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

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

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

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

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

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

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

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

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

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

 

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

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

4 Facts of Forgiveness

forgiveness

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 

A survey was made of 200 married adults regarding forgiveness: The researchers were wondering how one’s ability to forgive others would affect their marital satisfaction and personal well-being. The results were incredible!

This research suggests that there is a huge relationship between marriage satisfaction and forgiveness. In fact, it appears that as much as one-third of marriage satisfaction is related to forgiveness.

Not only does the ability to forgive impact the marriage relationship, it was significantly related to personal emotional distress. As forgiveness ability went up, individuals reported fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue!

Jesus said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”

But what does this mean?

It doesn’t mean God won’t forgive our sin if we can’t forgive others. It means we won’t be able to accept God’s forgiveness for ourselves. We won’t feel forgiven by God because we have a hard time forgiving others.

There are many in our world who struggle with the reality of forgiveness. They have been victims of all types of abuse and trauma. People who have been lied to and lied about. So let’s clear up some misconceptions about biblical forgiveness.

By stating 4 Facts:

1. When we forgive a person, this does not mean we are instantly over it.

It’s not just all over. Forgiveness takes time and it may take years. Just because we say,
“I forgive you” doesn’t mean we feel it right away. It will be difficult, especially in areas of abuse.

2. When you forgive a person, this does not mean you have to be their friend again.

You won’t be best friends after an apology it depends on how deep the hurt and the length of hard feelings. The severity and the length of the hurt is important.
3. When we forgive a person, this does not mean that we trust them, yet.

Trust is something that will take time—it’s earned. And again it depends on how long the hard feelings and severity of the wound.

There is nothing biblically based that says we have to trust them again.

4. When we forgive a person, we are not avoiding the pain we are opening the door to healing.

Choosing to forgive, and it is a choice, starts releasing the person from our justice to God’s justice. GOD is much better and making a person miserable than we are. Give it to God.

Forgiveness is an ACT of FAITH.

Richard Rohr said, ”If you do not transform your pain, you will surely transmit it.”

OR Hurting people Hurt people.

Giving it to God means I won’t transmit my hurt to someone else specifically—my new relationships. This isn’t easy BUT when we forgive we take the journey at the pace we are able to handle…the deeper the hurt, the longer the journey.

But as a Christian, because we have been forgiven, we should have a deep desire to forgive others. At times forgiveness is very difficult. But trust God. Accept the apology and give it when needed.

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

1. Peter J. Larson, New Forgiveness Research Jan 27, 2003

The Role of a Christian Woman in Leadership

leadership

Leadership starts with a purpose, not a plan. The leader is driven by beliefs that lead to action. The leader develops the capacity to think in convictional terms and leads followers to do the same. The leader draws followers into a story that frames all of life. A leader shapes the worldview of follows.

Passionate leaders driven by purpose beliefs draw passionate followers. Leadership begins when you learn to think like a leader. Leadership is not achieved until followers begin to think as well. The effective leader is the master teacher within a learning organization.

Character, communication, stewardship, and endurance are all important aspects of leadership. Not all managers are leaders but all leaders are managers.

Leadership is a transferring of conviction to others, affecting their actions, motivations, intuition, and commitment. Character is, in fact, the only secure foundation of leadership itself —any form of leadership.

Character is contagious.

Being a leader that communicates clearly and well is also important. Leaders must all endure and be good stewards of the position they have been given. 2 Timothy 1:12b says, “He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me.”

Leadership is influence. A leader is someone who leads a group of people towards a specific vision or goal. We lead because we are possessed by deep beliefs that mature into convictions.

Our leadership consists of developing these convictions in others who will then act together in the service of those beliefs, motivated to common action in the mission of sharing those convictions and living them out before watching the world.

James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

The roles of women change due to age, marital status, motherhood, life experiences, and cultural influences. The roles of women in ministry are vast and consist of more than one responsibility. The roles of women in ministry are wide-ranging because ministry, in general, is very wide-ranging.

