Filling the Church or Opening Hearts

This is one of two times of the year where many who call themselves Christians that stay in the world come out of the woodwork andpack the churches. Some are family members of those who are of the Body ofChrist. Some are searching for answers. Some know about Jesus and say theybelieve but as soon as they step away, act as if Jesus never came. But which ismore important, filling the pews (chairs) or opening the hearts to God?

God gives the answer to that question in just about every book of the Old Testament and it is reinforced in the New. With all the buildings of worship in the world it is more important for God to be working in the heart than for someone to sit or stand in a building and just be there. God can enter the heart anywhere in His creation.

The Holy Spirit is more than the one that enters in once we accept and give our lives over to God. The Holy Spirit dwells over the whole earth, finding those who seek the truth of the matter. The problem with the world is that people do not recognize the Spirit and just think that the joy of the holidays is what gives that sense of happiness even in suffering.

 How Can We Help?

We cannot do it alone but there must be some way that we can help open the eyes of their hearts so the door will be open enough for God to do His work. There are many things that we do as Christians that people see whether they want to or not. Believe it or not we do it every day. Everything from simple acts of kindness for the stranger to openly sharing the Great Joy in our kind words thoughts and gestures. Even just being there is helpful to some. But what does this have to do with opening the Heart Eyes of those who are just believers? When they enter the church for the first time since Easter welcome them with open arms, invite them to the after service dinner (for the early Christmas Eve Service goers), spend time with them but do not be pushy. Exchange numbers or email addresses. Follow Up, get to know them to the point where they will be totally open and honest with you. This is the Holy Spirit working in you to work in them. Invite them to talks and other church functions. Sometimes it just takes a kind invitation for someone to change their heart.

Do not just invite someone to church because that honestlyis not enough.    

If you have a Christmas gathering do not leave it to just indoors (unless of course you are in extreme cold or the gathering is in a high rise). Sharing while physically seeing God’s Creation is one of the best ways for a person to turn to God. Also just standing and listening to the rustling of the leaves, the chirping, seeing the smiles on even the most downtrodden, this is the joy of the Lord working in the world.

Just like snowflakes that fall from the heavens, each one of us is unique and God works in each of us in ways that emphasize our uniqueness. You never know whose life you will touch in such a way that it awakens the soul to do what God calls the person to do. The prophets of old did not need walls nor did Jesus. They awoke so many lives to the initial calling of humanity, caretakers of creation and communion with God. We can do the same through the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and Sisters, It is Christmastime. It is time to harvest those who believe but are not fully in Christ so that the Holy Spirit gains ground in this corrupted world. Be the Joy, share God’s Love and Compassion, do not let it just fade.

Blessings to All,

Rob, Servant of God    

Philemon’s Forgiveness

After our Lord and Savior ascended, the Word of the Lord spread throughout the Roman Empire. Paul touched many lives and his reputation followed him wherever he was, especially while imprisoned in Rome. He had visitors who sought many things. One such person was a bondservant of Philemon from Colossae in Phrygia named Onesimus.

Philemon was a rich and well known man throughout Colossae. He was stern yet compassionate man who did much throughout the community. Onesimus was a bondservant of Philemon and not a believer. He must have not liked something about his master so he stole money and fled to Paul. Paul writes to Philemon after a time seeking  forgiveness and release of Onesimus. 

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. Philemon 1:8-21

What Is So Special About This Onesimus

Onesimus was lost. His sin was thievery and disbelief until he sought Paul through whom he found the path. Paul sent him back to Philemon for forgiveness and he returned to Paul a free man. Paul became his mentor. God used Onesimus from then on, first to minister to Paul, then to spread the Gospel to the world. 

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here. Col. 4:7-9

From Bondservant to Martyr

Onesimus had the power of the Holy Spirit and became an ardent preacher of the Gospel. His name and message was well known he preached the Gospel in many lands and cities: in Spain, Carpetania, Colossae, Patras. When Timothy’s season as bishop of Ephesus had ended, Onesimus was called to take his place. Onesimus was not without controversy as his teachings on celibacy infuriated a governor in Ephesus so he was sent to Rome, tortured and stoned.

He is celebrated in Greek Orthodoxy as his delivery of the gospel touched many lives and turned so many souls back to God.

What Does This Mean For Us

Why was this particular letter added to the canon of Scripture? Showing the backstory of a bishop and how he was saved through the forgiveness of his former master shows what it means to be a Christian of compassion. The key person in this letter is Philemon with Onesimus being the one who is saved. Paul’s letters tell of  his usefulness as he became a courier of letters while ministering others along the way. This letter opens the eyes and creates the story of how God works in our lives through seeing how God worked in his. Sins can be forgiven if you seek him who forgives and saves us. God calls the faithful to do His work on earth, shining the light on the path to glory.

