Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Grade Report

When checking my 3 sons grade reports for the end of semester it made me think about what if God gave is grades; like a Christ-like Report Card- hmmm, what grades would God give me?  In school we had subjects like reading, writing, Oral Communications, Math and PE. Also there was always that grade for conduct and in college attendance was given points.  So here are where my thoughts went...if I were to be handed a report card from God, would I receive passing grades in the following subjects???
  • Reading (The Bible) = ? 
  • Writing (sending encouraging words) = ?
  • Oral Communication (Praying)= ?
  • Math (multiplying God's kingdom/witnessing) = ? 
  • ... Conduct (living Christ-like) = ?
  • Attendance (church) = ?
  • PE (being the hands & feet of Jesus) = ? 
I challenge you to examine "your grades" and ask God to show you the areas that "Need Improvement" in 2016. Lord please help me to always keep YOU first in my life. Thank you for forgiving me of my sins & failures, I love You!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - Z

Z is for Zeal! Zeal or being zealous is energetic enthusiasm; a strong feeling of interest and enthusiasm that makes someone very eager or determined to accomplish something. When Jesus performed miracles he often asked the people not to tell, yet it made them want to tell it that much more. “Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. Mark 7:36”. Today, Christ commanded us to tell everyone about Him to the utmost parts of the earth, but do we? Revelation 3:19 says “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent”. We are all guilty of sin, of not obeying His Word, and of having less Godly Character than we should at some point in our lives, but the secret is to learn to me more zealous and to repent. Sincerely ask God to forgive you, and He will. 

Well we have made it from A to Z with Godly Character. Remember the Bible says Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, which is the Greek letters for the beginning and end of the alphabet. Revelation 1:7-8 says “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Jesus is the beginning and end of life, of everything. He is the Eternal Ruler of past, present, and future. He is the A, Z, Alpha, Omega, Beginning, End, First and Last! Does your zeal show this to others today? We need to be on fire for God because one day this world will be no more and everyone will either go to Heaven or Hell. Are you a True Follower of God or just a fair-weather fan? Get your priorities in line with what really matters in life. It’s all about Jesus! Do you have the zeal of DC Talk as they sing 
“What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak? What will people do when they find that it's true? I don't really care if they label me a Jesus freak. There ain't no disguising the truth. No I ain't hiding the truth. People say I'm strange, does it make me a stranger, that my best friend was born in a manger? What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus freak”? 
Does your attitude have enough zeal to live out loud, or do you feel like you are hiding your “Christian-side” from others? What is God calling you to do with your life? What zeal has He placed upon you?

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, stir in me a zealous longing for You. Unsettle me, so that I must seek a deeper relationship with You. Thank You for Your Word. Help me to understand all I need to out of it and help me to grow in Godly Character daily. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to realize we were created for such a time as this! Now be bold like brave Queen Ester and stand up for what is right and for what you believe in. Live you’re A-Z Godly Character out loud today! Esther 4:13-15 “Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - Y

Y is for Yearning! Yearning is a deep, tender and urgent longing; an appitite or craving. Do you have a yearning to know more about Jesus and the Bible? Isaiah 26:9 says “My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you”. The old hymn More About Jesus describes yearning well: 
“More about Jesus would I know, More of His grace to others show; More of His saving fullness see, More of His love Who died for me. More about Jesus let me learn, More of His holy will discern; Spirit of God, my teacher be, Showing the things of Christ to me. More about Jesus; in His Word, Holding communion with my Lord; Hearing His voice in every line, Making each faithful saying mine. More about Jesus; on His throne, Riches in glory all His own; More of His kingdom’s sure increase; More of His coming, Prince of Peace. More, more about Jesus, More, more about Jesus; More of His saving fullness see, More of His love Who died for me”. 
They got it…MORE ABOUT JESUS! Life has to be more about Jesus, not about us! Do you yearn to know Him deeper? Psalm 42:1-2 says “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God”. We have to crave, thirst, yearn for a relationship with God. Are you doing that today?

Prayer starter: Heavenly Father, help me to crave a relationship with You. Create in me a yearning for Your Word. I want to be more in love with You than anything else in this world. Thank You for never giving up on me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to work on developing a yearning for God. Make it a goal to spend more time in prayer and reading His Word. Crave Him today!

