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First Impressions That Impress

Jacob said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them. And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep. And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.  Genesis 29:7-9

Jacob has left his hometown to return to his grandfather’s home in Harran.  Rebekah convinces Isaac to send Jacob away in order for Jacob to find a wife with a similar faith background.  Marrying someone that has the same spiritual belief is such an important concept to guide you when seeking a spouse.  Another reason to send Jacob away is so that he is not murdered by his brother Esau.  The deceit, craftiness, and stealing of the birthright and blessing has torn this family apart further.  So Jacob travels.

When he sees these shepherds he realizes that he is nearly to his destination.  When they say Rachel, a young woman is coming soon to water her sheep, perhaps his mind begins to race.  He has not seen her before.  In fact, is it possible that when she emerges from the distance and he sees her that there is a “love at first sight” that is ignited?  Possibly.

The shepherds were waiting for a few others to show up before the removed the lid from the top of the well.  I have been around several open wells like this in farm settings.  When they are fenced off or covered over it is generally for safety.  Children and stray animals could fall in an be injured or die, so the liability is decreased by putting a lid or covering over the well.  These men did not want to lift more than “their fair share” or they were waiting for someone with initiative to give directions to lift the lid.  Yes, many hands make light work.

In this first encounter with Rachel, Jacob walks right over and takes the lid off all by himself.  He is attempting to make a good first impression.  I’m sure he impressed the shepherds and others standing around.  It seems that Rachel is also impressed by Jacob for several reasons.  From Jacob in this story, we can learn several good qualities that are attractive to others and that will impress them.

Keep in mind that we do not have a goal of impressing people for our own sake.  The impression that we give to others really can impact what another person will think about our God.  If we are selfish, demanding and arrogant and offer and impression of “holier than thou” – then we are giving a bad impression of God to others.

Impression Avenues include the following:

  1. Serving Others.  Jacob immediately serves Rachel by drawing water up and watering the sheep that she had with her.  He does not act with any self serving interest.  In fact, Jacob goes on to marry Rachel.  He works for seven years time.  During those seven years of work, he knows he will marry her, and yet he does not take what does not belong to him.  He does not act selfishly and have pre-marital sex.  He is demonstrating a selfless love with his service and devotion.  Laban deceives him, he marries Leah, the sister and then commits to work another 7 years for Rachel.  That is a selfless devotion of serving others!
  2. Sharing with Others.  As the narrative continues we find that Jacob has a good work ethic.  He works for a month with no pay for Rachel’s father, Laban.  He works a total of seven years in order to marry the love of his life, Rachel.
  3. Showing Up.  Jacob has a “Can Do” attitude.  When the men said: “We can’t water the sheep until…”  Jacob sees no reason to not water them.  He does not wait for others to get the lid off.  When others said” “We can’t” – he said” “I can.”

You can give first impressions that impress too!  When we show consideration to others first, everyone is impressed and God is glorified in and through your life.

 

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A Spiritual Recharge

A Spiritual Recharge

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  2 Corinthians 2:15-16

I enjoy collecting and using tools.  The power tools are the best.  Milwaukee produces some terrifically useful power hand tools that require a Lithium battery with 18 volts of power.  The M18 drill set I have has driven thousands and thousands of scres.  I think one charge of the M18 battery will drive nearly 300 three inch screws.  That is a good stat.

The M18 Sawsall also delivers great cutting power.  With the right blade this saw cuts through wood, metal, and plastic of all dimensions.  However, I need to change the batteries on the sawsall a lot more often than I do the drill.  The cutting motion and energy requires for the saw is substantially more than the drill.

As Paul pens the above verses, he is writing to some Christians who were enduring great difficulty.  Persecution, poor health, and other problems were tempting them to quit, give up, and stop following Jesus.  Life is tough.  Life is even tougher for the Christian who is visibly and vocally with Jesus in daily choices, words, and actions.

I like how Paul says” We faint not.”  Christian -keep on keeping on for Jesus!  But, it is not a simple as willing, or hoping to endure.  We need spiritual renewal – daily.  Like the M18 line of tools I have – we need recharged.  We need recharged on a daily basis.

Depending on the material my tools are dealing with, the battery charge is affected.  Some more and some less.  Depending on what circumstances you are facing you too will become weary and tired, perhaps at a different pace than at other times.

