365: Barbara Thurston

Teamwork pt 1

8.23.15 I don't know about you but I believe in teamwork. When your @ a job if 1 person isn't on the same page the whole team gets messed up. It's sort of like if you are trying to carry something and it takes both hands but you lose one of your hands and so now it's harder carrying that thing. Have you ever thought about teamwork in the Church?
Sometimes Christians assume that full-time pastors serve the Lord more than other members do. Although that may be true in some cases, it is not true in all cases. Paul tells us, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Whenever a Christian works in a bank, he or she does it for the glory of God. A Christian who teaches school does it to glorify God. A Christian who takes care of children at home glorifies God in changing diapers and cleaning floors. They are all serving the Lord—full-time, perhaps 100 hours a week! Every member lives to the glory and honor of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15). Every member serves him as circumstances and abilities allow. Every member is a witness of Jesus Christ working in this world—and that includes secular occupations as well as religious jobs. Jesus served God by working as a carpenter for many years. Even today, Christian carpenters serve God in the work they do.

The church is not a building, social club or a self-benefit society. The church is the people of God. That means both ministers and lay members. The church has a mission to the world. The people of God have a mission to the world. Ministers and members have a mission to the world. Lay members have a prominent role in the church’s mission—partly because there are many more lay members than there are ordained ministers. Another reason for the importance of lay members is that lay members are more often “in the world.” Due to the nature of their job, ministers often interact mostly with people who are already Christians. It is the lay members who are mixing with non-Christians on a daily basis—on the job, in the neighborhoods, in hobbies and sports. They set examples of Christ-like life, hopefully a life that evidences hope and joy despite the troubles of this world. Non-Christians need that kind of example.

All members are ministers of Jesus Christ. We all serve him. Some serve him primarily in prayer, some in helping the poor, some in their family and neighborhood responsibilities, etc.—each according to our circumstances, each according to our abilities. Pastors serve him in pastoring his flock; members serve him in contributing to the spiritual health and unity of the flock, and we all serve him throughout the week in our ordinary activities, too. When Christ said “take up your cross and follow me,” he was not referring to pastors only! We cannot hire someone to do our Christian service for us. Pastors are to lead, to teach, to equip members for service. But each of us must do our own duty, as we have been called and gifted by the Holy Spirit. All Christians follow Christ in denying the self and in serving others. The Lord served others, and service is not beneath the dignity of anyone who accepts Jesus’ death as being payment for his or her sins. He served us, and calls on us to serve others, to do good to all. When members realize that they are ministers of Jesus Christ, they have a realistic view of who they are, what they have been called for, and how to live. Their identity is in Christ. They come to worship services not only to give worship, but also to receive instruction that will help them serve even better during the week.

None of us are strong in every area. Some of us are gifted as preachers but not gifted as counselors. Some of us are strong leaders but not so good at details. Some of us are good at building relations yet we’re not strong managers. And that’s actually good. If you were good at everything, you wouldn’t need the rest of the Body of Christ. Your church needs every member involved in ministry—not just you. Good teamwork is necessary in all areas of life—our families, our businesses, our communities. Paul reminds us in Romans 12 that bodies don’t function well unless they work together.

*Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it’s just too bad, because there is no one to help him. If it’s cold, two can sleep together and stay warm but how can you keep warm by yourself. Two men can resist an attack that would defeat one man alone. A rope of three cords is hard to break.” (TEV) We are better together than we are on our own.

*Nehemiah 4: When the Israelites were rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem, the work got tough and they got discouraged. Finally, they just gave up. So Nehemiah reorganized the work into teams. Half would stand guard with their spears and swords and protect everyone. The other half would work. Then they’d alternate their positions. He posted everyone by groups and families, so they could encourage and support each other.

*Mark 6:7: When Jesus sent people out in ministry; he sent them out in twos. He did not expect them to minister alone.

*Acts 24: Paul specifically mentions seven people who were part of him ministry team. He brought others along, not only to train them, but also to keep him encouraged.

Are you part of the team or just on the sidelines? If your just on the sidelines then it's time to step up and join the team. Come back tomorrow and we're going to look further @ teamwork in the Church.

 

God I come to you tonight praying that people don't just stay on the sidelines but they join the winning team and be a part of Your team. I thank you for always being there for me. Lord please watch over my facebook family and friends and know that I love you. I ask these things in Jesus Name Amen.