Monday, December 28, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - X

X! I know if you have been following my ABC's all month, then you have probably been wondering what is an X word that deals with Godly Character….well, here are a few: X is for X-alt (exalt) Him, be an x-ample (example) x-hibit (exhibit) Godly Character, or x-pand (expand) His Kingdom. However, there was only 1 true X word that would do, so here we go! X is for Xerox copy! We should be a Xerox copy of the of the beatitudes in the Bible. Matthew 5:3-16 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”. Are you a good example of these traits? Are you living a life that is a Xerox copy of the True Light of the World?

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, please help me to be more like a Xerox copy of the life You lived on earth as an example for us. Help me to develop more and more of Your character traits by Your Holy Spirit filling me and guiding me each and every day. In Your Name, Amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to let your light shine for others to see! Be a Xerox copy of God’s commands today. Live out loud for Him!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - W

W is for Worship! Worship is reverent honor paid to God; adoring reverence; attending services of divine worship; to feel an adoring reverence or regard. Worship means reverent love and devotion to God. Worship is an outward expression of our love for God.
We should worship God every day in all we do. Psalm 95:6 says “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” It’s easy to get things in life out of balance. It is easy to put “things” above God without realizing it. Idols interfere with our worship if we are not cautious. Does your phone, Xbox, computer, sports, ballgames, boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/kids, family, talking, friends, school, or work, interfere with your worship? If you spend time with these things when you should be studying God’s word, praying, witnessing, or attending church on a regular basis then you may need to evaluate your life and what you are worshiping. We should take time DAILY to worship God and thank Him for all He has blessed us with. We should avoid appearances and behaviors that detract from our ultimate goal of being believable witnesses for Jesus Christ and demonstrating our Christian faith. We should honor God with the way we dress, our attitudes, and our manners toward others when we attend church and in daily life—that is worship. When we enter into the House of God we should have the attitude of being open and ready participate and to listen to God. Are you just going through the motions or do you have meaningful worship with God? 
Matthew West sings: “This might hurt, it's not safe but I know that I've gotta make a change. I don't care if I break, at least I'll be feeling something, 'cause just okay is not enough. Help me fight through the nothingness of life. I don't wanna go through the motions. I don't wanna go one more day without Your all consuming passion inside of me. I don't wanna spend my whole life asking, ‘What if I had given everything, instead of going through the motions?’ No regrets, not this time. I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind, let Your love make me whole.”
It is more than putting on a good appearance attending church; true worship occurs in your heart and mind. 
Chris Tomlin sums it up this way: “Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that you're my God. You're altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me. I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross. Here I am to worship.” 
Are you here to worship? Deuteronomy 8:19 warns us about a heart not devoted to the One True God “if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish”. Matthew Henry said “It is not enough for us to be where God is worshiped, if we do not ourselves worship Him”.

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, please develop a true heart of worship in me. Reveal any idols that I am placing in front of You. Help me to always keep You first in my life. In Your Glorious Name I pray, Amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to have a heart of worship, every day. D.L. Moody said “We ought to see the face of God every morning before we see the face of man”. Have you sought the face of God in worship today? We should all want to be like Mary, the sister of Martha, who sat at Jesus’ feet listening while Martha worked in the kitchen (Luke 10:38-42). We may not be able to sit at His actual feet but we can in our hearts and minds today!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - V

V is for Virtuous or having Virtue! Being virtuous means conforming to moral and ethical principles; being morally excellent and upright. Philippians 4:8 defines virtue: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”. Colossians 3:13 says “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive”. That’s virtue! Proverbs 31 describes an excellent or virtuous woman. Guys, you should seek a lady of strong Godly character, great wisdom, skills, and compassion. It is not all about their appearance. Ladies, we should strive to be this lady. Proverbs 31:10 says “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies”. The lady/man you are seeking should be attractive because of their character, not their appearance. What are you chasing after? Are you a good catch for someone? Do you show virtue? We should all try to be the very best we can be. Proverbs describes virtue all throughout the book. It tells us we should work hard, fear God, respect others, spend money wisely, and seek wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. How are you doing on this list? Are your moral and ethical principles that of God or do they conform to the sin-filled world? 2 Peter 1:5-10 says “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall”. Being virtuous is where success begins.

