Championing Our Faith

Finding victory in the turmoil

(Matthew 8:24) Suddenly, a violent storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves. But He was sleeping HCSB

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“WHAT HAPPENED?!”

“The healing at Capernaum”
(Matthew 8:14-16) 14 When Jesus went into Peter’s house,He saw his mother-in-law lying on the bed with a fever. 15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her 16 When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon possessed. He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick,..

The disciples who were with Jesus witnessed the recent healing had their faiths called to task, but, In their circumstance, all they saw was the storm. Ironically, it is for this reason storms occur in our lives.

Having Big Faith is a process of learning to overcome barriers and mountains. In our moments of helplessness, we almost always default to a spirit of defeat. The problem: We doubt the power of the cross, and sovereignty of God. If we are to grow in our faith, we must embrace, and ascribe to the process:

“Enduring Faith” We were given specific assignments in the kingdom (1 Cor. 12:12) and are to being made equal to the tasks.
(Jeremiah 12:5) The LORD answered, “If you have raced on foot against men and they have worn you out, how will you be able to compete with horses? And if you feel secure only in safe and open country, how will you manage in the thick undergrowth along the Jordan River? NET

“Live a life of obedience” Avoid spiritual atrophy through repitition. We must live out our faith so that we may always ready to respond:
(Acts 6:5) And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and the chose Stephen a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, Timon, and Parmenas and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch

Aspire, and Ascribe to be made Christ-like (We must Want to, and be Willing to).
(Hebrews 12:2) looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

” Renewing our faith” comes by going to the cross to trade all that we are, to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 1:9-10) 9 Indeed we personally had a death sentence within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.
10 He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us again

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Nehemiah Restorer of the wall

Faith through Trials

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The prophet Nehemiah shows up at the time of Israel’s third invasion, and exile to Babylonia 444BC. Where he served as cup-bearer to Artaxerexes king of Persia.

The Assignment;

One day, he receives a message from his brother Hanani regarding the state of Jerusalem-How the walls were in ruin, and the remnant had no protection from attacks and there was nowhere to pray because the synagogue have also been destroyed. (Nehemiah 1:3) They said to me, The remnant in the province, who survived the exile are in great trouble and disgrace.

In his grief, he turns to God with a repentant heart and pleads for forgiveness, and he asked for favor for his people 1:6 let Your eyes be open and Your ears be attentive to hear Your servant’s prayer that I now pray to You day and night for Your servants the Israelites. He is also conflicted and filled with anxiety because of what his assignment entails-To find favor with the king and convince him to allow him go rebuild the wall they were responsible for bringing down. And yet, 6 months had lapsed before was made aware of his plight. Chislev was observed during the Winter”(Nov/Dec), While the month of Nisan was celebrated in April/May.

The king sensed something was wrong, But Nehemiah did not know how to respond.
2:1 During the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was set before him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence,2 so the king said to me, “Why are you sad when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but depression”

What was Nehemiah to do? *He Invited God to accompany him on his journey:

1:11 Please Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and that of Your servants who delight to revere Your name. Give Your servant success today and have compassion on him in the presence of this man *When God gives us an assignment, He has pre-ordained the outcome-He wouldn’t use you if He didn’t think you were capable.

2:4 So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried so that I may rebuild it.

The “Cup-bearer”-Trustworthy, and faithful. Not only did they serve wine to the king, but they were required to first sip it to ensure the king would not be poisoned.

To his account, The king, and his queen found much favor in Nehemiah, Not only did they allow him to leave, but they made provisions for him to complete his task (2:6-8)
6The king, and the queen seated beside him me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you return?” So I gave him a definite time, and it pleased the king to send me. By the time Nehemiah finally departed, he had more than enough to complete his assignment-He had all the building materials he would ever need, he was guaranteed safe passage, And he was given a military escort.
We serve a Big God who only knows how to do things in a Big way. Nehemiah’s determination and faith was rewarded in abundance:

2:8 And let me have a letter written to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest. so that he will give me timber to rebuild the gates of the temple fortress, the city wall, and home where I will live. the king granted my request, for I was graciously strengthened by the Lord.

