Sunday, January 31, 2021

Is Fear Good or Bad? It Depends

 Is Fear Good or Bad? It Depends

Proverbs 1:33

Fear can truly create a lot of problems in our lives when it gets out of control.  Healthy fear is a needed protection against the dangers of our world.  What is the difference? 

§ Of all the things people must learn to manage in life, the most difficult and important are emotions.

§ Where negative emotions reign, the devil wins every time.

§ Parents who neglect to give proper example and guidance on emotional control will fail horribly in their responsibility.

§ Basic to almost all negative emotions is fear.

§ Fear can occur anywhere we sense the possibility of PAIN or LOSS.

The Spectrum of Fear

We may find ourselves preoccupied, unsettled, distracted, or worried and not realize that fear is beginning its work in us.

·  Fear is an immediate and intense internal alarm system that alerts us to the presence of danger.

·  Anxiety is the pervasive feeling of apprehension that lingers long after the danger has subsided. 

·  Phobia is a strong, irrational fear directed toward an object or situation. 

·  Fear can empower us for action or paralyze us and make us more susceptible to the danger at hand.

The Source of Fear

·  Fear is the first emotion referred to after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden.  

·  Three Results of Sin

1.    Death - Adam felt vulnerable for the first time.

2.    Disconnection

3.    Desperation  

·  Different people fear different things with different levels of intensity, but all of us fear what we cannot control.

The Function of Fear

·  Fear as a Friend.

Ø Warning us of danger - Protection

Ø Motivating us to excel – Promotion

Ø Thrilling us - Pleasure

·  Fear as a Foe

Ø Insecurity

Ø Inadequacy

Ø Self-doubt

We must learn to conquer and even use our fear.

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Exhausting Treadmill of Striving

Friday, January 29, 2021

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. Psalms 46:10-11

The Exhausting Treadmill of Striving
The definition of striving from the Merriam Webster Dictionary is: 1) to devote serious effort or energy to as in to endeavor to accomplish something and 2) to struggle in opposition or to contend.  It is funny to me how these two definitions seem in total opposition to each other.  When we strive for something, we are putting forth all our energy and efforts to accomplish it but so many times it seems that it is a struggle and we come up against opposition as many things  contend for the energy and effort we are focusing on this thing (or many things) we are striving for.  Maybe it is a struggle because we strive in our own power instead of relying on the power of God.  Maybe there is opposition because we strive for the wrong things.  It is possible to be doing good things that are the wrong things.  And maybe the great contender for our energy and efforts is not only the loved ones in our life, but the great Love of our Life who wants our energy and efforts focused more on Him. 

In one of his books, the late author John Nash stated that we're all so obsessed with a hedonistic pursuit of happiness that it's making us all miserable.  We work so hard for something that we believe will make us happy and it actually ends up making us more unhappy than ever.  We chase after all things shiny thinking they will satisfy the empty feeling inside us.  But when we get what we are striving for, often times we end up disappointed and still empty.  So, we go after the next thing we want, getting the same result again.  Not only are we disappointed, but we run out of “the next great thing”, because we have tried it all, and it has all failed to fill us.  

The truth is that striving just makes us tired and is a poor use of our efforts and energy. We want what aligns with God’s will and plan for our lives but we are living outside the bounds of His direction for our life, existing on the fringes of His grace. We are forever reaching in the wrong direction with His righteousness just beyond arm’s length.  The only thing that will satisfy our emptiness is just on the inside of that boundary.  There is love, there is grace, there is mercy, and there is the only thing that will really satisfy any and every yearning desire we have.  It is not a shopping spree, or food, or drugs, or being the coolest mom or dad.  It is nothing like that.  All those things we strive for only bring temporary and empty satisfaction.  We have to wear ourselves out like a dog chasing his tail sometimes before we finally realize that there is so much more to be had by, maybe, doing so much less.  Less equals more, we have all heard that before and it is almost always true.  Less striving, at least in our own power, more focus on God and His presence in our lives will equal more fulfillment every time. 

