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Verse of the Day
Monday
Mar162015

Generational Freedom

I began a study, recently, called “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore.  Today’s study, in particular, resounded as if a gong was hit inside of my head. 

Jotham (father of Ahaz) reigned in Jerusalem prior to Ahaz.  Although Jotham did many things right in the eyes of the Lord, he chose to disobey God by simply not destroying the high places where idolatry ran rampant.  

Leaving those high places established gave Ahaz (Jotham’s son) easy access to the bondage of idolatry.  But it did not stop there; Ahaz took those sins to greater depths as he began actually casting idols and even sacrificed his own child.

When we choose to break bondage and live in victory, we also lay a paved road leading to victory for our children. If we choose to learn from countless stories of people who have fallen into generational patterns of sin and destruction (usually the bondage becoming deeper with each passing generation) we can change the trajectory of our family legacy.

Generational bondage does not have to be our legacy.  Jesus can break the bondage!  We can live in victory and point the next generation to Jesus.  He offers the gift of freedom to all of us who have answered His call on our lives.  FREEDOM!   If we choose to destroy the high places in our lives, the next generation benefits greatly!  

Romans 6:16
Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

If you find yourself in bondage, begin sincerely praying for God to break that sin pattern.  Ask Him to put people in your life that can help you remove that boulder in your path, so that you can continue on your journey of faith without chains and bondage.  He’ll do it!  Ask Him!

Braelene

If you are near the Grove City area - please consider joining us at Grove City Alliance Church this week for the Deeper Life in Christ Conference.  For directions to the church click here.

Monday
Mar092015

What is Mercy, Anyway?

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28

Mercy. What exactly is it? A word we throw around along with the word grace (we will look at that one too!) Words with big meaning and impact, that should not just be thrown around without thought.

"Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy." (quote from gotquestions.org) 

Mercy means I am so deeply grateful for the forgiveness I have received that I cannot help offering you the same. (Paul David Tripp - New Morning a Mercies)

When I stop and really think about this, the picture that comes to mind is how often I judge others. A wrong word, actions taken against me (whether true or imagined), rights I believe I have, entitlement, and the list goes on. 

In my head, I hate to admit, there are many times I elevate myself. Thinking that, somehow, I am a little higher than you. It is subtle. It just kind of sneaks in there, without a big boastful declaration, but it is there all the same. I know better than you.  I am entitled to be treated a certain way. It’s what we think when someone wrongs us, or disagrees with us, or says something we don’t like.

And anytime we put ourselves in that place, we also have made ourselves the judge (which of course is where the word judgement comes from and I'm pretty sure that's God's job, not mine). 

I can't believe she did that! I would never do that. Did you hear what she said? How could she treat me that way? What is wrong with them!

All things I have either thought or said. Perceived or true - all putting myself in a superior place, in a position to judge another as wrong, and me as right.

This is where mercy comes in. This is where you stop and look at Luke 6 and say, am I extending the same mercy to this person as I have been given through Christ?  Do I judge this person, or do I stop and realize they need my mercy in this situation as much as I need mercy from Christ?

Imagine if we looked at others - especially those brothers and sisters in Christ who we hold to a higher standard than the 'world', and we extended mercy to them. How different would the body of Christ look if we actually treated others as he treats us? 

What would that look like if you did?

In verses 32 & 33, Jesus goes on to say: “And if you love those who love you, what kind of credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good to those who do good to you, what kind of credit is that to you? Even the sinners do the same!

It does take us past the point of our comfort zone, doesn't it? For that person who says that thing to you that is mean and hurtful, can you stop judging and extend mercy then? 

I remember hearing a sermon that explained the difference between judgement, forgiveness, mercy and grace. It was about a man whose daughter was murdered. As he sat in court during the trial, the man who was on trial was convicted of murder. In his heart, the man had already forgiven the murderer (and that is no easy thing). As the sentencing time came, he spoke on behalf of the man who had murdered his daughter, saying he had forgiven him and asked the judge to allow this man, life and not a death sentence. That is mercy. Over the years the man went to visit the murderer, prayed for him and eventually became his friend. That is grace. 

