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Just sharing.

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
GOD SPEAKS THROUGH YOU

TOPIC: Fear of sharing your faith

MAIN SCRIPTURE: "We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, 'Be reconciled to God!'" (2 Corinthians 5:20, NLT)

OTHER SCRIPTURES: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 2:16; Ephesians 6:19

WHAT JESUS MIGHT SAY TO YOU:


I know this is important for us to talk about. Sometimes this is difficult for some people who love me. They don't want to look like they're pressuring people or selling religion.

Some people want me to light up the sky and do flashy miracles, thinking that will cause everyone to believe in me. I could do it. But most often that's not God's plan. His plan is simple. He sent me to you, and I send you to others. Share my story person to person, life to life. You're a walking, talking example of me living in you.

Remember--it's not about you. No sales quotas or high pressure. I'm the one who lived the sinless life, died on the cross for the sins of the world, and defeated death. Keep the focus on my life, death, and resurrection. Avoid pointless arguments that go nowhere. Let them know you didn't deserve or earn grace and forgiveness. They are gifts from a loving God. Invite them to connect their lives with me as you did.

Keep it simple. Keep it real. The world is overloaded with crazy ideas that try to explain the meaning of life. When you tell my story using words others can understand, and they see authentic changes in your life, I will become real to them.

Not everyone will like you or your message. Some people will hate you (and me) when you talk about the good news. It can be discouraging. Keep on loving these people. Pray for them. God loves them as much he loves you!

But to the people who are seeking God, your life and message will be like the aroma of a delicious meal or the most wonderful perfume. Let me work through your life to reach your friends.

Love, Jesus
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Preach the Gospel!
Preach the Gospel!

Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-- to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."

Revelation 14:6,7 NIV

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NOW I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NASB

__________________

And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

Mark 16:15,16 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“They shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel.”

Zechariah 4:10

Small things marked the beginning of the work in the hand of Zerubbabel, but none might despise it, for the Lord had raised up one who would persevere until the headstone should be brought forth with shoutings. The plummet was in good hands. Here is the comfort of every believer in the Lord Jesus; let the work of grace be ever so small in its beginnings, the plummet is in good hands, a master builder greater than Solomon has undertaken the raising of the heavenly temple, and he will not fail nor be discouraged till the topmost pinnacle shall be raised.

If the plummet were in the hand of any merely human being, we might fear for the building, but the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in Jesus’ hand. The works did not proceed irregularly, and without care, for the master's hand carried a good instrument. Had the walls been hurriedly run up without due superintendence, they might have been out of the perpendicular; but the plummet was used by the chosen overseer. Jesus is evermore watching the erection of his spiritual temple, that it may be built securely and well.

We are for haste, but Jesus is for judgment. He will use the plummet, and that which is out of line must come down, every stone of it. Hence the failure of many a flattering work, the overthrow of many a glittering profession. It is not for us to judge the Lord's church, since Jesus has a steady hand, and a true eye, and can use the plummet well. Do we not rejoice to see judgment left to him?

The plummet was in active use—it was in the builder's hand; a sure indication that he meant to push on the work to completion. O Lord Jesus, how would we indeed be glad if we could see thee at thy great work. O Zion, the beautiful, thy walls are still in ruins! Rise, thou glorious Builder, and make her desolations to rejoice at thy coming.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
"We've Never Had Anything Like That Before"


The scoreboard Saturday showed the stark reality: Pecatonica 54, South Beloit 38. What it didn’t, or couldn’t, reflect was the emotions of an evening that won’t soon be forgotten.

Clinton girls basketball coach Mike Powers got wind of the fact the school had just six girls go out for basketball and games were typically only attended by around 20 SoBo fans.

So, he did something about it. Powers, also a youth pastor at Faith Community Church in Janesville, gathered his youth group. His players at Clinton came. He reached out to other coaches in the conference, and there were contingents from fellow Rock Valley Conference members Jefferson and Beloit Turner.

