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Posts tagged ‘LIFE’

WHEN LIFE CHANGE

 

YOUR LIFE IS ALWAYS A WORK IN PROGRESS

PHOTO BY SHIRLEY RHODES

PHOTO BY SHIRLEY RHODES

WRITTEN BY SHIRLEY RHODES

Life is an evolutionary process and how you process the flow comes through strength and obedience to endure events in time as they unfold. You may find that your way of dealing with and processing information is not necessarily a need to impress others, but to be pleasing in the sight of God. You may at some moment in time find yourself wounded by the very “things” or “people” you placed your hope in and then experience disappointment. Be sure of one thing, it is God’s hand that catches the falling soul; he casts it to the wind and commands it to fly again (that’s complete control).

You need to know about the masterful plan of God, how he has planned your life; after all, it is he who birthed you into existence, He gave you all you will ever need to maneuver the straights of life’s ever unfolding events. He is able to lift you above life’s circumstances, he is strong and mighty, “no weapon formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17; NKJV), because you are his creation the devil has no say. “For weapons of warfare are not carnal but mighty in God pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (1 Corinthians: 10: 4-6).”

Jesus is our rest, hope and peace, for we are saved by grace through faith not by our works, the good things we do (Ephesians: 2: 8, 9; NKJV). He has paid the price of redemption for all who choose to accept him as their life giving spirit, a spirit no mortal man can give. Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans: 5:1).

So when you come face to face with life change; remember that “when life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself, enter the silence; bow in prayer, don’t ask questions wait for hope to appear (Lamentation: 3: 28-30; MGS).”

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PASTORS MUST STOP KEEPING THEIR MEMBERS PROSPERITY POOR (PART 1)

In today’s market place when so many people have lost their jobs and inability to earn a proper living for their families and losing their homes and all their worldly goods it is time for Pastors and church leaders to carefully study the types of messages they delivery to their congregation. The bible gives us a road map for us to follow, how we present that road map to our followers at a time such as this is the most important thing that we can do in the name of Jesus.

I do realize that I am going to get a lot of negative feedback from my fellow brethren in the ministry, but I also feel that it is important to get this message out.  Now I ask you to read and study the entire message before you make up your mind, and let us begin a dialog that can be beneficial to all believers.

Throughout most of the Church History the spiritual current, especially of the Catholic and Orthodox churches has been that the most spiritual possible lifestyle is to be poor.

The preaching and teaching of these Pastors have done more harm to the poor than they have given them the keys to living a prospers life style because they use Scriptures like “Blessed are the poor…” and “Sell everything you have and come follow me,”  the mindset has been that in order to truly follow Christ you must impoverish yourself.

Now, of course, at any given time, only a few are willing to do this at one time, and so they are considered the most spiritual.   This promotes a general sense of guilt among the middle class and of pride among the self-impoverished.   Moreover, it creates a universal rejection of Earthly wealth for Christians, leaving it to be pursued by either those of other faiths (such as the medieval Jews) or by Christians who do not really believe the Gospel.

It is my opinion this promotes a general place of powerlessness for the church, and of “scraping by” for the average person.   Ironically, which teaching its people to be poor, the church itself held greater riches than most kings, building incredible edifices to promote itself.   The outcome of promoting poverty then, was to have a rich clergy and a poor laity.

In the wake of the great healing revival of the 1940’s and 50’s two things happened.  First, the healing crusaders like Oral Roberts and Jack Coe and others had built huge and very costly ministry empires which required a remarkable amount of money was needed.    Secondly, the anointing waned on many of these men, depriving them of the power which would both draw people to their services and money to feed the ministry empire.   Largely because of these two factors, the doctrine of “Faith” which they had developed with regard to getting people healed began to grow into a doctrine of Wealth.