No matter what you are going through, good or bad times, you need to be recharged daily.  Here are some ideas to be recharged:

  1. Recharge with daily Bible reading.  Christians who are truly walking with Jesus must be Bible readers.  I know some who cannot read.  They have the Bible read to them or get it on CD or MP3 to listen to.  Read the Bible.  Like bread charges the physical body, the Word of God charges your spiritual life.  In Matthew 4:4, Jesus says, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
  2. Recharge by checking your spiritual terminals.   The batteries will not charge if not properly connected to the charging station.  If you are not properly connected to the Lord, if something is in between, or hindering a clear connection, you may come up spiritually depleted. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 66:18, If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.  If there is any sin in your life, confess it and repent of it.  If you know something is not right, clean it up so the connection is good again!
  3. Recharge by internalizing the Bible.  Just like the battery takes power (what to us is invisible) and stores it inside the battery pack, we need to take the Bible and internalize it into our heart and life.  What I mean by this is your attitude.  Many people know the Bible in their head, but they do not know the Bible in their heart.  Some are arrogant, proud and mean spirited, but they can quote the Bible to you.  Instead of that, choose to let the Bible change you.  Humility is the mark of a person being recharged by the Lord.  1 Peter 3:4 teaches, But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  I want a meek and quite spirit.  It is useful and attractive to the Lord.  Instead of focusing on your dress or tie, the externals, the the Word impact your insides.  There are too many people that “look good” on the outside, but are spiritual depleted on the inside.  Have a good attitude.  Choose to be happy.  Choose to be content.  Choose to rest in Jesus.

Praying, meeting with other Christians, Bible study, serving through the church, being involved, plugging in to specific ministries, and trusting God with your money, health, and decisions are all other good areas to consider.  There could be several other areas to help a person recharge spiritually.

Care to share any further ideas for being spiritually recharged???

What are your thoughts???

Please post your ideas below…

 

 

 

 

Jesus, The First Missionary

Jesus, The First Missionary 

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10

Have you ever heard anyone ever refer to Jesus as the first missionary?  Think about this for a moment.  In the above verses, we discover that God sent Jesus to this world on a mission of mercy.   The love of God was manifested or demonstrated to mankind when He sent Jesus to this sinful world on our behalf.   Jesus willingly left Heaven to come to this earth to seek and save us sinners.  He came to rescue us from our sin! In many ways, this is the first mission trip.

While on this mission trip, Jesus identified with mankind when He took on flesh.  With no sin, He took our sin and carried our guilt to the cross of Calvary.  It was there that He paid the price for our sin, taking our death sentence upon Himself.

With Resurrection Sunday (Easter) coming, this is a good reminder for us.  Thank Jesus for His salvation plan finished at the Cross.  Three days after His death, Jesus rose from the dead, proving He is God and demonstrating His power over sin, death and Hell.  Be thankful and stop a moment to praise the Lord for His amazing gift!

When missionaries take the Word of God to other regions and nations, they take the Good News, the Gospel.  Since Jesus is the first missionary and His love for us is demonstrated by His coming to earth) and since the Bible teaches us about missions it is apparent and a good conclusion that the heartbeat of God is missions.

God sent His Son.  He gave us His only begotten Son.  Missions is giving.  Missions is sacrificial.  Missions is the pulse, heartbeat, and breath of God to us people on earth.

Since missions is so important to God, I would suggest that missions should be important to the Christian.  Each church member and each disciple of Jesus, should feel the pulse of God’s heart concerning missions.

Something to consider for your life personally is “do I have the same heartbeat as God?”

Examine your own heart.  Have you ever noticed this:  Some Christians do not like to pray, so they do not come to prayer meeting?  How about this:  Some Christians do not come to missions conferences or attend when missionaries are visiting because they do not want to hear about missions or be challenged to give money to missionaries? I suppose it could be some other motivation to avoid – if they are actually avoiding on purpose. Sometimes people are truly “providentially prevented.”

Could an avoidance phenomenon simply be and indicator that “my heart is not yet in sync with the heart of God?”  Sure it can be.  Even if you do not like to pray in public, the Lord can develop your heart to begun to pray with no fear or shame.

Even if you have avoided missionaries in the past, the Lord could change your heart – if you let Him.  Most avoidance issues are really a matter of trust.  Do you trust God to hear and answer your prayers? Do you trust God with all your finances, not only your tithe?  Do you trust God to give money to missions? God even gave a wonderful promise to all those who give to missionaries.  He promised to supply each and every need a person will ever have…when they give to missions!

Answer this: Do I trust God with every aspect of my life?  Is the Bible a perfect prescription for the problems of life?  Can I rely on God’s will, revealed in His Word, to truly provide for every need?  Have I trusted Jesus for salvation and been able to fully rest in His promise of salvation to all Who trust in Him?  Do I trust Jesus each day?

The next time a missionary comes to church, get involved.  Find ways to support your church missions program.  Make a missions promise to God.  Clear your schedule to provide a meal, housing, fellowship, or your attendance to encourage a missionary.

