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Praise Thursday – God with Us!

The word Immanuel means, as we learn in Matthew 1:23, “God with us.”  The coming of the Christ child fulfilled what Isaiah wrote in chapter 7, verse 14: “the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

In his book Hidden Christmas, Pastor Timothy Keller shares that for centuries, the Jewish religious leaders and scholars had known that prophecy, but did not think that it should be taken literally. They thought it was simply predicting the coming or arrival of some great leader through whose work, God would be present with his people.

However, Matthew writes that this promise is greater than anyone imagined!  It did not come true figuratively, but literally. Jesus Christ is “God with us” because the human life in Mary’s womb was a miracle performed by God himself.  Then Jesus, with his life, his claims and his resurrection, convinced his closest followers that he was not just a prophet telling them how to find God, but God himself coming to find us.

Keller writes that this claim, that Jesus is God, gives us the greatest possible hope.  Why?  Because it means this world is not all that there is…it means that there is life and love after death and it means that evil and suffering will one day end.

And it is not just hope for the world, but hope for you and me personally. A God who was only holy would have not come to us in Jesus.  He would have just demanded that we pull ourselves together and be moral and holy enough to be worthy of relationship with him. But our God is fully holy and fully human – so he doesn’t send someone else – he comes himself!  Jesus is one of us – and that should give us all hope!

So what is the purpose of “God with us?” What does “with him” mean? Pastor Keller writes that the purpose of the incarnation is that we would have relationship with him. In Jesus, the unapproachable God of the Old Testament becomes a human being who can be known and loved. Through faith, we can know this love.

This is a complete shift from the Old Testament. Think about this: anytime anyone drew near to God in the Old Testament, it was terrifying! God appears to Abraham as a smoking furnace; to Israel as a pillar of fire; to Job, as a hurricane or tornado. When Moses asks to see the face of God in Exodus 33, he was told what?  That it would kill him…that he could only get close to God’s back.  When Moses came down off the mountain in Exodus 34, his face was SO BRIGHT with radiance that the people could not look at him!

So Pastor Keller asks this: can you imagine if Moses were alive today and heard the message of Christmas? What would he say?  How would he react? What if Moses heard John 1:14 “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us – we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son?”

Keller thinks Moses would say, “Do you know what this means? This is the very thing I was denied! Through Jesus, you can meet God. You can know him personally and without terror.  Do you realize what’s going on? Where’s your joy?  Where’s your amazement? This should be the driving force of your life!”

And why did God show up this time in the form of a baby instead of fire? Because this time He has come not to bring judgment but to bear it; to take away the barrier between humanity and God. Jesus is God with us!

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Todd

Legacy, the Big Picture and Avoiding Negativity.

Proverbs 20:7
The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.

Integrity- it’s a very important word. It’s helpful to describe who we are in the Lord and how our loved ones perceive us. It is a foundational element in the life we lead with our heavenly father.

The Lord calls us to do what is good and right, even when no one is looking. Now, why is that? Well, Godly living reflects His holy character in us; and in turn, glorifies Him.

By living with integrity, you give those who follow you a gift that will last a lifetime. What greater legacy could you leave than a personal record of godly living?

2nd Corinthians 4:18
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day that we miss the big picture God has for our lives. God has given us the task of letting the world know about what Jesus has done for us. He made it possible for us to have an eternal life of intimacy with our heavenly father.

Our daily struggles are only temporary. We have to fight to maintain focus on the eternal. If we truly love God, then we should work every day to please him, and tell others about Him. You only have one life to live for eternity. Let it be your best life, starting now.

Here is that link to the Francis Chan Rope Illustration

 

 

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Avoid Negativity

Choosing to be happy at work means avoiding negative conversations, gossip, and unhappy people as much as possible. No matter how positively you feel, negative people have a profound impact on your psyche. Don’t let the negative nellies bring you down.

Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. – Colossians 3: 1-4

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. For in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. – Proverbs 25: 21 & 22

Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.- Proverbs 14:29

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. -Ephesians 4:2

Thanks for listening!
– Hannah and Todd

Our Home Security System

Today we continue our devotions from the book “Time with God for Fathers by Jack Countryman.”

Proverbs 1:33 (NIV) leads us to a biblical application of a ‘home security system…’

“but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.'”

 A growing number of people fail to seek God’s wisdom in living. It is no secret that we live in a “me first” culture.

Often we seek ourselves, against all warnings and conventional wisdom. Thoughts of our future, our safety, our selfish desires…while not giving any thought to the impact on people of around us.