Be blessed this season and shine your light upon others.

Rob, Servant of God

Be Thankful Every Day

Today America celebrates Thanksgiving. This is the start of the season where people put aside many of their grievances and are courteous to their fellow man. However, God wants us to be thankful every day. 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There is something about rejoicing, praying, and being thankful even for the smallest thing that makes a person both spiritually and physically healthy.

God is concerned for our well-being on both the physical and spiritual plains. To be certain that we remain healthy, He placed His Word in our hearts and His name is written in our DNA so that we have a peace about us that is well beyond our comprehension. When you hear someone talk about being in good spirits, that is an indication that the Holy Spirit is alive and working in that person’s life.

Unfortunately this peace is disrupted by the intervention of the devil as he tries to leave his mark on us through torment and temptation. Satan wants to see us suffer and would rather have us turn off the connection to God. He gives us false reasons to be bitter, to be jealous, to be hateful of others because their lives are seemingly better. It is not the status in this life that makes us better people but how we treat others. That is our measure.

As God’s Children we should be thankful for the little things in life that put smiles on our faces. From waking up in the morning to settling down for rest we should be thankful that God has blessed us with the actions of the day, even if the day did not go as planned. Yes we may have troubles but God is stronger. He is bigger. He is the one in control and the only one that can make our spirits bright.

Let us be thankful every day for the Lord is Good and His Love Endures Forever.

Be blessed Brothers and Sisters and bless others with the light that shines upon us and from us as we speak His name through our actions and words.

In God’s Love, Grace, and Mercy,

Rob, Servant of God

The Uniqueness of We

What happens when you are surrounded by many people with the same thoughts and attitudes? Nine times out of ten we concede on our own ideals and blend in with the crowd to be liked and loved. Human nature explains that we are social creatures and will do what is necessary to fit in to the situation at hand sometimes compromising our thoughts and beliefs, losing ourselves in the process.

A Danger Seen But Not Conquered

All too often the youth are easily influenced to be like others with whom they really have nothing in common. This is especially bad when certain people who have abused their gifts are given a platform to share their idealisms and agendas that are not in concert with God’s plan. Think of what has happened in the last 120 years with the event of audio/visual media. First used as a way of informing people of things happening in the local area, it has flourished into a means of delivering both true and false information throughout the world. The owners and those who make an extravagant living off of fame think they have the power and the right to influence the way people think. They really do not.  

God created each of us as unique persons with one purpose, to take care of His creation through expressing His Image through mirroring His Love. Yes we all have the same purpose but each of us has been given a gift to be used for His glory. We are not supposed to be hateful towards each other. We should not hold grudges or bitterness towards anyone whether we approve of their lifestyle or not. God gave us the opportunity to be unique and use our gifts to live together in love, not away from each other in fear.

You Cannot Be Completely Like Mike

For those who may be jealous of one person’s gift and desire to be like that person, you have to realize that God designed that individual to succeed in that gift and not you because your purpose is elsewhere. If everyone tries to be like someone else, our uniqueness and gifts are wasted and God’s purpose for us is overtaken by the devil’s desire to overthrow God.

Satan has placed His demons in areas that control those who do not know God or refuse to know Him. He has created a world where money and materialism control our lives so our uniqueness is hidden away. When we open our eyes and accept Christ as Lord and Savior, Satan loses control. Once we rely on Jesus our gifts become more apparent but we must fully submit to Christ. It is honestly real easy but it is the hardest thing to do if you remain attached to the things of your past.

Regain Your Uniqueness  

Putting your full Faith and Trust in God helps you discover the real you. For some it takes a long time but it will happen. We are all infused with a servant’s heart it just depends on the specific gift on how we are to serve others. Are you able to teach, sing, play an instrument? Do you have good business sense and can lead others? Look even the ability to stack a bunch of cards in a pyramid without it falling shows the potential for a natural gift of construction or engineering (either that or you can balance things easy). We are meant to share our gifts with specific people groups but all is for the Glory of God and His creation of which we are a part of.

Be unique, share your uniqueness with others but to not convince them that your way is the only way because you will going against God. Do not go against the Commandments nor the teachings of a right moral life or you may be easily influenced and lose your you which God made you to be.

Brothers and Sisters, Love one another as He loves us. Love your neighbor as yourself and do not hold anything against them. Be in Christ and Live.

