Walk With A Purpose

by Ricky Smith

Everything I am, everything I ever hope to be is in the hands of God, for He is my Creator and has established my being. This idea is communicated in Deuteronomy 32:6 “ Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?” and again Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  To be part of God’s workmanship implies that I have been made for a reason.

I have been committed to tell students for the past 25 years that they are not a mistake! God has made each individual for a purpose and we are not simply here to occupy space and use air. In 2:10 we learn that we have been created to bring Him glory through action. These are not random acts of kindness, rather God has prearranged action for us to walk in. Consider Colossians 1:10 which reads, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

These are not to be random or one off actions. We are challenged to “walk in them”. Walk with purpose. This idea implies purposeful conduct that carries continuity in action. Consistent behavior over time that repeatedly reflects glory to the Father in the work that God has for us. This is not a purpose that prolongs the self-centered tendencies of man, but purpose that maintains a central focus on the eternal perspective of Kingdom advancement.

Built on Hope

by Ricky Smith

Ephesians 2:12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

“We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope”, said Jyn Erso in Rogue One, of the Star Wars saga. The idea of hope is inspiring and motivating for everyone. It is hope that often drives a revolution, a championship, or change. The idea of hope is understood by every human because God has wired us with that drawing desire for something more. How would life be different if there was no hope?

Imagine the Ephesians referred to in Ephesians 2:12, as they remember their life before God. To be separate from God means to be without and apart. 1 Corinthians 12:2 and Colossians 3:7 describe the darkness that surrounds the life of a person living without God. This alienation from the life that could be, while blindly living in the dark life that is, leave a person feeling like there is no hope or purpose.

There is good news. The promise and covenant that God made to the Israelites (Romans 9:4) has been extended to all mankind through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. ??Some are atheists out of an active sense of denying God, but others are atheists in a passive sense of being unconnected with God. ??Hopeless is a painful place to be.

Regarding the Ephesians, some expositors say, “It is not only that they had not the hope, the Messianic hope which was one of the distinctions of the Israelite, but that they were utterly without hope. Ignorant of the divine salvation and of Christ in whom it was found, they had nothing to hope for beyond this world.”

Now that the Gospel has been proclaimed to the world, and to you as you read this message, you are no longer ignorant of the salvation made possible through Christ. This hope is a free gift offered to you. Life change and purpose are possible by simply choosing to accept God’s gift of hope through a conscious decision to exchange your old life for a new hope in Him.

Maybe Jyn Erso had it right. Let’s rebel against status quo, and walk in the hope of God that brings ultimate and eternal peace.

To learn how to find hope in Jesus Christ now, click here.

Friday Funnies

Held Hostage

A visiting minister was very long-winded. Worse, every time he would make a good point during his sermon and a member of the congregation responded with “Amen” or “That’s right, preacher” he would get wound up even more and launch into another lengthy discourse.

Finally, the host pastor started responding to every few sentences with “Amen, Pharaoh!” The guest minister wasn’t sure what that meant, but after several more “Amen, Pharaohs” he finally concluded his very lengthy sermon.

After the service concluded and the congregation had left, the visiting minister turned to his host and asked, “What exactly did you mean when you said “Amen, Pharaoh?”

His host replied, “I was telling you to let my people go!”

The Visit

The Pastor came to visit the other day. He said that at my advanced age I should be thinking of the hereafter.

I told him, “Oh, I do it all the time.” 

“No matter where I am – in the living room, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement, I am always asking myself: ‘Now, what am I here after?’”

Offering

The church service was under way and they passed the collection plate. When the preacher saw a $100.00 bill in the collection plate, he stop the service and announced “Who ever put the $100.00 bill in the plate please stand up”. 

An older woman stood up and said “I did.” 

The preacher told her, “Since you put that much money in the plate I would like to let you pick out three hymns.” Excitedly, the woman said, “How nice, I’ll take him and him and him!”

Nothing Compares With Him


By Max Lucado
To what can we compare God? Who is like the Lord?
What you are to a paper airplane, God is to you.
Make one. Challenge it to race you around the block. Who’s faster?
Invite the airplane to a game of one-on-one basketball. Will you not dominate the court? And well you should.
The thing exists only because you formed it and flies only when someone throws it.
God asks Isaiah: “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” As if his question needed an answer, he gives one: I am God. I alone! I am God, and there is no one else like me.
King David marveled, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither can I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7)
You and I may have power. But God is power. No one and nothing compares with Him!
From: Cast of Characters © Max Lucado, 2008, Thomas Nelson Publishing Listen to UpWords with Max Lucado at OnePlace.com
~ ~ ~
Cling to your heavenly Father; He is your only hope.

