Have you ever noticed that what you focus on typically comes your way? It is the same with Prayer. Whatever you focus on will be magnified in your life. When praying if you focus too much on the problem it will have a tendency to grow. We should focus more on God who is our solution and He will grow in our lives. We should focus more on God lifting him up in Praise with Thanksgiving in our hearts. In doing this He (God) will grow stronger in our lives and our problem will become weaker.
I have taught in my classes that 80-90% of our prayers should be offering up Praise and Thanksgiving to God, Praise and Thanksgiving offered up to God blesses Him and strengthens us. As God becomes more important to us the problems become less important and these problems have less authority in our lives. Ps 22:3 The Lords inhabits the praises of His people.
When we approach God in prayer with a new attitude it will make a big difference in our lives. This is why we begin church services with praise and worship.
Blessing to you as we Praise our God with a thankful heart.
Chet Wiswell, Elder
In real estate, location, location, location is usually very wise advice. However, in spiritual matters, not so much. Some wit once said (paraphrased), “Sitting in a church building regularly doesn’t make one a Christian any more than standing in a garage daily makes one a car.” A determined person could stand in the garage and make car sounds and cover himself with metal pieces, but his location and actions would still not help change the situation. Absurd of course and totally in vain.
The analogy seem to also work for anyone who sits in a pew listening to sermons, giving money and singing songs. Even doing good deeds, though laudable, does not produce a Christian. Jesus said that even those who claim to have performed miracles and cast out demons while calling Him Lord were still called evildoers and told they would not enter the kingdom of heaven ( Mt 7: 21-23). Even though the rich young ruler had kept the 10 commandments since he was a boy ( Lk 18:18-23) went away sad and didn’t become a disciple of Jesus because he just couldn’t give up his wealth.
The Scribes and Pharisees, who were the spiritual leaders during the time of Christ, were repeatedly censured by Jesus for their love of being seen and honored by the common people. ( Mt 23:1-7). They did not practice what they preached ( v 3), they were called hypocrites and blind guides ( vv 13-14 & 16). They supposed their position and authority would admit them into the kingdom of heaven, but it was all in vain.
Obviously one can never become a car just by location and effort. Likewise one doesn’t become a Christian by location and harder efforts to please God. How then does the Bible tell us how to please God and have Christ as an intercessor? We must come to God with an admission of sins, a heartfelt sorrow and a willingness to be born again ( Jo 3:3). We have the sins of the old person washed away by God’s grace and our obedience( Acts 2:38) ( Acts 22:16). We can have Christ live within us and we can be in Him ( Rom 8:1) ( Gal 3: 26-29)( Rom 6: 3-6). As we begin this new life we now can wear the name CHRIST(ian) of our Lord. Through Him we can have every spiritual blessing on earth and on heaven to come Anything else is completely in vain.
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
Lots of people hope that there are beings similar to humans on others planets. They also visualize close encounters with those visitors from outer space. According to “experts” interviewed on the History Channel, this has already happened and they were responsible for many of the hard to explain phenomena of this earth.
Bible believing Christians realize that we have had a close encounters with a being from outer space. He was and is God the Son. People of that time were able to see, converse with, and touch Jesus Christ ( 1 Jo 1:1). A great number of so-called realists claim that this is a myth and that Jesus, if he really existed, was a mere man.
Christians also believe that we continually experience close encounters every day with the Godhead. We communicate with them through prayer and by reading the thoughts of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit ( Rom 8: 10-16). We also encounter the providence and protection promised by them ( Rom 8:39) ( Heb 13: 5.)
God the Father frequently arranges circumstances to fulfill His divine will. He carefully waited until just the right time to send His Son into this world ( Gal 4: 4-5) and we know that, “…God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.” ( Rom 8:28).
I recently saw this in a close encounter with a clerk at Home Depot. She was very curious when I started to leave and wished her a great eternity. She asked what that meant and that gave me a perfect opportunity to tell her of my faith and ask her about hers. She was genuinely touched that anyone would care about her soul. She is a small town lady from a small town in Iowa and I hope she will accept the invitation to worship God with the saints at Norwest. A very fruitful close encounter indeed!
My father-in-law used to plant a huge garden every year and never even thought about watering it. That’s because he lived in an area where he depended upon the regular rains to irrigate it during the growing season. It was quite a shock for my wife to discover that one must continually water the lawn and plants here in this drier climate.
Sometimes rain comes in gentle showers and at other times in pounding downpours. God controls the rain and decides when and where it will fall ( Job 5:10) ( Gen 7:a4) (1ki 18:1) (Lev 26:4). He causes it to rain on one city and not on another( Amos 4:7). He also makes it rain on the just and the unjust alike (Mt 5: 45).
Rain is used in several metaphors throughout the Bible. God will rain righteousness on those who seek Him ( Hos 10:12). However, He will rain snares fire and brimstone upon the wicked ( Ps 11: 6). He promised to rain blessings upon the obedient ( Mal 3:10) ( Ez 34:26). He literally rained bread ( manna) from heaven on the Israelites during the wilderness wanderings. ( Ex 16:4). His doctrine shall drop as the rain then as well as now ( De 32:2).