Rob, Servant of God

‘Tis The Season

The hustle and bustle of the most joyous season of the year has begun. Merchants both small and large have decorated their stores in a mixture of Autumn and Winter celebrations. Lights and decorated trees are everywhere and we haven’t even cut the turkey for Thanksgiving. The Santa at the end of the Macy’s Parade has not even arrived yet. So why are we preparing for the 25th of December.

When reading Luke, there are many things he wrote that show preparation for the coming king. He talks about the parents of John the Baptist and their initial disbelief that turns into a most glorious blessing. He speaks of the mystery that surrounded the births. When Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, John leapt in the womb with excitement in anticipation. How did he know? John had the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him before he was born and felt the presence of the Most High developing the physical body of the Word/Savior to come. He was prepared even before birth.

How should we prepare? It is simple really. Now is the absolute time to fully trust in the Father. Put aside all grudges, bitterness, those things that tempt us, so that our concentration is wholly on the coming King. Praise and Worship in anticipation daily and take everything to God in Prayer. This is the time when the devil will try anything to keep us away. Be stronger and fully rely on God. This is the moment, be blessed.

Love to All,

Rob, Servant of God

Building

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127

Relationships are very important to God. God wants a personal relationship with us. Having strong, caring, and healthy relationships with family members, friends, coworkers, and others here on earth are just as important. The love, trust, grace, and mercy we share with each other (especially when God is central) is the physical representation of God’s everlasting Love for us. When our earthly relationships get damaged that does not mean that God loves us less, it is a way for us to show God’s grace and forgiveness.

Children are God’s gift so that we can understand how much God loves us by putting the future in our care. The more we love God, the more we are blessed. Do not think that you are not loved or blessed by God if you cannot have, for God has greater plans and will bless in different ways.

We build relationships to emulate God’s relationship He desires with us. Keep building and the Kingdom of God will increase.

Rob, Servant of God       

Word of the Day: Adulting

Is there an adult in the house? I certainly hope so.

Terms used to differentiate between stages of life have been turned upside down to the point where some of them have become stylized to be something dreaded. The line between teen and young adult has been made so thin that 14 year olds think they deserve to be treated as if they are out of high school. When parents give them the opportunity, some teens fall flat while others are able to embrace it for a little while then realize that they are not truly ready. It is good when they realize that there is a lot left to learn.  

The term “Adulting” means taking on the responsibilities of being a person above the age of 18 who are responsible for taking care of themselves and others. In other words, having responsibilities that make them into a functional member of society. But who is responsible for teaching them how to become the responsible adult? The answer is found in Scripture:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6  

Yes, the parents are the responsible party for training (or bringing) up their children. But since society is so hung up on social status and daily living costs have skyrocketed,  parents are not always there to teach the child right. To this matter, the child learns about life from outside influences. Some of these influences are good while others have corrupted even the most basic family values. 

Young children are sponges and are very observant. They imitate what they see and hear. Without God at the center they soak up things that will corrupt positive ways of thinking. This is why we have so many issues today.

On a different perspective, children who have religion excessively pushed on them may want nothing to do with it later in life. This allows the devil to entertain the belief that what is evil is good and what is good is evil. They lose the desire to be responsible adults. 

So “Adulting” has become the term used when someone just does not feel like doing the normal activities that come with being an adult and also not desiring to being responsible for their actions placing the blame on others. 

What if God did not want to “Adult”? We would be under the total influence of Satan and total anarchy, violence, immorality, death, destruction, and disease would rule over us. God gave us His Word to keep evil in check so that we could live understanding the difference between a right way of living and influences that destroy our souls.

Then He gave us His Son as a sacrifice to completely cover our sins once and for all. This does not mean we are good and can continue in living in our sinfulness. We must learn to “Adult” in the way God desires of us so that we can be with Him in eternity. How do we learn this? We go back to Proverbs 22:6 and understand that God teaches us in the way we should go so that we can live a right life under the influence of His Grace, Mercy, and Love.

Brothers and Sisters, be that light, that influence to the youth that helps them desire to do the right thing and become responsible, mature adults.

Blessings,

Rob, Servant of God  

   

Trusting In His Promises

Do you remember the hymn, “Standing on the Promises”? The Bible is full of God’s promises to mankind. Some of the promises were meant for specific people only but most are generalized promises meant for all humans and or all creation. If a person were to place God’s promises on the promise meter of a politician you would see the meter speak truth by stating complete, in motion, or in the works on every one of them. His truth is that He cares for each and every one of us and will do everything He can to help us make the right choice by following His ways and trusting in His Promises.

