Encouraging, Living, Reaching

April 20, 2017

Scott Duncan

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”  Luke 4:18-19

As disciples of the Lord Jesus we have the sweet privilege of sharing our relationship with God to others. Therefore we should encourage one another in our gatherings to fulfill our Lord’s commission to preach the gospel and witness for Him.  We can be bold since we have the same power in us that was working through Jesus as He: 
1. Gave hope to the poor 
2. Healed the brokenhearted 
3. Freed the captives & oppressed 
4. Provided light for the path of those that were lost and without God.
We don’t need to perform the miracles that our Lord Jesus did, we can simply point those in need to the One that met our need.  May we never take for granted that the Spirit of the Lord that is within us desires to declare the love and power of Jesus and proclaim Him as the true Son of God and only Savior of mankind!  

April 18, 2017

Mike Dilione

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.  Romans 2:-2 (ESV)

Have you ever caught yourself judging someone else? I know I have plenty of times. Paul makes a very good point when it comes to judging one another. When I judge someone it is because I am practicing the very same thing. Paul says there is no reason for you to be a judge.

It kind of made me think of it this way. If we both rob a bank how can I be the judge at your trial? It would make no sense. I can’t judge you for robbing the bank and condemn you, I was right there by your side robbing the bank with you.

I am convinced that if we spent more time judging ourselves and our own works we would grow closer to the Lord because we would recognize how much more room there is for growth. The more we look at others and judge them, the further we will fall away from the Lord.

Satan uses this often, “At least I am better than that person.” We must pray daily that we would not judge others, but judge our own works and grow in our relationship with the Lord. My prayer for each of you today is that you will become less like yourself and more like the Lord Jesus.

April 17, 2017

Scott Duncan

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” Jude 24

Our Lord Jesus is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us faultless before the presence of God’s glory. There is so much rich truth contained in this verse to expound upon, but to just sit and contemplate how the Lord presents us faultless is amazing!

When we begin to think about our own failures or sins we’ve committed against God, it’s almost unbelievable that such a claim can be made about us being presented before a holy and righteous God.  As we grow and learn more of what the Lord Jesus has accomplished through His finished work at Calvary, we see that He can rightly present us faultless since the Lord Jesus became sin that we might become righteous (2 Cor. 5:21).  He has also removed our transgressions as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  The Scriptures continue by likening us to Abraham since he believed God and He accounted to him for righteousness (James 2:23).

How thankful and joyful we should be when we who used to be considered sinners and enemies of God can now be presented faultless before His glory.

April 11, 2017

Mike Donahue

 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. Romans 1:14-15 NKJV 

Paul had a debt he owed the lost, and not because he had done anything to the lost. One way to get into debt is to borrow money from someone. But that is not what Paul is talking about. The other way to get into debt is to be given something to deliver to someone else. If I order a pizza online and pay for it, the pizza delivery guy owes me a pizza until he delivers it. God had given Paul the greatest message the world would ever hear, and told him to share it with everybody. Paul owed the world the message until he delivered it.

The world needs the gospel, we owe it to them.

April 7, 2017

Janice Nicholson

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment Hebrews 9:27

I had a conversation recently with someone once about the death of a believer and how peaceful it was. The person then told me that they had witnessed a few deaths and the difference between a believer’s passing and an unbeliever’s passing was vastly different. They then told me about the look of terror on the face of the unbelievers, people who did not prepare themselves to meet God and for that judgment.

As believers, are we thinking about the lost enough?

We can spend a great deal of time contemplating the blessings of our rich inheritance when we die, but in so doing are we forgetting that there are people out there who will spend an eternity in torment?

Just to refresh our memories on what we have been freed from, here are a few words in Scripture to describe hell: fiery lake of burning sulfur, second death, eternal punishment, realm of the dead, blazing furnace, shut out from the presence of the Lord.

Let us rekindle our love for the lost. Let us think often of those who need the Saviour and not hold back in sharing with them the good news of the Gospel.

Time is running out, the Lord is coming soon!

April 6, 2017

Scott Duncan

But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”  Mark 4:40

Faith in the Lord Jesus and fear should not coexist.  The fears of tomorrow should vanish once we realize we are fully depending on our gracious Savior to carry us home to glory.  It’s easy to get scared or discouraged with the boisterous waves that come with life.  So whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed or frightened with what lies ahead, simply look to the Lord Jesus to deliver you from the surrounding storm since He has the power and desire to calm the elements affecting your daily life.

April 5, 2017

Shane Johnson

For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. Hebrews 11:2

No life of faith can be lived in a vacuum. People are bound to take notice. Most importantly, God Himself takes notice. By faith the men and women of the Old Testament obtained a good testimony, and by faith you and I are encouraged to do the same. First of all, we obtain a good testimony from God – and His is the testimony that matters. Listen carefully to what was said of Abel: through faith
he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts …͟(Heb.11:4). God vouched that Abel was righteous and His vote is the only vote that counts.
Secondly, the obtained a good testimony in the eyes of men. Even though the ancients are dead, they, like Abel, still speak to us today (Heb.11:4). The way they lived their lives counted for all eternity. Not only their own generation but how many other generations have been inspired to live lives of faith because these men and women lived out theirs?
May God use our lives to speak to those around us – to our children, our peers and to those who will live an hundred years from now.

