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

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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

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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

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The First Fantastic Four

followers

“Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” Matthew 4:21

Long before Stan Lee, the comic book craze, and the Big Screen, Jesus called four fishermen. Two sets of brothers to be exact. They weren’t kings, presidents, politicians, attorneys, or priest. They were ordinary men who made their living breaking their backs, as they cleaned their nets.

Peter, his brother Andrew, James whose father was Zebedee and his brother John, were casting those nets into the Sea of Galilee. Jesus found them and gave His one-line elevator pitch: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew singled out the four, and we don’t know why.

Maybe, just maybe, there is a reason. Jesus began His ministry at Galilee, these men were the first four called, and they lived in Galilee, but is there more to it than that?

I think there is. Let me suggest two thoughts:

  1. The CALL of the one line pitch is to Follow Him. That’s universal. From Salvation through Sanctification WE are called to follow. We are NOT leaders we are followers. Somewhere we have mistranslated the call.

Today much more emphasis is placed on leaders than followers. We want followers on Twitter. We want friends on Facebook. But that shouldn’t mean the at we are leaders because we have followers. We are all called to be followers with Jesus as our leader.

  1. Be Fishers of Men. This phrase meant something to them because they were fishermen. They got it. Jesus didn’t use this phrase for Matthew the Tax Collector. It simply means you will help gather more followers (fish) for Me.

This has to with evangelism, but it also means to make disciples. Not every Christian is a great soul winner. However, as Christians use their gifts, soul-winning and discipleship are accomplished through the local church.

These first fantastic four and the rest of the twelve are listed in Matthew 10:2-4. They were commissioned and sent out. They didn’t possess special power before they were called, but they received special power from the One who called them.

Every Christian has been given that power. Are you using it?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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What Do You Do in Galilee?

followers

“He departed to Galilee…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah…The people who sat is darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” Matthew 4:12-16

Here in Matthew 4:12-16, Jesus started His ministry. It was immediately after His baptism, and then the Bible tells us He began to preach. Jesus ministry began in Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to Capernaum.

Very often the call of God is moving from a place we know into the unknown. It’s a shove of our faith to launch out into the unexpected. Maybe God is moving you from a safe place to a stretch place?

Are you ready?

Whatever the season of life we all start out in Galilee. It’s the first place of ministry. We may not feel prepared but for that place we are. You may not be a polished pastor, a gifted speaker, or a well-worn writer but Galilee is calling you.

Like Jesus, we must go because those folks who are there are either lost (“darkness”) or in the “shadow of death” (maybe of hope) and a new light must dawn. We are the ones who should bring the light of Christ to every ministry God calls us to.

Our text says the people “have seen a great light.” When Saul (Paul) was called, that’s exactly what He saw. However, it’s a humbling call. Paul would later write some of the most beautiful words on God’s call in the Bible:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

He tells them all I know is Jesus, the Great Light. Then Paul says, I was weak, scared, and didn’t have the right words. Been there?

When God calls us to Galilee, Corinth, or the Church in the Wildwood, we just give them Jesus. In our speech, spirit, and especially in our actions. When Jesus is all we know, then the people will see His light in us.

Are you in Galilee?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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God Will Not Fail You or Forsake You

Throne

“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’” Psalm 2:4-6

God is on the throne. Terrorism is not the first war He’s seen! It’s not the first time that nations have rebelled against Him. God says, “You have plans to stop My purposes? You take your stand against Me? That’s funny!”

He judges nations. How? Biblical history teaches that God judges nations through other nations. He judged the wickedness of the Canaanites by sending the Israelites to take the Promised Land.

Later, He judged the wickedness of the Israelites by sending Babylon to carry them to captivity. God judges’ nations through nations.

There God sits as Judge over all the world. He’s perfectly aware that all His purposes and plans, despite all opposition, will be accomplished. Psalm 29:10 says, “He sits as King forever.”

All the uproar in the nations doesn’t threaten His plan.

“Behold, they [the nations] belch forth with their mouth; swords are in their lips, for they say, “Who hears?” But You, O LORD, laugh at them; You scoff at all the nations.” Psalm 59:7-8

God sits and laughs! With all earth in rebellion, God remains seated. He has set in process a plan that cannot fail. While there is wildness on the earth, there is wonderful calm in heaven. But even though God sits, He is not a distant, silent, unconcerned spectator.

After all, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

We must remember that. The God of all the earth is on our side. The whole world may come against us, but the King of the universe is in our corner.

He will not fail you or forsake you. God Himself, rules and reigns and there is no one who can stop His plan for this world or your life.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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How Do We Experience Victory?

victory

“And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:13

Many believers are not experiencing the victorious Christian life. One reason this is happening is because we still try to run our lives. We fail either by submitting to our flesh or by not yielding ourselves to the Master.

Our verse tells us how to walk in victory.

