What is the Pastor’s Real Calling?

real calling

“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”           2 Timothy 2:24-26

I didn’t like it when God opened my eyes to this passage. Matter of fact, these verses are tough to swallow. However, they are the job description of ministry. If we are going to be pastors, then we have to believe that Paul’s final letter to his “son” in the faith is very important.

The “Lord’s servant” (pastor) must not quarrel, argue, or fight with the people. The pastor must be kind. Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t like being the nice guy. But, in order to “teach” instruct His people in the Word, they must know that we care.

Sadly, when our hearts get poisoned with battles we get resentful. We resent our people, calling, and then God Himself for calling us to ministry. When battles come, we must remain gentle. After all, loving shepherds never beat their sheep.

We are not the Holy Spirit. Our anger towards them, or if we ignore them that is not going to cause them to truly repent. Repentance is something only God can “grant.”

Wow! No amount of hard preaching or clever anecdotes will bring them back to the throne of grace.

The real kicker is this, they don’t know they are caught in the trap of the devil. Satan has taken argumentative, quarrelsome people, captive. They are doing the will of the enemy and don’t even know it.

If we act in the flesh or act like the devil, they may never come back to the church or God. Our call is to rescue the perishing and care for the dying. Why? Finish the song. Jesus is merciful.

That’s it.

We are the ones that need to show mercy even if they attack us. We have to act like Jesus at His trial. He didn’t utter a word. Our glory is not His plan. His plan is for those blind to the enemy, to see Him.

It’s not easy, but that’s why He called you! 🙂

Keep Looking UP!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

The 7 Traits of Godly Wisdom

wisdom sign

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17

Godly wisdom is demonstrated in a life surrendered to God. This person does not have to boast about how wise they are, all will see it lived out in front of them. James earlier told us that anyone who was religious but didn’t keep a tight rein on their tongue, their religion was worthless.

To be a Christian is more than saying we are a Christian, we must prove it by the life we live.  James outlines how this is done. He says in  3:13 that our good conduct, our works, will be evidenced by seven traits found in verse 17.

1. Pure—The word means clean or innocent. This is the wisdom that accomplishes good works with no false motives involved. It is a person whose life is a testimony of pure character and honesty before God.

2. Peaceable—This doesn’t mean a push-over. It is someone who strives to be at peace. One who remains calm under stress and has let go of anxiety.

3. Gentle—a person who is mild-mannered and patient.

4. Willing to Yield—This is not one who is easily persuaded, but one who can listen to all sides and is willing to do the right thing even if it isn’t their idea. They have a teachable spirit.

5. Full of Mercy and Good fruits—Their life is a life of compassion and honesty. They are known for their forgiving spirit and their impeccable character.

6. Without partiality—They do not take sides or involve themselves in frivolous arguments. They seek to be peacemakers.

7. Without hypocrisy—They are genuine. What you see is what you get. They will not tell one person one thing and another something else.

This is how our conduct is supposed to be. We are to demonstrate these traits in our daily conversation. Our daily conduct should resemble Godliness. It’s not that we can’t do this. It’s that we too often fail to be filled with His wisdom.

Why not choose today to let His wisdom be ours?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

How To Build a Stronger Faith

stronger faith

Faith.

One simple word. It has been defined as believing what we cannot see or trusting what may come to pass. Faith is a word we use in church as an encouragement. Sadly, it is also a word we use as a weapon against those who struggle.

“If you just had more faith.”

If you could believe harder, do better, trust more then…

Really? Is that what faith is? Dependent on us? What if my faith is puny or parched?

Does God still love us when our faith is running away from Him like Jonah? Or doubting Jesus like Thomas? Can I get my faith back on track after years of questioning or sin?

Enter Elijah in the book of James. You wouldn’t think Elijah would be tagged in a book that tells us about faith. Didn’t that prophet run from Jezebel? Wasn’t Elijah the guy so famished his faith faltered, and he wanted to die?

Yes.

But Listen to how James describes Elijah: “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain, and the earth began to yield its crops.” James 5:17-18 (NLT)

He had a faith so powerful he prayed, and God heard. Not only did God hear—God moved! Elijah could Make It Rain! That’s a faith we all need. He wasn’t special. Not some former day Billy Graham. He “was as human as we are.”

So how do we have that kind of faith? Take a pill? Say a prayer? Talk to a preacher?