This was not the end, but the beginning of a series of events that will cause Nehemiah to rely heavily on God’s sovereignty and become a champion of his faith. God’s blessings

“The Race”

Re Spiritual Discipline:

Handtools
And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritence among all those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32)

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 24 Do you not know that in a race all runners run, but only one receives a prize? 25 Every athlete exercises self control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as beating the air. 27 I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself be disqualified ESV
..27b so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified HCSB

sometimes “life is good” we may be tempted to forget our need for him.” But there are times in our lives when we are acutely aware of our need for God
C S Lewis A Grief Observed

9:27 a But I discipline my body and keep it under control…SPIRITUAL FITNESS comes about through the “Committing” to train, tone, and push through our limitations. Committing to do what it takes to be ready in All Seasons, and circumstance. Spiritual fitness is the willingness to cause a paradigm shift (Change direction), in the way we live and think.

First things first. Effective training and conditioning demands us to be completely stripped down, and purged of all excess weight. OKANA (Hawaiian) Baggage,”Stuff” We all have it. It might look like Unresolved Conflict with a loved one/acquaintance, Un-forgiveness- Bearing the cross of a past trespass, maybe having not forgiven yourself? It might look like Un-repented sin-The ghost of past mis-deed? Whatever it may be, its weighing us down, and caused us to be distanced from God *Caveat: We have been pardoned from all sins, Past,Present and Future (. ) tells us so. It is the consequences of the sin we must deal with.2 But your iniquities have made separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

9:24 Do you not know that in a race all runners run, but only one receives the prize..

REMEMBER THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT-“The reason you Signed Up”

9:26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. *Hitting the punching bag was not enough, Rocky went into the slaughterhouse to hammer at slabs of refrigerated meat. He identified his pain thresholds, pushed through them-He tasted victory.

We get so wrapped up in “doing life” that we actually drift away from God, and it becomes obvious when we notice ourselves in unfamiliar territory, or, Maybe a Familiar place we were once at? *SUBMARINES Primary function: Carry out missions deep beneath the surface of the ocean, often for extended periods of time, and do so with pin-point accuracy. 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual worship.2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:1-2)

Finally, APPEARANCES DO MATTER

We are lights unto Him (Job 22:28), reflections of His greatness. We are under constant scrutiny of the world, A world ready to pounce on the moment we slip up. Waiting for that perfect opportunity to crucify us (Genesis 4:7)-Case and point, The present presidential campaign. The world forms theirs opinions by the way we conduct and present ourselves. How we conduct ourselves speaks volumes about the level of our spiritual maturity and to the character of God: Therefore, let us too, with such a crowd of witnesses about us, throw off every impediment and the entanglement of sin, and run with determination the race for which we entered (Romans12:1)

Revival of the church

Church Growth:

QUESTION:

Can church growth be measured by the sudden upswing of visitors attending Sunday service? What about that recent expansion, and facelift to an aging structure? Yes, On the surface it creates appeal and  is certain spark curiosty of those seeking spiritual connections.

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AND LOOK! There are programs available to help fix and maintain these areas of church growth,

Smart Church Management’s (SCM) founder Patricia Lotrich help churches grow in areas of stewardship- managing resources like time, personnel and monies. Active network offers college courses on maintaining growth by evaluating your present infrastructure (Staff), Modeling health-Human mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual processes. They also teach how to do staff evaluations, document progress, and offer technological support. Surely, The church is growing, and we are capable of fixing ourself.
Truth is, We couldn’t be further off the mark-Our Accomplishments, and external efforts have taken precedence over the presence of the Holy Spirit of God, and the true purpose of the church; “Evangelism”

…since a church is a living organism, it is natural for it to grow if it is healthy…

If a church is not growing, it is dying…
(Rick Warren) “A Purpose driven church”

There is no “I” in church growth. Church Growth is “CHRIST CENTERED” (Acts 6:7) And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of priests became obedient to the faith. It is COLLECTIVE; We all have a place in reviving and nurturing the Holy Spirit for all who come seeking Him(1Corinthians 12:12)

The church is desperate need for revival, a re-invitation for the Holy Spirit to come and take up residency; (Psalm 85:6) Will You not revive us again so that Your people may rejoice in You?