While the are specific “roles” of women in ministry may change, there are specific “principles” for the Christian woman in ministry to embrace that remain forever unchangeable. These principles cannot exist apart from a true relationship with Jesus Christ and a submissive and teachable spirit to obey.
Biblical principles for the Christian woman are:
1 A handmaiden and servant of the Lord
a Luke 1:26-38
2 A calling to be recklessly abandoned to all the Word of God commands
a Acts 17
3 A calling to go wherever He may lead you to go
a Matthew 28:19-20
4 A woman who spends time in prayer
a Luke 10:38-42
5 A woman who spends time in the Word
a Luke 10:38-41
6 A woman who has a teachable spirit
a Luke 7:36-50
7 A woman who obeys the Word
a Psalm 119:11
b Luke 21:1-3
8 A woman who is burdened for others
a John 4
9 A woman who ministers to others
a Luke 8:1-3
10 A woman who is discerning
a Esther
11 A woman who stands up for her convictions and keeps herself pure: above reproach
a Proverbs 31
12 A woman who is evangelizing the lost
a Matthew 28:1-10
13 A woman who is discipling others
a Luke 1:35-45
14 A woman who is actively being mentored by someone else
a Ruth
15 A woman who influences someone others can follow

These principles are descriptive of the inward nature of a woman walking in the right relationship with Christ. Regardless of your role in ministry, you are called to live lives that have the principles listed above.

These principles are not manufactured by self-effort but should be the fruits of a spiritually born-again woman. Leadership is a big responsibility and should not be taken lightly especially Christian leadership. Leadership is the ability to have influence.

Will we have a positive, lasting influence for the sake of Christ? Are we going to lead others to Him or to ourselves? Understanding leadership and all it takes and entails is important. Let us lead as Christ did in all we do and say. May our leadership be a reflection of who He is and how He leads us.

Nikki Hogan

Visit Nikki @hogannikki.wordpress.com

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Ridiculous

“And thank you God for all the ridiculous things you do!”

Years ago, when our oldest daughter was a preschooler, she said a prayer that continues to speak to me almost two decades later. She was going through the normal list of thank yous, Thank you for this, thank you for that, thank you for . . .

When she got to the end of her list she said something that caught our attention.

“And thank you God for all the ridiculous things you do!”

At first I thought this was a cute, funny misuse of an ununderstood word by a young child, but the more I thought about it, the more it began to dawn on me that I was the one who didn’t understand.

Meriam-Webster defines ridiculous this way:

arousing or deserving ridicule: extremely silly or unreasonable: absurd, preposterous, ludicrous.

When you look at scripture, it does seem to abound with absurdities:

Paul tells the Corinthians:

For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)

James says:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.

Seriously?

And what about the words of Jesus:

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. (Luke 17:33)

When Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be “born again,” I believe Nicodemus found that to be a bit preposterous. Jesus also spoke of loving your enemies, blessing those who persecute you, but hating your father and mother. And what about the verses where he mentions gouging out eyes and cutting off hands if they cause you to sin. (John 3:1-21, Matthew 5, Luke 14:26)

Unreasonable. Ridiculous.

Jesus words often aroused ridicule among the crowd.

The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. He said this to indicate how he was going to die.

The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah would live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?” John 12:31-34

How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?

Jesus

The prince who became a pauper.

The mighty who became weak.

The served who became a servant.

The worshiped who became rejected.

The sinless who became sin.

The one who died so we can live.

It’s preposterous. Absurd. Silly.

Why should I gain from his reward?

I do not have an answer.

But this I know with all my heart.

His wounds have paid my ransom.*

It defies human wisdom. It’s Ludicrous. It’s Ridiculous.

And so we pray, Thank you, God, for all the ridiculous things you do!

Tami Lowman

Read more from Tami @Lowmans on Long Island

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

 

*How Deep The Father’s Love for Us (Stuart Townend)

 

Is it Worth it?

worth

Many times, in our personal lives and in church we ask the question is it worth it?  Is this relationship worth it? Is this thing I’m buying worth the price? Is the diet and exercise I’m doing worth it? Let’s see what the Bible says:

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  Psalm 126:5-6

The principle of sowing and reaping tells us we get out of something what we put in. There must be hard work, a level of commitment or persistence to the goal in order to receive a feeling of reward in the end.

However, that’s not the day we live in. We want it now. We think that success should show on our first day on the job. We think showing up should be enough.

Much like church. Without commitment or a persistent focus on prayer can God bring revival to a church or community?

This is what King Hezekiah is writing about here in our text. He’s calling for the former glory of Israel to be restored. He’s NOT asking for a physical blessing of prosperity but a spiritual revival in the land.

The king is praying Lord send a great revival IN your people.

You’ll notice in v.1 he starts with praising God and then in v.2-3 he announces, “The Lord has done great things.”

It is God’s people praising Him for how good God is. When we think of this in the world today, isn’t that exactly what people need to see in us? We need to tell the world: We believe Jesus has done great things for us and let us show you by how we live.

But sometimes we give up. If you are a church member you may have at least thought about giving up on the church. If you are a pastor you may have thought about a job change.

What do we do? Remember the promise. Reaping brings joy.

It is true rejoicing only comes through tears of pain. But isn’t it worth it?

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.