Functions of the Church

8.22.15 Functions of the Church

 

Why do we meet together each week for worship and instruction? With a lot less bother, couldn’t we worship at home, read the Bible and listen to a sermon on the radio or the internet?
In the first century, people gathered weekly to hear the Scriptures — but today we have our own copies of the Bible to read. Then why not stay at home to read the Bible on our own? It would be easier — cheaper, too. Through modern technology, everyone in the world could listen to the best preachers in the world, every week! We could have a menu of options, and listen only to the sermons that apply to us, or only to subjects we like. stay-at-home Christians are missing out on many important aspects of Christianity. God’s commands are not arbitrary things just to see if we will jump when he says jump. No, his commands are given for our own good. When we are young Christians, we may not understand why he commands certain things, and we need to obey even before we know all the reasons why. We simply trust God, that he knows best, and we do what he says. A young Christian may attend church simply because that’s what Christians are expected to do. A young Christian may attend simply because Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together.”
Some people today complain that they don’t get anything out of the sermons. That may be true, but it’s not an excuse to stop attending the meetings. Such people need to change their perspective from “get” to “give.” We attend worship services not just to get, but also to give — to give worship to God with our whole heart and to give service to other members of the congregation.
I say if you don't get anything out of the Message then you must not be listening or you didn't get your heart right before going to worship so that God will talk to you. 
Consider Jesus as an example. He regularly attended synagogue and regularly heard readings of Scripture that didn’t add anything to his understanding, but he went anyway, to worship. Maybe it was boring to an educated man like Paul, but he didn’t let that stop him, either. People who believe that Jesus has saved them from eternal death ought to be excited about it. They enjoy getting together with others to praise their Savior. Sometimes we have bad days and don’t feel like attending. But even if it is not our desire at the moment, it is still our duty. We can’t go through life doing only the things we feel like doing — not if we follow Jesus Christ as our Lord. He did not seek to do his own will, but the Father’s. Sometimes that’s what it boils down to for us. When all else fails, the old saying goes, read the instructions — and the instructions tell us to attend.
*Our relationship with God is both private and public, and we need both. Let’s begin with our public interaction with God — worship. It is possible to worship God when we are all alone, but the term worship usually suggests something we do in public. The English word worship is related to the word worth. We declare God’s worth when we worship him. 
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. (Psalm 33:1-3)
*Worship services are only part of our worship. The Word of God must enter our hearts and minds to affect what we do throughout the week. Worship can change its format, but it should never stop. Part of our worship response to God involves personal prayer and Bible study. People who are becoming more spiritually mature hunger to learn from God in his Word. They are eager to give him their requests, praise him, share their lives with him, and be aware of his constant presence in their lives. Our dedication to God involves our heart, mind, soul and strength. Prayer and study should be our desire, but if they are not yet our desire, we need to do them anyway. This is the advice John Wesley was once given. At that time in his life, he said, he had an intellectual grasp of Christianity, but he did not feel faith in his heart. So he was advised: Preach faith until you have faith — and once you have it, you will certainly preach it! He knew he had a duty to preach faith, so he did his duty. And in time, God gave him what he lacked: heart-felt faith. What he had formerly done out of duty, he now did out of desire. God had given him the desire that he needed. God will do the same for us.
*Throughout the New Testament, we see spiritual leaders teaching others. This is part of the Christian lifestyle; it is part of the great commission. “Go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Everybody must be either a learner or a teacher, and we are usually both at the same time. “Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). We must be learning from one another, from other Christians. The church is an educational institution as well as a place of worship and transformation.
Paul told Timothy, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). Every Christian should be able to teach the basics of the faith, to give an answer concerning our hope in Jesus Christ.
*The church is sometimes called a fellowship; it is a network of relationships. We all need to give and to receive fellowship. We all need to give and receive love. Fellowship means a lot more than talking to each other about sports, gossip and news. It means sharing lives, sharing emotions, bearing one another’s burdens, encouraging one another and helping those who have need.
Most people put a mask on to hide their needs from others. If we are really going to help one another, we need to get close enough to one another to see behind the masks. It means that we have to let our own mask fall down a bit so others can see our needs. Small groups are a good place in which to do this. We get to know people a little better and feel a little safer with them. Often, they are strong in the area in which we are weak, and we are strong where they are weak. So by supporting one another, we both become stronger. Even the apostle Paul, although he was a giant in the faith, felt that he could be strengthened in faith by other Christians (Romans 1:12).
*When I list “service” as a separate category here, I am emphasizing physical service, not the service of teaching or the service of encouraging others. A teacher is also a washer of feet, a person who illustrates the meaning of Christianity by doing what Jesus would do. Jesus took care of physical needs such as food and health. In a physical way, he gave his body and his life for us. The early church gave physical help, sharing their possessions with needy people, collecting offerings for the hungry.
Service should be done both inside and outside the church: “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). Folks who isolate themselves from other believers are falling short in this aspect of Christianity. The concept of spiritual gifts is important here. God has placed each of us in the body “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). Each of us has abilities that can help others.
*“Go into all the world and preach the gospel,” Jesus commands us. Frankly, we need a lot of improvement in this area. We have been too conditioned to keep our faith to ourselves. People cannot be converted unless the Father is calling them, but that does not mean that we shouldn’t preach the gospel! Jesus told us that we should.
To be effective stewards of the gospel message, we cannot just let other people do it. We cannot be content to hire other people to do it. Those forms of evangelism are not wrong, but they are not enough. Evangelism needs a personal face. When God wanted to send a message to people, he used people to do it. He sent his own Son, God in the flesh, to preach. Today he sends his children, humans in whom the Spirit is living, to preach the message and give it appropriate shape in each culture.
We need to be active, willing and eager to share the faith. We need enthusiasm about the gospel, an enthusiasm that communicates at least something about Christianity to our neighbors. (Do they know that we are Christians? Does it look like we are happy to be Christians?) We are growing and improving in this, but we need more growth.
So with that being said, what is your function in the Church? Do people see Christ in you? Do they know you are a Christian? Last but not least do you look happy being a Christian? 
God I come to you thanking you for this study you gave me. I have learned alot about the functions of the Church. I hope others feel this was helpful and they are as blessed as I am. Lord I pray that I show that I am proud and happy to say I am a Christian and I hope others see Christ in me. Lord please be with my facebook and friends and know that I love you. I ask these things in Jesus Name Amen.