Pray with me. Lord, I empty myself of all distractions, that I may be filled with a humble spirit-Your Spirit. Renew my mind, O Lord, help Your servant to remain focused on doing my part in the revival of Your church. Renew my heart and make me a pleasing aroma to You, and a light to all who come seeking Your face. In Your mighty name I pray, And all in agreeance say, Amen. God Bless

Revival starts with the renewing of our minds

 

(Romans 12:2) 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern whats good, pleasing, and perfect will of God HCSB

In as much as recent days, the world was rocked by the atrocities of mankind’s wickedness. We can agree that what was once an occasional event, has become commonplace, at in the fore-front of our day to day life. We become so influenced by social media, that we have become sensationalized with world events causing us to lose sight on what really matters: (Matthew 24:6-8) You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet.7 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. there will be famines and earthquakes in various places, 8All these are the beginnings of birth pains-The overthrow of the “Ottoman Society” 1383 *Janissaries The Muslim movement come full circle (TheOttomans.org.) These things MUST unfold, and are all coming to pass.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light
of His mercy and grace….

(Psalm 51:10) God create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit in me-Take from me all that distracts me from receiving the Full Measure of your mercy and grace. A Major Distraction in our relationship with God, is ourselves. Paul reminds us of the Jews who were a overly proud people-Who believed themselves to be above reproach (Better than everyone else). And, We see how God dealt with these distractions: (Romans 11: 1) I ask, have they stumbled in order to fail? Absolutely not! On the contrary, by their stumbling, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel Jealous.
The broken branches of the olive tree needed to be removed for the rest of the tree remain strong, and the roots could continually nourish the tree(11:17-18). Others (Gentiles) were starving for the Gospel, and the Jews were a stumbling block. The spiritualy dead were removed so other olive branches could be grafted in, to partake of this nourishment.

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RENEWAL AND REGENERATION: (Romans 11:17) Now if sone of the branches were broken off, and you a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, *The Gospel was fairly new in the area, and God was still working on the Jews and was intent on saving those who came into repentance. Those who hadn’t were slowly killing the entire vine, and kept others from being fed.
The Lord loves His children and is not willing to see anyone perish, So, He extended grace (John 3:16) to those who do come to repent of their ways (Romans 11:23) And even they, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, because God has the power to graft them in again-Even if they were trimmed from the vine once before..

Hard headed children need discipline

A study in the Book of Micah

God’s covenant blessings, then, as now,
were predicated upon keeping of the covenant by His people; and failure to keep the covenant meant forfeiture of every blessing
James Burton Coffman Commentaries

(Micah 3:11-12) 11You rulers make decisions on bribes;
you priests teach God’s law for a price; Yet You all claim to depend on the Lord. “No harm can come to us” you say,
“For the Lord is among us.”
12 Because of you, Mount Zion will be plowed like an open field; Jerusalem will be to ruins! A thicket will grow grow on the heights.

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After the death of King Solomon (1King 11:41-42), conflict arose between the king’s son, Rehaboam, and Jeroboam, (servant to the king). This conflict divided the king’s nation in two ( Rehaboam, the appointed king),faced the uprising of Jeroboam
(1Kings 11:29-31) 31 During that time, the prophet Ahijah the Shilomite met Jeroboam on the road as he came of of Jerusalem. Now Ahijah had wrapped himself with a new cloak, and the two were alone in the open field. 30 Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he had on tore it into 12 pieces and said to Jeroboam ” Taken10 pieces for yourself for this is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I am about to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand. I will give you ten tribes-Invariably resulting in Rehaboam’s rule of the south (Judah), On the other hand, Jeroboam would rule of the north (Israel)-1 KINGS 11:26-27 Now Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam son of Nebat, was an Ephraimite from Zeredah. Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon, 27 and this is the reason he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the supporting terraces, and repaired the opening in the wall of the city of his father David. This, at a time when both the north and south were experiencing sudden affluent, economic growth, (with all its trappings), which presented challenges for an already obstinate people.