Slowly the ability to get out of a wheelchair was replaced with the promise to get material goods.   Instead of “if you have faith, you can be made whole” it was “if you have faith, you can get out of debt.”  Now at the time, I believe the shift was subtle, but a generation later, what had happened became clear — the power of God had been traded for money.     We live under a system of “prosperity” now, where ministers promise that giving (to them) is the way to wealth, and implicitly that if you do so you will become rich like them.   These rich ministers are the ones who had “faith” to get wealth, and by “sowing in” to their ministries you can get the same thing.    The great irony again is that this has not produced a race of billionaire Christians, what it has primarily produced is the same exact thing that the Old Catholic “poverty mentality” did — rich ministers and poor laymen.

Does this mean that God does not want his children to prosper?  By no means, I believe that God desires to give His children great wealth so that they can “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, and then “they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9)   In other words, we are given the financial resources to advance His Gospel and reach every living creature.   If that is your heart and practice with your wealth, God wants to give you the increase.    What these “prosperity” preachers are doing is just the opposite, however.   They are taking huge sums of money which otherwise would be putting others into ministry to spread the Gospel and helping those in need and spending it on lives of difficult to imagine luxury.  And they feel no pangs of conscience about it because in their system being rich is a sign of being blessed.

Anyone can get rich by telling you that by giving him or her money, you will get rich.   That is what they call a “pyramid scheme” and rightly so.  It is the devil’s method.  Take from the many to enrich the few. Real prosperity then is the businessperson who uses his God-given talents to bring wealth into the Kingdom.   God does not tell such a man he must live on nothing.   He tells him that if his heart is in the right place, he’ll want to give greatly to the cause of the Gospel.   If you have a business or hold a job, God wants to give you the increase, but it’s not going to come by giving more money to a “prosperity” preacher.  It’s going to come by your God given talent, the favor of God on your life, and by giving to reach the ends of the Earth with His message.

We have come to a place where we think that having a private jet is a sign of the anointing.   It may be a sign of the anointing, but a sign that the anointing has been misused.   We need to fear the Lord, because he does not take use of positions in His house for personal gain lightly. This is not unlike the sin of Gehazi.  He saw that he could get a couple of talents of silver and some robes from Elisha’s anointing and look where it took him.  He became a leper.  The sons of Eli thought their spiritual inheritance was best used to gain better portions of meat from the people’s sacrifices.  God killed them.  It’s amazing how in every reformation of the church from Jesus, to Luther, to our time, that one of the great issues is the abuse of money.     I believe the Lord has winked at many in our time because they legitimately believed they were helping the people, but a time is soon coming when He is going to reform the church again.

Get ready for the Lord is going to make it all right.  The leaders of the church have prospered while the rest of its members have remained poor.

A GRAIN OF WHEAT DIES AND PRODUCES A RICH HARVEST

A GRAIN OF WHEAT DIES AND PRODUCES A RICH HARVEST

Jesus leaves us with a very profound message on just how one grain of wheat can produce a bountiful harvest.  Listen to what He says, 24I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.” (John 12:24 AMP) 

This picture that Jesus paints for us illustrates not only Jesus artistic abilities, but He illustrates it in such a manner that it leaves no doubt as to the meaning of His words and the impact that they could have on the whole human race if only we would take the time to conceptualize them.

Now meditate on this for a moment, when a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, it actually dies before becoming a mature blade producing many new kernels.  In the same way, Jesus, by his death, produced more fruit than could have been gained had he become the king of Israel on an earthly throne.  Indeed, by being lifted up on the cross, Jesus would draw all people to himself.  In this picture of the dying grain, Jesus spoke directly about his own life.  He does not necessarily require us to literally give up our lives in sacrificial death as the only way to be fruitful.  God does call some believers to die for him.  However, he calls many more to stay alive for fruitful service.

Now let us turn to (Romans 12:1-2) and see what is meant by His call for many more to stay alive for fruitful service.   1I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.

    2Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Jesus makes a direct appeal to us, He even begs us in view of God’s mercies for us to give up the old way of life, and delicate our entire body as a living sacrifice, well pleasing to God, which is only our reasonable service.  He furthers employs us to be transformed, that is, changed by the renewing of our minds.  Spiritual transformation starts in the mind and heart.  A mind dedicated to the world and its concerns will produce a life tossed back and forth by the currents of culture.  But a mind dedicated to God’s truth will produce a life that can stand the test of time.  We can resist the temptations of our culture by meditating on God’s truth and letting the Holy Spirit guide and shape our thoughts and behaviors.