March 30, 2017

Scott Duncan

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.  Galatians 6:1

If others have classified you as having a gentle spirit then it seems obvious that you’re heeding to the Spirit of God.  Being gentle with others (especially those who share like precious faith) is pleasing to God and shows what Christ is like.  When our Lord Jesus walked this earth He was gentle and lowly in heart and that is why sinners were not afraid to approach Him.  Therefore, may we as believers be sure not to give the appearance that we would never be overtaken in a trespass and that we would seem hard and unapproachable  to others, but let us rather show a lowly spirit that seeks the good of others no matter the cost to us.

March 29, 2017

Shane Johnson

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

What is faith?  Yes, faith is the substance of things hoped for, but it is more than that.  Faith is the conviction, no, the confidence of things hoped for.  The Greek word hupostasis, which is used here, is used elsewhere in the Scriptures and translated as confidence (2 Cor.9:4; 11:17; Heb.3:14).  Faith is absolutely convinced, and boastfully confident, that what God has promised, He will perform!

Moulton and Milligan, experts in the Greek, gave us this word picture to convey the meaning of the original Greek: now faith is the “title-deed” of things hoped for.  The title-deed of things to come!  God sees our faith as a proof of purchase for His promises.

The prophet Jeremiah provides us with a little illustration.  In Jeremiah 32, the prophet bought a field from his uncle’s son.  At the time, this seemed ridiculous in light of the Babylonian captivity which was upon them, a time when land values would be worthless.  Nevertheless, at God’s command, Jeremiah bought the field and sealed the title-deed in a clay jar.  God sealed the deal with this promise: “houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land” (Jeremiah 32:15).

By faith, one coming day we will possess every promise God ever spoke to us, if we have the faith to prove it!

March 28, 2017

Crawford Paul

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord”. Jeremiah 17:5

It’s pretty easy when it comes to service within the local church to trust in ourselves or others.  We can continue on in a ministry on autopilot and not be serving in the power of the Spirit.

It’s good to evaluate ourselves and the ministries within the local church to see if they are being done in the flesh or the Spirit.  One of the ways we can determine the work of the Spirit is whether or not there is blessing. If I am a teacher, are people being taught and growing in knowledge? If I am running an ongoing outreach is it seeing people saved? While we don’t look for numbers we should question ministries that do not show evidence of the work of the Spirit.

Are you trusting in the Lord or the power of the flesh?  It might be time for a fresh evaluation.

March 27, 2017

Andrew Brown

Behold I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before you. Mark 1:2

Surely this is a call to John the baptizer who like the prophets proclaimed he would prepared the way of the Lord. At the same time I was meditating on this in light of the vineyard parables of the Lord Jesus as in Mark 12. The vineyard owner sent messengers and then his son. The Lord sent His messengers and then His Son. It occurred to me the sending of a divine messenger should have had a wholly different effect on the people of Israel. Joshua seeing the commander of the Lord’s army, he fell on his face. Ahab, in 1 Kings 22 has a very different reaction to a divine word of warning. Still, not only did God send His messengers, He sent His Son! His only Son, for us to hear. “This is my beloved Son, hear Him!”

Father, help me to hear Your Spirit. Help me to hear Your Son. Help me to hear Your still small voice and obey.

March 24, 2017

Crawford Paul

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Proverbs 4:25 ESV

When it comes to church practice it is often easier to look behind than to look “directly forward”.  The victories of the past are held like trophies, displayed proudly for all to see. It can be tough to make changes when such prestige is attached to things that once were.

The Bible speaks quite a bit about this and ultimately the plan of God is that we are always moving forward. The apostle Paul felt it keenly that we should be constantly maturing together as a church (Eph 4:12-13).

What issues of the past are plaguing your assembly and keeping you chained from growing and moving forward to reach new heights of spiritual maturity?

March 23, 2017

Scott Duncan

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  Colossians 1:15

In Colossians we’re reminded that the Lord Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God.  God is Spirit and is too awesome for a mortal person to view with their own eyes.  But God found a way to reveal what He is like to mankind through the incarnation of the Son.  When God became flesh He veiled His glory and enabled mere men and women to look upon Him with their eyes and touch Him with their hands.

So when we’re sharing the gospel of God we can tell people that if they really want to know what God is like, they should read about Jesus in the gospels.  If they’re willing to read the 4 gospels, they’ll get a good taste of what God is like by seeing how Jesus acted and His indescribable power.  The life and death of the Lord Jesus revealed God’s character and plan.  So let’s make sure we point people to the Lord Jesus since salvation is found in a real relationship with Him!

March 20, 2017

Sherri Jason

On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah  Psalm 62:7-8

As I read these verses, they remind me of the security I have in the Lord. When I think of a mighty rock and a refuge, I think of strength, shelter, safety.  It’s such a great reminder that He is completely trustworthy.  But what struck me this time is that verse 8 is not just referring to His hand of Providence or my physical safety or protection through tough times.  The psalmist says “Pour out your heart before Him!”

