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We are not here to learn – but to lift – Galatians 6:10

We are not here to absorb – but to give forth – Luke 6:38

We are not here to be ministered unto – but to minister – Mark 10:35-45

We are not here to be served – but to serve others – John 21:15-17

We are not here to hinder – but to help – Mark 14:3-9

We are not here to be a burden to others – but to bear the burdens of others – Galatians 6:2

We are not here to stand on the sidelines and criticize the players – but to get in the game and help win the victory – Mark 16:15

Dr. T. Myron Webb

What is your life as you walk this earth?  As you go through your day do you do something for someone else?  And your heart, is it clean in God’s sight or is there something you need to make right with Him?  And your mind; are your thoughts pure?  Are you “storing up” something of eternal value?  And your lips, are your words gentle and kind?  Or do you sometimes speak and then regret?  Are your hands busy doing good deeds?  Have you given to someone in need?  Maybe if we worked harder in these things, the earth would be much better, not to mention our own lives.

Thanks for reading – have to go now, work to do!

Betsy

He began His ministry by being hungry, yet He is the Bread of Life.

Jesus ended His ministry on earth by being thirsty, yet He is the Living Water.

Jesus was weary, yet He is our rest.  Jesus paid tribute, yet He is the King.  Jesus was accused of having a deamon,

yet He cast out deamons.  Jesus wept, yet He wipes away our tears.  Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver,

yet He redeemed the world.  Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd.,

Jesus died, yet by His death He destroyed the power of death.

Gregory of Nazianzus, 4th century archbishop of Constantinople

There are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world could not contain the books that would be written”  John 21:25 

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter.  Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable.  Thing about things that are excellent and worthy of  praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing and the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:8-9

 

The Apostle Paul knew that sometimes we give way to stinking thinking.  He was writing the church in Philippi and trying to encourage – well really he was pleading with – two women to settle the rift between them.  We don’t really know the details of their disagreement, and that isn’t the important thing for us to know.  Maybe someone with malice in their heart told one woman that the other has said something damaging to their Christian walk – that recently happened to me – someone told another person that I said something I didn’t say.  We can’t prevent others from telling untruths about us, what we can do is to set the Guards of our minds in place and give the situation over to the Lord and pray for His guidance.

Paul names eight guards that we should station in our thinking.  “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable.  Think about about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  These are absolutes that we are expected to adhere to as Christians and through these we can test any information we recieve.

As we get information, the first thing we ask ourselves is: “Is it true?”  We use God’s truth as a measuring stick.  Then we ask, “is it honorable?”  Does the thing I hear have a noble ring to it?  Is the action I’m being asked to take respectable?

Then we have to decide if its right, if it’s just and fair.  We search Jesus’ teaching to see if He had and words on the matter.  What did He say was right?

When we consider what we are filling ourselves with, what we watch on tv, or what we read, or the movies we watch, we should ask ourselves, is it pure and lovely? Will this that I’m filling my mind with result in the love of God and beautiful actions?

And we need to ask, if it’s admirable, is what I’m thinking about praiseworthy and of good repute?  Does it sound attractive and appealing?  Can people say of you that you just won’t listen to gossip or slanderous talk?

Finally we have to consider if we are thinking on excellent and praise worthy things?  There are many of us that would have a hard time labeling our thoughts as excellent, we must fight a constant battle to think excellent thoughts.

If we would only allow those things that are pleasing and approved by God into our thoughts then we could be well on the way to that peace of mind Paul says will be with us if we have set our guards in place.  If you value the approval of God – think on these things.

Ephesians 3:7-3:21

Years ago, a large Atlanta church was televising the service where they had asked a retired 92 year minister preach from its pulpit. There was a warm welcome as he was introduced and, as the applause quieted down, the old man rose from his high back chair
and walked slowly, with great effort to the podium.

Without a note or written paper of any kind, he placed both hands on the pulpit to steady himself and then quietly and slowly he began to speak.

“When I was asked to come here today and talk to you, your preacher asked me to tell you what was the greatest lesson I ever learned in my 50 odd years of preaching. I thought about it for a few days and boiled it down to just one thing that made the most difference in my life and sustained me through all my trials. The one thing that I could always rely on when tears and heart break and pain and fear and sorrow paralyzed me. The only thing that would comfort was this verse:

“Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to him belong, We are weak but he is strong.  Yes, Jesus loves me… The Bible tells me so.”
When he finished, the church was so quiet you actually could hear his foot steps as he shuffled back to his chair.