No.

We have to let God build it into our lives. Day by day. Week by week. Year by year. We continually grow in our walk.  That’s right we read our Bibles, pray, go to a Bible-believing church, and obey God.

This kind of faith is available to all of us if we discipline ourselves to walk with God every day. You can do it…Why not Make It Rain?

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Are We Ashamed of the Blood?

the Cross

When was the last time you sang or Thought about the blood of Jesus?

Somewhere the blood has taken a back seat (or pew) and some churches shrink from singing about Jesus shed blood for us on the cross. Have we lost something? Have we forgotten that the cross of Christ and the blood of Christ are the essential elements in salvation?

The Bible tells us, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

The blood is critical to our justification and remembering that is crucial to our sanctification.

In Psalm 22:6 David calls himself a worm. Jesus is mentioned and even quotes part of Psalm 22:6 on the cross. The word David uses for worm is not the normal insect in the Greek. This word worm refers to a crimson worm. A crimson worm can be used for its red dye.

When a crimson worm is about to give birth, momma worm attaches herself to a tree. She becomes so attached she cannot be pulled off without dying. She also secrets a fluid that makes a hardened shell and the babies are born inside.

Once birth occurs the larvae begin to eat the shell. At the appropriate time, momma dies and bursts the crimson gel over all her babies. They and the tree are literally covered in her blood.

You and I are covered in the precious blood of Jesus on Calvary. Never be ashamed of singing (and shouting) about the blood of Jesus.

Revelation reminds us how we win, “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11).

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Did You Quit Before Your Blessing?

Didn't Quit

At fifty-one, Dwight Eisenhower considered himself to be a failure with no future. One biographer said it this way, “He had given his life to the army. He was fifty-one years old; only the coming of war had saved him from a life of forced retirement and a life with no savings and but a small pension to live on.”

Could you imagine if General Eisenhower would have quit? What if he would have retired?

The biographer went on to say, “He had impressed every superior for whom he had worked, he had no accomplishments to his credit that he could point to with pride for his grandchildren. Had he died in 1941, at an age when most great men have their monumental assignments behind them, he would be completely unknown today.”

Little did General Eisenhower know that God had a much bigger plan for His life. That’s how God is…He is a BIG GOD. However, many people never come to that conclusion. Far too many people never see themselves as living in the plan of God.

Let me say, God, is not done with you. He wants what is best for you.

But too many today feel passed over, underappreciated, neglected, and cast aside. They don’t even know that they are operating in their own strength and living life their own way rather than God’s way.

We must come to this conclusion: We have to build a daily discipline into our lives to be ready for what God has for us and have a faith that is ready for the plan of God in our own lives.

Difficulties will come. Sin will stymie the plan. But the plan and purpose for our life are bigger than you or me.

What is God’s plan?

The Bible says, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV)

You have a gift that,“Builds up” the church. BUT you have to use it. You and I are being prepared for works of service.

Service. That’s a word not often used today. I am here to serve. We don’t say that in the world or even in the church.

Could that be why we have difficulty seeing God’s plan? We want to move up the ladder. Be the General before God has prepared us to lead the army.

He has a plan. In His time the plan will unfold. But we have to be ready.

Eisenhower was chosen to lead the Allied forces. He developed the plan we call D-Day. The plan was named “Operation OverLord.” It was originally planned for May but had to be pushed back until June because they didn’t have enough landing crafts.

But on June 6, 1944, “Operation OverLord” became a reality.

Maybe we are not ready for the operation? Maybe you and I have some things God is still working on?

Don’t quit, or retire. His plan, your D-Day will happen. Victory is assured.

Keep Looking Up! Heaven is Closer than you think. May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Words

“In the beginning”

“My Father who art in heaven”

“We hold these truths to be self evident”

“I have a dream”

“I do”

“I pledge allegiance”

“Never, never, never, never give up”

Words are important.

Words start nations, start wars, start movements, start families.

With our words we choose to bless or curse, to love or to hate, to give up or go on.

I’ve been parked in the book of James lately. I can’t get away from it. It’s everywhere in my mind, my heart, my books, my radio, my church. Words change things, especially God’s Word. Jesus is the Word. In the beginning was the word. The word is God. The word is with God.

Consider these holy words:

“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.”

Do you get it?