Suddenly, this Rock seems so personal. And caring. I now picture this Rock of refuge as less of a rocky cave or cleft to hide under and more about God’s hands gently closing around me, cradling me, lifting me up and bending His ear so I can pour out my heart to Him. I smile a bit as I think of this mighty Rock as a “softie”. Someone who loves and cares and will listen to my most private thoughts.

Psalm 61:2 sums it up best for me.  “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”  What a contrast our God is compared to any other false god that others worship. A personal, loving God!  Praise His Name!

March 16, 2017

Scott Duncan

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Colossians 1:3

A thankful attitude while praying as mentioned in this verse, will inevitably encourage another brother or sister in the Lord.  
If we are truly taking the time to pray for one another and being thankful to the Lord for another person’s faith & love, then we should let the person know that we bring their names before the Lord with thankful hearts.  The thought that someone cared enough to pray for me to the One who holds the universe in His hands is extremely comforting and motivating.  The importance of prayer while having a thankful spirit can never be overestimated and the impact on the other saints at your assembly will have immediate and eternal benefits!  When is the last time you told another saint that you’ve thanked God for them?

March 14, 2017

Sherri Jason

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ESV

There are times when we feel down, unworthy, just not good enough.  We may have habits that are hard to break, character traits that need a lot of work, and sin that we keep repeating.

Take heart, dear friend, that Jesus Christ created you as his workmanship.  I love how the New Living Translation puts it.  We are his masterpiece.  A work of His creation that He planned out to the very last detail.  And He created us each with a purpose and plan.  He planned out very carefully good works for each one of us.  And we should walk down that path and fulfill those good works.  And we can do it!  Because we were created by Jesus Christ Himself and He will equip us for what He has planned for us

March 13, 2017

John Nicholson

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

This is a lesson it has taken a long time to learn. I think sometimes we go too far in the other direction when we respond to the hollow philosophy of “you gotta just believe in yourself”. Basically saying in effect, you don’t need to trust in Anyone but YOU!

In response to that, we pile many more burdens on ourselves than God ever intended. He said Himself, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

The freeing joy and clarity that results when that internal struggle is dealt with allows us to proceed with purpose, and leave the results for God to bless. I am reminded of the part of the movie “Chariots of Fire” when Harold Abrahams runs against Eric Liddle. Two fine runners, but one loses his vision and looks back while the other finishes strong and breaks the tape.

I want it to be true of me what Paul wrote to the Philippians to press on!  I recall my Mom sharing with me when I was younger, “thinking too highly of yourself or too lowly of yourself is still focused on you”. Again it is so simple. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look FULL in His wonderful face. And the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”

March 10, 2017

Andrew Brown

In Psalm 68 twenty times we are presented the idea of the presence of habitation of the LORD. It also seems there is a tie in, that His inheritance is His dwelling, verses 9 & 10. In verse 24 and 25 we read of the view of worshippers going into the sanctuary of God, already worshipping.

24 They have seen Your procession, O God,
The procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary.
25 The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after;

Among them were the maidens playing timbrels.

 I read those verses and I am forced to ask myself two questions: 1) Do I see the presence of God in His sanctuary? Not a specific building but His habitation. Do I seek His presence, personally, privately, passionately? 2) Do I go in worshipping? Either individually or corporately with the saints of God, do I go in with a song in my heart, joy in my soul, a proclamation of His greatness on my lips?

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth;
Oh, sing praises to the Lord, Selah
33 To Him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which were of old!
Indeed, He sends out His voice, a mighty voice.
34 Ascribe strength to God;
His excellence is over Israel,
And His strength is in the clouds.
35 O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places.
The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people.

Blessed be God!”

March 9, 2017

Scott Duncan

And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22

When reading through the book of Acts it becomes clear that the early church was on a mission, & that mission was to fulfill the Lord’s great commission.  We know by reading the end of the gospels that the Lord’s desire was to preach the gospel and to make disciples.  
Has His commission changed since then?  Are we empowered by the same Spirit that the early disciples were given?  Are you making your mission the same as our Lord’s?  Let us seek to follow the examples of the early church by practically preaching the gospel (in both word & deed) and by training new believers to follow in the path of our Lord Jesus.  The great Helper will provide all of the necessary power and tools to enable us to accomplish our Lord’s commission.

March 8, 2017

Sherri Jason

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.  Proverbs 18:2

The only way we can really understand our brothers and sisters is by actually listening to them.  It’s very important to our relationships that we are not just thinking about our reply when someone else is talking.  Maybe it’s a simple topic, maybe it’s something more important.  Maybe we are more interested in judging motives or in a good debate rather than really trying to understand the other person’s point of view.

If it doesn’t actually bring you pleasure to understand the other person, there is something wrong.  If you are only concerned about expressing yourself and what you want the other person to understand about you, you are a fool. Strong vocabulary, but important to note. Clearly the Lord does not think relationships are supposed to be one way. Thankfully He has shown us so much grace in our own relationships with Him.  May we extend that grace to others and strive to be people who take pleasure in understanding our fellow believers.