This is one of the most popular Christian songs ever written.  It is arguably as well known as Amazing Grace and Silent Night.

It is taught by Christian parents and teachers to their children from the day they can speak. And it has been translated into most major languages and sung by children in every nation on the face of the earth.

The Bible is filled with verses that show God’s love.”  But sometimes in the midst of life, we don’t really feel loved by God.  But if we don’t
understand anymore today than this, it is that God loves each of us in a very real and personal way.  The measure of His love for us is so great that we can’t even begin to fathom it.

In Galatians 2:20, Paul wrote: “…I live by faith in the Son of God, WHO LOVED ME and gave himself for me.”

The Apostle John wrote “… Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him WHO LOVES US and has freed us from our sins by his blood” Revelation 1:5

Jesus said: “As the Father has loved me, SO HAVE I LOVED YOU. Now remain in my love…. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:9, 13-14

And, in the text today, Paul said it was his prayer that we would “… grasp how wide and long and high and deep is THE LOVE OF CHRIST, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that (we might) be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Jesus loves me – How do I know that?  I know that Jesus loves me because, “the Bible Tells Me So!”

There are many world religions with their many books of scripture, but only the Bible tells us that God loves us.

* The Buddhists have their book called the Dharma – but Buddhists don’t actually believe there is a god… let alone a god who would love you.

* The Hindus have their many book and their many gods… but their gods aren’t the type that would love.

* The Muslims have the Koran that tells of Allah… but Allah is an impersonal god who really isn’t known for loving people.

In fact – no matter what world religion you talk about – their gods (if they love anybody) only love “nice” people. Love, in those religions, is reserved only for the ones who deserve it.

By contrast, Paul tell us “… God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8

The Bible tells us that even when we weren’t worthy of love – God loved us anyway. Paul continues in Romans 5:10 “… when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son…”
One man observed:
“Anyone can devise a plan by which good people may go to Heaven.  Only God can devise a plan whereby sinners, who are His enemies, can go to Heaven.”

What makes the Bible distinctive is that it says God loves us.  He cares for us.  He created us.  We’re made in His image.  And it hurts Him when we damage our lives.  He wants to make our lives better. And in order to do that, He gave us the most precious gift He could give. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish but have
everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so Little ones to Him belong we are weak but He is strong”

We are weak.  And we’re weak because we sin.  And because of our sin, we sometimes misunderstand who this Jesus is that
Scripture tells us loves us so much.  Sin warps our understanding of who Jesus is, and since sin is essentially the product of our own selfishness and self-centeredness, we can begin to believe
that “Jesus loves ONLY me”.
But Jesus said: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
Tony Campolo recalled working at a Christian junior high camp. One of the campers, a boy with spastic paralysis, was the object of heartless
ridicule. When he would ask a question, the boys would deliberately answer in a halting, mimicking way.
One night his cabin group chose this boy to lead the devotions before the entire camp. It was one more effort to have some “fun” at his
expense.
Unashamedly the spastic boy stood up, and in his strained, slurred manner – each word coming with enormous effort – he said simply “Jesus loves me — and I love Jesus!”

That was all.

Campolo said that conviction fell upon those junior-highers. Many began to cry. Revival gripped the camp. Years afterward, Campolo says he still meets men in the ministry who came to Christ because of that testimony.
Sometimes, because “we are weak”, we forget Jesus loves others that we don’t.  We can misunderstand Jesus, and think that “He loves ONLY me”
And, because we are weak, we can also misunderstand Jesus by thinking that Jesus loves on OUR terms.

There are people who – when they hear some of the teachings out the Bible – don’t like what they hear.  They think Jesus should sound different.  And so they try to accept the Jesus they want – while rejecting the Jesus they don’t like.  It doesn’t work that way.  You don’t get to pick and choose with Jesus.  If you want the Jesus that the Bible says loves you, you have to take the rest of the package.

Jesus is a God of love.  And yes, He loves people so much that He gave His life for us to save us from our sins.  In fact, He loves us so much – that He doesn’t want us slip back into that lifestyle of sinfulness. And so He calls us to live lives of holiness and purity.

