Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BRANCH OUT



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


BRANCH OUT

(Zech 6:12)…“Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the LORD.

Well, here we are on top of a new year and it’s time to branch out! For many the past year held a lot of difficulty and disappointments. We tried to branch out but we kept getting trimmed! It wasn’t a time for growth but a season of pruning. We had to persevere and be patient and just keep yielding to the process. It was a time for trust. God had His ways. We couldn’t figure it out but we kept telling ourselves God loves us and all things will work together for the good! We would grow back and eventually bear fruit again. (John 15:2)…every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Now it’s time to branch out!

The term branch is messianic in nature. It says in (Isa 11:2)…There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. This is a prophecy concerning Christ. Jesus came from the stump of Jesse, King David’s father. The kingly line of David had lain dormant for 600 years until Jesus came as King and Messiah. You could say it was like a new green Branch coming from a seemingly dead stump.

Then in Zechariah 6 we see another prophecy about the Branch. This time it is foretold that the Branch will branch out and build the future millennial temple of (Eze 40-48). He will bear the glory of God (John 1:14) and sit and rule on His throne as priest and king. That’s just like our Lord, always branching out and doing new things and bringing wonderful fruit into our lives so we can worship Him!

You might find it unbelievable that soon you will branch out after all the whittling you’ve experienced in the past. But I have to defer to brother Job on this matter. You see, he was whacked down to nothing but then God restored his loses and he received double from what he had before! (Job 42) Listen to him talk about a tree that went from trimming to brimming: (Job 14:7‑9) "For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. {8} Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, {9} yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant. So just because you’ve been pruned doesn’t mean you are doomed. The Lord loves you and you’re going to grow and branch out again.

The Lord wants us to branch out into new areas. He wants to reach the world through us by the fruit we bear for Him (Gal 5:22-23; Phil 1:11). People are weary from the heat of the day and need a place to rest under the shade (Psa 121:5; Mk 4:32). Will you believe God for a year of growth and expansion? After all you’ve been through will you anticipate that this year will be one of increase and advancement? Then tell the Lord you are ready to branch out!

Louie


Thursday, December 22, 2011

SANTA OR SATAN ?



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


SANTA OR SATAN?

When a person receives the Lord his eyes are opened to a lot of things. This is especially true when it comes to Christmas. One of the questioned icons of Christmas is the person of Santa Claus because many feel he takes away the focus from Christ. In fact when I was a new believer I heard a man say that all you have to do is rearrange the letters in Santa and you get Satan.

The story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara, Turkey. His wealthy and devout parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas divested his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and eventually was made Bishop of Myra. Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need (often giving in secret), his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th.

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. One popular story tells of a poor man had three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home thus providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold were tossed through an open window, landing in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.

The Christian figure of Saint Nicholas replaced or incorporated various pagan gift-giving figures of different cultures. The saint was called Sankt Nikolaus in Germany and Sinterklaas in Holland. In these countries Nicholas was sometimes said to ride through the sky on a horse. You can see how the legend easily morphed from St. Nicholas into Santa Claus!

Though there is much folklore surrounding Nicholas, what we do know is that he was a giver. God is a giver: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…(John 3:16). The Bible recognizes the gift of giving: …he who gives, with liberality…(Rom 12:8). And we are to give secretly, as unto the Lord and not as to man (Mat 6:1-4). Santa? Satan? Saint? Sounds like Nick was just a regular guy who loved to give to others. And that’s something we all can do. Our good works may not be legendary amongst men but God sees all and rewards openly!

Louie


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

GOOD GRIEF



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


GOOD GRIEF

(Isa 53:3) He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…

When it comes to a personal loss, one may wonder how a Christian is to grieve. On one side a Christian can be so rosy-eyed and believe you should never grieve. Your loved one is in heaven. You are to rejoice and be happy. On the other hand a person may sink in so much despair to unhealthy proportions and never recover to live a vital life. Is it okay for a Christian to grieve? Does it display a lack of faith? Does it negate a victorious life in Christ?