If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2 ASV)

 by Lara Cook

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Where To Find The Peace You Need

Thursday, January 28, 2021
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. Psalms 46:4-5

Do you ever just want to bury your head under the covers and ignore everything that is going on in your life? Problems come, sometimes like bullets fast and hard, leaving gaping holes in our souls. Often, we don’t have time to even process one thing when something else comes piling down on top – especially in the last year.  Trying to solve our problems when we don’t have any resources or hope of help will only add to our feelings of anxiety and sadness. It makes us feel more out of control, and more hopeless, which sends us spiraling further down into irrational thoughts, feelings, and fear. It is more than we can deal with, so we just don’t, but this doesn’t solve anything and is not healthy because it just continues to pile up. Whether it is just too painful to deal with, or you are afraid, our Heavenly Father offers us a beautiful, peaceful sanctuary in His very presence that gives us so much more peace than hiding under the covers.

The devil always wants to take our focus off God and create unrest in our souls. If he can create unrest in our souls, then he knows that we likely will start looking around for something to make us feel better. The things that we turn to can quickly become idols and/or addictions in our lives. Living in fear or circumstances that are too difficult for us to deal with can cause us to turn to other things besides God to numb our pain or fear. What happens then? They turn into bigger problems which then heap fear and sorrow onto what we are already not dealing with.

I have found that sitting in the quiet with God early in the morning has done wonders for my heart. Sometimes I don’t pray because many times I don’t even know what to say, but God know my heart, and He knows yours too.  Sometimes my heart is so heavy, I can’t put it in words. This silent, still time helps me to get my focus back on God, and HIS TRUTH where it belongs. God’s truth is truly where we can find freedom from everything – pain, worry, anxiety, fear. If we try to find freedom on our own, we will never find it. The world doesn’t have it either, regardless of how hard Satan tries to persuade us it does.

The Peaceful, Flowing Presence of God 
God’s presence in our lives is the only thing that can provide us with the peace we so desperately need. His presence flows continuously and never runs out. He will not abandon us or leave us, even when we feel He is not there. That is where we trust what we know and not what we feel. We know God’s word is true and He says He will never leave us and that His presence will always be with us.

No one understands our heart like our Heavenly Father. No one understands the pain, anxiousness, sorrow, worry, or fear that we experience like He does. Most of all, no one cares about us or loves us more than He does. There is no better place for us to go for comfort than to Him. In His presence there is a sanctuary where we can sit quietly, talk to Him and tell Him everything that makes our heart hurt, and leave it with Him. He is so capable, and He has everything we need.

Take a seat by the river. Take refuge in the shadow of His wings. Feast on His abundance, and rest in His truth – that He will take your sadness, problems, anger, fear, etc., and give you the help and peace you need.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalm 36:7-9

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Losing Control

 Wednesday, January 27, 2021

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah; Psalms 46:1-3
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah Psalms 46:6-7

Losing Control
We all like to be in control. If we are people who are used to being in control, it is very hard for us to sit quietly and let someone else run the ship. However there are very few things we can really control. As Christians, we know this is a false sense of security because if we believe in God, and that He is sovereign, and that He is over all, then we know that we really have little control over the outcome of things. The circumstances that we cannot control can cause us fear and distress. 

We can control our own choices and our own behavior, but we cannot control other people or the choices they make. This is the hardest part of being a parent. We do our part, but when it comes down to it, our grown children have to make their own choices. We don’t want them to have to suffer from the consequences of wrong choices. Sometimes what causes us fear is what might happen to us, or someone we love, because of another person’s choices. We can sit and imagine scenarios all day and all night. This doesn't fix anything and it only makes us anxious and fearful. 

Anywhere we feel a loss of control, insecurity or fear can immobilize us. - Van Houser

When things feel out of control around us, we tend to start grabbing for places we can gain some control, or we freeze and do nothing out of fear. This fear we feel when we are not in control can take over our lives, consuming our minds with thoughts of all that could happen. It keeps us awake at night. It steals our focus from our more than capable, all mighty, maker of the universe God. It affects us physically and can even take years off our lives. 

Even when we think we are in control it is an illusion. We can force behavior in someone (a small someone) but we cannot change the heart with control and the heart is the heart of the matter. We tend to label our controlling behavior as “protection” or something else because what we are really feeling is fear. Fear is why we try to control people and events - because we are afraid of what could happen. It is not that we want to rule over someone, it comes from fear of the unknown. 

