressure sometimes seems like it is just too much. We are not only discontent with our situation; we are discontent with the time required to change our circumstances. When a person decides to place their trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, that re-birth takes place in an instant. Learning to trust in Christ for the future is moment by moment with a little here and a little more there. Don’t expect to become mature instantly, you must study.

Philippians 2:12-13
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Working out your salvation should not be confused with working for your salvation. The word used for work as in “work out your salvation” is katergazomai, which means to perform. The word used for work as in “God who is at work” is energeo, which means put forth power. All your work can have the power of the Holy Spirit working according to His good pleasure. You are not alone; the power to help you through any situation is available to all that trust Christ.

Galatians 3:24-26
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

The Greek word for tutor here, is paidagogos (pahee-dag-o-gos’). Among the Greeks and the Romans, a tutor was a guardian and guide of boys. They were trustworthy slaves with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The tutor would take the boys to school everyday. (School did not become mandatory for all boys until A.D.65) In this illustration, Paul is saying the law was the slave (tutor), and Christ is the teacher. God is able to teach us how to have a better life, but He will educate us only as much as we will allow. Bring all your cares to Him, and work out your salvation with His power.

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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Run as if Your Life Depends on It!

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Have you ever worked on something as if your life depended on it? That expression is used when someone puts his or her whole heart into something. The Apostle Paul used the analogy of running a race to succeed in life. Paul is telling us how important it is to place your focus and attitude—that is your whole heart, into winning. (Not whining!)

1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

Like running a race, living life to win requires a healthy heart. God warns us to watch over our hearts. We must be cautious of anything toxic that leads to heartbreak or a hardened heart. Your faith grows and your heart strengthens only when you are stretched to live in a situation like your life depends on it. That is when you have the opportunity to grow toward God or to allow the stress to shift your focus from mission to survival mode.

Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

When you find yourself in survival mode, you are accepting what life gives you instead of what God wants you to have. God wants your trust to be in him with your whole heart, not just part of it. A halfhearted trust in God will give you more stress than living for Him like your life depends on it. There are believers in Christ that are stressed out because they refuse to give their hearts and trust over to God.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

There are times we need to stop whining, making excuses or playing the blame game, and run our race with endurance and perseverance. Is there something you need to let go of so you can live like your life depends on it? Are you making excuses to protect an attitude that needs to go–so you can win the race?

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

If you want to run this race to win, you are going to have to agree that blaming someone else, or your circumstances, are not going to be enough. You are still the one who is going to lose. In the story of the fig tree, Jesus cursed the tree with no fruit, despite the circumstances of it not being fig season. The disciples were being told to bring fruit, not excuses to the Lord.

Mark 11:12-14
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.

The Prophet Ezekiel was asked to work as though his life depended on it. Could you stand up to this pressure?

Ezekiel 3:18-19
“When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. “Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

Running to win the race is not only about you. While you are trying to just survive, Satan has a better chance to get you to minimize the fruit you bring to God. Your life may not depend on you sharing Christ with someone, but theirs does. Forty percent of the people who share their faith say they are worried they will not do a good job explaining their faith. A third of those who share their faith enter the conversation with fear they will not be able to answer questions the person has about Christianity. Do you have excuses not to share your faith?

Winning the race requires a healthy heart, but even that is a gift from God. Share the gift.

Isaiah 61:1
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
.

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Tragedy or Treasure?

by Rev. Rick Robinson

I don’t minimize the loss of life in the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, and I suffered no personal loss, but can anything good come out of a tragedy? Immediately after the September 11 attacks, millions of Americans made changes in their spiritual priorities. Residents of the New York City market are more spiritually active today than they were before the attack with an increase in church attendance of about 15%. In fact, the percentage of residents in the New York area who are unchurched declined while the national average of unchurched adults increased.

Going to church is not the most important thing in life, a relationship with Jesus Christ is, but the tracking data includes all religions. The percentage of New York residents who say they will go to Heaven because they have accepted Christ and been forgiven of their sins has increased from 20% to 32% as compared to 40% of adults nationwide who can be classified as born again.

Although researchers say they cannot determine what caused this change for certain, there is no doubt that God can turn a tragedy into a treasure. Look at the attitude of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his own brothers.

Genesis 50:20-21
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. “Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Tragedies seem to open and close windows of receptivity quickly for most people. You may have heard of the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, which places a number on the events in our lives and how they can affect our health. The death of a spouse is 100 on the scale; being fired from work a 47, and the foreclosure of a mortgage 30, for example. If your total score is over 300 you have a high risk of the stress making you ill, while the score below 150 has a low to moderate chance of becoming ill in the near future. I don’t know how reliable this test is, but I do know people with a higher stress number tend to be more receptive to the gospel when I go door to door.

I know it is not easy to face the trials that come our way. I have been guilty of whining when things don’t go my way. We can take hope that God is in the middle of the trouble with us, for He is faithful—even when we are not.

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

While we know we have placed our hope in Christ alone, it is important to remember those who have no such hope. They do not know the tragedy they face can turn into treasure. You must have that vision for them, before they can have that vision for themselves. In your quest to rescue those suffering by bringing the hope of Christ to them, you will also be storing up treasures in Heaven for yourself.