The game itself played out like most SoBos home games have. The team was competitive for much of the first two and a half quarters or so before tiring and eventually succumbing.

But indelibly etched in the memories of the South Beloit players will be the enthusiastic student section, who loudly cheered, chanted and held home-made signs aloft even as the game got away from the home team.

“It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Kirichkow said. “We’ve never had anything like that before. The fact that they came out, made us posters and acted like they were our biggest fans was so sweet. No matter what the score was, we stayed motivated on the court because they kept us up. I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”

First-year South Beloit coach Phil Suprenant was also appreciative.

“We grabbed the opening tip-off and got the lead, and you could just see what the energy did for our players,” Suprenant said. “It made a big difference. The confidence that it gives you, that people are there, that they care about you, it does matter. We had more South Beloit kids than we’ve had any other time this year, but it still wasn’t much. I just think there’s kind of a fraternity with teams in the area, but what happened tonight was amazing. It was overwhelming.”

Clinton senior Brittany Kalk was among the handful of Cougars who chose to spend their Saturday night cheering for strangers.

“We hear that South Beloit doesn’t have the crowd most schools get to have,” Kalk said. “When we have a rough game, our crowd really picks us up and motivates us, so we thought maybe that’s something they would like. It obviously shows us what a great person Mike is, and it motivates us to be great people like that, too.”

Jefferson sophomore Macy Graf made the hour-long drive along with her coach Chris Zastrow and a handful of teammates.

“I’m here to support my friends that I don’t even know,” Graf said. “It’s a pretty cool deal. This is more people than we get at our games!”

Callie Fowler and Kayla Washburn were among several Turner students who participated in the uplifting evening, along with coach Scott Schleis.

“Even though this is South Beloit, it’s still Beloit,” Fowler said. “We have to support the other side, too. It’s great to see all the schools come together and support another team.”

“When there’s energy like there is tonight, it can elevate the play of the players for sure,” Washburn said. “The atmosphere can make a big difference.”

South Beloit senior student Brenden Cleveland was appreciative of the energy the imported fans brought.

“I can tell the girls are playing with a lot more energy tonight,” Cleveland said. “I just think it’s awesome how everybody came together to support this time.”

SoBo senior Katelyn Flores had to fight back tears.
“I wish we had that kind of support from our school,” Flores said. “I’m sure that we would win a lot more games if that crowd was there every game.”

It was a night to remember in South Beloit, Illinois.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Regarding Faith
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:1-3 KJV

__________________

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.

Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV

__________________

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Galatians 2:20 NASB

__________________

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:17,18 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Spices for anointing oil.”

Exodus 35:8

Much use was made of this anointing oil under the law, and that which it represents is of primary importance under the gospel. The Holy Spirit, who anoints us for all holy service, is indispensable to us if we would serve the Lord acceptably. Without his aid our religious services are but a vain oblation, and our inward experience is a dead thing. Whenever our ministry is without unction, what miserable stuff it becomes! nor are the prayers, praises, meditations, and efforts of private Christians one jot superior.

A holy anointing is the soul and life of piety, its absence the most grievous of all calamities. To go before the Lord without anointing is as though some common Levite had thrust himself into the priest's office — his ministrations would rather have been sins than services. May we never venture upon hallowed exercises without sacred anointings. They drop upon us from our glorious Head; from his anointing we who are as the skirts of his garments partake of a plenteous unction.

Choice spices were compounded with rarest art of the apothecary to form the anointing oil, to show forth to us how rich are all the influences of the Holy Spirit. All good things are found in the divine Comforter. Matchless consolation, infallible instruction, immortal quickening, spiritual energy, and divine sanctification all lie compounded with other excellencies in that sacred eye-salve, the heavenly anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. It imparts a delightful fragrance to the character and person of the man upon whom it is poured.