unconditional love

 

8.21.15 Let's see what The Bible says about Unconditional Love

Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, it can also be love without conditions. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism, or complete love.

Unconditional love means loving another in his or her essence, as he or she is, no matter what he or she does or fails to do. People with children usually seem to understand this notion best of all. It is also learned and practiced. You must choose to love unconditionally. Parents might counter that they had no choice but to love their children from the moment they laid eyes on them, but that initial flush of attachment is, perhaps imperceptibly, replaced by an ongoing decision to love the child regardless of circumstances.

Realize that unconditional love is not being “blinded” by love. A person who has newly fallen in love with another is often in this state, where he/she does not see the other person’s full reality, faults and all. Such a state of love is (or at least should be) temporary, and needs to be replaced by a longer-term, “eyes wide open” type of love if the love is to last.
To love someone without conditions you need to be aware of the conditions, good and bad.

Think of unconditional love as an action more than a feeling. We usually consider love to be a feeling, but feelings are a response to something we “get” from someone or something. Therefore, feelings are conditional.
Unconditional love is the action, the choice to strive for the well-being of another. The feeling you derive from acting with love is your reward, the return you “get” from your own action. To love unconditionally is to act with love under all conditions. If you have to do something, or be a certain way, in order to receive love, that love is conditional. If it is given to you freely and without reservation, it is unconditional.

God’s love, as described in the Bible, is clearly unconditional in that His love is expressed toward the objects of His love (that is, His people) despite their disposition toward Him. In other words, God loves because it His nature to love (1 John 4:8), and that love moves Him toward benevolent action. The unconditional nature of God’s love is most clearly seen in the gospel. The gospel message is basically a story of divine rescue. As God considers the plight of His rebellious people, He determines to save them from their sin, and this determination is based on His love (Ephesians 1:4-5). Listen to the Apostle Paul’s words from his letter to the Romans:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).

As Jesus says in John’s gospel, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That is precisely what God, in Christ, has done. The unconditional nature of God’s love is made clear in two more passages from Scripture:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:9-10).

It is important to note that God’s love is a love that initiates; it is never a response. That is precisely what makes it unconditional. If God’s love were conditional, then we would have to do something to earn or merit it. We would have to somehow appease His wrath and cleanse ourselves of our sin before God would be able to love us. But that is not the biblical message. The biblical message—the gospel—is that God, motivated by love, moved unconditionally to save His people from their sin.

Would it be great if more people in this world had this kind of love? Can you say that you love someone unconditionally no matter what? How come we can't seem to love someone for who they are not who we want them to be?