Jesus had a friend named Lazarus who passed away on the younger side. When Jesus arrived on the scene the atmosphere was fraught with various emotions. When He encountered Lazarus’ sister Martha He began talking of His resurrection and eternal life. When He met up with Lazarus’ other sister Mary He found her troubled of soul and weeping along with all the Jews around her. The Bible says “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled”. (John 11:33) The Greek word for groaned is tarasso and it means to be stirred or agitated. This disturbance was because of His conflict with the combined forces of sin, death, and Satan. It was all coming together in the face of death and it made him groan and troubled.

There will be times when the heaviness of living in a fallen world will hit us hard. It may be the loss of a loved one, a large reversal, a friend that strays from the faith, a health crisis, or any other serious problem or set of problems. You’ll feel the weight of it all and just groan in your spirit like Jesus. This does not characterize a loss of faith but a load of weight. And isn’t it usual to groan when you lift something heavy?

Sometimes we can go from one difficulty to another without a break. But we would be in good company because Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. At times like this we have to pray that mature prayer: “Lord, I pray not for lighter burdens, but a stronger back.” You grieve but it’s a GOOD GRIEF. You start to agree with Paul: (1 Thes 3:3) that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. And like David: (Psa 34:19) Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. You become aware that it’s okay to groan (Rom 8:23), just not to moan (Phil 2:14). That God’s grace will be sufficient (2 Cor 12:7-10). That no trial will be the end of us but the beginning of new strength in the Lord (1 Cor 10:13). That the weight of government is upon His shoulder (Isa 9:6) not ours. And that His Spirit consoles (Isa 61:3) and sorrow will not be forever (Rev 21:4). That’s what you call GOOD GRIEF!

I walked a mile with Pleasure, She chatted all the way; But left me none the wiser, For all she had to say. I walked a mile with Sorrow, And ne’er a word said she; But, oh! The things I learned from her, When sorrow walked with me. -Robert Browning Hamilton

Louie

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

JOSEPH


SHEPHERD TO SHEEP



JOSEPH

(Luke 3:23) Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph…

We hear so much talk about Mary when it comes to the Christmas story but what about Joseph? He must have been a special man because think of it…he was chosen to be the earthly father of Jesus. Though Jesus was God remember He was also human and that human side needed shaping by the loving involvement of a father. As I read the nativity narrative I observe three things that stand out about this man Joseph:

CHARACTER – Joseph was a man of character. Think of it. What guy would put up with a girlfriend who turned up pregnant and had a wild story about it? But instead of bringing her up to the authorities he chose to put her away privately (Mat 1:18-19). What a guy. Then he leads Mary in her late-stage pregnancy down to Bethlehem (65 miles) without one single complaint (Luke 2:1-7). Whenever you see Joseph he is quietly serving in background. In fact not one word was ever recorded from his lips. He is the picture of a unobtrusive and godly man willing to serve his family and obey God’s call.

SPIRITUAL LEADER – God spoke to Joseph in dreams and he listened to God’s instructions. The Lord told him to take Mary as wife (Mat 1:20) and he did. In another dream God said to take his family and flee to Egypt (Mat 2:13-15) and he obeyed. Then God spoke in a dream to Joseph and told him to go back to the land of Israel (Mat 2:19-21) and he submitted. Then in a forth dream he was warned about going back to Judea and was led to Galilee where they settled in Nazareth (Mat 2:22-23). Think of it…Joseph was leading on behalf of Jesus and Mary! (Does that bump him up a little in status do you think?) Joseph was the spiritual leader of his family. He even led them to worship all the way to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover (Luke 2:41-42).

PROVIDER – Joseph was also the provider for his family. Though a poor man he always trusted the Lord to provide. He finds shelter for the Babe to be born (Luke 2:6-7). He takes the family to Egypt. How would the Lord provide for the trip? Oh yeah, sell the gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Mat 2:11-15). When he settles the family up in Nazareth he takes up the trade of carpenter (Mark 6:3). He has many mouths to feed now as Jesus’ half-brothers are four and his sisters at least two or more (Mat 13:55). He then teaches Jesus a trade (Mark 6:3).

Whatever happened to Joseph? After the incident of losing Jesus in the company of travel when Jesus was twelve (Luke 2:41-52) we never see him again. Perhaps he passed away. That meant Jesus had to help His mom raise His siblings. But my personal belief is God took Joseph so that Jesus could look to His heavenly Father which would prepare Him for His ministry. So the next time you see a nativity scene don’t forget to take a little time to look at Joseph!