Nothing like it can be found in all the treasuries of the rich, or the secrets of the wise. It is not to be imitated. It comes alone from God, and it is freely given, through Jesus Christ, to every waiting soul. Let us seek it, for we may have it, may have it this very evening. O Lord, anoint thy servants.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset

INTEGRITY

If we (Kurt and Mark) tell you we're actually space aliens, we wouldn't have integrity...because, well, we're not space aliens.

If we tell you we're midget wrestlers from an unknown Latin American country, and we tagteam wrestle under the name "Las Floritas" (the little flowers), we wouldn't have integrity...because, well, it ain't true!

Let's say we have three pieces of wood, and we cut all three of them down the middle so you can see "the insides." The first piece, we discover, isn't wood at all. It has a Styrofoam center no different from a cheap coffee cup! And the outside is just a plastic layer made to look like wood! We could say this "piece of wood" has no integrity at all! It's absolutely not what it "says" it is.

The second piece of wood is interesting. The outside of it (called a "veneer") is actually wood. It's just really thin. And the inside is really wood, too--but it's cheap wood that's been all ground up into a pulp with glue in there to hold it all together. It looks like oatmeal made out of wood. This kind of wood is strong like real wood, but way cheaper. And this piece of wood has more integrity than the first piece (at least this one is actually made out of wood!). But it's still lacking integrity, because it's hiding something (the fact that it's not solid wood).

The third piece of wood has perfect integrity: It's solid oak, all the way through. It's exactly what it "says" it is -- with nothing to hide.

Do you understand "integrity" now? Honesty has a lot to do with it, but it's more than that. Integrity means doing what you say you'll do, being who you say you are, following through on commitments, and only saying what you mean (not just what you think will get you what you want). If you want your family to be the best that it can be, you have to be committed to living with integrity. Are you? Do you?






 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
He hears our Prayers.
"Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.

He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

1 Peter 3:10-12 NIV

__________________

Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened,
that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy,
that it cannot hear:

But your iniquities have separated
between you and your God, and
your sins have hid his face from you,
that he will not hear.

Isaiah 59:1,2 KJV

__________________

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

James 5:16 RSV

__________________

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8-9 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.”

Revelation 12:7

War always will rage between the two great sovereignties until one or other be crushed. Peace between good and evil is an impossibility; the very pretence of it would, in fact, be the triumph of the powers of darkness. Michael will always fight; his holy soul is vexed with sin, and will not endure it. Jesus will always be the dragon's foe, and that not in a quiet sense, but actively, vigorously, with full determination to exterminate evil. All his servants, whether angels in heaven or messengers on earth, will and must fight; they are born to be warriors — at the cross they enter into covenant never to make truce with evil; they are a warlike company, firm in defence and fierce in attack. The duty of every soldier in the army of the Lord is daily, with all his heart, and soul, and strength, to fight against the dragon.

The dragon and his angels will not decline the affray; they are incessant in their onslaughts, sparing no weapon, fair or foul. We are foolish to expect to serve God without opposition: the more zealous we are, the more sure are we to be assailed by the myrmidons of hell. The church may become slothful, but not so her great antagonist; his restless spirit never suffers the war to pause; he hates the woman's seed, and would fain devour the church if he could. The servants of Satan partake much of the old dragon's energy, and are usually an active race. War rages all around, and to dream of peace is dangerous and futile.

Glory be to God, we know the end of the war. The great dragon shall be cast out and for ever destroyed, while Jesus and they who are with him shall receive the crown. Let us sharpen our swords to-night, and pray the Holy Spirit to nerve our arms for the conflict. Never battle so important, never crown so glorious. Every man to his post, ye warriors of the cross, and may the Lord tread Satan under your feet shortly!
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Romans 13 Bible Study – Living Under God and Man’s Authority


Romans 13 show how the believer in Christ should be living in the world and in the church, and what that looks like in real life.
Prelude to Romans 13
Romans chapter 12 is how Christians are to live in the world, but this chapter also shows how they are to live among other believers, and it also tells us that we need a transformed mind by a renewal of the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:1-2), but how is this possible in the world that we live in today? We are commanded to be a living sacrifice, but the problem comes when we keep crawling off the altar to live to ourselves, and I am no exception. I have used this same study for our prisoners and church members to teach them how to be model Christians and model citizens in the world, and how to be a living witness and testimony to Jesus Christ and the Gospel, so here is a Bible study on Romans 13 about how we are to submit to authorities and how Christians are to love, both the members of the church, and even those who are our enemies.