Now let me tell you this one truth, if anyone wishes to become a true follower of Jesus, you must get your priorities in order and this verse makes it perfectly clear why this must be.  Listen up,  25Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. [Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever.]

If you choose to love your life more than your Master’s, you will lose the very life that you seek to maintain.  True disciples must be willing to suffer and experience rejection, even unto death if need be.  To serve and follow Jesus means making radical lifestyle changes.  To follow Jesus means going the way he went, not the way of earthly power and honor, but the way of humility and death.  Everything Jesus did was for God’s glory.  When we choose to follow him, we must live for God’s glory alone.  This does not mean we have no fun, no joy, no security.  Rather, it simply means we live to honor God and then the Father will honor us.

We must live to honor God, but in order to do so the old must die off in order for new fruit to reproduce it’s self.  You see, when a seed dies, it produces fruit.  Life comes by death.  This principle is true not only in nature, but it is also true spiritually.  Jesus was speaking first, and foremost of Himself.  He is the grain of wheat.  His death would produce much fruit and would result in many living for God.  When you live for God, you honor God.

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING

A GRAIN OF WHEAT MUST DIE (John 12:20-33) (Amplified Bible)

20Now among those who went up to worship at the Feast were some Greeks.

21These came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and they made this request, Sir, we desire to see Jesus.

22Philip came and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip together [went] and told Jesus.

23And Jesus answered them, The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified and exalted.

24I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.

25Anyone who loves his life loses it, but anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. [Whoever has no love for, no concern for, no regard for his life here on earth, but despises it, preserves his life forever and ever.]

26If anyone serves Me, he must continue to follow Me [[a]to cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying] and wherever I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

27Now My soul is troubled and distressed, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour [of trial and agony]? But it was for this very purpose that I have come to this hour [that I might undergo it].

28[Rather, I will say,] Father, glorify (honor and extol) Your [own] name! Then there came a voice out of heaven saying, I have already glorified it, and I will glorify it again.

29The crowd of bystanders heard the sound and said that it had thundered; others said, An angel has spoken to Him!

30Jesus answered, This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sake.

31Now the judgment (crisis) of this world is coming on [sentence is now being passed on this world]. Now the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world shall be cast out (expelled).

32And I, if and when I am lifted up from the earth [on the cross], will draw and attract all men [Gentiles as well as Jews] to Myself.

33He said this to signify in what manner He would die.

 

ARE YOU PREPARED TO FIGHT AND WIN? (PART 4)

LEARNING TO WALK BY THE SPIRIT

If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.] (Galatians 5:25) AMP

In lesson three, we were treated with the unique prospective of how the Holy Spirit has worked as a personal trainer for us to become physically fit as well as spiritually fit.

Now let us look at just how we can obtain that goal:  You have heard the expression, he are she is just a couch potato.  There is no need for you to allow this to happen to you.  You can start by pushing the off button on that remote that lays beside you in the bed are on the couch.  You see the T.V. has become Satin’s greatest avenue of convincing you that he is in control of your life. He acts out your life for you; he carries on the conversation in your house for you.  He thinks for you.  Finally, when he has total control of your mind and body, he zaps your physical strength by keeping you in bondage as a couch potato where he can watch over you.  You never seen to have the strength are desire to do any type of physical exercise.

Now it is time that you begin to fight and fight to win. You can beat Satin at his own game if you would only stop being a couch potato, learn to walk by the Spirit, step outside and rediscover the beauty that God has blessed you to be able to observe.  Begin to take a daily walk 30 minutes to an hour will do.  You will soon discover your physical strength returning to you, your spiritual mind has taken control and now you are beginning to walk by the true spirit of God.  You see your body is an electrical and mechanically flesh and blood piece of machinery.  It responds to the signals given to it by the minds energy field.