Some of the Promises have visual representations. The Rainbow, for instance, is the physical reminder that God promised never to destroy the world by flood ever again. We know He is talking about a worldwide flood and not just local ones. Earthquakes are another form of promise. I know that seems bad because of the death and destruction that occurs but Isaiah 54:10 states, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD who has compassion on you.”. His love cannot be shaken and His promise of peace remains in place.

The promises He makes remind us of His Love for us. He reiterates to Joshua that He will never leave or forsake him which was told to the whole Community of Believers earlier in Deuteronomy. Jesus mentions the same upon the Ascension. Scripture also states that He will guide us, deliver us, protect us, watch over us, and many other things that emphasize His Love for us.   

How do we know His promises cannot be broken? Well first of all, He is the Sovereign Lord over all things and He does not break a promise. It may seem that a little edge is given but that is there because of our Free Will and He allows us to choose whether to obey or deny His Words. Even if we choose disobedience, He still loves us. We have to accept the consequence of ignoring or denying His Love.

Another Hymn that comes to mind is “Trust and Obey”. In the Chorus we sing, “trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey”.  If you read the Common Jewish Bible you will notice one major difference, the word “trust” is often in place of the word “faith”. These are not fully interchangeable but at the same time they are. To have faith in someone there is a large amount of trust involved as well as obedience. But trust is of upmost importance because we are literally putting our lives in His hand.

We trust God by His Word which was written down for us in order to know it and be obedient so that we can be accepted into the Kingdom. We trust that God will make good on His promises even when we are disobedient. God does promise that He will teach us lessons that return us from our disobedience back to Him but we still must choose to trust Him.

His promises are given so we may learn to trust Him in all things we do. Even though we falter, He will fight for us and guide us home to Him. To return we must have faith that He will accept us back, which Scripture shows that He will.

Do you trust that God will keep His promises? He is not a promise breaker, but if we test Him the promise takes a back seat to discipline. Remember, the some promises are if/then and after the punishment is over we return to acceptance and live. God keeps His promises.

Brothers and Sisters we are bound by our faith in God that He will keep His promises. His Mercy and Grace are freely given so that we are assured that He will not give up on us. All we have to do is put our full trust in God. Have you put your trust in Him. If not, will you. He is waiting for you to accept Him.

Blessings and In God’s Love,

Rob, Servant of God           

 

 

 

 

Greatness In His Provisions

In the final section of Psalm 145 we find God the Provider. We can call things destiny and fate all we want but in the end it is God who is the ultimate provider for all things.

The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
 The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Psalm145: 14-21

God is always with us. He provides for the faithful and helps those who are seeking Him to turn to Him through His provisions. In His presence we find comfort, satisfaction, salvation, and fulfilment. In everything God is the one who will carry us through because of His faithfulness to us as long as we are faithful to Him. He hears our cry when it is in true supplication as we recognize that we cannot function without Him.

Brothers and Sisters, our God is an awesome God. He is the Great I AM. He is the only one who can save us from damnation which He did through giving us His Son to die on the altar of the cross as a final sacrifice to cover our guilt. We cannot cover ourselves nor can we stand in front of final judgement and say that we were 100 percent good and faithful all the time. Jesus, the Word of God, is the one who has taken our guilt and provides the path to eternal life. Be safe out there and have a blessed day.

In God’s Love,

Rob, Servant of God 

Greatness In Mercy

God is merciful even though He does not have to be. We have been disobedient children yet our Father loves us and shows kindness even in His anger. God is patient with us, yet He will serve lessons as needed to get us on track. His mercy is boundless.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

 The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made
. Psalm 145:8-9

Why is it that we remain disobedient children? Is the world so deeply desired by us that we forgot God and what He can do in our lives that is much better than life in the world. I often wonder how long He will allow these distractions to persist before He sets the world on fire. When He does that, the only thing left will be His Grace and Mercy.

Looking at the second part of this section, His mercy is for All creation. So when we are destroyed does that mean that the entire earth will suffer and be reborn? That is what it says in Revelation and a few of the OT prophets. God is literally in everything so He spreads His Grace and Mercy to all things, all creatures on earth know the creator. After all, He gave them the instinct and knowledge to function the way they do. Even the rocks and trees have a function.

We are still His favored creation and have a special place in the Kingdom but we are also the ones who truly feel disheartened when bad things happen. Animals can sense it but are unaware of the situations. God is everywhere. His Love is everlasting and never ending. His Mercy is good to all.

Have a Great and Blessed Day

In Christ

Rob, Servant of God