Our tongues aka our words are powerful. Just like the rudder on a ship, our words chart our course. Our words set our destination. Winds and storms of life come upon us. A phone call. An email. A text. Bam. Out of the clear blue sky. Everything shifts. It was this, but now this!  Look at our verse. The winds and storms of life threaten to blow us off course, but what keeps us tracking? The rudder of words. Words. Our words. We stay the course when God’s word become our words.

What we speak into the storms of life makes a difference. We can go forward or join the fray. We can walk on in faith or join the destruction.

Into the storms of life speak, plant, pray, say, pour, splash, shout His Word.

Healing words.

Helping words.

Holy words.

Speak His words.

Mary Kane

Read more from Mary at: onlybyprayer.com

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

What Makes Christianity Different?

I recently attended my daughter’s graduation baccalaureate service. Students from varying religions addressed the audience to express why their faith was important to them. I found their answers quite intriguing.

“I was born a Jew.”

“My faith, Hinduism, is the oldest religion and therefore, must be true.”

“It is how I have been raised by my family.”

“My religion provides a moral compass. In other words, it is how I know the difference between bad and good.”

 Finally, a young man talked about Christianity. It varied from all the other religions because of one singular reason: JESUS. All of the other faiths spoke of their efforts to reach up to God. Only Christianity spoke of God’s effort to reach down to mankind. All of the other faiths discussed their efforts to appease their god by being a good person. Only Christianity spoke of a personal relationship with God because God chose to set His affection on us, despite our continual bad behavior. Our relationship with God is not hinged on a list of “do’s and don’ts”, but rather on admitting that we need a savior. We can never be good enough on our own merits. All of the other beliefs had much to say about their God, but only Christianity focused on Jesus and the resurrection.

Unbelievers may have a general sense of who God is…they may recognize that creation came into existence somehow or by someone…they may even acknowledge there is a God. Remember, even the demons believed in God. Listen to James 2:19 (NIV), “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” However, they do not have Jesus. And since they do not have Jesus, their prayers are like flare guns being shot aimlessly into the dark.

As believers, we are promised a mediator, whose name is Jesus. On our own merit, we are not better than an unbeliever. We are not smarter. We didn’t come to the conclusion that God exists on our own. No…we all are sinners according to Romans 3:23. We all deserve to die (Rom 6:23). We all are broken. And God is a holy God and cannot bear to be in the presence of sin. It is only because of Jesus that we have an advantage. It is only because of the work that Jesus did on our behalf on the cross. It is only because God has chosen us. Without Jesus, we are nothing.

1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

Because of what has been afforded to us, it only makes sense that we would want to know God.

“Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives. As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesmen to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction, and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.” J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God

We pray so that we can know God more. Prayer, in its fullest sense, is our pursuit to know God. It is an ongoing, continual conversation with Him that begins in His Word and pours out into the fabric of our daily lives. Into our struggles. Our celebrations. Our encounters with the glory of God.

Have you forgotten about the privilege of knowing God? Are you overly focused on being good enough? To measure up? Remind yourself today that God’s grace is sufficient for you. He is most after relationship.

Sue Allen

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

And read more from Sue at: https://sueaallen.com/

 

Should We Seek Perfection, Progress, or Neither?

For years, the media has sold us an image of perfection. We idolize celebrities and models in movies, TV shows, and print ads. We envy their photo-shopped looks and overflowing bank accounts, all the while feeling totally inadequate in comparison. In response to this, the following advice has become commonplace: “Seek progress, not perfection.” Apparently, Hollywood can be perfect, but we common folk should settle for progress.

However, lately I’ve been hearing a new message: “You’re perfect just the way you are.” So, now it doesn’t matter what we say or do; we just have to wake up in the morning to be perfect. And since everyone is perfect, no one has to feel pressured to seek progress.

Each of these messages can be used to justify our actions (or lack thereof). So, what’s the truth? Do we seek perfection, progress, or neither? As Christians, we should look to the Bible for our answer.

 

Be Perfect

One of the grandest statements in Scripture is found in Matthew 5. After admonishing the disciples to love their enemies, Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 NAS).

If we can’t even compare to celebrities, how can we be perfect as God is perfect? How should we interpret this today?

First, note that Jesus was NOT talking about heaven. He simply said the disciples would be perfect if they loved and obeyed God and loved their fellow man. As Jesus’ disciples today, this applies to us, too.