And because He loves us that much – He calls His church to confront certain kinds of sins and discipline His people if necessary.  Why?  Because
if sin is not confronted … If wicked behavior is permitted to go unchallenged… that sinfulness will be accepted by others in the church as normal. They’ll begin to see sin that was ignored in others as an excuse to slip into their own sinful behaviors. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 5 that such an attitude moves through the congregation like leaven in bread.  We must hold each other accountable when we see a brother or sister
acting in a manner displeasing to God.  Because if we don’t then the sinful behavior will cause our brother or sister to drift further and further away from God … and ultimately they will drift away into the very pits of Hell.

Jesus loves me, Jesus loves you. Jesus loves US far too much to let that happen.

Jesus loves me… and He calls me to a life of holiness and purity.  We are Christ’s ambassador’s here on earth and we must be very careful to not damage our witness to the world.  We don’t want anyone saying about us, “if that’s a Christian, I don’t want to be one.”

Originally, the song “Jesus Loves Me” wasn’t a song… it was a poem.

Back in the 1800’s a woman named Susan Warner, asked her sister Anna to write a poem that she could use in her book “Say and Seal.” In the book, this poem was spoken to comfort a little child who was dying.

The original poem includes the following verse which is not generally published or sung:
”Jesus loves me! Loves me still, though I’m very weak and ill,
That I might from sin be free, He bled and died upon the tree.
Yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me,
Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!”

Paul tells us that this is the part of Jesus love for me that I MUST understand.  Look again at Ephesians 3:16-19:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
It is when we understand how wide, and long, and high, and deep Christ’s love has been for us – THAT IS WHEN we can be filled with all the fullness of God.
So, what is it to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep” Christ’s love is?  Well, think about it.
His love was as HIGH as heaven itself.  And His love went DOWN into the depths of Hell to draw us to God. And it was as DEEP as the pain He bore when He carried our sins away.  And it was as WIDE as the length of his arms as He was nailed to the tree.

Peter writes: “(Jesus) himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

I recently read the true story by a woman named Phyllis W. Zeno.
She wrote:

One day a beautiful, but very troubled little girl came through the door of my day nursery. From the very beginning I became captivated by this child who had so little but needed so much. I was heartbroken that a four-year-old could have such heartache and pain. She was born in prison after her mom had used marijuana, crack and cocaine her entire pregnancy.
The little girl was nonverbal and had very little control. I knew her progress would be a mighty battle.  Whenever somebody approached her, she became violent for long periods and ended up in a fetal position on the floor crying out. I found myself praying for her day in and day out.

As months rolled on, I began to bond with this child that no one wanted. She and I worked very hard taking one step forward and four steps back. Daily, we sat in the big rocking chair in my office, swaying back and forth and back and forth. During our rocking time I sang “Jesus Loves Me.” She always settled down and became very still at the melody. Though she never spoke, peace seemed to fill her face as she listened to the song.

One day after a very long battle I held my special girl to again calm her fears and pain. In silence we rocked back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Then she looked at me with tear-filled eyes and spoke for the first time, “Sing to me about that Man who loves me.”

Read the Scripture: 1 John 4:11-16

11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                               New International Version

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Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11).

This is the answer to every lame excuse on our part that says, Oh, I just can’t love that person. You don’t know what he or she is like. If you had to live with him/her as I have to, you wouldn’t be able to love him/her, either. No, Dear friends, since God so loved us… If you have experienced this kind of love, if you have been to the cross and felt the overwhelming cleansing of God’s love for you, despite the antagonism and hatefulness you have shown Him and despite your loving your own way and wanting to do what you like; if you have felt the cleansing grace of God wiping that all out without any recriminations or calling up of the past, forgetting and forgiving it all, then, as John says, you not only can love someone else but you ought to—you owe it. That is where the word ought comes from. You owe it to love one another.

This is why Paul could say in Romans 1, I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks [everyone] (Romans 1:14). I owe something to everybody. And he himself said later on in that very epistle, Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another (Romans 13:8). We owe it because we have within us the fountain of love in the life of God. If you do not have the life of God, you cannot love one another like this. Do not try. Above all, do not come up with the shabby, shoddy, sleazy imitation of love that treats others kindly to their faces and cuts them to death behind their back. That is not love. Or merely to tolerate another for a time. That is not love. Unless you have the life of God, you cannot love. But if you have the life of God—that is the whole point—you can love like this, and you ought to do it. God, in you, can love through you and will love through you. All He is waiting for is the acquiescence of your will; then He will do the loving.