Men still believe they can change other men through control which only creates more rebellion.  
- Van Houser

Feeling like we are losing control of the circumstances of our lives causes fear and anger. We may feel we have no control due to medical reasons, or other reasons. Sometimes we feel that we have no control because we have no other choice. Other times we feel that we have no control because of other circumstances - like a pandemic - which has caused much fear in our lives. Media feeds our fear that we have no control. 

We agree with giving control to someone if we agree that there is danger or a threat. Then we want someone to take control who knows what to do and will protect us. We have a Heavenly Father who knows the best way to handle every problem and circumstance we will ever face. His ways and answers are perfect and when we learn that giving Him the control is the BEST thing, we are happy to hand it over to Him. Sometimes this is a hard learned lesson!  

One thing we have that no one can take away is our ability to pray and when we feel that we have no control we need to pray - and let it go! I literally have to go through the motions of giving it to God. I have to open my hands and give it to Him and focus on the trust I have in Him and the victory over fear that can be mine through Him. When I can focus on Him and not all the “what-ifs,” I can have peace in my heart knowing that He is in control, and not only is He in control, but He is working! He is doing something. He is always working things out for our good because He loves us. So when we feel that we have lost control, we can trust a God that is always in control. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Searching For Security In Insecure Times

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. Psalm 46:1-3

Searching For Security In A Crumbling World

Where do you find security? We may not like to admit it but we tend to find security in the things in our lives that are always there - things we can "count on" being there. Our homes and family, our jobs, our church, social media, and our friends are just a few examples of places in our lives that we routinely look to for security. These places and the people associated with them provide security through support, love, comfort, and consistency. We know we can go to church and worship, study the Bible, and have fellowship. We know we can go to work and get paid and pay our bills. We know we can find comfort, support and love from our friends(even online only acquaintances) and family. We find security in other things too - things that we know will be there - like going to the store. We find security when things are the way they are supposed to be in our minds. 

This past year, our world has changed and some of the things we always counted on have been temporarily/permanently put-on hold or closed. What has not been closed is so different that it still doesn’t quite feel right. Kids may not have loved school, but they knew that every morning, Monday thru Friday, they would get up and go to school. That provided them with a sense of security. We drove by lots of businesses that we never went into, but we knew that they would be there and we would see them open and functioning on our way to work every day. We knew we could go to the store anytime we needed or wanted to. We could see loved ones and go visit friends and family whenever we wanted to.  All these things provide us with a sense of security. 

Without even realizing it, we find great security in going through the motions and when things get shook up, we cling to what is normal. But when normal is no longer normal, we can quickly find ourselves fighting a fear we cannot control. All the normal, consistent things in our lives are not normal or consistent anymore, and the things we found security in have been threatened or are completely gone. Some lost jobs. For a while schools, churches, and even parks were closed. Sadly we have lost many beloved friends and family as well. Add some political and social tension on top of everything else. We have made ourselves believe (with the help of media) that the things we thought would never happen can and might really happen. 

Nearing a year since all this started, we are realizing that some of these changes are permanent and we are reaching for something to steady us. We are searching for security, and we are tired and weary of feeling threatened, confused, and hopeless. All this has reminded people of what the most important things are in life, but we need another reminder. We need to be reminded that while everything around us is temporary, our God is permanent. There is no virus that can change Him. He will not social distance from us and He will never shut His door to us. He is our refuge and our strength in this unsettling time, just as He is always. 

Psalm 46 is a psalm about finding a secure place in the midst of insecure times. 

This psalm is the reminder we need today to remember that God is our refuge and strength. We also need to remind ourselves every single day of all the wonderful things that God has done for us in the past. He has been there. He has delivered. He is in all our tomorrows. He works things for our good, even if it isn’t exactly the way we thought things would turn out. 

Whether something is actually dangerous or not, it’s the perception of it as dangerous that matters. So whether things are as bad as we feel they are, we are still affected by our perception. This is exactly why we must remember what we know. We must remind ourselves what the bible says about God and we must remember the way He has worked in our lives before. 

It is imperative to consider the problems of today in light of the provision of yesterday to know power and peace. -Van Houser

Cling to Him because He is our permanent source of security. Look back at your life and the lives of those around you. Remember what He has done and trust Him with what He is doing now. Even in the midst of chaos, He protects, He delivers, and He provides. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.    