Louie

Thursday, November 17, 2011

PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP

PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION
(October 3, 1863)


It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

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Read Psalm 100 and then make a list of all you are thankful for. Then give thanks to the Lord!


(Psalm 100) A Psalm of Thanksgiving. Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! 2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.



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Thursday, November 10, 2011

FAMILY



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP

FAMILY

(Gen 49:28) All these are the twelve tribes of Israel…And he (Jacob) blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing.

Family. The source of our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows. That which fulfills us the most and that which drives us crazy. What we become poor for yet feel the richest with.

God created the family. He brought Adam and Eve together and gave them the commandment to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1-2). Families would be part of clans and clans would be part of tribes and tribes would make up the nation. Tear down the family and you have removed the foundation of the nation.
(Psa 11:3) If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?

Families provide love, nurture, and protection. Where else can you feel safe and just be yourself? Where else can you be encouraged and fortified against the harsh would outside? Learn unconditional love? Acquire the ability to fight and forgive? Where else can you develop your personality and bloom in your inherent giftedness? Grow in your social skills as you interact with family members in preparation for interpersonal relationships in the world? And more important have the context where you may receive Christ as your Savior and develop your moral/spiritual base for life?

Families are also a source of dysfunction. As much as we like to think about how we are related to someone important in history it is more accurate to conclude there are monkeys in our family tree. I am encouraged by a study of the book of Genesis that Abraham’s family was what we would call dysfunctional by today’s label and yet the will of God was still worked out through them even down to the Messiah! Think about how Abraham told Sarah to lie. Think about Jacob stealing his brother’s birthright. Think about Jacob’s twelve sons and what scoundrels some of them were…even selling Joseph to Egypt! Then on down to David who committed adultery and murder. Still the begots went right on down to Jesus the Messiah!

I am so glad the Lord can work through me and my family. I look at those family pictures and typically laugh. Why? Because number one I see the blessing of family and all that represents. And number two because I know that behind those smiles and poses is a fallen family just like Abraham’s of old. I then rest on the grace of God for my life and my family. We aren’t perfect. We have many flaws and failures. But God gets His will done through fallen people!
(2 Cor 4:7)
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.


So don’t give up on your family. Get mad but then get glad. Make room for error and have a little grace. Love them and pray for them. It all starts and ends with the family when all else fades away. From cradle to coffin there is one constant…FAMILY.

Louie

Thursday, November 3, 2011

CONFUSION IS NOT OF GOD




SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


CONFUSION IS NOT OF GOD

(1 Cor 14:33) For God is not the author of confusion but of peace…

Have you ever been confused, not knowing what direction to take in life? Do you lack options or are you on option overload? Is your brain weary trying to figure out what in the world God has planned for your future? Well, don’t despair, CONFUSION IS NOT OF GOD! It’s time to let the wind of the Holy Spirit blow away the clouds of confusion so you can see clearly the next step God has for you to take.

Mankind in early history thought they were so smart that they united in building a city and a tower that reached to heaven to worship the heavens. But God came down and saw what the people were doing against His rule of the earth. He then confused their language that no one would be able to understand each other. Could you imagine how as they were passing bricks to one another that all of a sudden they spoke another language? People got frustrated over the confusion. No one knew what was going on because they couldn’t communicate as before. Finally they ceased building the city and were scattered over the face of the earth (Gen 11:1-9). The name of the city was then called Babel which means confusion.

In the apostle Paul’s day the Corinthians were enjoying expressing their spiritual gifts in their services. They particularly enjoyed the gift of prophesy and speaking in tongues. But their services got out of control. People were prophesying at the same time and people didn’t know who to listen to. Others spoke in tongues without interpretation so no one would know what was being said. Everybody was left confused! Paul had to put them in order by saying that those who prophesied should speak one at a time. And those who speak in tongues should only do so if there was someone able to interpret that all may benefit and be edified.

