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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A Stable Boy In An Unstable World

The young couple set out on their long journey.

There was an immediate task at hand even in the midst of their uncertain future. The government, indifferent to the inconvenience and hardship, required everyone to travel to their birthplace to register for the census.  The Roman Empire needed information which would help them determine their population growth and establish a basis for the tax structure. What the empire wanted, the empire got. So Joseph had to go to Bethlehem. And Mary, nine months pregnant had to go with him.

They lived in an unstable world. A greedy, often violent and corrupt, government ruled their lives. The government leaders were temperamental, paranoid, and untrustworthy. The religious leaders were often weak and wavering. The average God fearer found it best to follow the rules and mind their own business. But those like Joseph and Mary held tightly to the promise of the coming Messiah. A promise fulfilled through the young couple. For in Bethlehem that night the Savior was born.

A stable boy for an unstable world.

We are shaken today by our own unstable world. Corruption, wavering morality, inconsistent values, irrational behavior, ambiguous ‘truth’, a lack of courage, unpredictable and untrustworthy leadership all create instability and an uncertain future.  Not to mention the instability of our personal lives. Financial, relational, emotional uncertainty abounds.

How can we face such uncertainty?

Walk by faith not by sight

Remember that the God who orchestrated the incredible events that led to Christ’s birth, is the same God we serve today! Have confidence in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (ESV)

Relying on sight blinds us to God’s best. Many who saw the baby Jesus that first night did not see the GIFT they’d been given. There are treasures God reserves for those who lean completely on Him. It is easy when facing uncertainty to cling to the familiar, even when God is asking you to step out in faith.  Don’t forfeit unseen treasures to hold onto seen comforts.

Feelings are not trustworthy guides

The more importance you assign to an event – the more intensely you’ll feel its emotions. But our feelings don’t have to dictate our choices.  Joseph and Mary probably had intense emotions about making that long trip so late in her pregnancy. What if they had decided to risk not going out of fear for Mary and the baby? Fear keeps us from trusting. Fear is a feeling, trust is a choice. They can share the same heartbeat.

Psalm 56:3 says “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

Trust in God

Are we so different from Joseph and Mary? Is our world any more or less certain? Rise above your fear and any other feelings that keep you from seeing Him and the significance of His gift this season. Set out on your journey of obedience.

In your unstable world,

Trust in the One who is

unchangeable,

unwavering,

solid, sound,

anchored, steadfast and sure.

Shellynne Wucher

Read more from Shellynne at: light4mysteps.wordpress.com

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Where do your fears come from?

Where do your fears come from?

Fear attacks us in the areas God wants to use us. Your greatest fears are platforms to step out in faith that God has given you the power to overcome. Where you feel weak is opportunity to put the spotlight on God’s strength.

Godly fear is out of reverence and love. It’s a holy fear that says, “God Almighty, I see you on that throne and I trust you. I know your intentions for me are good.”

Satan will twist God’s good things — His word, His gifts, His work – around tormented thinking that makes you want to curl up in a corner. The devil wants you to entertain these thoughts in your mind and retreat. It’s a death trap for the serpent to coil more negative thoughts around that dream to suffocate the joy, the power and the freedom that God planted in His garden.

“God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.” 1 Timothy 1:7

You have the Holy Spirit inside you that gives you the ability to resist fear. There is power here in the name of Jesus to stand up in the middle of a storm and say, ‘No more! I refuse to believe the lies.’

You have the power to welcome fear or resist it. You have the power to let peace in or let fear rule.

The enemy’s cunning device of fear is only a smoke screen. Satan uses fear to steal the life out of your dreams. This fear will convince you out of insecurity to give up the gifts God gave you. We might trade in God’s big things that require a leap of faith for a false sense of security in the ‘safe’ stuff we can see.

Fear from the gates of hell will force you to act fast. Fear is hasty. God’s fruit of patience knows how to wait.

The thief uses a heavy and oppressive fear to torment you, paralyze you and prevent you from moving forward in God. The devil uses fear as bondage. Our Savior came to bring us freedom.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived the things that God has planned for you. The Lord Almighty is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that you could ask and think.

Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid. (John 14:1)

Holy fear gives you this ability to be courageous despite all you’re facing. Holy fear knows our Creator, Almighty God, is good and in His image, He intends good things for His children.

Fear says we’re alone. The gift of God is His Truth. Your Heavenly Father has never left your side. In Jesus, there is freedom, power, love and a sound mind.

Where is God calling you to step out in faith in this freedom of His power, love and peace? Where do you need to shut off the feelings of fear, the consuming thoughts of doubt and confusion and surrender to trust in Him?

Trisha Keehn

Read more from Trisha @ trishakeehn.com

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So I Have to Love Them?

tic-tac-toe-love

Love done right is about giving. Giving and not expecting anything in return. Basically, love done right is about loving for the sake of loving. And therefore, giving others a glimpse of Jesus in a world that is in desperate need of Him.

If you were to ask me if loving people is a challenge for me, I would immediately say no! I persistently strive to love regardless of the level the love is reciprocated at.