Its batteries need to be recharged regularly in order for it to function at its maximum capacity, and one of the ways to recharge those batteries is a daily walk.  Do not just stroll down the walkway in a hurry to return for more of satin games.  Make your walk meaningful by looking around, relaxing and becoming one with God, the universe is there waiting for you to re-discover.

God ideal for the believer is that we live our lives in the realm of the Holy Spirit.  Walking in the Spirit, the exercise we should strive for refers to one’s lifestyle.  In other words, we are to live a lifestyles characterized by the Person and work of the Spirit of God.  To be led by the Spirit suggests that same Spirit directs our lifestyle.  It means we allow Him to point the way, to navigate us through the turns and intersections of life.

When you are truly walking by the Spirit, in line with the Spirit, maintaining your cover and alignment, you cannot be seen; only He can be seen.  When people look at you, they see Him.  When you speak, He speaks.  Walking in the Spirit is not so much you becoming an extension of God the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit of God living in you, living through you, touching lives through you, and blessing others through you.

Walking by the Spirit means you stay in line with God.  It means you do not break the line.  It means you do not get out of line.  You do not move until it is your turn.   It means you live your life following the lead of the Holy Spirit.

Some of you are losing battles you should be winning because you are not in shape.  It is not just that Satan and his pimps are on your trail.  Some demons cannot be cancelled out.  They have to be cast out.  Jesus said some demons come out only by fasting and prayer.  Fasting and
prayer are essential exercises.  Some of you are holy but ungodly.  You come to church every Sunday, but you are not in shape.  You cannot work out once a week and expect to see results.  Walking through the gym once a week does not get you in shape.  God has called you to be a godly woman or a godly man.  He wants your relationship with Him to be manifested in your conduct and actions.  Godliness is not measured by your behavior in church or the way you conduct yourself in the spotlight.  God wants you to leave your church seat, walk out of the door back out into the world, and do what He has called you to do, the way He has called you to do it.

Few pastors are calling the people to godliness.  Pastors are tailoring their sermons to fit
the exercise of their congregation, showing them how to access the riches of God, making the aim the blessing.  The aim should be the One from whom all blessings flow.  People of God are working to get stuff, more money, bigger houses, and nicer cars.  However, effective ministry, ministry for the kingdom of God, can only flow out of a godly lifestyle.  All gain beyond Christ
is not true gain, but a weight that hinders our progress toward God.

It is time to get in shape.  Sign up for a heavenly gym membership.  There is open enrollment.  And what a deal!  Jesus paid the price in full at Calvary.  But don’t be satisfied with just signing
up.  Go on and work out.  Stick with the program.  You will soon see the results you have been
looking for.  Remember, winners never quit and quitters never win.  Now is the time to get up off that couch, stop being called a couch potato and begin to fight to win.  Learn to walk by the
Spirit and be counted among the stars.

But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). (Galatians 5:16 AMP) DO IT NOW!

 

 

IT IS TIME TO STOP WORRYING AND LEARN TO TRUST GOD

Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing?  (Matthew 6:25) AMP

We are living in a time when our minds are filled with external authority.  We submit to the news of doom and gloom, always forgetting that there is a higher authority that is in control and if we can learn how to lean and depend on Him, we will never have anything to worry about.  But we know that in the world of reality, that people who lead others or carry organizational responsibility find more than enough reasons to worry—deadlines, financial pressures, market instability and other pressures (you fill in your own blanks here) make stomachs churn and account for many a sleepless night.  But Jesus cautions us against worrying about anything—even the food we eat or the clothes we wear.  In this passage, Jesus gives his disciples (and us) six reasons for trusting in God rather than worrying.

First, the same God who gives us the greater gift of life will certainly supply the lesser gifts of food and clothing (v 25). The command don’t worry about everyday life does not imply complete lack of concern, nor does it call people to be unwilling to work and supply their own needs.  Food, drink, and clothes are less important than the life and body that they supply.  Because God sustains our lives and gives us our bodies, we can trust him to provide the food and clothing he knows we need.  Worry immobilizes us, but trust in God moves us to action.  We work for our money to supply food and clothing, but we must always remember that these ultimately come from God’s hands.  When the need arises, we need not worry, for we know that our God will supply.