judgement sacle

Israel was divided into several dynasties (Groups of king’s from the same families), different cities with different names, the last of which was Samaria,(Israel’s capitol). Each dynasty operated its own government which became corrupted by unscrupulous business practices(2:1-3) They scheme, and devise ways to place financial yokes on others for their personal gain- These practices have found their way into God’s church, by way of false prophet prosperity gospels: (Micah 3:11) Her leaders issue rulings for a bribe, her priests teach for a payment, and her prophets practice divination for money. Yet they lean on the Lord,saying, “Isn’t the Lord among us? No disaster will overtake us” corruption had found its way into Judah (Micah 1:9) For her wound is incurable and has reached even Judah; It has approached the gate of my people as far as Jerusalem

In those days, the Lord sent prophets to deliver His message of warning of the impending wrath-He sent prophets who were priests, some were rich and advised the kings, while others became farmers. Some prophets taught their prophecies, many didn’t-They taught judgement and fairness, dreams of success, and destruction. Some saw the coming king as a ruler who would suffer, while others saw him as a servant. But all saw him as Messiah.

Lord God, sent Micah to deliver this message at a most troubling time in Israel’s history. The divisiveness of His children lead to the downfall of a kingdom, resulting in establishment of many corrupt governments practices, that found its way into the churches. Clearly, these atrocities will be atoned for, though, it is through the atonement process, God’s character is revealed.

God’s “Faithfulness”:(Genesis 9:15-17) God promised long ago, never to completely destroy mankind. So, in His righteous judgement, there will always be hope, a promise, and a provision. Prior to His judgement, God has already made provisions for reconciliation(Micah 6:7-8) Would the Lord be pleased with a thousand of rams, or ten thousand streams of oil? Should I give my first born for my transgression, the child of my body for my sin. No! (6:8) Mankind He has told you what is good and what the Lord requires of you: To act justly, to love faithfully, and to walk humbly with God (4:7-8) On that day-This is the Lord’s declaration-I will assemble the lame and gather the scattered those I have injured. I will make the lame into a remnant, those far removed into a strong nation. Then the Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion 8 And you, watchtower for the flock, fortified hill of Daughter Zion, the former rule will come to you, sovereignty will come to Daughter Jerusalem. The “Former” rule will come to you- The “Covenant” will be restored.

On Church Growth

QUESTION:

Can church growth be measured by the sudden upswing of visitors attending Sunday service? What about that recent expansion, and facelift to an aging structure? This is certain to attract new believers to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

AND LOOK! There are programs available to help fix and maintain these areas of church growth,

Smart Church Management’s (SCM) founder Patricia Lotrich help churches grow in areas of stewardship- managing resources like time, personnel and monies. Active network offers college courses on maintaining growth by evaluating your present infrastructure (Staff), Modeling health-Human mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual processes. They also teach how to do staff evaluations, document progress, and offer technological support. Surely, The church is growing, and we are capable of fixing ourself.
Truth is, We couldn’t be further off the mark-Our Accomplishments, and external efforts have taken precedence over the purpose of God’s church- Evangelism.

…since a church is a living organism, it is natural for it to grow if it is healthy…
If a church is not growing, it is dying…
(Rick Warren) “A Purpose driven church”

There is no “I” in church growth. Church Growth is “CHRIST CENTERED” (Acts 6:7) And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of priests became obedient to the faith. It is COLLECTIVE; We all have a place in reviving and nurturing the Holy Spirit for all who come seeking Him(1Corinthians 12:12)

The church is desperate need for revival, a re-invitation for the Holy Spirit to come and take up residency; (Psalm 85:6) Will You not revive us again so that Your people may rejoice in You?

Pray with me. Lord, I empty myself of all distractions, that I may be filled with a humble spirit-Your Spirit. Renew my mind, O Lord, help Your servant to remain focused on doing my part in the revival of Your church. Renew my heart and make me a pleasing aroma to You, and a light to all who come seeking Your face. In Your mighty name I pray, And all in agreeance say, Amen. God Bless

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