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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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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What’s the Best Advice?

What’s the Best Advice?

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise”—Proverbs 19:20 (NIV).

“You’ll shoot your eye out.” If you’ve ever watched the classic movie “A Christmas Story,” you might be able to relate to Ralphie who was trying to convince his parents to buy him a Red Ryder BB gun as a gift. In the 1940s, the Red Ryder was a popular boy toy.

We can all remember similar advice from our parents like “wash behind your ears,” “do unto others,” “bundle up or you’ll catch a cold,” and the list could go on. Our elders love giving advice. However, it doesn’t stop there. We are bombarded daily with advice on talk shows, like Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, to the evening news bytes, giving us health warnings. Those warnings aren’t necessarily bad either.

When was the last time you found yourself offering what you considered helpful advice to someone else but he or she did not take it that way? If you care about others and hate to see them troubled, it is hard to refrain from giving what we feel is “friendly” advice.

If you’re a parent, you’re probably also prone to giving advice, especially when you see your grown children making mistakes. I can still recall advice I received from my parents when they were still alive. I can look back at the poor choices I have made and the advice I did not heed because I thought I knew better, and I have come to the conclusion that those who are older are, for the most part, wiser. That is because they have lived what younger people are experiencing.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Although we live in a rapidly changing world often defined by the latest technology gadget, people have not changed. Study scripture and you will find story after story of those who did not heed the advice given by prophets in the Old Testament and the New Testament offers a wealth of admonitions and exhortations for those who would follow it. The parables of Jesus and his Sermon on the Mount offer the best advice to those as He says in Mark 4:9 have “ears to hear, let him hear.”

Much of the time, we brush off well-meant advice because, as an old saying goes, “Advice would always be more acceptable if it didn’t conflict with our plans.”

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Two centenarians, both female, were recently interviewed for a newspaper article. The two women were receiving a free hair-and-makeup session at a local upscale salon. At the end of the interview, the reporter asked one of the women if she had any advice to offer for living to 100. She replied, “Just leave it to God. He paves the way.”

I think she has it right. Don’t you?

Carol Round

Check out the author’s website at www.carolaround.com.

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Watching Creation

Have you found a place where you can get away from daily life and be close to God? A place where you can listen for His voice?

“Watching Creation,” is the title of a new series I’m working on. The children in the story start out in heaven and have some adventures before God has them watch as he begins to create the world. It’s not until the third day that they really begin to experience what’s around them on earth. Think of yourself, or your kids experiencing heaven. What would you see, feel, smell, hear, and taste?

Imagine that you were able to watch God as he created the world. What types of things can you imagine yourself doing? Would you be weightless? What type of mischief do you see getting into while exploring the grass, fields, and fruits of the third day of creation?

Last fall I had the opportunity to walk the beach at sunrise in St. Augustine. I walked feeling the sand and water on my feet, enjoying the textures that I don’t usually get to feel. Then I sat down and looked out over the water. The sky was beginning to show the first glimpses of light. It felt like I was all alone witnessing what it might have been like to see the very first dawn. It was a time of closeness with God without the distractions of everyday life. I was able to pray and actually feel His presence surrounding me. Quieting my mind I was able to hear His answers to my prayers.

Have you found a place where you can get away from daily life and be close to God? A place where you can listen for His voice?

Share with us your special place. What do you do to quiet your mind, so you can hear the voice of God?

Jann Martin

Read more from Jann @www.jannwmartin.com

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Do We Have Total Obedience?

obedience

“But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.” Matthew 3:15

The baptism of Jesus was an unusual event. We know John the Baptist knew he should have been baptized by Jesus. We know Jesus was baptized to show us we need to be baptized as a public sign of salvation, and to be obedient to God’s will.

We also know that Jesus was doing this to be totally obedient to the will of the Father. This was a picture of His humility.

The Bible tells us, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8

The Son of God showed us what total obedience looked like. It involves sacrificing our will and our rights to perform God’s will in whatever God wants in His kingdom.

If that means, we get walked on like a doormat today—so be it. If that means, we get hurt by brothers or sisters in Christ—Thank you, Lord. If that means, closing our mouths and not giving our opinion—Go, God!

Crazy?

Words like humility, sacrifice, and death are fading from our Christian vocabulary. The celebrity status some Christians enjoy and the rise of social media have taught us to toot our own horn.

We all have something to add to the kingdom but that might not be celebrity status. It might be to simply wake up today and die to our will, to “Take up our cross and follow Him.” There are many things Jesus has done for us and showed us but the biggest thing is dying to us.

Total obedience is saying, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Don’t forget to Pray!

Pastor Rodney 

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How to Keep a Right Spirit

right spirit

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11

Bragging. It’s not a new thing. From kings in the Bible to athletes in a big game, the art of bragging has been around a while.

Some people see nothing wrong with bragging. Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

We’ve even modified bragging. There is a new term now called “humble bragging.” You know, “I am so humbled that they put me on the cover of TIME magazine…AGAIN!

Sadly, pulpits and pews have had a few pride infested words slung around. Our flesh fights our spirit.

We must be careful that we don’t boast about our attendance, baptism numbers, or altar movement. The tempter is always trying to get a foothold in the church.

Here in Matthew 3 John the Baptist is being used by God to prepare God’s people. Repentance was the one-note message JTB preached. Turn from sin and turn to God. An about-face sends us in God’s direction and away from ours.

The converts were massing to hear JTB preach. “Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him.” (Matthew 3:5) Talk about a popular preacher. JTB became the biggest news in the Jerusalem Times.

How did JTB respond?

Like we should. When people shout our praises, we sing Jesus’. “He who is coming after me is mightier than I.” God may be doing His work through me but it’s not about me. Donkeys can preach when touched by God.