Verse 12 declares a great and daring concept: It recognizes that God is invisible, and no person has ever seen God. Even in Old Testament days, though there appeared manifestations of God in human form, these were but God in human disguise. These manifestations were not God made visible. Where is He made visible? John says, If we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is made complete; that is, His love reaches its final end in us. That is where people see God’s love, and it is the only place it can be seen. The fact of an indwelling God becomes visible only when we manifest love one to another. As long as we are nice only to our friends or to those who are nice to us, no one has any idea that God is around. But when we start being nice to those who are nasty to us, when we start returning good for evil, when we start being patient, tender, thoughtful, and considerate of those who are stubborn, obstinate, and selfish, then people get the sense that God is close at hand, that He is in the situation. Then God’s dwelling in us becomes visible to them.

Father, may these words burn themselves into my heart, that I may recognize myself as called preeminently, above all else, to this great task of being an abundant demonstration of this kind of love.

Ray Stedman

Liberal or Conservative?  Some say the church, the body of Christ has become much to liberal and have watered down their convictions in order to please others.  I have some very serious concerns about watered down, feel good messages used to attract large numbers of people because somewhere, somehow, someone has said that large numbers = successful ministry. 

Random House dictionary defines “conviction” as “the state of being convinced: a fixed belief.”  It is a positive belief that some things are right and some things are wrong.  A “preference” is defined as “that which is perferred or chosen.”  Conviction and preference are not the same things.  Convictions are strong beliefs and don’t change easily.  Preferences are fickle and often change.

Just about every day we are confronted with decisions and questions.  For example: when faced with a dilemma, or decision, do I do what is right in order to please God or do I make concessions in order to please people?  There was a time when knowing the truth was a universal thing among us.  The change we are facing today is that the knowledge of truth is not universal anymore.  Today, truth is set aside for political correctness and feel-good philosophies.  We are urged to tone down our convictions so that no one will be offended or worse, that no one will be turned away because the message of the Word is difficult and might mean we change what we do and how we live.  We have become so agreeable that we can no longer be salt and light in a dark world.  We are losing the distinctive of black and white, right and wrong, in a blurring of the lines and new definitions.

Solomon, the wisest man who lived on earth, observed that the “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25).  We have to constantly evaluate our motives and decisions, especially if we are in Christian ministry.  If we are successful, we risk the temptation of an ego-driven ministry that leans to preferences rather than convictions.  We become more liberal because we might start to think that conservatism borders on judgmentalism.  If our ministry struggles, we may tend to blurr the lines thinking that a more liberal way of ministry would appeal more to the masses – that old feel-good philosophy.

Jesus said to let our yes be yes and our no be no.  We are either for Him or against Him.  We cannot serve two masters.  We have to tell people the truth as the example of Jesus has instructed and the Word of God tells us and leave the rest to the Father. 

We are in the midst of Holy Week, the time we are to reflect on what Christ endured for each of us.  He never compromised His convictions for the sake of what others would think or do.  We see people who would follow except that they would have to give up something, some who attempt to follow just to find that the sacrifice is just too great.  Jesus wept over the fact that Jerusalem missed the Savior that would bring them peace.  He knew that some would not accept what He offered, but others would repent and not perish.  Their lives would reflect the salvation that they had chosen, they would be true worshippers.  Jesus knew that there would be division and controversy surrounding His teachings, but He held fast to them because He is the Author and Perfector of our faith.  He is the Living Water, the Bread of Life and in Him is no darkness or decay.  He is the only way to heaven, He is the only truth we can count on, He is the only life we can rely on. 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:2,3 

What will you live by?  Convictions or preferences?

I’m not the same person now as I was before I went to the Lands of the Bible. One thing I would like to share with you is that while I may not have walked on the same exact paths of Christ or sat on the steps He taught from or entered the same tomb He was in, there is one thing for certain: And this struck me repeatedly – I saw the same Mount Hermon, the sunrise that I witnessed, were the sunrises He witnessed, the majesty of the Promised Land, the beauty of the Judean desert, the planes and valleys and the full moom over Jerusalem that filled my eyes were very much the same as my Savior witnessed.
God said that His creation was good, yes, it was and still is, very good.