God I want to say thank you for your unconditional love and I pray that I show love to everyone I come in contact with. God instill in us to love the unlovable. Lord please be with my facebook family and friends and know I love you. I ask these things in Jesus Name Amen.

 
 

It's the message not the messenger

8.20.15 I was studying different things tonight and I ran across something from Devotions Daily that I thought I'd share and then see what the Bible has to say about this subject. 
It's the message not the messenger 
1877: William Booth of the Salvation Army commissioned a young man with a colorful heritage to preach on this date: he was a gypsy, born in a tent a few miles north of London in 1860. Given the gypsies’ reputation, it is no surprise that this man, Rodney Smith, had been in jail more than once, but at age seventeen he was converted at a gospel meeting, turning his life around completely. Rodney, who had no formal education, taught himself to read the Bible, and he felt the call to preach. William Booth believed Smith was ready, and Smith began preaching on street corners and in mission halls. He made hundreds of converts and married one of them.
Soon “Gypsy” Smith, as he was called, became an independent evangelist and drew crowds all over Britain, America, South Africa, and Australia, and during World War I he preached on the front lines to Allied troops in France. He was a superb preacher and, true to the gypsy tradition, musically talented as well, and he would sometimes break into song at an appropriate point in his sermon. (Thanks to the Internet, recordings of his songs are readily available.) Time magazine ran a story on Smith in 1927, titled “Heart in Mouth,” reporting that Smith had made many converts in Chicago’s red-light district.
Few men ever entered the ministry with less education, yet no one could deny Smith’s power in the pulpit. As he pointed out often, the way to Jesus was not through Oxford or Cambridge or Harvard but through Calvary. Also, “It’s the message that’s important, not the messenger.” In 1917 King George V bestowed on him the Order of the British Empire — a remarkable honor for an unschooled gypsy boy who had done time in jail. Smith died in 1947 at the age of eighty-seven, having crossed the Atlantic forty-five times, a true “gypsy” for the gospel.
Think about 1 Corinthians 4:20. Do you feel in some way inadequate sharing the Gospel? Not educated enough? Not eloquent enough? Not gregarious enough? God doesn't need superstars to spread the Word; He needs you! Take a moment to pray for the Lord to embolden you and empower you to share your story with others.

This was from Daily Devotion also:
A friend of mine was recently telling me of the hard time he had concentrating on a DVD series of preaching he was watching. It wasn’t because the teacher was bad and it wasn’t because it was wrong teaching. It was because of what the teacher was wearing and his surroundings. The teacher was dressed in an old suit and his surroundings looked like an older church building. My friend comes from a church where the pastor dresses hip and the church has big screens and cool lights. He ended up enjoying the DVD series, but needed to make sure he had the right attitude while watching them. Because of this attitude shift he learned a lot and grew in his spiritual life.
I wonder how many of us do this exact same thing when we see someone teaching the Bible? Do we look at their clothes and their surroundings and assume they won’t understand our culture or be relevant to us? It can work the other way around too. I have had older people ask for my forgiveness after preaching because they judged me by my appearance and age. Imagine John the Baptist. He must have been a sight to see when he came out of the wilderness in prophet’s garb, wearing camel’s hair clothing while yelling at people and telling them they were sinners. But Jesus said that there was no greater man than him (Luke 7:28). How would we react to John the Baptist today? What we must remember is that it is the power of the message and not the image of the messenger. God’s word is powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and breaks all barriers and bridges cultures whenever preached.
I know a lot of people are use to seeing the preacher in a suit and tie, or at least a suit. Ernest & I have been in Churches where the preacher was a 3 piece suit with a tie, other preachers have had dress pants and a nice polo shirt and then we had a couple preachers who wore a polo and nice jeans. All of these men were Godly mean who brought great messages that God give them to preach. Some went to a Bible college and some didn't, but I believe all had the power of God with them and in them. So my opinion and I no it might not mean much but I don't believe you have to go to College for years to learn what God instills in you, if He calls you He also equips you. Don't get me wrong College is great but there have been great evangelist who haven't gone to College. Remember it's the message not the messenger.

 

God I come to you thinking you for equipping all the preachers with your Word to teach us so that we may grow in your Word. Lord let us look past what they look like or what their wearing and remember it's the message not the messenger. We should be focusing more on you and nothing else. Please be with my facebook friends and family and know I love you. I ask these things in Jesus Name Amen.

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