When Christians deal with brethren or outsiders, our words should be like gentle raindrops not destructive hailstones ( 2 Sam 23:4) ( 1Tim 3:3) ( Eph 4:2) ( Col 4: 5). Jesus himself said, “…for I am gentle and humble in heart…” ( Mt 11: 29).
Those who live in a rainy place soon learn to carry an umbrella top avoid getting soaked. Christians need to protect themselves from the constant attacks of the devil and the evil that exists in this world. They have the indwelling Holy Spirit who acts as a spiritual umbrella to shield them from the constant downpours of temptation and false doctrine.
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.
Light dispels darkness. It removes darkness, immediately, completely. (Remember this concept)
John 3:20 (NKJV)20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (Remember, Light exposes and removes Darkness)
Sounds like the “light” will expose the darkness or evil in our lives. If you are in or experiencing any kind of darkness in your life, get into the “light” or into the “Word of God”.
Luke 11:33-34 (NKJV)33 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. 34 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.
This is saying that the eyes are the lamp of the body. The eyes are what bring in data or information into our minds. Our eyes can be used to fill our minds with good thing or evil things. If our eyes are focused on helping others and looking into the Word of God or the Bible, this is good. But, if our eyes are focused on self image, evil behavior, dirty magazines, or even too much social media and TV, we can be filling our minds with darkness and evil. Our eyes are “sucking it in”. So, I opened up my home page and evaluated the first 20 articles. They ranged from Mothers Day Flowers all the way to Nuclear War talks. 85% were negative, evil, and darkness while only 15% were of the positive nature and could be considered good. Is this the ratio of evil verses good that we are filling our minds with??? If it is, then we have a problem. How many hours a day are we introducing “Darkness” into our minds? We need to be in the “Word”, the Bible, on a regular, steady, consistent basis allowing the “Word” to change our lives. And it will if that becomes our focus.
Psalm 100:4 (NKJV) 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.We need to be in the Bible. The light will help us with “being Thankful”, “Praising God”, and “Blessing His Holy Name”.
Chet Wiswell, Elder
All of us no doubt hear the question, “How are you?” several times each day. Instead of responding with the expected “Fine” or “Good”, what if more peop0le replied, B. B. B.? That has nothing to do with the Better Business Bureau, rather it is an acronym for Blessed Beyond Belief. I’m going to try using it as a conversation starter and a declaration of my faith
Surely all Christians can truthfully claim the many blessings God pours out on us continually. We can access the very throne room of the Godhead with confidence ( Heb 4:16) any time and any place without ritual, preamble or fanfare. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit intercede and advocate for us in our prayers ( 1 Jo 2:1) ( Heb 4: 15-16) ( Rom 8:34 ( Rom 8: 14-16) ( Rom 8: 26-27) ( Heb 7:24-25). All these verses tell us how blessed we are to be children of God and fellow heirs with Christ Jesus ( Rom 8: 14-17). Unbelievable!
All have sinned ( Rom 3:23) and continue to sin ( 1 Jo 1 : 8-10) but when one becomes an immersed believer in Christ our sins are washed away ( Acts 22:16) ( Heb 8: 12) ( Acts 2:38). Only the one who was without sin is able to sympathize with our weaknesses having been tempted in every way just as we are ( Heb 4: 14-16). What a blessing!
Our material blessings are almost numberless. In our country we enjoy freedom, affluence, good health care and a myriad of other things. We are virtually without persecution when teaching our beliefs. Incredible!
We can assemble with our brethren any time to glorify God ( Heb 10:25) and to enjoy the love, concern and forgiveness of our fellow Christians ( Gal 5:13) ( Rom 13: 8) ( Col 3: 13). My hope is that some of you will join me in the B. B. B. campaign and perhaps it will catch on and be a real motivation for our friends to think deeper about their own soul. That would be a blessing beyond belief.
My old Sears lawnmower refused to start even after I checked the filter, the gas lines and the spark plug. Who could blame the 25 year workhorse? Nevertheless, I kept pulling the starter cord persistently for over 50 times. It would cough and sputter but not keep running until finally it did. The main reason I was so persistent was that the alternative was to buy a new mower for around 350 dollars. Some synonyms for persistent might be unrelenting, repetitious, or hardheaded. I plead guilty to the last one.
Persistence can be a positive or negative trait. It is described as continuing steadily or firmly in some state, purpose, or course of action in spite of opposition or criticism. When learning a new skill or language it is certainly needed. However, when one is persistent in the use of drugs or alcohol, it can lead to addiction or even death.
Christ’s love for His creation is persistent, relentless and wonderful. He constantly stands at the door of one’s heart asking to come in ( Rev 3:20). Even His last words on the cross expressed this love and persistence ( Lk 23: 34) ( Lk 23: 40-43).
