99 reasons to go to church

Don’t be a fool, believe in God!

The Pastor’s Notes:

April Fool’s Day is the first day of April, and is celebrated around the world as a day to play practical jokes and/or pranks on your “friends”. Most of us have either been the prankster or the pranked. I must admit it is more fun to be the prankster than the pranked! The person who is being pranked is called the April Fool. The Bible has some important things to say about those who choose to play the role of the fool. Proverbs tells us the fool trusts in himself and the Psalmist says the fool proclaims there is no God. In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul makes several comments about the wisdom of God verses the foolishness of man. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” In 1 Corinthians 1:25, Paul gives them a back-handed compliment when he tells them they were “not wise by human standards… God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” So, if someone plays a joke on you and lets you know you played the role of an April Fool, calmly tell them you are God’s fool every day!
Closing thought- In 1973 a song was released that had the title “Everyone Plays the Fool”. In the song we are told there are no exceptions to the rule, everyone plays the fool. The song is a love song and the fool is anyone who has been bit by the love bug, every one of us! The song concludes with this line, “And there’s no guarantee that the one you love
is gonna love you”; too bad they didn’t know the love of God! The Bible tells us the fool is the one who does not accept the love of God! Don’t be a fool!

Promise yourself….

Promise Yourself…
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet. To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them. To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet. To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble. To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds. To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

What you have just read is the creed for the Optimist International service club. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? For Christians, we are to live this way, but not for our glory, but for the glory of God our heavenly Father! I am amazed at the world we live in, I am sure the Optimists know that most, if not all of their creed is based on the truths found in Scripture, but, yet they fall short in giving God the glory do Him. May we, the Church of Jesus Christ, not be guilty of the same practice! Scripture tells us to give God the praise that is due him. Be an outspoken witness for God!

What Every is Hidden, Will be Brought Out Into The Open

It can be difficult to find people of integrity, because so many people make mediocre compromises. At work, such people take every shortcut possible in order to finish the task as quickly as possible, even though they do a terrible job in the process. At school, mediocre people copy homework from friends and copy essays from the Internet just in order to avoid work while hoping to get a good grade, even though they’re cheating and don’t learn the material.

Unfortunately, many of the people who lack integrity are Christians. Yet, this is clearly not how God wants us to live. He desires that we be people of integrity.

Integrity means doing what is right when no one is looking, and it means going the extra mile, knowing that God sees everything and that what he sees in secret he will reward in the open (Matthew 6:4,6,18). Jesus told his disciples, “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:3).

Whatever you do now, even if it is hidden from others, will be brought out into the open and made public. If you are wondering whether or not to do something, consider whether or not you’d be willing to do it in front of your boss, your teacher, your parents, or your pastor. If you have to hide what you’re doing to feel comfortable, then there’s a good chance you shouldn’t be doing it at all.

Your Sin, Our Trouble

But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. (Jonah 1:4-5 ESV)

The Bible is pretty clear that we all sin (Romans 3:23). Though some of these sins could be considered worse than others (1 John 5:16), they each still separate us from God. Some sins are out in the open, while others are hidden for years or even a lifetime.

When we are sinning, we can get into the mindset that our sin isn’t hurting anybody else, or that it isn’t a big sin. In fact, Jonah probably was not thinking that running away from God (Jonah 1:3) was going to affect anybody else; boy was he wrong. God sent a storm because and almost destroyed the ship Jonah was on because he disobeyed God.

We also learn that Jonah was comfortable with his sin as many of us are, while those around him were not. Jonah was sleeping while men were frantically throwing their precious cargo overboard hoping that the boat would not capsize in the storm. As we sin or have a desire to do so, must remember these lessons from Jonah.

Remember that you sin affects more than just you. You might be accustomed to the consequences of a sin, while those around you will be busy picking up our ship wreck. A secret sin might be hidden for a while, but inevitably it will affect those around us.

Is there a sin you aren’t dealing with because you feel you are the only one it affects?

The Word Of Truth

“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)

Nothing compares to the Word of God. It is Active, Operative, Energizing and Effective.

The work that the Word of God does is like no other. There is something about God’s Word that reaches into the unreachable places of our spirits and exposes what needs exposing. God’s Word brings into alignment our thoughts, actions and our plans – with His truth.

Whatever there is within us contrary to the Word of Truth, it will be exposed so we can make changes. Sometimes this can be a painful time, if it is a past hurt or a painful memory we have long before buried deep within. We often don’t want to revisit the past, when it brings us so much pain.

God’s Word can bring healing, restoration, comfort and hope. It builds up our faith to be able to stand firm. We need to allow God’s word to do a thorough work within, and align our lives to God’s truth.

The world disguises lies as truth, but God’s Word will stand and expose it for what it is. Don’t get caught up in what the world says, but measure it up with what God’s Word of Truth says.

If you’re too busy to spend time with God, then you’re simply too busy

In the world we live in today, it is very easy to get so incredibly caught up in all of the demands that culture places on us that we don’t have any time to spend with God.

However, the fact that so many things compete for every person’s time isn’t new to the world. Indeed, in Luke 10:38-42, we see the story of how two people responded to this same problem in two very different ways: As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. …

We see that after Jesus entered the home, He evidently started teaching, and Mary, Martha’s sister, stopped what she was doing and listened to Jesus. It’s important to realize that Mary didn’t know Jesus was coming, and so it certainly wasn’t her plan to stop what she was doing and sit at His feet, listening to Him. However, Mary considered hearing from God so important that she altered her schedule to spend time with God.