God longs to blow away the confusion from people’s lives and replace it with His peace! If we are walking in a certain direction and it’s nothing but confusing then we must remind ourselves that CONFUSION IF NOT OF GOD. It might be time to slow down and reassess if this is the path God wants us on. It might be the right thing but we are going about it all wrong. Or it might be the wrong road altogether and God wants to redirect us because He has a better and more profitable plan for us. At any rate, I know the peace of God must rule in my heart (Col 3:15). If it doesn’t then I need to seek the Lord and really pray about the situation and be still and wait for His directing (Psa 32:8; 46:10).

This is a lesson I seem to have to relearn constantly. I can’t tell you how many times I have unwittingly landed in the country of confusion and the Lord has to redirect me to where He wants me. I might be all upset at first but that agitation I am feeling inside actually might be the nudging of the Lord. Let His peace reign and remember CONFUSION IS NOT OF GOD!

Louie


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WIZARDS, WITCHES, AND THE WORD





SHEPHERD TO SHEEP



WIZARDS, WITCHES, AND THE WORD

(Deu 18:10-12) There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD…

In our culture magic has always had its place and influence. Growing up I remember being exposed to magic through the media. Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Fantasia), The wizard in Wizard of Oz. Samantha in the TV series Bewitched. Nowadays there is the ever so popular Harry Potter series in books and movies. Why all this interest in magic? Is it benign and therefore no bother? Should Christians be concerned? What does the Word of God say?

When Israel was about to enter the Promised Land God warned them that they were not to dabble in magic in its various forms. He even laid out the specifics of what to avoid. He then stated that this is what the former inhabitants were into and that it was an abomination to Him. The law of Moses made sorcery a capital offense: (Exo 22:18) “You shall not permit a sorceress to live. During king Saul’s time mediums and spiritists had to operate under cover for threat of their life. Saul had to hunt one down because he needed guidance and God would not speak to Him because of his sin (1 Sam 28).
So why all the prohibitions about wizards and witches? It’s because God reserves the right to speak to and guide His people. And He does so by His Spirit and through His Word:
(Isa 8:19-20) And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

It is interesting that right after God forbids His people from practicing witchcraft that there is a prophecy of Christ: (Deu 18:15) “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear. Then at the Mount of Transfiguration this verse was fulfilled: (Luke 9:35) And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” God was pointing to the fact that we are to look to His Son for the guidance we need. God has sent His Word (the written Word) and God has sent His Son (the living Word) who died and rose again. What more light or power do we need?


Power comes from three sources: God, the devil, and man. God has omnipotent power, Satan limited power, and man has finite power. Why tap into the inferior? (1 Tim 6:15) …He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. God has all the power you need! (Acts 1:8) But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…

Louie



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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

HALLOWEEN OR HALLELUJAH - English & Spanish



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP

HALLOWEEN OR HALLELUJAH?

(1 Th 5:5) You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.

Many Christians have questions regarding Halloween. Should Christians decorate their houses in this theme? Should we send our kids out trick-or-treating? Wow, what a loaded question! But let me give you some things to think about:

- Each Christian must make their own decision on how to celebrate any festive day whether it be Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc. And we shouldn’t judge each other on this decision. Listen to the apostle Paul on this: One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. (Rom 14:5)

- We must ask ourselves, “Does it glorify God?” Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.(1 Cor 10:31)

- In regards to Halloween, we must keep in mind the scriptural prohibition of any kind of practice (and I might add symbolism) of witchcraft. (Deuteronomy 18:9-14)

- The Bible says we are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Jesus is the Light and we are to shine His glory. We are to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of the light. (Romans 13:12)

- Remember we have the Holy Spirit, not the unholy spirit represented in symbols of a devil, a witch, or a ghost. True power is from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and we don’t need to be tapping into or even flirting with the power of darkness.

- Christians are into the theme of life, not death. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

I hope this helps you to think along the lines of a transformed mind (Romans 12:2). Be led by His Spirit in all you do for yourself and for your children. Ask God for wisdom in all your decisions in regards to your family celebrations and plans. And remember, you are a child of the light!

Louie

===========================

Del Pastor a Las Ovejas

(1 Tess 5:5) porque todos vosotros sois hijos de luz e hijos del día. No somos de la noche ni de las tinieblas.