Second, the word “perfect” here is derived from the Greek word teleios, meaning “complete” or “having reached its end.” This does NOT mean that we’ll gain special powers, that we’ll stop making mistakes, or that we’ll never need to ask for forgiveness again. I will NOT become Super Woman, and you will NOT become Anne Hathaway.

However, this Scripture DOES mean that we’ll become complete, mature versions of ourselves—the epitome of what God intended us to be when He created us. I’ll be the perfect me, and you’ll be the perfect you.

 

Make Progress

I’ve heard parents say they wish their children could remain babies forever, but they don’t really mean that. Instead, they want what is best for their children: for them to grow and mature until they realize their full potential as adults. As our Heavenly Father, God wants the same thing for us!

Paul explained that we must “grow up in all aspects into Him” (Ephesians 4:15 NAS). He then said that we should use our talents and the roles God gives us within the Church Body “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 NAS, emphasis mine).

The word “mature” here is the same word teleios meaning, “perfect, complete, having reached its end.” In other words, we should strive toward righteousness, obedience, and unity, growing in the knowledge of the Lord until the whole Church Body is where it should be.

This act of maturing, of perfecting, is not a one-time activity! It is not relegated to the point of salvation, baptism, or confirmation. Instead, it covers a lifelong pursuit of God and His holiness in our lives.

And God expects us to make progress.

 

Progress in the Pursuit of Perfection

God is not concerned with the world’s definition of perfection, and neither should we. The media’s messages might tickle the ears, but they are empty of real truth. God’s message is much more meaningful and valuable! His Word says that we should seek Him first, and that we should strive to be what He made us to be so we can do what He’s called us to do.

In other words, we should make progress in the pursuit of God’s perfection.

If this is a new concept for you, I encourage you to study these verses and meditate on their meaning. If you feel convicted to make progress in your spiritual life, ask the Lord what steps you should take. Then, stand in faith that, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6b NAS).

 

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Leave your comments for Ashley on our Facebook page

 

Queen Esther

Queen Esther

Esther was a young beautiful girl when she and many other young virgins were summoned by King Xerxes. He needed a new queen since he had sent Queen Vashti away for not obeying him. We find their story in the book of Esther, a portion of their story follows:

As a result of the king’s decree, Esther, along with many other young women, was brought to the king’s harem at the fortress of Susa and placed in Hegai’s care. Hegai was very impressed with Esther and treated her kindly. He quickly ordered a special menu for her and provided her with beauty treatments. He also assigned her seven maids specially chosen from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.

10 Esther had not told anyone of her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had directed her not to do so. 11 Every day Mordecai would take a walk near the courtyard of the harem to find out about Esther and what was happening to her.

12 Before each young woman was taken to the king’s bed, she was given the prescribed twelve months of beauty treatments—six months with oil of myrrh, followed by six months with special perfumes and ointments. 13 When it was time for her to go to the king’s palace, she was given her choice of whatever clothing or jewelry she wanted to take from the harem. 14 That evening she was taken to the king’s private rooms, and the next morning she was brought to the second harem,* where the king’s wives lived. There she would be under the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch in charge of the concubines. She would never go to the king again unless he had especially enjoyed her and requested her by name.

15 Esther was the daughter of Abihail, who was Mordecai’s uncle. (Mordecai had adopted his younger cousin Esther.) When it was Esther’s turn to go to the king, she accepted the advice of Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem. She asked for nothing except what he suggested, and she was admired by everyone who saw her.

16 Esther was taken to King Xerxes at the royal palace in early winter* of the seventh year of his reign. 17 And the king loved Esther more than any of the other young women. He was so delighted with her that he set the royal crown on her head and declared her queen instead of Vashti. 18 To celebrate the occasion, he gave a great banquet in Esther’s honor for all his nobles and officials, declaring a public holiday for the provinces and giving generous gifts to everyone[1]

Esther and the other girls must have been really scared. They were taken away from their families to the palace of the king. I wonder if they knew why they were being taken away from home. Once they were settled in I imagine they began to enjoy themselves. They were assigned servants to wait on them hand and foot. They went through spa treatments for 12 months. I think I could handle being pampered like that for a while, but not for that long. I would get restless and need something more to do. I like to feel like I have accomplished something at the end of the day.