Living this way is spiritually irresponsible and a dangerous way to live. If we try to live apart from God’s wisdom, we will struggle with fear, disillusionment, doubt, worry and frustration. Our lives fall apart when we do not consult the wisdom of God.

The smartest way to build a safe home and lifestyle is to involve our savior every step of the way.

Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

A leader’s character is demonstrated in how they handle unpleasant and stressful situations. We’ve talked before how God will use trials to mature and develop us.

No one likes trials, that’s obvious. But when we learn to see our trials as situations to grow, we begin to walk down the path God has placed ahead of us.

It is important to remember that He will walk with you through these trials too. Even as you struggle and grow, God will give you the strength to continue.

His loving grace washes over us like sunlight on a cloudless day.

Also, here is the information we shared about the Kokosing State Scenic River Cleanup on Saturday:

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Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Todd

 

The Essence of a Spirit-Filled Life

Today we continue our devotions from the book “Time with God for Fathers by Jack Countryman.”

I John 1:7

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

There’s a clean record that only God can give…

The forgiveness of sin is one of God’s greatest gifts to those who are in Christ. The slate has been wiped clean, and he has promised to never remember or mention our sins again.

Because of God’s total, unconditional, overwhelming and abundant love, he chooses to not only forgive our sins but also to remove them from his presence forever. The beauty of God’s forgiveness opens the door for each of us to have the relationship with him that he wants…and we need.

His love overshadows everything that we have committed. Remember, too that God’s mercy does not give us the freedom to sin, expecting more forgiveness; rather, it gives us the freedom to move past the mistakes we have made and into a deeper richer relationship with him and with our loved ones.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

As a Christian leader, God is calling you to walk in the spirit and your relationship with those you love and cherish. The transparent life that God wishes you to lead brings out the fruit of the spirit.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all given to you by the Holy Spirit.

When the life you lead is God-centered and your relationship with Christ is a priority, the rewards you receive are the fruits of the spirit.

Only God can change your heart and give you that certain peace that passes all understanding and reflects the person God wants you to be. Remember those fruits are not simply one mark of a spirit-filled life…they are the essence of a spirit-filled life.

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Todd

Insurance and Contentment

PRAISE THURSDAY 9/5/19

Today we continue our devotions from the book “Time with God for Fathers by Jack Countryman.”

Psalm 139: 7-10

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139 provides you with all the insurance you need. In this profound passage, God has promised that no matter what we’re facing or going through, He will be there.

When we cannot understand ourselves or comprehend our feelings, God invites us to take our internal struggles to him and ask for his insight. God understands what we don’t and he knows what to do when we don’t.

Let each day be filled with the power of His presence, allowing him to guide us into a deeper relationship with Him. He is our everything. Our father is watching, so instead of fearing that, take advantage of it.

I Timothy 6:6-7

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Contentment is a gift that only God can give.

So many times our desire for material possessions overshadows our relationship with God. We can become content if we are willing to see God as our sole provider and focus on the necessities of life.

God will often supply our WANTS out of his goodness and Grace, but he has promised to supply all of our NEEDS. Learn to express your gratitude for what you have and never be concerned about what you are missing.

Your greatest source of contentment will be found when you follow the instructions in Psalm 37:4 to “delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

Stop for a moment and take inventory of all God has blessed you with…and give thanks for all of those blessings!

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Todd

 

Looking at our possessions and talents

Today we continue our devotions from the book “Time with God for Fathers by Jack Countryman.” Today we look at our view of possessions and talents.

Luke 12:15

15 Speaking to the people, he (Jesus) went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” (The Message)

(This then leads into the parable of the rich fool)

So many times in life, we can get sidetracked with our grown-up toys and material possessions.

True satisfaction in life flows out of fulfilling the purpose for which we are created. That purpose is to enjoy an intimate relationship with God. Acquiring material things as a substitute for a real relationship with God? That only makes the heart feel hollow and empty.

The example that we portray for our kids about the importance of relationship with God compared to gaining material wealth, will set the stage for their priorities as they go into the world.

Exodus 31:1-5

31 1-5 God spoke to Moses: “See what I’ve done; I’ve personally chosen Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur of the tribe of Judah. I’ve filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him skill and know-how and expertise in every kind of craft to create designs and work in gold, silver, and bronze; to cut and set gemstones; to carve wood—he’s an all-around craftsman.

As a father, we have been given a powerful influence over those in our family.

God, in His divine mercy and infinite wisdom, has also given us certain gifts and talents. How we use them will determine the effect that we have on those we love and cherish.