Christianity in the World
How does the Christian affect the world? What does being salt and light mean? What are God’s requirements of every Christian in the world as far as being an employee? Actually, the world would be a much better place, and so would businesses, government, and the private sectors of society, if Christians really lived like Christians, so Romans chapter 13 can tell us how Christians ought to relate to their employers, employees, authorities, fellow believers, and to society in general.

Submitting to Authority – Romans 13:1-2
Paul is clear about what God’s expectations are for believers in the world of work. Starting in verse one he writes: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”
Who is Paul talking about here?
What are the ways in which this can be lived out?
Where do these two verses apply?
When are there opportunities to live this out?
Why is this important?
How can we fulfill these commands?

Resisting God – Romans 13:3-5
Being obedient, submissive, and a faithful worker are commands for all believers. For example, in verse 3 Paul continues, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.”

God has placed people in the church as it pleased Him, not us, so our church has a deacon, and elder, so we should realize that people that are in authority over us, at work, in public and in church, are there because it was God’s choice. God, in His sovereignty, has placed each person in their position in the church and in society for their and our own good.
Does this apply only for believers?
Whom should we fear when we break the law…God or man, or both?
What does our conscience have to do with obedience.

Respecting Authority – Romans 13:6-7
Paul continued in verse 6 “For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” In other words, we are to esteem those in authority with respect and the honor that is due them, and that includes paying all that we owe in taxes. You don’t do this because you necessarily agree with them, but because God has instructed Christians to do so.


Does this clearly tell us that we are to pay whatever taxes we owe?

What does it mean to pay customs to whomever customs are due?
What does fear have to do with obedience?
Are we limited to who we must honor?

Submission in Society – Romans 13:8-9
In verse 8, Paul says that we are to “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness, ‘You shall not covet,’, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Does this mean we should avoid debt at all costs, like car and house loans?
What law is Paul writing about?
What does loving your neighbor look like?

Walking in the Light – Romans 13:11-13
Paul tells us that the world is watching us and so he says in Romans 13:11-13, “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
What does “walking properly” mean?
How do we supply provisions for the flesh?
What does it mean to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ?”

Conclusion
How different would the world be if Christians took these commands to heart to be a good neighbor, a model citizen, employer/employee, and a fellow member of the Body of Christ? If we truly lived this out, then it could be said of us too that “These that have turned the world upside down are come here also” (Acts 17:6). Maybe it should read that they have turned the world right side up, in the way that it was supposed to be originally, before the fall!
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
How Great Is His Goodness towards us!
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,

Ephesians 1:18,19 NIV

__________________

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7 KJV

__________________

He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:7-9 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

1 Corinthians 9:22

Paul's great object was not merely to instruct and to improve, but to save. Anything short of this would have disappointed him; he would have men renewed in heart, forgiven, sanctified, in fact, saved. Have our Christian labours been aimed at anything below this great point? Then let us amend our ways, for of what avail will it be at the last great day to have taught and moralized men if they appear before God unsaved? Blood-red will our skirts be if through life we have sought inferior objects, and forgotten that men needed to be saved.

Paul knew the ruin of man's natural state, and did not try to educate him, but to save him; he saw men sinking to hell, and did not talk of refining them, but of saving from the wrath to come. To compass their salvation, he gave himself up with untiring zeal to telling abroad the gospel, to warning and beseeching men to be reconciled to God. His prayers were importunate and his labours incessant. To save souls was his consuming passion, his ambition, his calling. He became a servant to all men, toiling for his race, feeling a woe within him if he preached not the gospel.