… But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Here, we see that Martha responded very differently than her sister: she became really busy and caught up in what she was doing — probably preparing a meal, cleaning the house, or something similar.

When Martha complained to Jesus about how Mary was using her time, Jesus responded: “Martha, Martha, … you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

One sister was willing to drop everything in order to hear from God; the other was too busy with everyday life in order to spend time with God. Jesus makes it clear that the way Mary chose to use her time was better.

In your life, you need to be willing to use your time like Mary did. Don’t let little things steal your time away from what’s really important in life. You must realize that there is no lasting value to the “urgent” things many people often allow to interfere with what’s truly important. It would not have mattered if Martha hadn’t cleaned the house that day.

You need to be willing to let your schedule be altered if knowing God better requires it. Don’t be like Martha and get so caught up in life’s distractions that you miss Jesus.

Freedom To Remove The Mask

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

(2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

The apostle reminds the Corinthians immediately that the Lord is in their hearts, in their human spirits. Their hope of freedom comes from that great fact, for the one who is within them is God Himself. Paul identifies Him: “the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Freedom is being out in the open, having boldness, having nothing to hide. Those who are free are those who do not have any reputation to defend, no image to hide behind, nothing to preserve about themselves. They can be themselves. Everywhere today people are longing for this type of freedom. People want to “be themselves.” “I’ve got to be me,” we hear, and there is nothing wrong with that. God wants you to be you, too. The only thing wrong is the way we do it. We are being taught in the world that the way to be “me” is to think about “my” advantage, “my” efforts, and to defend and demand them.

The Word of God teaches us it is quite another process. Being yourself and having freedom does not mean denying the potential for all the evil that is possible in your heart and in your life, because you have another basis on which you receive God’s acceptance and approval. His acceptance and approval are gifts to you. The faith He gives continually accepts anew the gift of righteousness of already being pleasing to God, and, on that basis, you serve Him out of a heart of gratitude for what you already have. You do not have to earn His favor, and your performance is not going to affect it. When you start looking at the one who is doing this in your life, the Lord Jesus, and beholding Him with all your veils taken away so you are not afraid to look at your own evil capacity, then a wonderful thing happens. Without even knowing that you are doing it, just by rejoicing in what you have and serving the Lord who gave it to you, you suddenly discover–and other people will discover–that you are becoming a loving person. And love is the fulfilling of the Law; the very demand that God made in the Law that you tried so hard to fulfill by your self-effort will be fulfilled without your even realizing it when you begin to love out of the grace and forgiveness of God.

It is a process of growth. It does not happen in one great transformation when you are suddenly sanctified, filled with the Spirit, or baptized. It happens as you keep your eyes on the glory of the Lord and not on the face of Moses, not on self-effort but on what He is already giving you. When you do, you suddenly discover the Spirit of God has been at work making gradual changes. You are becoming a loving person, easier to live with, more attractive, more compelling. Your life is deepening as it is losing its shallowness; you are more understanding of things. That is the work of the Spirit. Notice what he says: this “comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” It is not you who does it; it is He.

Lord, thank You for the promise that as I look at You, I become like You.

Life Application: Are we truly free to admit and look at our nature and capacity for evil? Do we wrongly rely on self-effort to overcome it? How does a growing freedom in Christ change us?

We hope you were blessed by this daily devotion.

From your friends at Willmar Nazarene

Remember Your Roots

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:2-3 ESV)

Have you ever heard a person described as someone who “forgot where they came from” or had “forgotten their roots”? This type of person usually doesn’t give credit to those in their life who aided in getting them to where they presently are. Maybe they came from a small farming town and now live in the big city and don’t want to get their hands dirty. They may be neglecting a friend or mentor who poured into them, and acting as if they made it through life alone. This doesn’t just happen outside the church, but inside the church as well.

Paul was dealing with the church in Galatia that was forgetting where they had come from. They were starting to follow the Jewish teachers who were teaching that Christians had to obey the Law of Moses, observe religious festivals, and follow dietary restrictions just like the Israelites did. They had forgotten that they were saved by faith alone through God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8).

We must always remember where we came from as followers of Jesus Christ and never stray from our roots. The grace of God is the essence of our walk with Jesus. We can do nothing on our own to earn his favor. As years of putting our faith in Jesus alone go by, we tend to forget this and focus on our deeds instead of the work of Jesus. Let it not be so with you.

Remember that you were saved by faith through God’s grace today.

Greener Pastures

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,for you are with me; your rod and your staff,they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

 

Psalm 23 is a popular Psalm that describes God as our shepherd. The job of the shepherd was first and foremost to keep and protect their sheep. They led their sheep to food and water, and the sheep were dependent upon their shepherd. Shepherds protected the sheep from wild animals and would even risk their lives for the sheep. Jesus is called the Good Shepherd (John 10:11).

When we think of being protected by the shepherd we often think of green pastures and flowing rivers. We know from our Christian walk though, that life isn’t always like that. In our lifetime there will be times Jesus LEADS us through valleys as the beginning of Psalm 23:4 describes. Our paths to these green pastures aren’t always safe. While we are in these valleys and feel as though Jesus is not there, we can be comforted with no need to fear. We do not fear because we know the Good Shepherd is leading us and will protect us with his rod and staff. As you go through these valleys remember that the Good Shepherd has already laid down his life for you and is leading you to greener pastures.

Many times, to arrive in a good place, we must travel through the bad.