Well…as long as you are referring to family and friends and people who treat me well. In fact a pretty impressive list of people comes to mind.

But then there is that one Scripture passage that also comes to mind. You know, the passage we could all do without? The one that if it was somehow removed from the inerrant, inspired Word of God, we would not raise too much of a fuss?

However, every Bible I have checked still contains these words found in Matthew 5, from the Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said , ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”

I can proudly proclaim that I am killing it when it comes to loving those that are easy to love. (Which, by the way, is not much of an accomplishment,) But when it comes to enemies? That is another story.

In this world where rebellion is revered and absolutes are avoided, it is a good idea to remind ourselves of the good old-fashioned truth that if God tells us to do something, we should.

Period.

Loving our enemies is a bold example of loving like Jesus does. It is most certainly a time when you can safely not expect anything in return! It is against our human nature to show love toward those that have hurt us and treated us badly. ESPECIALLY when we know or suspect that the love will not be reciprocated.

I have pondered spending a little time trying to find a Biblically-based teaching on NOT loving our enemies; one that justifies gossiping about, giving dirty looks to, and silently wishing bankruptcy or a mildly sprained ankle upon my enemies. However, I would be wise not to waste my time looking for a loophole…The bottom line is: God says we need to love our enemies.

Oh, and pray for them too. He does not command us to do something, and then NOT give us the ability to do it. You know what that means, right? We cannot use the excuse, “I have tried, but I just can’t do it…” when attempting to justify why we aren’t following the “Love your enemies” command. If He tells us to do it, then it is possible to do it!

With God’s help, we can love others. ALL others. Imagine: love done right can come from us. What a blessing. What a responsibility. What a gift.

Lord, help us love like You. Help us give others a glimpse of Who You are by showing this world love done right. Amen

Gwen Thielges

Visit Gwen @writewhereheleads.wordpress.com

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Do You Need A Miracle?

miracle

Have you ever heard or said the expression “It Will Take a Miracle?”

People use it in a variety of ways—to describe someone in poor health, a troubled marriage, and even a ball game if their team is behind. It is looking at an impossible situation and knowing there is a need for the Divine to intercede.

In October 1942, WWI fighter Ace, and Medal of Honor recipient, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

Somewhere over the South Pacific, the Flying Fortress became lost and beyond the reach of radio communication. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water and the weather and the scorching sun.

They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark…ten feet long. But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them.

There are many times in life that people or churches need a miracle.

In the summer of 1876, grasshoppers nearly destroyed the wheat crop in Minnesota. So in the Spring of 1877, farmers were worried as the temperature rose to record highs—mid-summer temps.

The grasshopper larvae began wiggling to life. On April 26, 1877, Governor John S. Pillsbury asked all of Minnesota to pray. Three days of record high temps as God’s people prayed, but on the fourth day an un-season like frost killed all the larvae…What can happen when God’s people really pray?

Prayer gives the believer confidence. Why do Christians feel like God is not doing what He should, they don’t really pray. You need a miracle…pray for one. You need God to bless your life, give you a better job, save your children, pray!

For Eddie Rickenbacker and his crew, a miracle took place. In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” (that was the B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry) “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat.

With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off. Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too.

No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food…if I could catch it.”

And the rest as they say is history.

Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. The rest they used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.

You know that Captain Eddie made it. He never forgot. Because every Friday evening, until his death in 1973, about sunset…on a lonely stretch of beach along the eastern Florida seacoast…you could see an old man walking…white-haired, bushy-eye browed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp to feed the gulls…to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle…like manna in the wilderness.

It Took a Miracle—and God sent one. What do you need Jesus to do for you today?

A miracle is not out of HIS possibilities.

Remember today, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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2 Things People Can’t Believe About God

believe

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1-3

As Christians we have to stop trying to push ourselves on others. We can’t judge people based on what they feel, think, or even believe about God. We must know non-christians have to come to God through Jesus but we can’t force them to it.

So what do we do?

People who aren’t Christian can’t believe important truths about God. It is utterly impossible for them to believe these two things:

1.Jesus is Divine

When John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word” he was speaking of Jesus. The final revelation of God, The living Word of God is the Son of God. He is God in the flesh, sent from heaven to this earth.

“He was in the beginning with God.” Jesus always existed.

He is not some good man who taught good character. He had a miraculous birth when He came, but Jesus was fully man and fully God.

Non-Christians can’t believe this. A virgin birth always seems too far fetched.

If we are going to witness to them we must know this. We also have to know they can’t believe:

2.God Created

“All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

Since Jesus is Divine He was the instrument of creation. However, unsaved people believe in evolution or a creator more like an alien from another planet. They can’t believe God (Jehovah) created because then the Bible might be true.

Even Christians today debate how creation happened. Many don’t believe in a literal 6 day creation. Many more say the earth can’t be only 6,000 years old like human history says it is.

They believe science has proven its case.

This is where our churches and seminaries have failed us. We have become ineffective in battling these two fundamental facts of Christianity.

