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If we love…

If we love someone, we will surely want to motivate them to do and be the best they can. We will look for the good that is within them and build on top of that. People who like others and who believe that they have good intentions seem to inspire others to do their very best. On the contrary, people who are always seeking the worst in others will find it. Here is an example: In a certain school, a test was given at year end to every student and, at the beginning of the following year, the teachers were given a list of names of those who had the highest scores. At the end of that year, the children on the list of the best scores had increased their grades considerably. Actually, the names on the list of the best had been chosen at random. The only thing that had changed was the attitude of the teachers who treated those children as if they were the best students. The lesson was that to motivate people to do their best, we need to expect the best of them. Jesus did that to Simon when he gave him the name Peter before he became strong. He called Zacchaeus and Matthew to be apostles when they were still tax-collectors. He called the sinful woman in John 8 to a pure life on the day she had been caught in adultery.

Let us seek the best in each other and motivate them to do and be their very best. This includes our children, our spouses and our brethren.

Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Joe

Why Are You Here?

LAST WEEK’S SERMON AND LIFE GROUP PROVOKED SOME GOOD QUESTIONS: “WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE?” OR “WHY ARE YOU HERE?”

On one hand, individually, the answer may vary from person to person according to their profession, family situation, age, sex, etc. On the other hand, there is one single answer for all of us. In this case, the question becomes “What is the meaning of life?” or “Why are we here?” “Why did God create us as human beings?”

No matter who we are, we need to understand the meaning of life. Philosophers have searched for the answer to this question for centuries and most of the answers are not only inaccurate but also too complicated for a common person to even understand. Until we understand what it is all about, we won’t really appreciate how everything in our lives has purpose behind it. I believe there is an answer that is so simple that even a child can understand it: Consider the little earthworm.

As earthworms tunnel through the soil, they ingest the soil and digest any organic matter in it. They create fertilizer and aerate the soil which helps the plants to grow.

What is the meaning of life for an earthworm? Why do they exist? What is the purpose of their existence? Why did God create them and place them on this planet? The answer to these questions can help show the meaning of life for us!

  • Why did God create earthworms? To enrich and improve the soil. To help plants to grow.
  • Why does God want good soil? So plants will grow
  • Why does God want plants to grow? To provide food for us.
  • Why does God want us to eat? So we will live and survive.
  • Why does God want us to live and survive? So we will have the opportunity to come to know and love him?
  • Why does God want us to know and love him? So we will decide to be a part of his family.

Here we arrive at an understanding of the meaning of life. God wants a large family, with many children to love and be with. The Holy Scriptures state it this way in the book of Hebrews 2:9 & 10:

“We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, IN BRINGING MANY SONS TO GLORY, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

There it is. God’s purpose for creating human beings is that He wants a large family of many sons (children) with Him in glory.

1 John 3:1-3:

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. I  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

The Bible’s one message: God loves you. Whoever you are, whatever you are facing in your life, Whatever is going through your mind right this minute, The great God of this universe – our Creator – loves you.

You may be young or old, male or female, black or white, college professor or illiterate, rich or poor – God loves you. You may have it all together or your life may be a total wreck – God loves you.

You may know who you are and where you are going or you may be lost in a fast paced society – God loves you. You may be strong and faithful or you may have fallen flat on you face in public disgrace – God loves you.

God, our Creator wants you to be His child.

Joe

Little Children

Can you think of a more spiritual activity than playing with a two year old child? Jesus said that we are to let the little children come to us because people who are like the kingdom of heaven are like them. They are pure and holy, humble and submissive. They don’t put on airs, are transparent, are not too proud to cry and aren’t afraid to get on the floor and play with toys. What could be more spiritual than spending good quality time with a God-like person? They give us opportunities for serving, showing patience and seeing things with simplicity’s eyes. We thank God for Sienna and getting on her level. Thank you God, also, for the little children around the Joelton church.

Deepen Your Relationship With God

Deepen your relationship with God, and then share with one other person. Take five or ten minutes now to meditate, say a prayer, take some deep breaths and let this verse wash over you.

Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and focus your thoughts on the person of Jesus Christ. Don’t think about his invitation in the verse. Don’t even think about how tired you are or how he promises rest. Think about Jesus’ gentleness and humility. He has all power in his hands. He hates your sin, so much so that he died to break its power over your life. And you keep tripping up and stumbling, but instead of punishment or disgust, Jesus receives you with open arms. That is meekness. Jesus is the definition of gentleness. Spend time in the gentle presence of the Lord. Feel the beauty of his gentle spirit.