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, help me to be more concerned with the virtues and character that You say are important. Help me to forget about the world’s description of a good person and cling to the descriptions of Godly Character in Your Word. Mold me to be more like You, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to be more virtuous. The Bible is a great place to start working on your character.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - U

U is for Understanding! Understanding has two parts: 1) the ability to learn, comprehend, and make decisions; intelligence; and 2) being sympathetic, tolerant, or wise towards people. The first is about gaining knowledge of the Bible. We should ask God to help us understand what His Word says and how to apply it to our lives. Secondly, we should be understanding toward others. We should show them Christ-like love and try to see their point of view. We should try to relate to what is going on in their lives; have compassion. Proverbs 18:2 says “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion”. Don’t be selfish about having it “your way”, listen to others and be kind. Godly Character is more important that getting it “our way” all the time. Proverbs 2:1-6 says “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”. Wisdom and understanding come from God. It is gained by seeking it. His Word reveals it, but we must read His Word if we want to gain it. True understanding is of God and we can’t create it by our own efforts. We have to seek it, want it, and search for it. It doesn’t come easy, nothing we treasure does. Once we obtain it, we must always try to use it and be understanding toward others.

Prayer starter: Heavenly Father, thank you for making understanding and wisdom available to us. Help me to study Your Word more and to earnestly seek understanding. Also, help me to be understanding toward others and show them compassion and mercy, just as You have shown me. I love you, Amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read God’s Word today. Ask God, through prayer, to make the verses become real to you. Ask Him to help you “get it” and understand what you read. Also, show understanding toward others today.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - T

T is for tough word for me to choose…I couldn't decide on Trust in God, being trustworthy, talk to Jesus, talk about Jesus, truthful, using our talents, thoughtfulness, where is your treasure, teaching others about Christ, or thankfulness…just to name a few "T" words that came to my mind as I have thought about Godly character this week. So, today, T is for Thankfulness! Thankfulness is gratitude or appreciation for what someone does for you. It's an attitude of being appreciative and grateful for all circumstances. Living as a thankful person is making a conscious decision to always acknowledge and recognize someone, specifically God, for showing favor and kindness in your life – no matter how good or how bad you may feel at the time. The Bible is full of verses about being thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you". Giving thanks in ALL situations doesn’t mean we thank God for bad things that happen. Bad, mean, hurtful things don’t come from God, so we shouldn’t thank Him for them, but we should be thankful that God is in control of the situation and that He will give us the strength to get through it. We should be thankful that He is letting our faith and maturity grow. God wants what is best for all His children. He wants us to love and honor Him above all else. One way we do this is by giving thanks to Him. Psalm 100:4 says "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name"! We have so much to be thankful for, but most of all I am thankful for Jesus, my Savior, my Lord! He blesses me so much more than I could ever be worthy. Give thanks to God EVERY DAY! "I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, Most High". (Psalms 9:1-2 ESV)

Prayer starter: Heavenly Father, thank you for all the wonderful blessings and people you have placed in my life. Help me to always be thankful to You. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. I love you, Jesus. In Your Name, amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to give God thanks today!

Monday, December 21, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - S

S is for Self-discipline and self-control! Self-discipline is the power or ability to control your thoughts, actions, feelings and desires with the intention of improving yourself. Self-control is restraint exercised over one's own impulses, emotions, or desires. It is self-discipline in action. Galatians 5:22-23 says “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Self-discipline and self-control come from the Holy Spirit living in us. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”. It is hard without the help of the Holy Spirit to keep our cool. It can be difficult to not lose our temper or to spout off at the mouth. It can be hard to not go too far in relationships and to save ourselves for marriage. It can be difficult to not overeat or be a slob. It is hard to make it a priority to spend quality time in God’s Word…but all of these things are possible when we let the Holy Spirit control our thoughts, words and actions. With His help, we can accomplish self-discipline and self-control. Tell God what areas you are struggle in and ask Him to help you overcome them. He will when we sincerely ask Him.

Prayer starter: Heavenly Father, please help me learn to control _______ in my life. You know the struggle and battle that I am facing. Give me the strength to stand strong and have self-discipline and self-control. Help me to be a positive example of Your love and not be a negative one. In Christ’ Name I pray, Amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to work on your self-control today. Think before you speak or act. Is what you are about to do or say pleasing to God? Is it helpful or hurtful to others and to your testimony? Live out loud for Christ!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - R