He laid aside his preferences to prevent prejudice; he submitted his will in things indifferent, and if men would but receive the gospel, he raised no questions about forms or ceremonies: the gospel was the one all-important business with him. If he might save some he would be content. This was the crown for which he strove, the sole and sufficient reward of all his labours and self-denials.

Dear reader, have you and I lived to win souls at this noble rate? Are we possessed with the same all-absorbing desire? If not, why not? Jesus died for sinners, cannot we live for them? Where is our tenderness? Where our love to Christ, if we seek not his honour in the salvation of men? O that the Lord would saturate us through and through with an undying zeal for the souls of men.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Joy - from the Lord!
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 KJV

__________________

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:8,9 NIV

__________________

So the ransomed of the LORD will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
And everlasting joy will be on their heads.
They will obtain gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Isaiah 51:11 NASB

__________________

I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness.

I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or
a bride with her jewels.

The Sovereign LORD will show his justice
to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise him!

His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
filled with young plants springing up everywhere.

Isaiah 61:10,11 NLT

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Behold, all is vanity.”

Ecclesiastes 1:14

Nothing can satisfy the entire man but the Lord's love and the Lord's own self. Saints have tried to anchor in other roadsteads, but they have been driven out of such fatal refuges. Solomon, the wisest of men, was permitted to make experiments for us all, and to do for us what we must not dare to do for ourselves. Here is his testimony in his own words: “So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.”

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” What! the whole of it vanity? O favoured monarch, is there nothing in all thy wealth? Nothing in that wide dominion reaching from the river even to the sea? Nothing in Palmyra's glorious palaces? Nothing in the house of the forest of Lebanon? In all thy music and dancing, and wine and luxury, is there nothing? “Nothing,” he says, “but weariness of spirit.” This was his verdict when he had trodden the whole round of pleasure.

To embrace our Lord Jesus, to dwell in his love, and be fully assured of union with him — this is all in all. Dear reader, you need not try other forms of life in order to see whether they are better than the Christian's: if you roam the world around, you will see no sights like a sight of the Saviour's face; if you could have all the comforts of life, if you lost your Saviour, you would be wretched; but if you win Christ, then should you rot in a dungeon, you would find it a paradise; should you live in obscurity, or die with famine, you will yet be satisfied with favour and full of the goodness of the Lord.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Let's take a self-evaluation quiz. Hey, we are waiting for spring to come. What do you have better to do?

In each of the following areas, rate yourself on a scale of 1 (couldn't do worse) to 10 (sheer perfection). We've defined what a "perfect 10" might be. Grade yourself accordingly (and honestly).

1. PATIENCE
I am calm and mature when others cut in front of me, when I don't get what I want, on long car trips with my family, and even when some doofus makes me late for something I desperately want to attend.

MY GRADE:

2. KINDNESS
I am friendly, generous, warm-hearted, sympathetic, and charitable to others. This is true not only of my actions, but my words and thoughts as well.

MY GRADE:

3. TRUTHFULNESS
I don't even tell "little white lies." I never cheat on homework. Even if I get in trouble for not completing projects at school, coming home late, or whatever, I always tell the absolute truth.

MY GRADE:

4. JUSTICE/PROTECTION
When I see an injustice, I get involved. If bullies are picking on some little guy, I step in--even if my own physical well-being or reputation is threatened. It hurts me to see helpless people wronged, and I do everything in my power to protect them.

MY GRADE:

5. TRUST
My faith in God is strong, even during trying times. Consequently, I can usually choose to believe the best about other people as well. I can trust that my parents and friends are looking out for my best interests even when I don't agree with their decisions.

MY GRADE:

6. HOPE
I'm an optimist at heart because I believe that "God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God" (Romans 8:28). So even in situations that are bleak and depressing, I look ahead with confidence, fully expecting the circumstances to change and the outlook to improve.