Joseph McKinney

Imagine God

Hi there, Joseph McKinney Jr. here. For the past six months I have been making daily devotionals for the church in João Pessoa. I want to share some of the thoughts with you.

The purpose is to take five or ten minutes to meditate, deepening your relationship with God and then share with one other person, thus deepening your relationship with a brother or sister in Christ. So say a prayer, take some deep breaths and let this verse wash over you.

Colossians 1:15 – “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

Have you ever tried to imagine what God is like? Did you imagine an old man, a ball of light or a cloud? It is impossible to imagine God, not because He is all powerful or so immense, but because He is Spirit. He is invisible. God wanted to reveal Himself in a way we could see Him.

Now imagine Jesus, a man with a physical body like ours, but with the character, love, and justice of God. Look to Jesus and you are seeing God. And when people look at you, guess who they should see.

Jesus is the bridge between God and us, and we are the bridge between Jesus and other people.

One of us

Is it truth or blasphemy? When we returned from Brazil in 1995, we became reintroduced to American TV and one of my favorite shows seemed to me at first to be blasphemy. It was named “Joan of Arcadia” and the theme song by Joan Osborne went like this:

“What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us? Just a stranger on the bus Trying to make His way home?”

The gist of the story line was a teenager who God chose to appear to in a way that He seemed to be a stranger on a bus when someone in her life needed divine wisdom. It reminded me of the conversation between Jesus, Phillip and Thomas in John 14: 5 – 15:

5 Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. 15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

It is a historical fact that a man, Jesus of Nazareth, lived about 2,000 years ago. We know where He was born, the names of some in his family, how He died and, yes, that in him was life and that He himself was LIFE. His coming was a demonstration of life and this life is eternal. With Christ, “LIFE” stopped being just an abstract theory of philosophy. LIFE manifested itself as a carpenter’s son, who walked, talked, ate, slept, cried and loved and whose resurrection from the dead proved Him to be who He claimed to be. He said of Himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Christ is life and life is Christ. If you have eternal life it is because you have Christ. If you don’t have Christ, you don’t have life. Real life, eternal life, which is the life of Christ, is much more than mere existence. Many exist who have never found “life”. If you ran into Jesus on the way to work on a city bus, would you recognize him? That’s not a strange question. After all, He became like one of us, didn’t He?

Don’t Wait

Don’t wait …
for a smile before you are pleasant to others.
until you are lonely before you recognize the value of a friend.
until the funeral to appreciate someone important in your life today.
for a better job before you start working hard.
until you fail to remember good counsel.
until you are ill to recognize how fragile life is.
until you are bitter to ask for forgiveness.
until you are in pain to believe in prayer.
until you have time in order to begin to serve.
until you are separated before you seek reconciliation.
for recognition before you start to serve.
until you are rich to be a generous giver.
for the other one to take the initiative if you are guilty.
for someone to say “Me too” before you say “I love you”.
until the day you die to give your life to the Lord!!!

Give honor to whom honor is due

This is why we want to honor so many of our dear sisters in Christ. Just think about the Caring Kitchen meals, teas and showers, funerals and the bereaved, Life Groups, sick and shut-ins, pot-lucks and more. You all are truly remarkable and worthy of praise. We praise you and the Lord who inspires you to tirelessly serve others.

We belong to Him and each other.

Do you know any walnuts?

They may be tough nuts to crack but if you succeed, you’ll find beauty, potential and a valuable source of nutrition. To crack a walnut open, just place it on a rock or a concrete surface, hold it at the right angle, lift a hammer into the air and force it down rapidly. If you hit it hard enough, it will open, but you may sometimes crush it to smithereens. God has a better way. Just bury it in the ground, expose it to the right moisture and temperature and wait for it to crack open from the inside, just like a chicken egg. You never need to beat it over the head to make it sprout and grow and be transformed into a very useful tree. Human beings, when placed in the proper environment, can grow and become what God designed us to be. God’s power to transform people is incredible. There are some important factors in the process of transformation:
1. The potential for greatness that God designed into human beings.
2. The environment conducive to growth provided by Christians who look beyond a  person’s faults to see their needs.
3. A person’s own free will and ability to choose between good and evil.
4. The gospel of Jesus Christ that motivates people to love and goodness.
5. The Holy Spirit present in the life of a person. I know it happens. The Bible says it  happens and I have seen it happen.

I am just a nobody who wants to tell everybody about somebody who can transform anybody.

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