R is for Respect! Respect means to view or consider with reverence; to view as having real worth. Showing respect is shown in many ways. It is shown by how we treat others, how we talk to or about people, and how we treat other people’s belongings. When we respect someone with Godly respect, we honor them because of who they are in Christ—a loved child of His. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:1-3 and as one of His 10 Commandments “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” No matter how old we are or what we think about our parents, God wants us to respect them – or respect their job as parents. When we respect and honor them, it will be a testimony to them and others of our God and our faith. God blesses the one who honors, respects and loves their parents, according to His Word. If we want people to treat us with respect, then we must first treat others with respect. Home is the first place where we should learn to respect others. We can always work on being more respectful to our families. If we learn to respect our parents, then we will already know how to respect older people, police officers, teachers, bosses, people in authority etc. Respect is a testimony of our faith in Christ and will bring blessings to us in the long run. Are you respectful to others or does sarcasm, hateful words, and bad attitudes seep out of you? Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others”. Is life all about you and what you want and getting things “your” way? When we think of others first and place them ahead of our own needs in life, then we are showing respect and honor.

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, let me be an example of Your Love to others. Help me to show respect to all people and put others in front of myself. Help me to be respectful to those who you set in authority over me. In Your Name, Amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to be respectful to everyone you speak to today. Lose the attitude and bring honor and glory to God by showing respect to others!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - Q

Q is for Quietness before The Lord!
Quietness means allowing God to speak directly to your heart through the Holy Spirit. Prayer is not just a one way communication. When we pray we are asking God to fulfill His Will in our life, when we are quiet before Him, we are waiting patiently to hear what we should do, and then actually doing what He said when we were still enough to listen and hear Him. To be quite before the Lord, we must remove ourselves from the craziness of our daily lives and spend time focusing on God and His Word. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” In Mark 6:31 Jesus said “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” Jesus, himself, even spent time alone in the quietness of God. Mark 1:35 says “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed”. Psalm 119:18 tells us that when we ask, God will reveal His Word to us: “Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word”, for Him to do this, we must get quite and spend time studying and praying. Psalm 37:7 says “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”. Are you too busy? Do you stop and wait patiently on God to speak to you or do you just rush through a prayer and a little Bible reading? I LIKE, LIKE, LIKE to talk, but even more, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and treasure my quite time with my Lord! We all need our own little “quite place” before the Lord. We need to stop and spend time with Him, daily. Matthew 11:28 says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. Do you need some peace and rest today? It is available through Jesus!

Prayer starter: My Precious Lord, please help me to make it a priority to stop and be quite in Your Presence. Help me to spend time alone with You. Help me see the wonderful things that I need out of Your Word. Fill me with your Presence and help me shine for You. In your Sweet Name I pray, Amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN to God and His Word. Allow some quite in your life so He can speak to you today. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - P

P is for Perseverance and Persecution! Perseverance is the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult; continued effort, despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. Persecution is to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; to cause suffering because of belief.  As our world continues to drift further away from God we, as Christians, will have to persevere because of persecution. Jude was Jesus’ half-brother and James’ brother. His writing in Jude 1:17-25 says “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” We have the power and strength of the Holy Spirit in us to help us during hard times. We should live close to God and His Word and not listen to false teachers or temptations in this world that want to pull us away from our faith. We should also help others come to know Christ and His Power so they can persevere during persecution also. We should hate sin but love unsaved sinners and want them to also have eternal life. Our perseverance and willingness to witness could mean life or death, heaven or hell, for someone we know. We don’t have to be afraid about persecution and the end of this world if we trust God and are rooted in His Word.

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, please help me to stand up for what I believe and to have Your Strength in me to stand strong when I am persecuted. Help me to boldly witness to others in this world and to share my faith with them. You know the temptations I face, and I know You can give me power over them through the Holy Spirit. Fill me with your passion and love for others today. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to not fear this world, but to stand strong and persevere when you are persecuted. Will you share your faith with someone today?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - O

O is for opportunity, the opportunity to witness! Opportunity is recognizing and acting upon situations God places in our lives. We learned with "E is for evangelism" that we are ALL called to witness to others, but do we seize the moment when we have an opportunity to do it? God places people in our lives for us to reach out to but sometimes we are too busy in our own little world of "me" to recognize it. In Colossians 4:2-5 Paul says: "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." (NASB) Do we make the most of every opportunity? We should always look for opportunities to share Jesus with others. He has blessed us so much and we should always be willing to tell others how great He is. We should choose our words carefully, let the Holy Spirit guide us, so that we can speak with the right tone and not in a convicting or self-righteous one. 
Hawk Nelson sings in Words: "Words can build you up, Words can break you down, Start a fire in your heart or put it out. Let my words be life, Let my words be truth, I don't wanna say a word unless it points the world back to You."
Prayer starter: Heavenly Father, guide my words and help me take every opportunity that You set before me. Help me realized when You are leading me to share my testimony or Your great love with others. In Your name I pray, amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to ask God to give you an opportunity to share His Love with someone today and then be bold enough to do it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Operation Christmas Child & Rwanda