Monday, January 25, 2021

Small Word, BIG Problems

 Monday, January 25, 2021

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 
1 Kings 19:1-4

Small Word, BIG Problems

Have you ever felt so much fear about what “might” happen that you just asked God to go ahead and take your life? Read this part of Elijah’s story -

Elijah was a  prophet of God whose name meant “my God is the Lord,” and God used him in many mighty ways. He was as strong as they come, yet human, and fear got ahold of him. He has just confronted the evil king Ahab in a showdown  on a mountain and the God of Elijah, the One True God, defeated the false gods of Baal and Asherah. Elijah then ordered all the prophets of Baal and Asherah killed. (as God had commanded in Deuteronomy 13:5) Ahab was married to an evil woman named Jezebel and when Ahab told her what Elijah had done, she was mad. She sent a message to Elijah letting him know that she would do the same thing to him that he had done to the prophets of the false gods. Elijah was afraid then and he ran for his life. Fear completely consumed him and he asked God to just let him die. 

Fear is small word that can make a BIG mess of things, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Anyone who is breathing knows what fear is because there is much in this life that can cause us fear. God knew this and He gave us plenty of tools to help us. 

Fear does not come from God. It is strictly the snare of Satan and it is a loud roar that drowns out all sensibility and shakes our faith, trust, and purpose in life if we let it. Elijah was in that place. He saw no hope, he couldn’t solve it himself, so he just wanted to die. It sounds a little melodramatic but if you have ever felt this way before, you understand. Fear causes us to act in ways we would not normally act. 

From Louie Giglio here are four things fear causes us to do: (Fear Is On the Mic)

·      Fear causes us to forget what God has done. We forget His power and what He has delivered us from in the past, or what He brought us through.

·      Fear causes us to forecast all the terrible things that are going to happen to us. - We actually seeall these terrible things happening in our minds. Most of these things we see happening and spend a lot of time and energy on, will never happen. Yet we try to find any solution we can. 

·      Fear causes us to flee - We panic and we want to run. We want to be away from everyone and not see anyone. But sometimes there is nowhere to go, and our problems don’t disappear we hide our eyes. 

·      Fear causes us to fold - give up, quit. Even the strongest can’t stand under the weight of fear and worry and it causes them to want to quit everything. It keeps us from moving forward and living in our purpose. This is Satan’s plan, not Gods.

Four ways we can overcome the spirit of fear: (Some material taken from Fear Is On the Mic)

Train our spiritual ear to the whisper of God - to hear Him over the deafening roar of fear. You have control over what you choose to listen to so make sure you are choosing to listen to His voice over fear. Make sure you are not listening to things on social media or other platforms that add to your feelings of fear. 

Go Back the way you came - go back to a place to where you saw God come through. I love that God came to Elijah that day when he was so afraid and hopeless and what did God say? He told him Go back the way he came, and that is what we need to do also when fear has taken hold. Go back to what God was doing in your life. Go back to fulfilling your purpose and set-in motion what God has planned for you. 

Anchor our hearts that the spirit of fear is wrong - it is of Satan. Just like Jezebel was wrong about Elijah’s life, the roaring threats of fear in our heads is wrong! The one that says you are not going to make it, give up, just quit. God is the authority over all and the spirit of fear is powerless over Him. The lies of fear are powerless over all who belong to Him. Yet we stay like we are tied down because of fear. 

Proactively engage in your assignment - Get busy! What is your purpose right now? How has He reminded you of His awesome power? What does He have for you to do right now that you need to get back to? Satan loves that he is consuming your time and keeping you away from God’s work. Get busy and make better use of the time God has given you. He needs you to get back to work for Him and His kingdom agenda. 

Fear did not come from God - for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 Remember this and that when fear starts to take control of you, remember also that Satan is glad you are distracted from God’s purpose for your life. 


God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. Psalm 46:1-3

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Be Still and Know the God “I AM”

 Sunday, January 24, 2021

Be Still and Know the God “I AM"
Psalm 46:10

When we feel incapable or weak in response to even a perceived threat, the results are the same in our bodies and minds.  Anywhere we feel a loss of control, insecurity or fear can immobilize us.  What can quiet the storm within us and bring confidence in place of insecurity and boldness in place of fear?