Wade’s Wednesday

The Faith of Caleb

By Gary A. Serago

Caleb was a believer in God and what God could do. He was one of the 12 men sent in to spy on the land of Canaan. All 12 spies said the land was great, but only Caleb and Joshua said with God’s protection they could conquer the land of Canaan.

Joshua and Caleb believed in the power of God. They believed that God would give them the land which flows with milk and honey, (this means there is a lot of grass and flowers, cows eat grass and make milk, bees pollinate and make honey from flowers).

The Israelites didn’t believe Joshua and Caleb and were about to stone them when the Glory of God appears and halts this stoning. Caleb is about to be stoned because he believed or had faith in God.

Our challenge for today is to have the faith of Caleb and not be afraid of anything. We need to trust God as Caleb did.

Caleb said to the people, “. . . the LORD has preserved my life, just as he promised, these past forty-five years since the LORD spoke these words to Moses, during which Israel traveled through the wilderness. Now look, I am today eighty-five years old. Today I am still as strong as when Moses sent me out. I can fight and go about my daily activities with the same energy I had then (Joshua 14:10-11 – NET)

I hear people today use their age as an excuse when you ask them to do something for the Lord or His church. We all could learn by taking a lesson from Caleb’s playbook. He never used his age as an excuse to not do something for the LORD. At 85 years old Caleb says, “I am . . . .still as strong as when Moses sent me out. I can fight and go about my daily activities with the same energy I had then.” Here is a man with a
positive attitude, who is not going to use his age as an excuse. Men and women of faith never find excuses. They find a way to win or succeed.

Now that I live in a retirement center I have started to play pickleball. One day I came home and told my wife my partner and I played two men who were both in their 80’s and they beat us, and it wasn’t pretty.

If Caleb were alive today I could see him playing, exercising, and beating two guys 60 years old in Pickleball.

As we start a new year, 2022, let us pray that God will use us this year to accomplish anything He desires. God has something He wants to accomplish with you today. Will you rise to the occasion or give Him an excuse?

I challenge us all to make a new year’s resolution that we are going to be more like Caleb and less like the other 10 spies—of which I bet you can’t name one of them without looking up their names.

Negative people are forgotten—it is the positive ones we remember.

Think About These:

Excuses fool no one except the ones who make them.

There aren’t enough crutches in the world for all the lame excuses.

The man who wants to do something finds a way; the other man finds an excuse.

Tuesday With Karen

The Lord Is My Shepherd (II)

The Lord is my Shepherd & Faithful Friend,
I shall not want, when I’m lead by Him;
He leads me beside the waters so still,
Directing my heart in doing His will!

The Lord is my Shepherd, restoring my soul,
His righteousness guides in the way to go;
Even in the valley’s shadow of death,
God’s love for me provides a daily breath!

The Lord is my Shepherd, I will not fear,
In my every step, His Spirit is near;
He prepares a table, where I can feed,
My cup overflows by all He does for me!

Surely goodness & mercy will follow me,
For all of my days, through eternity;
His presence within is never severed,
Praise God, I’ll dwell in His House forever!

God Is at Work

Throughout the Bible, we observe God at work in people’s lives. Sometimes He acts in dramatic fashion, as when He parted the Red Sea to let the Israelites escape from the Egyptian army. At other times it may appear that He’s not taking any action. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother needed His help, but Christ delayed before traveling to their home (John 11:3-6). In fact, He was preparing an even greater miracle.

The Holy Spirit helps us recognize God’s presence and handiwork. He does this by cultivating our ability to discern when and where the Lord is at work.

In addition to spiritual discernment, we must develop patience because God operates according to His timetable, not ours. Abraham was promised numerous descendants, but there was a long wait before his wife conceived—in fact, he and Sarah were beyond childbearing years. Impatience can cause us to take matters into our own hands and make mistakes.

The Lord’s efforts can bring delight, as was the case when Hannah became a mother (1 Samuel 1:27-2:1). His plan can also lead through painful times, which was Joseph’s experience. Before the Lord elevated him to a position of authority to help his family, Joseph was sold into slavery and unjustly imprisoned.

Jesus told the disciples that His Father was always at work and so was He. We will be encouraged and strengthened in our faith when we recognize the ways in which God is operating. These glimpses of His handiwork will motivate us to stay the course and help us maintain a godly perspective on life.