This week join us in praying for Rwanda. It is a fertile, mountainous country similar to its southern neighbor, Burundi, in Africa. It has 13 people groups with 23% unreached. There are 5 languages in Rwanda. Challenges for Prayer include praying for the children and young people were deeply scarred by the events of the 1990s, but they are now the young adults and future leaders of Rwanda. They carry a painful legacy and difficult burdens no young people should have to bear. 
Pray for:
  1. Pray God provides all of the resources needed during the coming year and continues to strengthen the Operation Christmas Child Teams’ commitment and trust in Him.
  2. Pray God’s peace and presence will dwell over the teams. Pray He will bless everyone who works with this project and bring the children a deeper knowledge of Christ.
  3. Pray for the ministry to university students. Most Bible study leaders lost their lives, but a new generation of workers is being raised up. Pray for more workers and resources for the task. 
  4. Young people’s ministries, which work across denominations. Bible reading programs, prayer groups, youth camps, alternate education programs, AIDS awareness as well as assisting orphans, street kids and child heads-of-households are all aspects of current work.
  5. Orphans from genocide, war and AIDS may number up to 900,000 – 30% of all Rwandan children. There are over 30,000 child-led households caring for 100,000. They are the most vulnerable to exploitation. 
  6. Pray for counselling for those who witnessed or suffered traumatic experiences and for those who must live without parents. Their numbers are vast, their pain is deep and the church is still learning how to offer such ministry.
  7. Social networks – such as the extended families of these children – to offer love, mercy and kindness to them, treating them as their own. Pray also for friends for these orphans; 74% say they have none, and 40% feel life is meaningless. 
  8. The children of genocide perpetrators. Pray for the breaking of any ties that might carry on the legacy of guilt and violence; pray for freedom in Christ and a new identity. 
  9. Models of family and community, which these children have not experienced. Pray for churches, ministries and relations to teach and show them how to live as part of a family, a community and a society in a manner that glorifies God. Missionary presence continues to increase! 
  10. Pray God will help the team to fulfill their three year strategic plan to reach more children in Rwanda.
  11. Pray God will provide volunteers who are committed to the mission of Operation Christmas Child.
Shoebox gifts collected in the United States in 2015 will be delivered to 145,584 children in Rwanda. Praise God that over 643,129 children have received a shoebox since 1994, when Operation Christmas Child began distributing gifts here.  Rwanda has 12.6 million people.  42% of the population is 14 years old or younger.  
A boy in Rwanda receives his shoebox gift!

Monday, December 14, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - N

N is for New Creation! Are you a New Creation in Christ? After we get saved we are called to live differently than the rest of the unsaved world. Being a New Creation means we change our habits, our attitudes, our words, our actions, and our lifestyle to reflect that of Christ. Ephesians 4:22-24 says “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (ESV). Paul tells us in Colossians 3:5-10 to “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (ESV). Look at that list again. When we are a New Creation in Christ we should not have sex outside of marriage, not want what others have, have no evil thoughts, no idols, no anger, no bad or hurtful language, no lies…some of these can be hard to achieve. I truly struggle with anger issues; I have a temper, but I try to keep it in check and let God's Word transform me.  At a young age I memorized, "Be angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" Ephesians 4:26. Without the help of the Holy Spirit we are looking at a hard list to live up to; however with His help and by hiding God's Word in our hearts we can complete the challenge and become a New Creation!

