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BEGINNING THE NEW YEAR

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”-Psalm 90:12- Almost every year I am asked, “Have you made resolutions this year?” And my reply is generally the same. “No, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.” How about you, “Do you make New Year’s resolutions?” Resolutions don’t change me. Only REGENERATION – the result of God’s Holy Spirit working in my life-can make any lasting difference. That is why I strive to live every day as though it could be the last day of my life. “God, I pray, as I begin my day, “walk with me today. I have no idea what lies before me, but nothing takes You by surprise. Be my strength and my stay. Help me make the most of it and use it to Your glory.” This prayer is also a good prayer with which to start the New Year. (I would encourage you to make this your New Year Prayer). The difficulty in planning or making promises about the direction we will take in the future is that we don’t know what the future holds, what bends and turns and rough roads lie ahead of us. I grew up in the Philippines in a time when most of the roads are not paved. When we travel, we do not know what kind of roads we are traversing. Will it be a paved road or not? Will it be muddy? Or will it me dusty or rough road? We must bring with us extra clothes just in case. That’s the way life is. Your road map is not always consistent with reality. The superhighway of plans turns into a jungle trail of frustration and roadblocks. It is comforting to know that what happens in the New Year will not take God by surprise. When tomorrow arrives with its uncertainties and frustrations, its pain and even sorrow, God will be standing there to give comfort, guidance, sustenance, leadership and extend His grace and mercy and compassion to you. There is one road map for life which I’ve found accurate and complete. IT’S THE BIBLE. When it describes bumpy, unpaved paths, you can be sure that’s the way it is. And when it describes the narrow path which leads to life, you can be sure there is not other way to get where you want to go. Make the Word of God your Road Map for the new Year 2022. Make it your habit to consult it regularly, not just in the New Year, but on into the days and weeks beyond. A blessed and abundant year 2022 and beyond to all! Pastor...

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God Honors The Person Who Honors Him

One of the highlights of the Liturgical Celebration during the month of November is the All-Saints Sunday. We come together and remember the saints of the Church. In this article I would like to share the life of a brave follower of Jesus. His name is Eric Liddell. When a major production company in Britain decided to do a film about an athlete of the 1920s, media experts predicted they would lose millions. But as it turned out, the picture became an Academy Award winner, and Chariots of Fire roused something of hero worship that the experts did not know was still there. As good as the picture is, it falls short of actually demonstrating how great a man Eric Liddell really was-not it the sense of being great athlete, but above and beyond that, of being a man great in character and integrity. Chariots of Fire focuses on the contests that took Liddell to the 1924 Olympics in Paris, where his convictions kept him from running the 100-meter race, his specialty, because it was held on a Sunday. Instead, Liddell chose to run in the 400-meter race and was further handicapped because he drew an outside lane where there were no other runners to help him set his pace. Liddell of course, raced to victory and later returned to his native city of Edinburgh as a great hero. The story of Eric Liddell’s life, however had just begun at that point. Turning his back on a life as an internation-al hero and one of Scotland’s favorite sons, Liddell chose to follow in the steps of his father and became a missionary to China. In 1925 Liddell went to China to begin missionary work at the Anglo-Chinese Christian College. Although Lid-dell ran some, the Chinese could not quite understand the strange Anglo-Saxon who ran through the crowded streets. Since it was not culturally very acceptable to the Chinese, Liddell stopped running. He did, however, accept an invita-tion to Japan in 1928-three years later-to run in a 400-meter, international event. Running in his own unique style, Lid-dell outclassed his opponents and swept the field, to the delight of the Japanese crowd. What the crowd did not know was that Liddell’s ship back to China was due to leave fifteen minutes after the event. Liddell mystified officials and spectators alike by continuing to run under the grandstand and out of the stadium to a waiting taxi, which rushed him to the docks. The ship had already cast off from the jetty. In a final sprint, Liddell ran down the pier and leaped to the deck of the ship fifteen feet away. Ironically, Liddell spent his last...

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Be Transformed

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”-2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV- Some words mean exactly what they imply. There are no secret messages or hidden esoteric meaning. “What part of ‘NO’ don’t you understand?” a frustrated father asked his teenager. It’s hard to dance around such bluntness. Similarly, Paul wrote to Roman believers who felt caught between the pressures of their culture to conform or to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. A well-respected businessman, a lay leader in his church, and a father tells his story. When he was twelve, he took a gun and shot his enemy. As a troubled teenager with no father to guide him and a busy mother who ignored him, he became involved in drugs and petty crime. When he began dating the woman who eventually became his wife, he said, “She couldn’t understand why I always had money. I would stop at a gas station and return with a roll of bills.” He then remorsefully told how he hooked up businessmen with girls. He married, but all the turmoil was destroying his marriage until a friend led him to Jesus Christ. A marriage seminar sponsored by Guidelines more than twenty years ago helped him learn skills that he desperately needed. This kind of transformation, which happened to him, is the work of the Holy Spirit (Sanctifying Grace) – affecting the will, body, and mind. “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking, Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Romans 12:2-this is from The Message Bible Translation) In His Service,Pastor...