End of Web

Doomsday might have already passed.  As you may know, the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012.  However, as Time reports today, scholars who converted the Mayan calendar to our Gregorian calendar may have made a mistake.  Apparently no one knows what date the Mayans actually predicted, meaning that doomsday may have already come and gone. If you are reading this on the internet, then i guess that the end of the internet did not happen at midnight.
Before you begin planning your weekend, however, you might want to remember that 1999 RQ36 is still lurking out there.  When astronomers discovered this massive asteroid in 1999, they determined that it could be on a collision course with Earth.  The bad news is that scientists say it will take 100 years to prepare a strategy for diverting or destroying the asteroid.  The good news is that there’s only a one-in-one thousand chance that it will strike our planet before the year 2200.  I’ll be 250 years old by then, and probably ready for a change anyway. Plus it will be more than double my goal of 103 years old.
It’s an unpredictable world out there.  Today’s Dallas Morning News tells us how to respond to a tree which falls onto your house or car (insurance will cover the damages, no matter whose tree caused them).
While life seems faster than ever, scientists have determined that our planet is actually slowing down, spinning more slowly with each passing day.  In a mere 200 million years, your Thursday will have 25 hours in it; in 400 million years, you’ll have 26 hours in a day.  Just think what you’ll be able to do with the extra time.
In the meanwhile, we need peace in chaotic days.  We’re not the first.  Travel with me back 20 centuries to join Jesus and his disciples as they row across the Sea of Galilee.  Suddenly a furious storm came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was about to sink.  The men woke Jesus, who “rebuked the wind” and spoke at the waves, “Peace!  Be still!.”  Instantly the wind died down and it was completely calm.
This story is in the Bible, not for those who experienced it (they would never forget it), but for us.  It’s there to teach us that when your next storm comes up, the right thing to do is to go to Jesus immediately.  Don’t trust your boat, or your sailing experience, or the other fishermen.  Don’t accept storms as a way of life.  Don’t give up on God—he’s waiting to redeem your storm for his glory and your good.

New Year

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” John 3:1-7

 

Many of the churches in our area schedule Revival Meetings once or twice a year.  Sometimes we visit other churches having revival and members from other churches visit our church during our Revival Meetings.  Revival is a time for Christians to come to life again.  We can worship and re-energize our batteries so that we can go out and be a witness for the Lord.  Before I begin looking at ways we can have revival in our individual lives, I want to talk about being reborn.  Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.” We can’t work our way into God’s family, or even buy our way to heaven.  Jesus is the only way to have salvation.  When Adam and Eve sinned against God sin came into the world and every individual is born into this world of sin, lost, separated from God.  God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to pay for our sin so that we can be reconciled to God.  Let’s continue with the words of Jesus to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  (John 3:16-18)  It is important to see that we don’t do anything to be lost, we are born lost.  But there is hope.  Trust in the Lord and ask Him to save you.  He will forgive you of your sin and give you eternal life.  That is how you can be born again.

 

Friday Funnies

GOOD NEWS

A sweet grandmother telephoned St. Joseph’s Hospital. She timidly asked, “Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?”

The operator said, “I’ll be glad to help, dear. What’s the name and room number of the patient?”

The grandmother, in her weak, tremulous voice, said, “Norma Findlay, Room 302.”

The operator replied, “Let me put you on hold while I check with the nurse’s station for that room.”

After a few minutes, the operator returned to the phone and said, “I have good news. Her nurse just told me that Norma is doing well. Her blood pressure is fine; her blood work just came back normal and her physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged tomorrow.”

The grandmother said, “Thank you. That’s wonderful. I was so worried. God bless you for the good news.”

The operator replied, “You’re more than welcome. Is Norma your daughter?”

The grandmother said, “No, I’m Norma Findlay in Room 302. No one tells me anything!”

SHOPPING

Shortly after the birth of their second child, a husband offered to take his wife shopping for a new dress. He endured more than two hours of listening to her complaints about which figure flaw each dress accentuated.

As she emerged from the dressing room, having tried on the last selection, she asked for her husband’s opinion. By this time he had learned just the right things to say. “It’s perfect!” he exclaimed. “It makes your waist look smaller, your legs look longer, and slenderizes your hips.”

Just then another lady in the dressing room spoke out. “If there is a dress here that will do that, I’ll buy them all!”

SUNDAY SCHOOL
“God warned a man named Lot to take his wife and flee out of the city,” said the Sunday school teacher, “but Lot’s wife looked back and was turned to salt.”

A curious boy then asked, “What happened to the flea?”