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Courage

8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…. -2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (New Revised Standard Version) – The New International Version of the Bible renders the phrase afflicted in every way in a different way. . It uses the phrase hard pressed on every side. This is how the NIV Translation reads: 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. When it comes to courage, you cannot chart it. You cannot measure its specific densi-ty. When it is displayed, a person is courageous, and when it is missing, a person is called a coward. Take note of that: COURAGEOUS OR COWARD. There is no middle ground. In the spiritual realm, courage is ACTION. Look at Abraham, who left Ur of the Chaldees with only the promise that God would lead him. Courage is what Elijah had when he stormed into the presence of the king and said, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who I serve, there will be neither dew or rain in the next few years except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1). Courage is what Daniel had when he went into his home, threw back the windows, and prayed three times a day, even though the king had passed a law forbidding prayer. Courage is what Jonah had when he walked into Nineveh, a city of perhaps half a million or more people, and announced that God would destroy the city in 40 days. Followers of Jesus today must find courage to speak their convictions, to stand for what is right, to abide by principles, rather than expediency. Individual believers of Jesus who are courageous often pay a price for their courage. Real courage does not consider the cost. It considers only the rightness of the action that must be taken. Where do we get courage? Paul said, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31). Paul like any disciple of Christ or any man for that matter, who stands courageously for his faith and faithfulness, was troubled, yet he could say, 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;…. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Paul could, and so you can, as you thank God and take courage. Pastor...

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“I NEVER CROSS IT TILL I REACH….”

“I NEVER CROSS IT TILL I REACH….” Matthew 6:25-34 Dr. E Stanley Jones, profoundly said: “Worry is the interest we pay on tomorrow’s troubles.” But I believe there is more to what E. Stanley Jones said. Worry begins as a trickle, then erodes our energy and productivity, draining us of all creative abilities and possibilities. In some cases, part of the solution is revamping our lifestyle, but in other situation like raising 3 or 4 or even 5 kids without a husband or a wife-you cannot quit or walk. You’ve got to will to move on. Jesus proclaims, “Therefore I tell you, DO NOT WORRY!” And in verse 34, Jesus finishes his admonition about worrying with this strong proclamation: 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Most of our worries cluster around our two major fears: What could happen and What has happened. When we focus and fix our eyes on these two major fears rather than trusting on the possibilities of what God can do, we lose sight of our own God given creative abilities and possibilities. No wonder Jesus said: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry….” In the days when he was a circuit-riding lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, accompanied by several colleagues, crossed several rivers swollen by spring rains. Ahead, though, was the big one-the Fox River, and it worried them. “If we are having trouble getting across these, how are we going to get across that one?” they reasoned. That evening they stopped at the log cabin of a settler. The man had crossed the dangerous Fox River many times. Learning this, Lincoln’s group probed the man about the river. “I know all about the Fox River,” he told them, adding, I have crossed it often and understand it well. But I have one fixed rule with regard to the Fox River: I never cross it till I reach it.” I NEVER CROSS IT TILL I REACH IT…. Jesus never said, “Fear what could happen and what has happened.” But Jesus said, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. “I NEVER CROSS IT TILL I REACH….” In this time of uncertainty, people are worrying about what they cannot change. How about we take this to heart: “Therefore I tell you, DO NOT WORRY….” 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. When you are where God wants you to be and you know that He is your Shepherd who...

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The Chemistry of Love

“Love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” -I Corinthians 13:4-8 February 14 is coming up and I would like us to think about love. Dr. Karl Menninger, one of the most prominent psychiatrists, has said, “Love is the medicine for our sick old world.” His staff was often told that love was the most powerful thing they could give to their patients. Scientists have been analyzing love in the laboratory for many years. They have learned that love produces changes in body chemistry. When male meets a female, the blood level of an amino acid, phenylalanine, leaps to a high equaled only by devouring a pound of chocolate. “People in the throes of love,” says researcher Cathy Lawhon, “call it magic, but human behaviorists attempt to define it scientifically. Theories of how chemistry works range from the biochemical effects or raised phenylalanine levels in the blood during love relationships to synchronous and harmonious personal interactional styles.” More than 2,000 years ago, in the city of ancient Ephesus, a learned rabbi, turned missionary-preacher by the name Paul, analyzed the chemistry of love. He mentioned a variety of ingredients which make up the real thing: patience, truthfulness, sacrifice, service, etc. Let’s recall I Corinthians 13:1-3: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but do not love, I have become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries, and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains but do not love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not love, it profits me nothing.” This will be a good place to begin as we renew our commitment to love one another, to love others, to love our spouse, to love our children, and to love our...