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Belonging

12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15 and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’-Amos 7:12-15- The need to belong is powerful indeed. Without belonging, we die-in fact we do not come into existence, or should I say, “we will never come into existence.” To live is to be attached, to belong. We are often told not to be navel-gazers-it is too narcissistic. True enough. But there is a lesson to be learned even from this. We are reminded that life is a connection as well as separation. Here is the paradox of life: “WE DIE IN ORDER TO LIVE.” This balanced view of life is crucial for gratitude and interdependence. We come into existence because of others. We are continually dependent, and hence must be grateful. At the same time there must be a breaking away, a cutting of the cord so that we can grow into an independent-dependent adult. We must help others to live and belong to grow, so that they can exist as free (interdependent) beings. At times the need to belong comes in sharp conflict with our conscience. We must stand for something, so as not to fall for everything. And when we stand for something, our “FRIENDS” (or even our family) may choose to be with us no more. We must go alone. In “fear and trembling” we follow the truth. At times we must be true to ourselves even at the cost of losing “friends,” and the most painful part as Jesus articulated in His call to discipleship, “our family.” The prophet Amos feels the tension which comes from speaking God’s word and coming under attack. Amos is not a professional prophet. He is a simple shepherd whom God calls to challenge the rich and self-satisfied Northern Kingdom (Israel). Amos, a native of Judah (the Southern Kingdom), is considered an outsider, an agitator against the mighty Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.). Amaziah, the court theologian and priest, turns against Amos. He accuses the prophet of tailoring his message for gain. However, Amos does not back down. He is God’s man sent to proclaim God’s word. Amos is on the outside as far as the power elites are concerned. However, he belongs to the Lord...

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God’s Thoughts

In this article, I would like to share with you one of my Prayer Meditation in our Prayer Celebrations every Thursday at 7:00 pm. You can tune in to our Gladbrook United Methodist Church Facebook of to my Facebook. This is a Facebook Live Stream Prayer Celebration. God is a GOD OF TIMING. The Bible reveals to us that our God is a God of seasons. Our experiences with Him are always in the context of SEASONS…. It means that HE IS EXACT in His plans, and He is exact in His plans for you and me. Too often Christians will take just whatever comes our way in life. This should not be. We should reach out and take what God wants us to take. So the big question is: “How do we know what He wants us to take?” It is significant that we need to affirm that He wants us to take His promises for us and receive it by faith. Have you considered this question in your faith journey: “What is it that God thinks about us when He is thinking about us?” Many Christians failed to recognize that God has a mindset or God has his own thoughts. Psalm 115:12-16 proclaims:“12 The LORD has been mindful of us; He will bless us; He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron. 13 He will bless those who fear the LORD, Both small and great.14 May the LORD give you increase more and more, You and your children. 15 May you be blessed by the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. 16 The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men. This Scripture tells us that the Lord has been mindful of us. What that means is simply that God is full of thoughts about mankind. So, we need to ask, “What is it that God thinks about us when He is thinking about us?” What you write in a letter is what you feel in your heart and what you think with your mind. God has written a letter to mankind. It is His Word and in His Word He shares His desires to clothe human being with His Glory (Hebrews 1:1-3; Galatians 3:27 NIV, among other verses). Hebrews 1:1-3In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and...

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Why You Don’t Have To Lose Heart

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.-2 Corinthians 4:16-17- Paul declares, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8). What Paul faced would have sent the average person either into depression or to flight. But Paul not only took it in stride, but he also seemed to grow with it. How could Paul be under such tremendous pressure and stay on top of things? What did Paul know that we don’t? FIRST, Paul knew that trials accomplish the purpose of God. Peter wrote, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (I Peter 4:12-13). SECOND, Paul had confidence that God would sustain him in times of great difficulty. Take note of Isaiah 43 where God says, “when you go through the waters, I will be with you.” It was a foregone conclusion that in the world we will face persecution, especially if you stand on Christ and His Teachings. THIRD, Paul could face trouble because he knew we are residents of an invisible Kingdom that cannot be shaken or destroyed. Hebrews 12:28 says, “Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe!” FINALLY, Paul also knew that we have a home in heaven. Paul wrote, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1). My dear brothers and sisters, “therefore we do not lose heart.”Happy 4th of July.Pastor...

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