Muchos cristianos tienen dudas con relación al Halloween. ¿Pueden los cristianos decorar sus casas en esta época? ¿Pueden mandar a sus hijos a pedir dulces? Wow, ¡son preguntas difíciles! Pero dejame darte algunas cosas para meditar:


- Cada cristiano debe tomar sus propias decisiones sobre como celebrar cualquier día festivo, ya sea halloween, Navidad, Pascua, etc. Y no debemos juzgarnos unos a otros en esta decisión. Escucha lo que el apóstol Pablo dijo sobre esto: "Uno juzga que un día es superior a otro, otro juzga iguales todos los días. Cada cual esté plenamente convencido según su propio sentir." (Romanos 14:5)

- Debemos preguntarnos, “¿Glorifica esto a Dios?” Entonces, ya sea que comáis, que bebáis, o que hagáis cualquiera otra cosa, hacedlo todo para la gloria de Dios. (1 Corintios 10:31)

- En cuanto al Halloween, debemos tener en mente las prohibiciones bíblicas en la práctica de (y debo agregar símbolos) de la brujería. (Deuteronomio 18:9-14)

- La Biblia dice que somos hijos de la luz y del día. No somos de las tinieblas o de la noche. Jesús es la Luz y nosotros debemos brillar con Su gloria. Debemos dejar las obras de las tinieblas y ponernos la armadura de la luz. (Romanos 13:12)

- Recuerda tque tenemos al Espíritu Santo, no el espíritu impío representado en los símbolos del diablo, una bruja, o un fantasma. El verdadero poder viene del Espíritu Santo (Hechos 1:8) y no necesitamos estar jugando ni coqueteando con el poder de las tinieblas.

-Los cristianos representan la vida, no la muerte. "Porque la paga del pecado es muerte, pero la dádiva de Dios es vida eterna en Cristo Jesús Señor Nuestro" (Romanos 6:23)

Espero que esto te ayude a pensar como debe hacerlo una mente transformada (Romanos 12:2). Se guiado por Su Espíritu, por bien tuyo y el de tus hijos. Pide sabiduría a Dios en todas tus decisiones en cuanto a las celebraciones y planes de familia. y recuerda, ¡eres un hijo de a luz!

Luis


Translation by Maura Cathey (Gracias Maura!)


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

THE GIFT OF HELPS



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


THE GIFT OF HELPS

(1 Cor 12:28) And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

Have you ever wondered what you spiritual gift was and just never could figure it out? Not one thing came to your mind so you finally resigned yourself to just loving Jesus and helping out wherever you could. Others seemed to know what their gifts were but that was never a luxury for you. You just said the prayer, “Use me, Lord” and went on with your life. Guess what? You probably have the gift of helps!

The gift of helps in the Bible means to lay hold of something and to provide relief or aid. Those with this gift love to serve behind the scenes and become nervous when put out in front of people. They prefer to assist instead of being in charge. They enjoy freeing up others to do what God has called them to do. They would rather take orders than to give orders. They love to give credit and never take credit. This gift is usually accompanied with an attitude of humility and sacrifice and going the extra mile. These people tend to demonstrate a servant attitude, loyalty, attention to detail, and responsiveness to the initiatives of others.

Behind every leader are those with the gift of helps. Leaders are usually overwhelmed by their workload and are very grateful for assistants in the work. They are an answer to prayer!
(Mat 9:37-38) Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

In Romans 16 the apostle Paul mentions thirty-five persons by name. Most of these individuals are not named anywhere else in the New Testament. They are the nobodies of this world and they represent the vast majority of the population. But the humble are very important to God. The world’s zeros are in reality God’s heroes! Many of these mentioned by Paul quietly served in the background. Here’s just two: (Rom 16:12) Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord… Have you ever heard of Tryphena and Tryphosa? Sounds like they liked to TRY anything in serving the Lord! Just think of it…they silently assisted behind the scenes but God recorded their names for all of eternity!

I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me and said, “Pastor Louie, I don’t really know what my spiritual gift is or what needs to be done around the church. But if you need any help at any time, I am here for you so please let me know.” I just chuckle inside because I recognize the gift of helps in this person! And then I thank God because I know I could not do what I do if it wasn’t for many with this beautiful gift.
“Lord, thank You for those with the gift of helps. Let them know how appreciated they are!”