Fear and resulting insecurity dominate the lives of people today.

The conditions of today leave us worn-out, short-tempered, distrustful, anxious, threatened and confused…even desperate and hopeless.

Perceived threats are just a unsettling as a real threat. 

Psalm 46 is a psalm about finding a secure place in the midst of insecure times.

 I. The Declaration of God’s Protection, Power and Presence

·   Of great importance is the fact that God does not “provide” a refuge but He “is our refuge.”

·   It is imperative to consider the problems of today in light of the provision of yesterday to know power and peace.

II. The Recognition of Personal Vulnerability

·   Destructive Power of Physical Calamities 

·   The Futility and Vanity of Earthly Powers

·   We become angry when we lose control.

Men still believe they can change other men through control which only creates more rebellion. 

III. The Peaceful, Flowing Presence of God 

·   The peace of a believer does not come apart from the chaos of the world but rests in the eye of the storm. 

IV. The Power of Quiet Surrender 

·   We need to find a sanctuary beside that river of God to experience His person and His purpose in life.

·   We need to come to the point in our lives where we relinquish to God whatever others - or our circumstances - would take from us.

·   GOD hits home in the stillness.

V.The Praise of God Brings Peace 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Something You Want To Be A Part Of

 Friday, January 22, 2021  Some material taken from Church Is A Big Deal by Sam Nobles

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47

Something You Want To Be A Part Of -  
Anytime we are doing things God’s way and following His commands, there will be good results. This was true with the early church as well. Yesterday we talked about the values the early church can teach us. They lived by these values, not as you do when you are just following the rules or guidelines, but it was how they lived. It flowed into every area of their lives and as a result, some really great results happened. 

REVERENCEIt is okay for a church to be “relevant”, but it is not okay for “relevance” to take the place of reverence. It is far more important to be biblical than it is cool.  Some churches have forgotten the awe and wonder we should be ex in how our building looks and what will draw people in - which is important - but it is easy for the real reason we have church to get lost. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. v. 43

UNITYThe strength of the church or any family is found in its ability to be unified. Sharing life together - the hard times and the good - always brings us closer together. Praying for each other, serving each other, serving with each other, and sharing God’s work in our hearts and lives while witnessing it in other’s lives as well strengthens that bond. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. v. 44

GENEROSITYGenerosity toward others is expressed through having an open heart and an eagerness to help meet the needs of others. Generosity is not solely about wealth; it also includes sincerity towards the circumstances of others. The example of others giving helps us to be more aware and look at our own lives to see what we can do as well. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need v. 45

PRESENCEAs believers we are to be present with others, in good times and bad. Being present and accompanying others through desperate times and places. The people we share everyday with will be the ones that carry us and walk with us through the tough times. This is family - and it was God’s design for believers in a church to have this kind of relationship. He knew what we would need and He provides those relationships for us. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts 
v. 46

INCREASE: This is God’s prescription for church growth. If we are intentional to tend to the depth of the church, God will tend to the breadth of the church. The goal of the church should not be to get big, but to get strong. A strong church will be a growing church, but if the goal is growth instead of strength then the people will be spiritually shallowSpiritual growth is the key that makes churches thrive. When the people are growing and maturing, others will see and they will want to be a part of it. They will be drawn in. …praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. v. 47

As believers, the church is our family. God designed it this way and it is all inclusive - no matter race, nationality, or gender. This past year we have missed out on a lot of time together, and we have found some ways to make up for it. All in all, I believe we have all discovered how much church, and our church family really means to us. We know the gift we have and we need to strengthen our values and bonds so we will see some of these results above. The field is ripe with those who want something more and the church is the only place to find it. 


Thursday, January 21, 2021

Lessons From The Early Church

 Thursday, January 21, 2021

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47

God made families. He made families in nature and families with people and families are the group of people that we are usually closest to. But He gave us another family in the body of Christ and many of us have formed the most special relationships in our lives with the people we go to church with every Sunday. Sometimes we are even closer to our church family than we are to our biological family and those who have no biological family are so thankful for the belonging and love they find at church.