Recently, WBC experienced a tremendous Missions Conference.  We were blessed to see 5 people respond to the call of “being willing” to be a missionary if God would call them to that.  We saw the faith of the people in attendance at each service increase.  I believe most people in our church were praying for the conference – and continue to pray for God to send laborers into the harvest.  Some people were sick.  Others had schedules that would not permit them to attend.  A few were out of town.  Many were battled by Satan to not attend.  All who attended contended with work, school, household needs and more.

One girl, in an emergency room, through tears while being stitched up, expressed to the doctor that she was hoping to get home in time to attend the final night of the missions conference.  She did not get home on time to make the start of that particular mission conference service, but she did get there in time to hear the preaching.  I love that heart.  I mean, I really love that heart.

This is an example of the heartbeat of God that we should have for missions.  Yes, Jesus was the first missionary, and if as a Christian we had the same heartbeat, missions would be important to us as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Chance Encounter

No Chance Encounter

One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.  John 1:40-41

Andrew heard the preaching.  God’s Word affected his heart.  John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness and Andrew was there the day that John Baptist met Jesus.  As Jesus walked towards John, John cries out: “Behold the Lamb of God!”  Andrew is beside himself.  This is the One he has been waiting his whole life for.  His parents, grandparents and people even further back were hoping for this moment when the Lamb of God would be revealed.

Andrew did not keep this news to himself.  He finds his brother Peter, and tells him about seeing Jesus.   He specifically found his brother to tell him this good news.  This meeting Jesus was no accident.  God was orchestrating these events.  Peter meets Jesus later on and becomes a fisher of men.  He goes on to be one of the greatest preachers and writer of several New Testament books.  It all started with Andrew.  Peter meets Jesus, and the “rest is history.”

I wonder, would God save others if we would talk to them about Jesus?  Since there are no “chance encounters” with God, it seems that the Lord would bless your efforts to bring people to Jesus.  They may trust Christ.  They may reject Him.  But the choice is theirs.  We need to be more like Andrew and find specific people and tell them about Jesus.

Are you excited for this Spring season?  I am looking forward to our mission confernece in just a few days.  With all the tracts our church has been handing out, I am happy to say that we have had several new visitors that God has sent to our church.  This is no accident.  With our Teen WAR youth meeting coming up, we hope to hand out nearly 5000 invitations.  The Gospel will be given and teens will trust Jesus.  And then Resurrection Sunday.  Easter will be here and we are praying for a harvest of people to trust Jesus and start a faith walk with us at Wilton Baptist Church.

You can be a part of all of this.  Please pray.  Please keep handing out tracts as part of our tract month.  Please invite a specific person to sit with you at church on Easter Sunday.  There will be another Apostle Peter, but the person you bring to meet Jesus could become a Christian, and in turn see many others trust Christ in their life and ministry.

Since there are no “chance encounters” lets do all we can to bring people to Jesus.  I am praying for a spiritual renewal at WBC and a spiritual awakening in our region.  Will you pray along with me for this?

 

 

 

 

The Handcuffs of Sin

His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.  Proverbs 5:22

Today I came across this verse in a counseling session.  I read it in a previous time.  The part “he shall be holden with the cords of his sins” was already underlined in black ink.

The word “holden” means to “sustain, keep fast, or retain.”   This verse is teaching how that a wicked person who is willfully committing sin is actually binding himself with his sin.  Sin becomes a controlling factor in our human experience.  Here the sin, like cords wrapped around a person’s wrist is confining this person.  In other words, this person’s sin is handcuffing him.   Even though sin may be enjoyed – for a season – it will eventually chain you to its will and confine you to it’s desires.

Sin is very captivating.  Sometimes a person does not even recognize how their sin is actually holding them back and retaining them in a “holding tank.”  Think about how a drug addict can no longer think clearly.  Her body is conditioned to “need” the next hit of drugs.   The male addicted to pornography may not think it is hurting him, but his relationship with his wife is not what it could be because of the nurturing of lust in his heart.  The angry couple can be blinded to the hatred in their heart because of unconfessed bitterness that is controlling and affecting every area of life and relationships.

Instead of allowing sin to take us captive and handcuff us, we should take captive our thoughts ourselves – with the mind of Jesus.  One of my favorite verses I use in counseling sessions to encourage, motivate, and equip people to have victory over sin is 2 Corinthians 10:5.  Here Paul states: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…”

Imagine that.  Bring every thought into obedience to Jesus Christ.  Get the Word of God in your life.  It is like the key to unlock the handcuffs of sin.  Let Jesus captivate your heart and mind.  It will change your life!   You will experience more freedom than you thought possible when you devote your life to what is right!