Once Esther was queen she found out that Haman, the scheming prime minister of King Xerxes, was trying to kill off all of the Jews, she contacted her cousin Mordecai. He told her that he and all of their people would fast and pray for God’s deliverance. Queen Esther also fasted and prayed. At the end of her fast she went to King Xerxes without being asked to come to him, coming like this could be punished by death. No one was to come to the king unless he requested them to be in his presence.

She found favor in his eyes and invited the king and Haman to a dinner she had prepared. Then she told them that she knew what Haman was planning to do and that she was also a Jew and would be killed. King Xerxes had Haman taken away and killed.

Esther was a simple Jewish girl that became a queen and saved her nation. This is quite a story of faith and strength. We daily face things that we have to deal with. They usually aren’t as big as what Queen Esther had to face, but what we do in our lives is just as important to us and those around us.

Many years ago I was offered a chance to take a series of video class through Trinity Seminary. After three years of study I was commissioned as an Associate in Ministry. This opened a whole new avenue for me to serve our gracious Lord. He has used me in many wonderful ways since my commissioning. The path He has me on now is to write for His beautiful little children to bring them closer to Him.

The movie One Night with the King is very good and gives you a visual of what Esther’s life might have been like.

 

 

I would like to know how He is using you in this beautiful world. Please share with me your path and tell me if there is a way I can help you on your path.

Jann Martin

Visit Jann @ jannwmartin.com

And leave us your comments @ liftupyourday.com

 

 

[1] Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Es 2:8–18). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

 

Organize Your Spiritual Life

We need to reorganize spiritually from time to time.

I have recently returned from a writer’s conference and was overwhelmed with information, resources, and new opportunities. It started me thinking about getting organized. Being the creative type, this doesn’t come easy for me, but I know if I don’t get organized I cannot capitalize on everything that I learned at the conference.

Just as we need to learn to be organized in our work environment, we also need to reorganize spiritually from time to time. This will help keep us from floundering around with no direction in our spiritual time. Being organized does not mean being rigid. We always want to leave room for God to direct us in our spiritual growth but God can also direct us in the organization.

Quiet Time

  • Location

Find a place to have your quiet time. Maybe where you have been doing it isn’t working out so great. If your current place is not working or if you feel your quiet time is stale try a new location.

  • Materials

Have a basket, tote bag or some other container to hold your materials. The most important material, of course, is your Bible. Get a version that you are comfortable with and can understand. If you use a devotional book or magazine keep it in your container. Be sure you have a notebook and pen to write down what the Lord says to you or the insight that you gain from scripture. It is also good to have a notepad that you can jot down a phrase or concept that you don’t understand. If you have it on a notepad you can take that with you to your computer or commentary for further research.  Also keep a prayer notebook containing your prayer requests. Be sure to write the date and how God answers each one. You will have a record of God’s faithfulness in your life. You might also want to keep praise music in your quiet time location if you like to begin or end your time with the Lord in this way.

  • Time

Decide on the time of day that you want to have your quiet time. While I think that it is important to meet with the Lord at the beginning of the day that may not be the optimal time for devotional and Bible reading for everyone. Not everyone is a morning person. Some people work nights; others may need to get everyone out of the house before quiet time is even possible. So, you have to decide what time is right for you. A word of caution, don’t put it off until you get busy in other things or too tired to think. Give God the best part of your day.

Worship

  • Attend worship services regularly. God designed the church to enable us to serve.
  • Find a place of service. You can serve God in your church, community or through missions. Part of being organized in our worship is not letting opportunities of service slip by us.
  • Plan ahead for ministry. Allow time to serve on committees, to help with VBS or to go to cleanup day at church. Get your church bulletin or newsletter and plug those important dates into your calendar.

Spiritual Enrichment

  • Books

Make a list of books that you would like to read. Maybe you have already bought them and just haven’t gotten around to them.

  • Special events

Is your church having a women’s conference? Go ahead and save the date.  Is your favorite Christian performer going to be in your area? Call a friend and get tickets.

  • Plan a budget

If you know that you want to buy new books or attend a concert put it in the budget. Invest in your spiritual life like you do your wardrobe and other areas.

 

“And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 12:14) (KJV)

Sue Potts

Read more from Sue @www.suedavispotts.com

Leave your comments on our Facebook page