MY GRADE:

7. PERSEVERANCE
I don't quit. I don't give up. When I know something is the right thing to do, I see that it gets done--no matter what I must overcome and no matter how long it takes.

MY GRADE:

Okay. That's all there is to this quiz. Tally your score before continuing.

How'd you do? We're guessing you didn't score a perfect 70. (If so, maybe you need to reconsider your answer to the "Truthfulness" section.)

Perhaps you didn't realize it, but this was a love quiz. The characteristics listed are all positive qualities the apostle Paul used to define love in the famous "love chapter" of the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13. So as Valentines Day approaches this week, keep in mind that love--real, deep, abiding love--has very little to do with the silkiness of one's hair, the choice of one's perfume or cologne, the size of one's body parts, or the eagerness to send or receive flowers and chocolates.

Many ads and magazine articles suggest that love is a matter of tingly feelings and goofy behavior. And while there is certainly a place for such things in a romance, we must never forget that true love involves much more. From a biblical perspective, genuine love requires that we bring up our scores in the nitty-gritty daily aspects of life--patience, kindness, truthfulness, and all the rest.

You aren't likely to find one of those little candy hearts that says, "Always trust, hope, and persevere." But you'll find it in the Bible. When it comes to something as important as your love life, which one are you going to believe?

On your own ...

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

What are the things Paul says love ISN'T? How does love compare to other spiritual gifts? How would your life be different if your demonstration of love were more along the lines of what Paul describes?
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Regarding Faith
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:1-3 KJV

__________________

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.

Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV

__________________

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Galatians 2:20 NASB

__________________

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:17,18 NASB

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“The Lord mighty in battle.”

Psalm 24:8

Well may our God be glorious in the eyes of his people, seeing that he has wrought such wonders for them, in them, and by them. For them, the Lord Jesus upon Calvary routed every foe, breaking all the weapons of the enemy in pieces by his finished work of satisfactory obedience; by his triumphant resurrection and ascension he completely overturned the hopes of hell, leading captivity captive, making a show of our enemies openly, triumphing over them by his cross. Every arrow of guilt which Satan might have shot at us is broken, for who can lay anything to the charge of God's elect? Vain are the sharp swords of infernal malice, and the perpetual battles of the serpent's seed, for in the midst of the church the lame take the prey, and the feeblest warriors are crowned.

The saved may well adore their Lord for his conquests in them, since the arrows of their natural hatred are snapped, and the weapons of their rebellion broken. What victories has grace won in our evil hearts! How glorious is Jesus when the will is subdued, and sin dethroned! As for our remaining corruptions, they shall sustain an equally sure defeat, and every temptation, and doubt, and fear, shall be utterly destroyed. In the Salem of our peaceful hearts, the name of Jesus is great beyond compare: he has won our love, and he shall wear it.

Even thus securely may we look for victories by us. We are more than conquerors through him that loved us. We shall cast down the powers of darkness which are in the world, by our faith, and zeal, and holiness; we shall win sinners to Jesus, we shall overturn false systems, we shall convert nations, for God is with us, and none shall stand before us. This evening let the Christian warrior chant the war song, and prepare for tomorrow's fight. Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
LIVING OUT LEADERSHIP TODAY

Many of us think we'll make a difference "someday." It seems like we often live for "someday." We think things will be better next semester. Or, it'll be easier when we make it to the next grade. Or, we'll be happier if we just had more money or a nicer house. But I think God wants us to live for him today--not just wait for "someday."

Throughout history God has used kids to accomplish his purposes. Think about David--too young and too small for a job bigger and older men had turned down. Men would have passed him by, but God used him to slay a giant. Or what about Mary? She was just a teenager, but God chose her to be the mother of Jesus. God could have chosen Elizabeth?someone older and more experienced who really wanted to be a mother. Certainly, Elizabeth would have been more qualified by the local gossipers' standards. But Mary was God's choice. And what about the kid with the sack lunch? Instead of having the disciples go fishing or providing food for the massive crowd in another way, Jesus decided to share the lunch of a young boy with a crowd of 5,000.