What can I do to get uncuffed?

  1. Confess your sin.  Let Jesus know about it – from your own confession.
  2. Repent of sin.  More than confession, repentance is a turning around from the sin.  It is choosing to go a totally new direction than the way the sin was taking you.
  3. Enjoy Forgiveness.  Thank the Lord that when we confess our sin and turn from it in repentance, the Lord totally forgives us.  Psalm 103:12 says, As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Thank the Lord for that!

Get out of the handcuffs of sin today.

 

 

 

Loving Laws or Loving People

Loving Laws or Loving People

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Galatians 5:14

Do you know someone that is hyper critical?  I mean, they have a problem with everyone and everything.  “The temperature is too hot.  The music is too fast. The speaker is too loud.  The women are dressing wrong.  The bulletin was not folded right.  The deacons should have a tie on.  The people helping are not doing it the same way I would do it. The van is parked at the wrong place.  The family is too big or too small.”  You get the idea.

Hyper critical people have forgotten the “Who” they should be loving.  Instead of loving God and loving people, they love a “What.”   They love rules.  They love laws.  They love their preferences and personal expectations and project them onto other people in a way that is detrimental to relationship.

If we could learn to love people more than our preferences, programs, and personal pet peeves, then we would show more honor to the Lord.  And in turn actually live out God’s law instead of a human version of His law.

Loving our neighbor does several things:

  1. Considers others ahead of ourselves.
  2. Creates a forgiving temperament.
  3. Causes more healthy relationships.
  4. Casts aside personal preferences.
  5. Calms personal interactions with others.

Music styles in church can have great variety and still please the Lord.

Preaching and teaching styles vary greatly from person to person, and God can use each delivery style in wonderful ways.

Organizational structure, facility maintenance, the next building project, and more need not be a stumbling point for you or for others at your church.  When we love God and love others, no matter the rules we may impose on ourselves, we do not need to let those preferential things divide and hurt relationships.

One terrific example is the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  This church had pure doctrine.  They withstood persecution.  They even had a good work ethic.  But Jesus said “You left your first love.”  These second generation Christians, with a godly heritage, clung to laws, rules, and preferences to the neglect of loving Jesus.  They loved their “version of Christianity” more than they loved Jesus!

Don’t let rules and regulations or personal preferences stop you from loving your family (or church family) the way the Lord wants you to love them.

Love people more than laws.

 

Defeating Discouragement

Defeating Discouragement 

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 

Number 21:4

Seasonal Affective Disorder  (SAD) otherwise known as “The Winter Blues” is probably in full force right now.  With those living in the Northern Hemisphere short on sunlight and full of snow during the Winter season, it is possible to become discouraged.

With all the recent ice and snow storms, most have not been able to get out of the house as much as they would like.  When the storms falling primarily on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s it has disrupted the faithful gathering of worshipers in the local church.  While the season has been disruptive, we can have victory over the discouraging thoughts we may face when we check the weather apps or scan the meteorologist reports.

The Israelite’s were traveling towards the Promise Land, but the path was not easy.  The walking, caravaning was no easy task.  Life was hard and they became discouraged.  Circumstances are powerful at changing our attitude and disposition.  But instead of focusing on the problems, we can discover victory over the problems.

No one is immune to the occasional negative thoughts about their circumstance.  It becomes a major problem when all we do is complain or think negative thoughts.  It affects our motivation, our interaction with others and our walk with God.   Sometimes “our way” is tough too.

If discouragement is not dealt with in a Biblical way, it is possible for it to develop into depression.  It does not have too.  Here are three ideas to help overcome discouragement.

  • But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Matthew 10:30

The Lord Jesus knows everything about you.  Even down to how many hairs you have (or don’t have) on your head.  If He knows something so minor as this, think about all the other things He knows about you.  He knows your thoughts and wants you to live in victory, claiming healthy truthful thoughts about your life and your circumstance.

  • Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Matthew 10:31

Jesus values you more than the beautiful birds.  Of all the creatures of creation, God values Humans the most.  We are created “in His image.”  There is something special about you.  Be encouraged with the value God places on you!  David also battled with occasional discouragement.  1 Samuel 30:6 says, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”  

  • But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  Matthew 14:27

The Lord is always available to us.  Be of good cheer.  God is with you.  Talk with Jesus in prayer.  Ask Him to help you overcome negative thoughts with Bible truth.  Learn a new Bible verse.  Recite it when the next storm comes.  Chose joy by the grace of God to not allow discouragement to control your life.

Look up – the sun will be up soon.  Spring will be here before you know it!