Prayer Starter: Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to become a New Creation that lives a life for You. Help me do away with my old sinful, earthly self and cling to the Fruit of the Spirit that You can help grow in me. Help me to be pleasing in Your sight. In Your Holy Name I ask, Amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to work on this list in your life today. Write it out these verses and place them where you will see and read them, then ask God to help you achieve it!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - M

M is for Maturity! Are you a mature or immature person? Christian Maturity is something that develops with time. It is a process that begins when a person accepts Jesus as their Savior. The Apostle Paul said that spiritual growth is an ongoing process in Philippians 3:12-14 "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." In order for Christian maturity to develop in our life, we must make a choice to learn God's Word, allow God to renew our mind, and then be obedient to what we learn. Romans 12:1-2 says, "present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” As we mature, we should learn to walk obediently with God. It is making a choice to live by God’s ways instead of the world’s ways. Step by step, day by day we must deliberately make a choice to choose the right path. It won’t be easy. We will have growing pains, but reaching maturity is worth the battle. We mature by choosing to apply God's Word in everyday circumstances. As we walk step by step, applying God's Word to our life, we will grow spiritually. Are we at the same place in our relationship with God as what we were when we first got saved? Can we look at our life, or can others and see that we are more in love with Jesus today? I can look back on my life and see growth. When I was a child my “Bible reading” was when I was in Sunday School or when my parents done devotions with us. As a teen, I started reading my Bible more on my own. My Mom and I would read the Bible aloud across the hallway to each other and say our prayers before we fell asleep in our beds each night. Then I decided to read the whole Bible for myself. It took me almost 2 years but I done it—2 years meant that I only read it about 10 minutes a day. Was that my best? Was 10 minutes a day all I could give to my God, my Savior? Mature…I think not! Now I am so in love with God’s Word that I want to read it again and again. I learn something new each time I read it. Just reading it to say I have done it isn’t growth, though, we must want to apply and learn from what we read. Reading it to check it off a list or to say we have read through it "x" number of times may not mean we are absorbing it and learning to apply it.  A couple of years ago I read through the Bible twice in one year, does that mean I am mature now? No, we never totally mature in our Christian faith. We always have room to improve. I can tell you, the more time you spend studying God’s Word, the more you will want to do it. So let me ask you some Spiritual Growth questions. Is reading your Bible a “want to” or a “have to” decision? How often do you pray? Do you ever read your Bible besides when studying for Sunday School or church? Do you study your Sunday School lesson? Do you pay attention in church and try to learn or are you busy on your phone, clipping your fingernails, or sleeping? Have you ever read a whole chapter of the Bible? What about a whole book of the Bible? What about all 4 Gospels? Have you ever read all of God’s Word? Take time to honestly evaluate your Christian Maturity. Do you enjoy God's Word? Are you still milk fed like a baby or are your growing? Spiritual maturity should be a priority for us. "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14). As a believer, we are not to always be milk-fed. Instead, we are called to chew on the "meat" of God's Word. Discover God's truth by in-depth Bible study and feed ourselves spiritually.

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, please help me to grow in my Spiritual Maturity. Help me to put away childish behavior in my life and mature in my relationship with You. Help me to fall more in love with Your Word. Help me develop more of a desire to learn about You and to talk to You. Help me press on and continue growing more like You every day of my life.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to set a goal of how much time you are going to spend reading God’s Word and in prayer. Work on your growth process today! You are responsible to make a choice! Will you choose to use and apply God's Word to your life?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - L

L is for Love! Love is NOT a feeling or something we fall in and out of. Love is reserved for ONLY God and people – not for stuff.

How many times do we abuse the word love?!?..."Oh, I love your outfit!" I love that car", "That movie was great, our family loved it!" We are to love God and people not objects! Once I felt convicted about my misuse of the word "love" my sons even picked up on it and now we all try not to use it unless referring to people or God, and maybe our dog...he is family too! We cannot ever truly love someone until we have the love of Christ in us. The Bible commands us to love God above all else and then to love others. Matthew 22:36-39 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love has nothing to do with how you feel. Love is a command given to us by God. Love is a decision that requires unconditional commitment. The Bible is full of scriptures about love but 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives the perfect definition of love. "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." Wow, what a definition! LOVE IS A VERB...IT IS AN ACTION!  
We must be doing something to demonstrate love. Do you have patience with others? While you're thinking about that also ask yourself if you are envious of others? What about pride? Pride is something all of us struggle with on some level. Pride will cause us not to admit we are wrong. Pride will even make us believe we are always right. Pride will keep us from apologizing when we have offended. Pride will even make us say, "I'm not prideful." Love is not inconsiderate or always thinking "but if I do that, what am I going to get in return?" Love is not agitated easily and it has a short memory when it comes to the sins of those who wrong us. That means we are not constantly reminding them of their past offenses. Love means we don't do a victory dance when wrong is done to others, even if we think they had it coming. Real love does not rejoice in wrong doing, it rejoices in what's right. Love puts up with everything, and still trusts, is hopeful, and enduring. Everything will someday come to an end, buy love will never end.