If these facts are true, then unsaved people must believe that Jesus is who He said He was, and God did what He said He did. If those two facts are true, then the Bible is true as well.

A Christian is wasting their time if they try to witness apart from knowing this.

If we don’t have the answer about the Divine Son of God, then we are doing more harm then good in trying to convince someone who doesn’t believe. Especially those who can debate better than us.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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An Unshakable Foundation

foundation

Foundation: The base on which something rests.
What is foundational in our lives?

  • Our home
  • Our family
  • Our church
  • Our health
  • Our relationships
  • Our job

What would happen if the very things that are so foundational to who we are were taken away?

Psalm 46 “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil. There is a river; its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High. God is within her; she will not be toppled. God will help her when the morning dawns. Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when He lifts His voice, The LORD of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Come, see the works of the Lord, who brings devastation on the earth. He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; He burns up the chariots. ‘Stop your fighting and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.’ Yahweh of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Would we still believe that (if the foundational things of our life were shaken) God is our strength, always with us, and fighting for us? If everything foundational was gone, would we keep trusting God?

There are two things we must remember:
Never forget that God can calm the chaos.
God has delivered us in the past.

The mistake is when we try to calm the chaos ourselves. God ha disarmed and defused the things that have hurt us. We must stop just believing the words on the page and believe in the God that really is those things. We must start TRUSTING WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

God is our refuge. God is our strength. God is our helper in times of trouble. And our goal is to NOT FEAR. God enables us to run to the chaotic things that once were and laugh at them because He has calmed the waters. He takes what once was disastrous and makes it beautifully calm.

Not once, but twice David writes these words. . .
“The LORD of Hosts is WITH US. The God of Jacob is our STRONGHOLD.”

The Lord is with us!! Trust Him!! Let Him be your foundation, because He is the one foundation that CANNOT and WILL NOT be shaken.

Nikki Hogan

Visit Nikki @hogannikki.wordpress.com

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What a Friend We Have in Jesus

friend

“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

I’ve never been much of a social butterfly. I’m not good at small talk. I can’t really tell jokes. It’s all awkward. Give me a job to do, a problem to solve, or work to delegate and I’ll take front and center. Put me in a group setting or one on one and I’ll shrink in a corner.

A few months ago though, a couple at church decided they were going to be friends with me and my husband. Okay, so my husband made friends while I watched, terrified that I was going to have to make friends too.

And then it happened. He made plans with them.

We got together and it wasn’t terrible. And then she invited me over to have coffee while our kids had a play date. And I enjoyed it. One thing led to another, and now I text her at least every other day, about big things, little things, stay at home mom things, marriage things, and what’s your favorite cookie recipe things.

Those that know me well still enjoy teasing me about it. My dad semi-joking, semi-serious even thanked her for being my friend. Approaching thirty and he still manages to embarrass me.

What I cherish about our friendship though, is there are no pretenses. I told her from the get-go that I was not social and was quite awful at being a friend. I knew because my other friends told me so. She didn’t mind though. She still chose me.

When I forget to return her text message, she gently reminds me in our next face to face conversation that “Hey, I texted you like two days ago…” and she laughs when I tell her my sad excuse for why I forgot to respond. She sympathizes when something’s wrong. She’s happy for me when something’s right.

And while everything isn’t perfect, it’s pretty fantastic.

She reminds me what my relationship with Christ could and should look like. He wants to know about the big things, the little things, the marriage things, and stay at home mom things. He hurts when I hurt, He finds pleasure in my joy. He loves me even though he knows I’m not very good.

And when I forget to respond… he doesn’t turn away from me when I come back. He isn’t waiting with a snarky comment and raised eyebrow. He’s always glad for our next conversation.

Jessica Brown

Visit Jessica @smalltownbrowns.com

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Will God Keep His Promises?

promises

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:”
Matthew 1:1

Sometimes promises aren’t kept very well or very long but consider the Christian couple Zelmyra and Herbert Fisher who broke The Guinness World Record for the longest marriage. They were married on May 13, 1924. In 2008, they earned the record for longest marriage at 84 years.

When we consider our walk with the Lord we have to ask ourselves have we seen Him keep his promises.

Looking at the first verse of the first book of the New Testament we uncover God’s track record. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:”

After 400 years of silence from God from the Old Testament to the New Testament we have the announcement of a promise kept to two of the top Old Testament heroes. Jesus genealogy would be from “the son of David,” (2 Samuel 7:12-16) and “the son of Abraham.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

Thousands of years before Jesus was to be born, it was promised He would come through the line of David, Judah, and Abraham, the father of the Jewish race. Verse after verse reinforces this.

We are not living some random events that somehow, hopefully, connect into something great. We are believers living the grand plan of God.

Matthew’s Gospel details Jesus as our King. And the King of kings would be born through a lineage of promises that culminate in Christ. We are even told: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

Every promise made to every child of God is finished in Jesus.

We can count on God keeping His promises because He has done so countless times in the past. There is not one promise He has made, He hasn’t kept.

Take heart believer. Soar high Saint. God has and will keep His Word.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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