Present—we either present ourselves to sin or to God. It is the same word as in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Present yourself. The idea of the surrendered life or yielded life goes completely against our old nature. Our flesh never likes to yield. This is where progressive sanctification comes in. Every day we surrender to the will of the Holy Spirit.

But there is a problem.

A little girl fell out of bed one night and began to cry. Her mother ran into her room picked her up, put her back in bed and asked her little girl, “Honey, why did you fall out of bed?”

The little girl replied, “I think I stayed too close to the place where I got in.”

And that’s why too many fall, get stuck, or never walk in victory. We are staying to close to the world and yielding to our old nature.

Victory only comes when we walk as Jesus walked, completely surrendered, and yielded, presenting ourselves to God every day. Remember He wants us to experience victory.

What does God have for you today?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Don’t You Remember?

remember

“And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.” (Luke 24:8-9)

Many years ago, a little village in Austria was about to be taken by Napoleon’s army. It was Easter morning. At dawn the custom was that all the church bells rang out all over the countryside, celebrating Jesus has risen.

When this happened, Napoleon thought the bells were ringing to celebrate the arrival of the Austrian army so he retreated. Napoleon was defeated because he didn’t know what THIS day meant. The small village won a victory without even fighting a battle.

Luke 24:1-12 tells us some of the ladies show up at the tomb. V.10 tells us who 3 of these ladies were by name and then adds simply some others. They went there in defeat. Their Lord and King was dead.

That’s how too many believers live today. Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Too many Christians are ‘betweeners’ they live between Egypt and Canaan, saved but never satisfied; or they live between Good Friday and Easter, believing in the Cross but not entering into the power and glory of the Resurrection.”

If we have already trusted Jesus we know how wonderful the Cross is, then this weekend means victory and power in our lives.

This tomb is empty. Death’s sting and sin’s curse has been mortified by the Master. The Savior sanctified Sunday as the day of worship when He walked out of the tomb. His Word rolled the stone away and set us all free.

You and I are no longer slaves of sin and Saturday. The resurrection relieved the prince of this world from his position of power. Jesus is NOT dead and neither are you.

Live like you never lived before. Take each day as THIS day. The same resurrection power lives in you. No more shortcuts, half-measures, or quick-fixes. You were made for so much more—Don’t You Remember?

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless HIS day.

Pastor Rodney

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The Grave: Life’s Final Fear

the grave

“So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.” Mark 15:46

Death. It comes no matter how we try to prevent it. We are all dying.

The grave is the final fear of us all. The unknown of what’s next has caused people to fear this final stage of life. Even Jesus faced it. Knowing in the garden the cup He would drink overwhelmed Him.

This day, more than any other, the Christian should think of death as the cruel curse Satan has played on all of us. Today, the father of lies has placed man’s greatest fear in “a tomb cut out of a rock” and “rolled a stone against the entrance.”

Sealed up. Never more to be opened. As if to say this thing called death is final.

But to understand death is to examine His death. As the disciples ran in fear they would be next, we look to what His death meant.

Jesus came to live the life we never could and to die the death we will never know. His death on the cross paid the debt of sin and caused the death of sin. We will not know what it means to die IN sin because His death was that price for us.

We don’t linger here because every born-again follower of Jesus Christ died IN Him that day. “And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him” (Romans 6:8). Saturday is here but Sunday will come.

Like every other fear, faith gets the last word. Matthew Henry said, “He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.” Our life and death are hidden in Jesus. This final fear will not best us because God gave His best for us.

This is not over!

Pastor Rodney

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From Noon Till Three

noon till three

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.” Mark 15:33

A simple sentence. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention this darkness that saturated the hill called Golgotha.

We preachers have tried to explain why it was there. One reason the light of the world was dying. Another reason because God couldn’t look at our sin that lay like a filthy slime on our sinless Savior.

From noon to three—it was those three hours that He thought of you and I. It was then that my sin and yours was so heavy on the skin of the Savior that maybe, just maybe, your name and mine crossed the mind of the Messiah.

This old song says it best: https://youtube/eXX1AiljoIE

Think of it. Jesus, the very Son of God, hung sin-soaked in the stench of our sin and He thought of us. He who knew no sin now knew ours. He saw the real us and decided to love us anyway.

Don’t decide you know what He did until you understand what we are. This world that we live in stinks to high heaven with the garbage pile of sin. It’s so filthy God couldn’t look at it, and the darkness hid the very face of God from His own Son.

But, Jesus not only paid for our sin He placed it on Himself. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24). He took all our sin away. In the darkness, it wasn’t just forgiven like a debt paid off, it was forgotten like it never, EVER, happened.

By Himself, sin no longer reigned on Earth. The writer of Hebrews says, “When he had by himself purged our sins” (Hebrews 1:3). The word is like the levitical ritual of a cleansed leper who is now pure. It means that the STAIN of sin is washed clean AND the guilt of sin is GONE.

Think of it. In three hours, the Son of God made us clean and completely forgiven.

On this Good Friday, somewhere from noon till three, pick a time and think of Him. After all, you were on His mind.

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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