I think God is still about using kids and proving to the world he is the one who decides the abilities and usefulness of people. Take my friend Leeland--a guy who started writing songs and leading his congregation in worship when he was just a kid. He's being used to lead a whole new generation in getting closer to God through worship and praise. God didn't check Leeland's ID to make sure he was old enough. God used him because Lee was willing, available, and passionate.

So if you're thinking God has to wait for "someday" to use you, think again. God wants to use you right now. You can be a leader in your sphere of influence. You can lead in your school by speaking up when someone's being mistreated, or remaining silent when you're tempted to say something derogatory or hurtful. You can lead by befriending kids who are having a tough time, or not becoming arrogant or creating a clique because of your popularity. You can lead by setting a good example of character and solid morals by abstaining from sex and substances that harm your body. The qualities of a good leader are discernment (knowing when enough is enough), wisdom (applying biblical truth to everyday situations), confidence (not cockiness), and determination (stick-to-itiveness).

The Bible doesn't say you need to be a certain age to be a leader. In fact, 1 Timothy 4:12 says, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." Pretty amazing that God is saying young people should be the ones who set the example for others. It's important to know also that, as a leader, there is more expected from you. God actually judges leaders more harshly than he judges followers, because they have assumed positions as guides. There might be some junk in your life you need to clean up so you have credibility as a leader. It can help if you have someone older and more mature in your life who can help you deal with those rough spots. If you'll allow this person to be truthful with you about your flaws and weaknesses, and help you encounter God's grace for those areas, you'll grow closer to God in the process. Be willing to learn from those with more experience, so you'll !
be able to lead others in the right direction.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Concerning Your Enemies
Behold, all those who are angered at you
will be shamed and dishonored;
Those who contend with you will be
as nothing and will perish.

You will seek those who quarrel with you,
but will not find them,
Those who war with you will be
as nothing and non-existent.

Isaiah 41:11,12 NASB

__________________

"You have heard that the law of Moses says,

'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy'.

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too.

If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.

Matthew 5:43-47 NLT

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“They have dealt treacherously against the Lord.”

Hosea 5:7

Believer, here is a sorrowful truth! Thou art the beloved of the Lord, redeemed by blood, called by grace, preserved in Christ Jesus, accepted in the Beloved, on thy way to heaven, and yet, “thou hast dealt treacherously” with God, thy best friend; treacherously with Jesus, whose thou art; treacherously with the Holy Spirit, by whom thou hast been quickened unto life eternal!

How treacherous you have been in the matter of vows and promises. Do you remember the love of your espousals, that happy time — the springtime of your spiritual life? Oh, how closely did you cling to your Master then! saying, “He shall never charge me with indifference; my feet shall never grow slow in the way of his service; I will not suffer my heart to wander after other loves; in him is every store of sweetness ineffable. I give all up for my Lord Jesus’ sake.” Has it been so? Alas! if conscience speak, it will say, “He who promised so well has performed most ill.

Prayer has oftentimes been slurred — it has been short, but not sweet; brief, but not fervent. Communion with Christ has been forgotten. Instead of a heavenly mind, there have been carnal cares, worldly vanities and thoughts of evil. Instead of service, there has been disobedience; instead of fervency, lukewarmness; instead of patience, petulance; instead of faith, confidence in an arm of flesh; and as a soldier of the cross there has been cowardice, disobedience, and desertion, to a very shameful degree.”

“Thou hast dealt treacherously.” Treachery to Jesus! what words shall be used in denouncing it? Words little avail: let our penitent thoughts execrate the sin which is so surely in us. Treacherous to thy wounds, O Jesus! Forgive us, and let us not sin again! How shameful to be treacherous to him who never forgets us, but who this day stands with our names engraven on his breastplate before the eternal throne.
 
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