JTB’s humility resonates with these words, “whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.” Carrying clothing was the sign of a servant. Carrying smelly sandals would have been the least favorite part of the clothing.

Whenever we get prideful we must ask if we smell like a servant because our spirits get sour with pride. Prideful preaching and teaching forgets the needs of the people who hear us. Our words must be His words. After all, they are His people, not ours.

Let’s pray!

Pastor Rodney

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Do you Remember all God’s Done for you?

remember

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’”

“They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”  Nehemiah 1:8-11

After repentance, Nehemiah’s prayer centers on God remember what you said. If we sin you will scatter us, and you did. But in v.9 if we turn to you and obey you, God you will call us to you again. Remember Father and he lists three things:

1)Of His Promises­—(v.8-9)

Lord, you promised if we turn to you and obey you would deliver us.

It’s important in prayer to quote scripture. Not to remind God but to settle it in our hearts.

Lord, you said, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Lord, you said, “Call unto me in the day of trouble,”

Lord, you said “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:”

The promises reassure us.

2)Of His Power—(v.10) “Thy great power.

When we pray we’re not only talking to our heavenly father, but also the God of everything. He said that in V.4.

Oh, God can’t deliver America—we’re hopeless. He delivered Israel at the Red Sea. God can’t save my husband, or wayward child—oh really, God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, God delivered Daniel. God even saved Nebuchadnezzar, an evil king.

3)Of His Plans—(v.11)“who desire to fear thy name: and prosper,”

That reminds me of what God told the prophet Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

God wants to bless us. God wants us to walk in victory. God’s plans are that we live Holy, happy lives and point the way to Jesus.

Do you remember all God’s done for you?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Will You Join Me in Prayer?

pray

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4

Webster’s dictionary defines prevailing as having superior force or influence. When we think of prayer as believers, as children of God do you describe your prayer life as having superior force or influence with God?

I believe one thing that will mark a person who has influence with men and influence with God is this: that person will be one who walks with a greatness of prayer.

If we studied the great revivals or the turning point in a man’s life where that believer gave themselves completely to Jesus it is stamped with an event of significant, sustained prayer.

No great awakening in America ever started without God’s people crying out to God. No saint ever became mighty for God w/o first crying out to God for the forgiveness of sins.

Pastor Mark Bubeck a prayer warrior said greatness of prayer can be defined in 2 measurements:

1)Measured by what it does in the life of the one praying.

2)Measured by the visible moving of God in human affairs.

Of all the great prayers in the Bible, Nehemiah’s prayer is one of obvious greatness. Great prayer is ALWAYS A PRAYER FROM THE HEART! Usually, we never learn to pray until it is Desperate prayer. This prayer, in my opinion, is the outline of great prevailing prayer.

Here in our text, we have a remnant of Jewish people who had returned to Jerusalem. They were in captivity and had been let go. In 536 BC Zerubbabel returned with 50,000 Jews and in 20 years had rebuilt the temple. In 457 BC there was a small revival under Ezra. Now it’s 445 BC and the people and city are in ruins.

God was looking for someone who would be obedient and unite His people. God didn’t choose a king, a preacher, or even someone called into full-time ministry. God chose Nehemiah, the cup-bearer of the king of Persia.

God is looking for one person with a heart for His people. That’s what we need today. Someone to pray.

Our nation is divided and we can blame whatever political party we choose. But healing our land won’t come from Washington. It must come from God’s people crying out to Him for each other.

Will you join me in prayer?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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Why God Should Be Your First Focus

How often do we make excuses, promising God we will spend time with Him another day? We surmise our lives would be holier if we had a more comfortable life, a more spiritual spouse, more intellectual and obedient children, more fashionable clothes, or more time to relax all alone. We decide God can wait. After all, we have more important things to do.

Shopping galore.

Presents to buy.

And some holiday parties to attend.

However, when we reflect back on human history, we see a couple named Adam and Eve who had everything they needed. They lived the perfect life. And in the midst of Eden, which was abundantly good, they sinned and fell apart.

We do not sin because of irritable people or unexpected circumstances. We sin because we are inherently bad. Sin is not a by-product of what we have or do no have. Sin is an overflow of the condition of our heart.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

I have four children, ranging in age from four to nineteen. Crazy, I know. This past summer, our younger lil’ dude thoroughly enjoyed riding his bike around the neighborhood. He seemed ready to take the training wheels off and ride into the wind. From his outer appearance, he looked prepared. He was muscular, athletic, and strong. And so, we gave it a try.

Here has been my observation with all four of my children. We have been unsuccessful in teaching them how to ride a bike until they came to the decision on their own. They had to want it for themselves. They had to give up control and be willing to take a few tumbles. It was a deliberate act of their will saying, “I am ready to ride.” Otherwise, as parents, we epically failed. All of our bribing, prodding, encouraging, and pushing did not work until the moment they chose do to it alone.

In the same way, until we make a conscious and personal decision that we want to follow hard after God, we will be tossed around with the wind. We have to want to listen to the Holy Spirit, giving Him full control. Our culture surrounds us with distractions and makes a mockery out of God. We have to determine in our hearts whom we will serve. It is a daily decision. Moment by moment.

Will we say yes or no?

In Scripture we find a story of a man who was willing to stand all alone. He didn’t rhyme with the crowd or try to harmonize. He willingly beated to God’s drum. He didn’t get caught up in the circumstances surrounding him, nor become overwhelmed by his peers. He kept his eyes intently focused on God, and aligned his heart to the will of God.

When we surrender our hearts, passions, and dreams to our Father God above, it will blow us away what God will do. His plans are so much more than our petty little ideas. He dreams big and orchestrates details. He is worth living for!

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

The choice remains. It’s up to you. Who today will you serve?

Sue Allen

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