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, You are the perfect example of love. Help me to have Your kind of love and not the world's definition of love. Create in me a pure and loving heart that shines Your Love in this dark and sinful world. Amen.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to show Christ-like love to others. Love the unlovable today!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

ABC's of Godly Character - K

K is for Kindness! Kindness is a friendly, good-natured, harmonious attitude toward others. The Bible tells us to be kind to both our friends and our enemies. Jesus taught us by His example to be kind to others. Kindness can be difficult. Kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit living in us. Galatians 5:22-23 says "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (ESV). When we are tempted to pay someone back for their unkindness to us, we need to remember that it is not our job to repay someone for his or her actions--it's God's. We need to focus on instructions.  We read in Proverbs 20:22: “Do not say, 'I'll pay you back for this wrong!' Wait for the Lord, and He will deliver you.” Colossians 3:12 says “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  
Albert Schweitzer is quoted as saying “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” 
If you are having trouble in relationships with friends, parents, teachers, co-workers, or others evaluate yourself to see if you are showing kindness in your actions and words. Ephesians 4:32 says "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." What if Christ treated you with the same kindness and forgiveness as you treated others?

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, please help me to show more kindness to others. I know I don’t always act in a way that is pleasing to you. Help me to learn to be and act more like You. I love You. I am thankful for the kindness and forgiveness you so often give me. Amen. 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to work on your kindness today. Treat others the way Christ would want you to.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Kenya & Operation Christmas Child

This week please join Operation Christmas Child in praying for Kenya. Most people live in the fertile plateaus of the south and west. Much of the north and east is desert. Only 8.9% of the land is cultivable. Kenya has 115 people groups that speak a total of 74 languages. 48% of the population is Evangelical Christian.

  1. Pray for the country of Kenya, especially with the teacher strikes in the schools. 
  2. Pray for the commitment of the team members and for the new members as they train for their positions. 
  3. Pray for the teacher and Ministry Partner trainings.
  4. Praise God for opening doors for the team to share the Gospel.
  5. Pray the seed of the Word of God planted in the children will bear fruit.  
Shoebox gifts collected in the United States in 2015 will be delivered to 137,496 children in Kenya. Praise God that over 661,958 children have received a shoebox since 1995, when Operation Christmas Child began distributing gifts here.
  • Kenya has 45.9 million people and is located in East Africa
  • 42% of the population is 14 years old or younger
 Kenya & OCC

ABC's of Godly Character - J

J is for Joy! Joy is great delight caused by God who is exceptionally good or satisfying; pleasure, delight, something or someone greatly valued or appreciated; a constant state of happiness, regardless of the situation.
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Down in my heart to stay! Joy and happiness are different. Happiness is based on our emotions and feelings; it is affected by what is happening in our life. Joy is only available from God and should always be present in our lives. It is from the Holy Spirit living in us. 1 Peter 1:8 says “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (ESV). 
Jerry Bridges said “True joy comes only from God and He shares this joy with those who walk in fellowship with Him.” 
Psalm 35:9 says “my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation.” The jailer who watched over Paul & Silas in prison found/received joy. Acts 16:34 says the jailer was “filled with joy” because he and his whole family had come to believe in God! We should have joy, even if we are going through terrible times in our life. No matter how bad a situation is, we can have joy because Jesus has overcome the world and this is only our temporary home. Romans 15:13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Psalm 30:5b says “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Claim these verses for your life and realize that joy does come in the morning. One day all our heartaches and grief will be over and we will experience perfect joy in our Eternal Home in Heaven.

Prayer starter: Dear Lord, please fill me with your Fruit of the Spirit and give me true Joy that is only available ONLY through You. Help me to have joy in all situations in my life and lean on You. Thank You, Lord, for Your Word. Amen. 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to have joy today, no matter how bad of a day you may be experiencing. 

Josh Wilson sings it best: “My friend, you know how this all ends and you know where you're going, you just don't know how you get there so just say a prayer and hold on, cause there's good who love God, life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time, but you'll see the bigger picture. Would dare you, would you dare, to believe, that you still have a reason to sing, 'cause the pain you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming. So hold on, you got to wait for the light, press on, just fight the good fight because the pain you've been feeling, it's just the dark before the morning.