A godly leader is not easily swayed, but rather is filled with conviction, faith and prayer. We will gain a sense of our godly responsibility when we choose to stand up for what is right.

The Bible encourages us to turn to God when we need wisdom and strength. Let our intimacy with God guide us in building on the talents we have been given.

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Todd

More wisdom for Praise Thursday

Today, we continue our devotions from the book “Time with God for Fathers” by Jack Countryman.

The Choice is Ours!

Matthew 6:24

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

So many times in life, we struggle with our priorities. We struggle in our choices. We struggle with our needs and our wants. It is too easy to end up serving more than one master…and then find there is little satisfaction from either.

When we have two masters such as: God and work, or God and bank accounts, or God and family, all which have contradicting demands, we must make a choice about whom we will serve when our life comes together.

When everything we desire places God first, the choices that we make will come easily.

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An ordinary man serving God is an extraordinary father

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The wonderful message about God is that we were ALL created in his image and He believes that we are ALL extraordinary.

God knows this perfectly and loves us completely. Just the way we are. We are His masterpiece, His workmanship of grace and love. His work of art.

As we grow, He continues to paint the portrait of our lives in such a way that we will glorify Him. Many times for us, this is a hard concept to grasp since we see our lives as incomplete and maybe like an unfinished portrait.

But His eternal eyes know exactly what we need and where we need His greatest attention. Every frustration, every disappointment, and every joy is a brushstroke serving a purpose in God’s perfect plan.

In his eyes, you are a masterpiece.

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Todd

The Eyes of Jesus

Today, we continue our devotions from the book “Time with God for Fathers” by Jack Countryman.  Our first focus today, ironically, has to do with our eyes.

USING THE EYES OF JESUS
Romans 15:7
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

The attitude and influence we choose to have with our brothers and sisters in Christ is often determined by how we receive those we see every week…in church, at work and in the community.

When God looks at each of us through the eyes of Jesus, he sees us as perfect because Jesus has paid the price for all of our sins. The scripture asks us, in turn, to receive one another without fault or judgment.

When this happens, the barriers that stunt our relationship with other Christians are removed and fellowship becomes the joy of our hearts. This attitude is the foundation for building a solid relationship with those whom we call the body of Christ.

A PARENTAL LIFE WITH NO REGRETS
Romans 10:11-13
11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Becoming a parent is a gift that only God can give.

Through his divine providence, we have been given the privilege of having children. We need to accept this blessing…and look forward to the adventure of raising our kids with the love of God in our hearts.

When we place our faith in Christ, his Spirit is ever-present to guide us to be the best parents that we can be. The Lord wants very much to be included in your daily life as a parent and as a follower of Jesus Christ.

God never offers salvation to you and then pulls the rug out from under you. When you put your faith in Christ, everything you need to be a great parent is available. You need only to ask and God, through his gracious mercy, will deliver.

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Todd

The power and depth of God’s love

Today, we continue our devotions from the book “Time with God for Fathers” by Jack Countryman.  Our focus today is the power of God’s love and how it impacts us.

LET YOUR GREATEST LOVE BE GOD

Deuteronomy 7:9

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

Think about this: everything that we do and don’t do, face and don’t face is touched by God’s continuing love.

Everything about us is hanging on love; some might even say hinged on love, because God, who IS love, created you and me in his image. And because God loves us, He gives us blessings and lets us share them.

When we pray and are told to wait, it is because He loves us and knows that we need time to grow. When the overwhelming choices before us make it hard to know which way is up, our Lord and Savior shows us our need to depend on His guiding love…

…and until we come to understand and believe that at our deepest, innermost level…that God is love…we will continue to struggle with trusting him. With obeying him. And seeking him wholeheartedly.

One of the keys to our spiritual growth is believing in God’s love EVEN when we cannot see it.

FOCUS IS THE NAME OF THE GAME

Mark 12:30-31

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’] There is no commandment greater than these.”

When we talk about being a Christian and living the Christian life, we know that everything hinges on the first two commandments.

There is first, the vertical commandment: to love the Lord with all of your heart soul mind and strength. Then the second is a horizontal commandment: to love your neighbor as yourself.

The essence of these verses is, of course, love! Love for God and love for each other. It is the kind of love that seeks no reward or personal gain, but rather desires to honor God by sharing his grace and generosity with those around us.

Great character and great morals are built on this foundation…and when we practice these in everyday life the Lord is lifted up. He is glorified! And we are also blessed.

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Todd

 

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