Louie

Friday, October 7, 2011

SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISM


SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISM

In 1844 an itinerant preacher named William Miller predicted the world was to end with the Second Coming (advent) of Christ. Soon the “adventist” movement was born and grew rapidly. But Christ did not appear in 1844 and this resulted in what was called the “Great Disappointment.” But one group insisted the date of their original prediction had been correct and that what had really happened was Christ at that time entered into the Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Sanctuary and began His “Investigative Judgment.” By 1846 the group had adopted the view that the Saturday Sabbath must be observed by Christians.

Seventh Day Adventist early leaders were Joseph Bates, James White, and Ellen G. White. Ellen White came to occupy a particularly central role as her many visions and spiritual leadership convinced her fellow Adventists that she possessed the gift of prophecy. Today the church has a worldwide baptized membership of over 16 million people. It has a missionary presence in over 200 countries and operates numerous schools, hospitals and publishing houses worldwide.

In the past evangelicalism has had a hard time defining Seventh Day Adventism (SDA) because they appear to be both orthodox and heterodox (departure from accepted beliefs) in doctrine. Their orthodoxy includes: Inspiration of the Bible; The Trinity; Deity of Christ; Jesus' sacrifice was vicarious; Jesus rose physically; the literal, visible return of Christ. Some of their main heterodoxy teachings includes:

THE SABBATH: The SDA’s teach that the Sabbath should be observed on the seventh day of the week, specifically, from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Refutation: Jesus fulfilled the law and our rest is now in the finished work of Christ on the cross. (Mat 11:28) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (See also Heb 3-4)

HEALTH LAWS: Adventists recommend vegetarianism and expect adherence to the kosher laws in Leviticus 11. Refutation: (Col 2:16-17) So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (See also Acts 10-11; Romans 14)

SOUL SLEEP: Soul sleep is the teaching that when a person dies, his soul "sleeps" in an unconscious state until the time of the future resurrection. Refutation: (2 Cor 5:8)…to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (See also Luke 23:43; Phil 1:23)

On a personal note I have had wonderful fellowship with some SDA’s. For five years our church rented from a local SDA church and I had cherished times in Christ with the pastor. My only concern is that each SDA member realize we are under the grace of Christ and not the law!
(John 1:17) …the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Louie


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

(2 Cor 5:10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

It is an awesome thing to go before a judge in a court of law. Whether it’s for a traffic violation or a major offense the atmosphere is intimidating knowing the judge can make a determination that will affect your life. But did you know that as believers in the Lord we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ?

Now you might say that you’re already saved and that you won’t be judged by the Lord because Jesus took your judgment for sin on the cross. You are correct on that. The redeemed of the Lord will never face the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15). Only the unsaved will face that judgment because they never repented of their sins and put their trust in the Lord and what He did in His death and resurrection. (John 3:16)

But there is a judgment we will face as Christians. The Word of God says we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. So what is that judgment in particular? First we must look at the word “judgment seat”. It is from the Greek word bema. It was the elevated place of judgment in a city where the accused had to stand before. Jesus appeared before Pilate at a bema seat (John 19:13) and Paul stood before king Festus before a bema seat (Acts 25:6). In the city of Corinth, a stone platform was constructed to support the bema seat of the local officials. The seat was used to give out awards to athletes for their competitive performances (usually a crown wreath of leaves), but also to address legal charges brought against individuals. This is where Paul was brought before Gallio, who was the proconsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12).

So yes, the Christian will be judged by Christ. But this judgment is not for salvation but evaluation. Each and every one of us will spend time with Christ after the rapture to evaluate what we did (or didn’t do) in our relation to the Lord while on this earth. Rewards will allotted for the good things done and there will also be a reproving of the bad things done.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 speaks of building on the foundation of Christ with materials that are enduring (gold, silver, precious stones) and not with worthless materials (wood, hay, straw). It will all go under the fire of judgment and will either stand the test or will be destroyed.
(1 Cor 3:14-15) If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Are you ready to stand before the Lord right now and give an account of how you lived your life for Christ? Did you live for the Lord or did you live for self? Make every moment count for the Jesus and you will hear “well done, good and faithful servant!” (Mat 25:21; Rev 22:12)

Louie



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

REDEDICATION



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP



REDEDICATION

(Rom 12:1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

You hear so much from preachers and evangelists about the need for Christians to rededicate their life to the Lord after they have strayed. But if you think about it, rededication is something we must do every day! Paul said to present your body a living sacrifice to the Lord. It is an ongoing exhortation because as someone has said…the only problem with “living” sacrifices is that they have a tendency to crawl off the altar!