Luke 12:33-34
“Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It is a matter of where your heart is in the matter. Tragedy touches the rich and the poor—there is no economic safety net. When Peter began to compare himself to the rich man who would not give up his trust in riches to follow Christ, Jesus made it clear it was trust in Him alone that would bring true riches.

Mark 10:28-30
Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, “who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.

Ask God to give you a vision for the lost around you, and store up for yourself treasures that can be enjoyed forever.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
MyChurchGrowth.com

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Fear in the Garden

The world today is not so much different from all the days past. People are afraid of what the future holds, but this is not a new worry. Fear was not present until after the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Eve had a conversation with a snake without fear. When I was a kid, I watched Mr. Ed, the television show about a talking horse, but I can not imagine a talking serpent. Snakes don’t talk, but I don’t know many women who are not afraid of them. Fear came to mankind after sin took root in the garden. Adam and Eve expressed fear for the first time when they tried to hide from God. Sin separates man from the peace and security only found in God. Jesus died to give that peace and security back to us.

Galatians 1:3-5
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  

In the history of the United States, over 30 of the American Presidents have addressed the fear of the American people in their inaugural address. On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln said in his first inauguration address;

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that—I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

Just two weeks earlier Jefferson Davis had been inaugurated as the President of the Confederacy. The country was in much more trouble than it is today. Each generation has problems that seem like no other, the question remains what can be done about it. Today, many Americans are looking for a hero to turn things around. President Ronald Reagan said, “We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we are in a time when there are no heroes just don’t know where to look.” Do you know where to look?

A young American soldier killed during the war in Europe was found with a diary in his pocket. Written in this diary under the heading, “‍My Pledge,‍” were these words: “‍America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.‍”

If we had this attitude for the cause of Christ, the economy may not turn around, but the peace the world is hungry for would spread rapidly. In troubled times, where is your peace found? Jesus Christ is our only hope for the peace we are looking for.

Psalm 22:8
“He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

The world should be looking to Christians now for answers but many of us are to far ahead of them in the “complaint department” line to help. If you have discovered that Jesus Christ is the hero people are looking for, will you endure until you are called to the other side of eternity? Since the fall of man, the world has always, and will always be imperfect. Place your trust in Christ alone, and share your faith with someone looking for a hero.

Psalm 25:20-21
Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.  

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

MyChurchGrowth.com

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Who Do You Trust?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Everybody lives by some form of faith. Many people have more faith in themselves, their job, or the government (other people) for example, than they do in God. The difference between the Christian and the unconverted individual is not if they have faith, but where is their faith. The subject of faith can be a difficult thing to understand. What hinders God from working in our life is not his lack of power or desire, but our lack of faith.

Matthew 13:58
And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.

When people place their trust in anything other than God, that thing (or person) becomes an idol. The people of Israel did just that when they turned their back to God instead of their face.

Jeremiah 2:5
Thus says the Lord: “What injustice have your fathers found in Me, That they have gone far from Me, Have followed idols, And have become idolaters?

If you place your trust in other things, God may leave you alone to allow those things to meet your needs. That is a choice we all make for ourselves.

Jeremiah 2:28
But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, If they can save you in the time of your trouble; For according to the number of your cities Are your gods, O Judah.

The state of America concerns me when our President states “America is not a Christian nation”. He may change his god, but he does not get an endorsement to change mine. Only I have the power to change where my trust is.

Jeremiah 2:11
Has a nation changed its gods, Which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory For what does not profit.

What about you? Have you decided to change gods? How can you know you are living by faith? Let me give you a few basic guidelines to check your faith by.

First ask yourself if you are making the decision to glorify God or to please yourself. Those two answers may or may not match. If you are asking the Lord to do the impossible, it will bring much more glory to Him when it happens.

Matthew 19:26
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

The next thing has to do with God’s timing. Am I rushing ahead  or am I willing to wait? If you can be honest with yourself and say you haven’t got the patients to wait, be cautious. This comes from the fear of being overcome by disappointment, and you make an emotional decision instead of a spiritual one.

Romans 10:11
The Scriptures say that no one who has faith will be disappointed,
CEV

Always ask yourself if you can defend what you are doing from the Word of God?
I see people make comments on social network places like Facebook that do not line up with God’s word, yet they claim He is involved. That is not possible since God will not violate His own word. (Don’t cut me off your social networks now!) Remember that true faith is always found in line with scripture.

Romans 10:17
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

After you come this far towards making a decision, consider if there is joy and peace within? Don’t skip to this one too fast, or you may be emotionally deceived, the other guidelines must line up first. When you have the heart of God on something, you will have peace available to you.

Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There is hope for you in your situation because He is the God of hope. The peace and joy comes through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit and is not depending on anything else. You will also find giving praise and thanks to God is an important part of God’s peace. This is one of my favorite scriptures and has sustained me through many trials.

Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I pray this will help you to see if you are living by faith or if you have changed your gods, and how you can obtain true peace while you wait on the Lord.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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