When we embrace the truth that our gifting's are developed and our purpose is realized through the family connection to God’s people and cooperate with God’s delegated leaders and community
we are placed in, we thrive and come alive!
Our passion and purpose grow,
we mature, and dreams are fulfilled. – Sam Nobles

Sunday Sam preached about the first church and gave us four values of the first church.  These values were the fruit of a genuine conversion and Spirit filled life in Christ.  

The Early Church Was Devoted To The Apostles Teaching – They were serious about the word of God and they studied what the Apostles taught them. They were hungry and the Apostles’ teaching created more hunger and they turned to God’s word for satisfaction as they should.

Our church and any church must be serious about teaching and learning the Word of God. Learning from His word will help us grow in our walk with the Lord and we in turn can help others. The Word of God – His Word – is what we should hunger for as well, just as the early church.

The Bible answers all the questions that lie at the real heart of every human being. What is real? What is ultimate? Where do we come from? What is the matter with humankind, and what hope is there for us? The Bible is the only book that answers all those questions.

The Early Church Was Devoted To Fellowship – Fellowship is so important and vital to our lives and the life of a church. Fellowship creates unity. Fellowship fills in the holes and makes us stronger. It is sharing our lives with one another – good and bad – walking together and holding each other up. It is the glue that holds us together.

Fellowship with God and fellowship with His people go hand in hand. The more you fellowship with God the greater your desire will be to fellowship with God’s people. If you are out of fellowship with God, you will find yourself out of fellowship with other believers as well.

The Early Church Was Devoted To The Breaking of Bread – This is referred to in the Old Testament as both the Lord’s Supper and eating together. Taking the Lord’s Supper shows that we believe He died for us and has forgiven us. It says we believe that His body was broken (bread) and His blood was poured out (juice) for our atonement.

As for eating a meal together, I don’t think I need to explain how important and refreshing it is to eat with family and good friends. There is something very special about that time together shared. During the early days of the church, a love feast was held in connection with the Lord's Supper as an expression of the love of the believers for one another.

The Early Church Was Devoted To Prayer – Prayer is essential to keeping the communication open between us and God. Also, as a whole, the church was able to see God at work and experience His power through praying together. They met regularly for the sole purpose of prayer.

It is clear that prayer in the book of Acts was not for outward show. Christian leaders did not come together and simply open their discussion with a “word of prayer.” They understood that their primary purpose in assembling was prayer.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Characteristics of An Authentic Church

 Wednesday, January 20, 2021

So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. Acts 2:41-47

An Authentic Church

Tomorrow and Friday we will be focusing on the early church that Sam preached about this past Sunday. The early church was completely authentic, 100% sold out. It was a hard place for them, yet they drew people in because of the way they were devoted to God and to each other. They were drawn to the closeness of the group - the "family"  like relationships and fellowship. This devotional was taken from a sermon preached some time ago by Jim Garner and it outlines the characteristics of an "authentic church." 

The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head. It is where we have opportunity to express our worship and exercise the gifts of the Spirit the Lord has given us.  We are many members working together for a common goal.  We all have different strengths and God has designed us all to fit together so we can work as one for His glory. 

Just what should the Body of Christ look like to the world? Below are seven characteristics of an “Authentic Church”:


              Motivated by the Gospel (v.41)
Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power of salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew and also to the Greek (Gentile).”

              Meaningful membership (v.41-42)
Ephesians 4:15-16 > “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

              Mentoring leadership (v.42)
2 Timothy 2 > “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

              Moved by God's power (v.43)
Mark 5:19 > “And He did not let him, but He said to him, "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you."

              Minister to one another (v.44-45)
When God’s power moves in people’s lives, people move their lives under the presence of God.  Our stories are all a part of God’s story and no matter what the details are, God can use our stories for His glory and to help others.  God has redeemed you from your past so you can grow and live for Him in the present which will someday impact someone else’s future.
Titus 3:5-7 > “…he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

              Meet together regularly (v.46-47)
Hebrews 10:23-25 > 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Community - unity with a common purpose. Our service (ministry) is an indication of what or who is a priority in our lives. This is evident by the emphasis we place on how we sacrifice our time, energy, and resources.

              Mobilized to multiply (v.47)
2 Corinthians 5:20 > “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
I Corinthians 12:24b-26

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