It is so easy to drift away from the Lord: (Heb 2:1) Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. Have you ever been in the water at the beach enjoying yourself when you finally look at the sand and find you drifted far away from your beach towel? That’s how it is in our relationship with the Lord. Little by little we drift away from our closeness with Him because we get caught up in a sea of details and lose our focus on Christ!

I find that every morning I must present myself to the Lord as a living sacrifice. I can’t rely upon yesterday’s blessings! (Phil 3:13-14) Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, {14} I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Today is a new day and I must look to the Lord for His mercies and faithfulness: (
Lam 3:22-23) Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

That Bible study I had last night? That was good but what about today? My devotions were so sweet yesterday but I can’t live on that past meal. Today I need nutrition. If I don’t crack open that Bible in the present tense then I sure will be tense presently!:
(Pro 19:27) Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

I want to be close to the Lord. (James 4:8) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… But when you are close to somebody that means you are communicating with that person frequently. You always feel out of touch with someone if you haven’t talked with them in a while. Have we prayed today? Have we told the Lord we love Him? Have we given Him our concerns or are we allowing the worries of the day to crowd out our relationship with the Lord? (Mark 4:19) and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (See Luke 9:23; 1 Cor 15:31)

Rededication is not just for those who have walked away. Rededication is for me today!

Louie

Thursday, September 15, 2011

WHY SO MANY DENOMINATIONS?




SHEPHERD TO SHEEP



WHY SO MANY DENOMINATIONS?

It is very common for those who are outside the household of faith to comment negatively about all the Christian denominations that exist. Perhaps the feeling is that they appear to be splinter groups working against each other and that they should be working in unity. Even believers can be confused on all the differences in Christendom and wonder how did it all get this way to begin with?

We know from the beginning there was one church. Jesus had his twelve apostles and the early church was all one in the faith (see Acts). Then as time went on the apostles died and this catholic (universal) church began to develop differences. The big divide happened in the eleventh century when the church split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political, and geographical lines. This fundamental breach has never been healed between East and West… Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic. As time went on the church needed reforming and the Protestant Reformation began headed by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others. Later on the Protestants splintered into various groups according to doctrine and practice issues.

The bad part about all the various denominations is that too often there is a lack of unity and distrust of one another. Jesus prayed that his followers would always be one which would impact the world: (John 17:21) that they all may be one…that the world may believe that You sent Me. It must grieve the Lord to see His church divided and struggling to maintain its witness in an ungodly world that needs redemption through Him.

On the upside of multi-denominationalism is the variety it provides for different people. Not everyone is the same in their make-up. People will be attracted to a certain church because it’s a “fit.” They identify with the constitution of the church body and the way they worship. Some are attracted to the liturgical church. Others like a more casual approach. Some want more emotion and some want it more intellectual. Kind of like deciding at lunchtime what you are in the mood for. Down the street are many food choices. Instead of seeing all these offers as bad competition you actually see it as wonderful variety you can benefit from.

Yes, churches split over the dumbest reasons like the color choice of the sanctuary carpet, etc. But what if your church went liberal and threw out the Trinity and wouldn’t budge after they were challenged by you and a constituency of others? You would probably go across town and begin another church that is sound in doctrine. So it’s bad what happened but God can still use it for good. (See Acts 15 where Paul and Barnabas split over the John Mark issue)

Let us strive for unity, celebrate diversity, and remember the love that binds us together in Christ! (read 1 Corinthians 12-13). “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

Louie


Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-11 ANNIVERSARY


SHEPHERD TO SHEEP

9-11 ANNIVERSARY

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

It’s almost been a year since the terrorists struck America on 9-11-2001. Who will ever forget? Many friends and loved ones perished and think of the lives and families that will be changed forever. We’ve been picking up the pieces and trying to make sense of it all ever since. We’ve been hunting down terrorists all across this planet, pursuing them from their enclaves to their caves. We’ve been tightening security at the airports and public places. Ground zero is free from debris but forever it will be a memorial of lives lost but not forgotten, of the brave who risked all, and of the resolve of America to move on in spite of adversity.