Christians are told to be persistent in: prayer, ( 1 Th 5:17) ( Php 4:6) ( Rom 12:12) attendance, ( Heb 10:25) good deeds, ( Gal 6:9) thankfulness, ( 1Th 5:18) ( Col 2:7) love, ( Php 1:9) and several other Christian graces. Some versions use the word abounding which connotes an over-whelming persistence. Sadly, the scriptures also mention those who, “…deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the truth…” and will have, “…only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire…” ( Heb 10: 26-27). Therefore our task is continue on with loving persistence.
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
This word is not used much anymore expect by those who work with metal and jewelry. It deals with the waste matter taken off the molten metal during smelting. I couldn’t find the word in the New Testament, but God uses it in the Old Testament to make a strong spiritual metaphor. “All the wicked of the earth you ( God)( v 115) discard like dross…” ( Ps 119:119). “the house of Israel has become dross to me;…so I will gather you in my anger…and you will be melted.” ( Ezk 22: 18:22). “ …I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities.” ( Isa 1: 24-25).
The Holy Spirit writer and Apostle, Paul, uses a different metaphor for the useless material to be discarded ---circumcision. The physical act that meant so much in the Old Law is now unnecessary. “…the uncircumcised who obey the law will condemn those circumcised who are lawbreakers…” ( Rom 2:25). “…neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything (spiritually), what counts is a new creation ( Gal 6:15).
He further explains why this action is like the dross of metal. “…For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh.” ( Php 3:3). Paul seals the deal with this statement, “…and circumcision is circumcision of the HEART, by the Spirit, not by the written code…” ( Rom 2:29).
It is necessary then for all who have put on Christ in immersion ( Gal 3:26-28), both male and female, to rid themselves of the dross of the heart ( 1 Cor 5:8). Some of the 1st Century Christians still dealt with jealousy, anger, gossip and arrogance ( 2 Cor 12: 20). These and several other behaviors are the dross that God wants us to remove from our hearts as He refines us like silver or gold, so that we can become pure and valuable in His eyes ( Zes 13:9).
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
Suppose you were to receive an envelope in which there was a check made out to you for one million dollars tax-free. You didn’t earn it by hard work or even clever investments. It was a totally free gift that was unearned and unexpected. However, it is not unconditional if one wants to use it. There are some steps required with which you must comply to make it usable. First you must believe in the validity of the check itself or you might just tear it up or frame it and put it on the wall as a joke. Next you must prove your identity, then endorse it. Now it is finally viable to cash or deposit. Compliance is the act of conforming, yielding and cooperating. It is taking or receiving something offered by obeying the conditions requested.
Many kind and decent people have been led to believe that salvation is totally unconditional and universal because it can’t be earned by works of merit ( Eph 2:8-9) Since the beginning of time the Godhead has laid out conditions to be accepted and obeyed (Gen 2:16-17). The promise to the Israelites on Mount Sinai was that, “…IF you obey me fully and keep my covenant…you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation ( Ex 19:5-6) The people promised that they would ( v8) but continually reneged and most of them died in the desert without reaching the promised land ( Heb 3:16-18) It was a free gift that they hadn’t earned but they never received it.
Jesus Himself told us that, “If anyone loves me he will obey my teachings…( Jo 14:23) His teachings continued on throughout the New Testament in words given the Apostles by inspiration of the Holy Spirit ( 2 Pe 1:21). The Spirit taught only what Jesus wanted known ( Jo 16: 13-15). It is not total compliance to simple pray for Christ to some into one’s heart (Mt 7:21) Jesus’ teaching here is that calling Him Lord, Lord, does not get one into heaven, rather it is by doing the will of God the Father who is in heaven.
It is the Godhead’s will that a person who believes, (Mk 16:16) confesses Christ publically, repents from the heart, (Lk 13:3) and is immersed INTO Christ Jesus for forgiveness of sins, will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ( Rom 6:3-6) ( Gal 3:26-27) ( Act 2:38) Also one is then given salvation and assurance of safety from condemnation ( Rom 8:1).
These are all available to everyone not by works of merit, but rather by a humble, obedient compliance to God’s conditions. Much like the secular check, one must take hold of the free gift and take possession of it by fulfilling God’s teachings and commandments. The gift cannot be earned, it must be received and appreciated.
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Have you ever considered doing a FRUIT check of your life? We should be doing this from time to time. As Christians we have these characteristics found in verse 22, but, are we allowing them to be expressed outwardly in our lives. Can others see this fruit in our conduct? If we are allowing our flesh to be controlled by the Holy Spirit then these characteristics will be expressed on an increasingly greater frequency. Each day as we are interacting with people we should be mindful of this fruit of the Spirit and we should strive, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to conduct ourselves with these fruits. We should do as verse 16 says and “walk by the Spirit” and then the desires of the flesh will diminish and the fruit of the Spirit will begin to be who we are becoming in Jesus. Is it time for a fruit check in your life?
Blessings to you all.
Chet Wiswell, Elder.
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