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Let’s Begin With God

(A meditation Based on Isaiah 40:25-31) As you and I stand on the threshold of a new experience, consider this; “Let Us Begin With God.” Let us not treat God as a mere accessory or as optional, but as God-the Creator, the Redeemer, the Comforter-who is part of any worthy endeavor to bless and help. So the question is: “How Do We Begin With God?” LET US BEGIN HUMBLY We must be honest about ourselves at the very outset. How very limited we are, but how unwilling we are to admit! We shall learn about ourselves sooner or later. The prophet cried to the callow young men and women whose lives were yet before them: “Remember…your Creator in the days of your youth.” Be humble. Be honest. Remember where you came from/ Are you and I gods, or there are limits to what we are and can become through our own strength? Many today feel as the spies felt who came back and reported to the children of Israel that they saw giants and said, “We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers: and so we seemed to them.” Moreover, you and I must confess to being driven by pride, envy, evil desires, and anger. Yet we are reminded, we must begin with humility. LET’S BEGIN CONFIDENTLY That is possible only if we look to God for our resources, rather than ourselves. The witness of the Bible tells us that God is able to bring victory and success into these faltering, ineffectual lives that have suffered so many humiliating defeats. He will deliver us, in his own way, and in his own time. We may begin with God at any significant juncture in our life, confident that he will be with us (Emmanuel) all the way. The unspeakable love of God is able to absorb our defections and despair. Remember, we cannot live victoriously without God’s continuing help. We must begin confidently with God. LET’S BEGIN DECISIVELY Our unhesitating commitment to God must be without reservation. There must be no private sanctuary for self. We must draw the curtain of concealment over any loyalty, any love, any sin, anything contrary to God’s idea and plan! For that, we must faithfully and consistently avail of the means of grace; otherwise, our inner life will be like an empty house, cleaned and swept, and perfectly prepared as a residence for the devil. There is nothing more horrible that a spiritual vacuum. God in his mercy gives us Christian friends and companions. God gave us prayer. God gave us love; therefore, as we attend church, participate in communions, read the Bible, pray, and live lives of love and tender...

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Growth

GROWTH My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. -I John 2:1- One of the things that came out of our Healthy Church Initiative is the area of “Growing Opportuni-ties.” Wesley pointed out that not growing is an indication of “diminishing grace.” Paul even used the anato-my of human body to describe the church-THE BODY OF CHRIST. Growth is a phenomenon! Think about this, “It is amazing what parents will do to see growth in their children. When parents suddenly realize that their child is shorter than other children of the same age, most start booking appointments with doctors and embark on a regimen of nutrition or medication. They don’t want their youngsters to be underdeveloped.” With this in mind, let us also think and ponder about how we grow spiritually as indicated in our Healthy Church Initiative prescription. Normal physical growth is the result of three factors: 1. Nature, 2. Nutrition, 3. Nurture. The right kind of food, exercise, and enough sleep in a good environment usually ensures that our children grow up healthy. The same factors produce spiritual growth as well. The News Testaments says, “No one is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him…” (I John 3:9). Growth is the result of our response to what God has done in our lives. The question is, “Are you interested in becoming all you can be spiritually?” If your answer is yes, then make it a habit to be in God’s Word on a daily basis. Make prayer part of your daily routine. Be quick to acknowledge when you have violated what the bible tells to be right. John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When difficulties come, instead of thinking them as God’s rebuke, consider them as opportunities to grow and find out how great God’s resources are for his children. Your greatest growth spiritually does not take place in a warm, cozy and comfortable place but out on the playing fields of life where your faith is challenged by a hard world, and by situations which you wish you didn’t have to face. It is there that we grow or die. It is there where we find a faith by fire, one which will make us tough,...

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