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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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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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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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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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

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

How to Make Others Better

others

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3

We speak a lot about leadership. Being strong leaders, focused leaders, and growing as a leader.

But how do we make others better when we aren’t leading? Do we lead from behind?

During the Second Great Awakening in America, Charles Finney was in the forefront among the great evangelists. God was using him to change the culture of the church. He began what we call modern day evangelism.

Many people know him.

However, few know the name, Daniel Nash.

Daniel Nash was born in 1775 at an unknown place in the USA. No one knows what happened in his life before he was 40.

What we do know about him is at the age of 40 he became the pastor of a Presbyterian church in upper New York State. During his first year there, around 70 people were saved in something of a mini-revival.

But he withdrew after being voted out of the church. The rejection from those he loved wounded him deeply. Also, as a result of a serious eye infection, he spent several weeks in a dark room where he could not read or write.

The broken preacher began to pray earnestly, and so began one of the greatest prayer evangelism ministries ever.

Nash, at the age of 48, dedicated his life to prayer. Long before Finney would arrive in a town, Nash would be there in an empty cellar or boarding house room praying for the power of God to enter the city.

Finney told this story: “When I got to town to start a revival, a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house.”

The lady said, “Brother Finney, do you know a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten a bite of food.”

She continued,“I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn’t know what to do. Would you please come see about them?”

“No, it isn’t necessary,” Finney replied. “They just have a spirit of travail in prayer.”

Finney knew that God sent Nash to help make him a better preacher. Finney said this about Nash, “He concentrated entirely on praying for people who were so hard that they could not be reached in any other way.”

Nash is a mighty example of how God changed a man’s circumstance to make someone else better. We don’t talk about that much, but how many of us have had people who have strengthened our faith?

Being fired as a pastor isn’t what preachers aspire to. It is even viewed as negative on our resume. But God has a way of taking our worse tragedy and changing it to a mighty triumph.

Within four months of Nash’s death, Finney left evangelism for the pastorate. The great prayer warrior of his crusades was gone.

If you want to see the grave of Daniel Nash, you have to drive to upper New York, almost to the Canadian border. There, in a neglected cemetery along a dirt road, you will find a tombstone that says it all:

DANIEL NASH
Laborer with Finney
MIGHTY IN PRAYER

Pastor Rodney

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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

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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

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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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What is Your Call?

call

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” (Matthew 3:1-2)

John the Baptist was the long-awaited prophet of the Messiah. By all accounts today he was a different sort of dude.

He wouldn’t have made it past most pastor search committees, but he gives us so many glimpses of the glory of God that we can certainly see how Jesus called him, Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;” (Matthew 11:11)

John the Baptist had what we all need, a clarity of call.

If we take a minute, we can see his message—Repent! And, we can also see his mission was to proclaim the Messiah.

We all have the same mission as him. Tell the world about Jesus. But, we do that differently.

It’s the message that we must see. This is the way we are gifted. A prophet will be an in your face, black and white messenger (like John the Baptist). Proclaiming repentance. But, an encourager we tell people about the love of God.

This is the message we have. Born into us when we were born again.

It’s also the problem we have with each other. Prophets tend to think they are right all the time. After all, we do need to repent. Right?

That’s why we must clarify our call. Most of the arguments in our churches and on social media are centered around our different gifts. Without a clarity of call, and the spiritual maturity to see our differences, we may end up being so right we think everyone else is wrong.

We need prophets. We need encouragers. We need mercy, knowledge, administration, and on and on. But we also need the grace to let others fulfill their call.

So, what is your call?

Don’t forget to pray!

Pastor Rodney

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