Second, the God who cares for the birds will care for his people.  After all, humans are of much greater value than any bird (v. 26).  The birds need food, and the heavenly Father knows it.  They are dependent upon God’s daily provision because they cannot plant or harvest or put food in barns.  They work, they hunt for it and then bring it back to their families, but they don’t worry.  If God cares for the birds, makes sure that the natural order of his creation supplies food for them, how much more will he care for a hungry human being?  People are far more valuable to him than the birds.  Jesus was teaching total dependence upon God as opposed to humanity’s self-sufficiency.  All that we have ultimately comes from God’s hand.  Jesus was not prohibiting his followers from sowing, reaping, and gathering food (that is, working for it); but he was prohibiting worrying about having enough food.

Third, worry expends energy pointlessly—it doesn’t change the reality of the situation a single bit (v.27).  Many of us would do well to ask ourselves this question every morning:  “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”  Daily we face new challenges, concerns, problems, and choices.  Will we worry, or will we pray?  Will worrying be of any help whatsoever?  Worry may damage our health, cause the object of our worry to consume our thoughts, disrupt our productivity, negatively affect the way we treat others, and reduce our ability to trust in God.  Worry may in reality, take time away from our span of life rather than adding to it.  It accomplishes nothing.

Fourth, worry ignores God’s demonstrated faithfulness in our lives (vv. 28-30.  The same God who so wonderfully clothes the flowers of the field is responsible to care for them.  Every blossoming flower is a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us.  Sitting on the grassy hillside, Jesus may have gestured to the lilies, probably referring generally to the bountiful flowers in Israel, and pointed out that those lovely flowers don’t have to work or make their clothing.  As in 6:26, Jesus was not condoning laziness while waiting for God to supply.  Instead, he wanted his disciples to place their lives and needs in God’s hands, refusing to worry over basic needs.  To worry about your clothes shows little faith in God’s ability to supply.  God “clothes” the flowers and grass of the field that are here today and gone tomorrow.  If his creation clothes the earth with beauty and color so rich that even King Solomon in all his glory could not match it, then he will surely care for you.

Fifth, we are God’s children (vv. 31-33).  God will never treat us as orphans who need to fend for themselves.  Because God provides food and clothing not only for birds and flowers but even more for his precious human creation, don’t worry.  Do not spend energy fretting over having enough food or drink or clothing.  Worry has no place in the lives of Jesus disciples because their heavenly Father already knows all their needs.

Jesus followers must settle the question of priorities and make the Kingdom of God their primary concern.  To do that, we must consistently honor and represent the Kingdom.  Then the way we deal with family, friends, work, leisure, etc., will all be transformed.  What is most important to you?  People, objects, goals, money, pleasure, and other desires all compete for priority.  Any of these can quickly bump God out of first place if you don’t actively choose to give him first place in every area of life.  Strangely enough, when you get your priorities right, Jesus promised that God will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him.  When Jesus followers seek his Kingdom first, God takes care of their needs.

Sixth, when we worry about tomorrow we miss out on today (v. 34).  Any problem we face can and will be handled, with God’s help, one day at a time.  Because God cares for his people’s needs, Jesus says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow.”  In an appeal to common sense, Jesus explained that what we worry about happening tomorrow may not happen, so we will have wasted time and energy worrying.  We need to reserve that energy because today’s trouble is enough for today.  We only add to today’s burdens when we worry about the future.  No anxieties about tomorrow will change the outcome, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  The burdens of today are enough, so let God take care of them.  We must trust God for today without worrying about tomorrow.

As leaders who want to influence our generation for Christ, we need to lead in a way that allows others to see our faith in God.  One way we can do that is by depending on God in the face of our daily pressures.  The next time you are under pressure, instead of worrying, pray for the grace you need to depend on God, who is perfectly and eternally worthy of your trust.  Remember that those you lead will see how you respond to such pressures and will follow your actions.

 

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