It reminds me of the life of Elizabeth Elliot, who lived, became friends, and eventually loved, the very people who murdered her husband, Jim. Forgiveness. Mercy. Grace.  

It is what Christ did.  It is what we are called to do.

I know this is not an easy thing, but with a heart submitted to the Holy Spirit, He can and will guide us through! But it takes is a heart willing to allow Him. A heart that doesn't want to hold onto our own 'rights'.  A heart that wants to love like His. A heart that realizes the extremely generous gift it has been given through Christ. 

Today, ask Him to stop and show you when you have stepped into the position of judge towards another. Today, begin by asking him who you need to forgive. 

Today let us remember to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Surrender your situation to Him. He will do the rest.

Linda

Wednesday
Feb252015

2 Kings: Peace Robbed. Peace Found!

"King Joram demanded, 'Do you come in peace, Jehu?' Jehu replied, 'How can there be peace as long as the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother, Jezebel, are all around us?'" 2 Kings 9:22 (NIV) (King Joram was Ahab and Jezebel's son.)
 
Are you at peace?
 
True peace is something everyone wants, whether or not they see that it comes from a relationship with God. Something that struck me about the stories of the many leaders in 1 and 2 Kings is that when faced with the opportunity to remove all of the pagan idols, many chose to remove only some. Obedience to God inevitably led to a choice...following God alone or letting idols survive. Many people have cultural roots that connect with practices that involve idol or ancestor worship. These can rob us of true peace. Regardless of geographical location, there are idols (visible or invisible) that threaten the peace of our hearts. It is difficult work towards tearing down all the idols of our hearts; it is, however, something that can be done through God's help. Sometimes, it involves the physical destruction of objects in the home. Sometimes, it requires different choices to be made with actions that show our devotion to God alone. At times, it can even be our words or thoughts that must be changed to show that we are more devoted to God than whatever distraction is consuming more of our attention.
 
What needs to be removed and/or replaced to have total peace in God?
 
Let us be like Josiah, who even at a young age knew that all the idols must be destroyed to honor God and to lead his people in the way that was most pleasing to Him. Let us ask for wisdom and discernment to recognize any actions, habits of mind, objects, or anything else that has been set above knowing Christ. Let us be also like Hezekiah who "...did what was pleasing in the LORD'S sight, just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it..." 2 Kings 18:3-4
 
I am praying for you as you courageously ask God, "What are the idols of my heart?" May God be glorified as friends and family see the fruits of peace in your life. It is with no other god that true peace is possible. May our Lord God protect and keep you as you seek to honor Him.

Beth

 

Replacing idols with Truth
 
When removing idols, replace them with Truth (Words of the Bible) through reading scripture, memorizing, and posting scripture verses in places where you will see them frequently.
 
Further Reading: 2 Kings 17: 7-38 (click here)
 
What if you do not know God?
 
Peace stems from a relationship with God. Although you may have searched elsewhere, nothing will satisfy your soul like God.
 
*All mankind is separated from God by sin. Sin is making choices like lying or stealing that offend God according to His 10 Commandments. (Exodus 20:1-17)
*A price must be paid for sin. In the old testament (before the birth of Christ) people would sacrifice their best animals and grain as sin offerings. This practice had to be repeated many times during their lifetimes because they would sin again and need to repeat the cycle of sacrifice. (Romans 5:12)
*Jesus Christ, God's son, was born on earth. He is sinless and perfect, the only sinless man to ever live. (1 John 5:1-5)
*He became the one-time sacrifice for our sins when he died on the cross, so that whoever believes in Him will be saved from sin and have eternal life in Heaven.(Romans 6:23)
*Believing in God and receiving Christ as your savior transforms your life both on earth and after you die. The Holy Spirit will be with you and guide you as you grow in your knowledge of God and in your relationship with Him. He is the most loving Father and most devoted friend. He will never leave or forsake you. He loves you. (Hebrews 9:14-15, Deuteronomy 31:6 and 8, and Ephesians 3:16-19)
*Prayer is talking with God. You can speak directly with God. You can ask Him to forgive your sins and receive Christ as the sacrifice to pay the price for your sins. You can talk with Him as your heavenly Father and your friend. Amazing things can be accomplished and learned through prayer! (James 5:13-18)
*Welcome to a Big Family! As a believer in Christ, you have a big, beautiful family that is filled with brothers and sisters of many ages and nationalities. Family will (and does!) pray for you, celebrate with you, laugh with you, cry with you, and grow with you. We are all being transformed in the image of Christ, learning to be more like Him. It is a process that involves patience and sometimes hardship, but it is with joy that we have God and family with us each step of the way. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

 

 

Wednesday
Feb112015

Book a Month Bible Reading: 1 & 2 Kings

If you are new to joining us, we are reading one book of the Bible a month. It is never too late to join in!
January was 1 Kings. February is 2 Kings.
 
"When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a thick cloud filled the Temple of the LORD. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple of the LORD."
1 Kings 8:10-11
 
This became a diamond verse to me, one shining so brightly that I needed to know more. What does it mean? With help from A. Rowland and his sermon about these verses, I found that they are talking about Shechinah- a bright, glorious light, the symbol of God's presence, often covered by a cloud
 
God's Presence.
 
*How can we prepare for it?
*What are the effects of God's Presence?
 
Borrowing again from Rowland's sermon, he takes it back to the basics:
 
How can we prepare for God's Presence?
1. Remember memories of God from our youth [and as new believers]
2. Remember the 10 Commandments and obey them (Going back through the 10 commandments was an encouraging reminder and focused my attention more keenly.)
3. Recognize God's Claims "Not the intellectual research, but reverent submission discovers him." A. Rowland There is an incredible joy and peace that comes from understanding more deeply who your Father says He is and then experiencing Him being those traits (Prince of Peace, Healer, Rebuilder, Restorer) to you. Him being who He says He is. The act of Him being and you receiving who He is. How precious. How priceless to know and to experience our Father in this way!
4. Pray Earnest Prayers Rowland says that, for example, the Apostles expected the Holy Spirit, but in order to receive God's promise, "they continued, with one accord, in prayer and supplication..." It follows that praying earnestly is both an individual action and a together with action. Praying individually, with one another, and in groups helps us prepare for God's Presence.
 
What are the effects of God's Presence?
1.It restored significance to old symbols How can the Presence of God spark back to life the spiritual symbols that are meaningful to the body of Christ? We often recognize brand symbols quickly, but don't always understand symbols that have meaning and historical significance in our corporate bodies. I have enjoyed when our pastors have explained both denominational artwork and symbols as well as widely held, lesser known, symbols of Christianity.
2.It testified to God's acceptance of the new building "True 'consecration' arises from the signs of the Divine presence given to the faithful." A. Rowland
3.It confirmed the faith of some, and inspired faith in others When we hear stories of God's hand in other people's lives, it may spark faith in our own, but when we experience His Presence ourselves, it builds faith exponentially.
4.It proclaimed God's readiness to hear prayer Wow! Knowing that God hears us, can make us all the more likely to pray, and pray often, for the rest of our lives.
 
"Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live." Psalm 116:2 English Revised Version
  
What do you think? Would you join me in trying some or all of Rowland's ideas on preparing for God's Presence? We would love to hear your stories of how God meets you. :)
Blessings, 

Beth

 

Monday
Feb022015

The Mountain and the Man

"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 Lord’s holy people, 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. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." -Ephesians 3:16-21
 
Should my focus be on God's Strength or my weakness?
 
Each time life get challenging, and even when an opportunity beyond my abilities is placed before me, I am also presented with a choice. I am offered the chance to choose to view the overwhelming situation or opportunity logically, and to
A. measure my human failings against the mountain I've been asked to climb
B. become more aware of my shortcomings and freeze up, or
C. look at the God of the universe and what I know is true about Him: 
 
God, our Father, has immeasurable resources.
He is faithful.
He is Truth.
He can be trusted.
He doesn't change, nor does His love.
He will help us out of the stores of His glorious riches.

 
We all face some mountain or another; we also carry difficulty, pain, and human shortcomings. We can stop now...at the beginning of the climb...never to scale this mountain to its peak. Or, we can Trust God and His sovereign, great plan, submitting to His power to transform our inabilities by His abilities, the glory going to the Creator and perfecter of our faith, the master designer of both the mountain and the man.

Beth