Now here’s a question to ponder as we approach the first anniversary of 9-11. Where is our resolve to glorify God in it all? Do you remember how our churches were full after the 9-11 attacks? How people were reaching out to the Lord for answers to this national crisis? Pastors and Christian leaders were speaking the Lord’s comfort and declaring the soon return of Christ. People were returning to the Lord and pressing in as never before. But eventually we saw a cooling off and things quickly got back to “normal”. This has been discouraging to us as Christians! But we’re not giving up on America! We can’t give up on our country and the people that the Lord loves and died for. We have to keep holding out the answer for America . . . which is Jesus Christ! The Lord is there for people when they need Him and we have to be there for people when they’re ready to really give their lives to Christ. God is patient and will hold out to the end. Let’s keep praying for America and believing God for a great move of His Spirit in these last days before Jesus returns and takes us home!

Louie

Thursday, September 8, 2011

CHRIST IN THE TABERNACLE



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


CHRIST IN THE TABERNACLE

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s study the seven pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle and see how they are a prophetic picture of Christ in His person and work.

BRAZEN ALTAR (Exo 27:1-8) - This is where the animals were sacrificed for the sins of the people and the blood would atone for the people. It was made of bronze which always speaks of judgment. Significance in Christ...Jesus took the judgment for our sins on the cross.
(2 Cor 5:21) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us…

BRONZE LAVER (Exo 30:17-21) - After the priest would sacrifice they would need to clean up with water before they could enter the Holy Place. Significance in Christ...Jesus washes us when we are born again and regenerated through the new birth. (Tit 3:5) not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,... (See also John 15:3; Eph 5:26)

LAMPSTAND (Exo 25:31-40) - When the priests would enter the Holy Place they would see the golden lampstand off to the left. This would light up the rest of the room for the priest to attend to his duties. Significance in Christ...Jesus gives illumination to mankind so all may see the way of salvation and walk in His light. (John 8:12) … “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (See also Mat 5:14)

TABLE OF SHOWBREAD (Exo 25:23-30) - Every seven days the priests would change out the twelve loaves of bread that represented the twelve tribes of Israel. Significance in Christ...Jesus is the bread of life. And as we take Him in to our lives we will have eternal life and the strength to live for Him on a daily basis. (John 6:35) And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

ALTAR OF INCENSE (Exo 30:1-10) - The priests would offer incense on this altar in the morning and evening so it would burn perpetually before the Lord. Significance in Christ...Jesus acts as an advocate on our behalf to the Father stating that we are redeemed through His blood and fit for a relationship with a holy God. (Heb 7:25) Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

ARK OF THE COVENANT (Exo 25:10-22) - In the Holy of holies was the box that held the Ten Commandments. The lid of the ark was called the MERCY SEAT. Once a year the priest would enter the Holy of holies on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16) and apply the blood on the mercy seat to atone for the sins of Israel. Significance in Christ...God’s righteous anger against sin has been satisfied and the sinner who trusts Christ for salvation is now justified before a righteous God. (1 John 4:10)…He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Louie

Monday, September 5, 2011

HAPPY LABOR DAY


SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


LABOR DAY


Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Over the years, it has developed from a purely labor union celebration into a general "last fling of summer" festival. School is starting and fall is around the corner. Everyone loves the day off enjoying BBQ, beach, or baseball and in a general sense feels honored for their hard work.


But is your labor feeling more like toil and drudgery? Do you feel more like a slave than a happy worker? Do you work hard and feel no one appreciates what you do? Then take heart because God sees how hard you are working and values your labor of love! Be encouraged through these words of scripture:

  • (Heb 6:10) For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love . . .
  • (1 Cor 15:58) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

How can we find new energies and fresh inspiration for life’s tasks?

  • (Psa 127:1) Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it . . .
  • (Col 1:29) To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
  • (Mat 11:28-30) "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. {29} "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. {30} "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

And remember that the work of salvation is free and you don’t have to work for it!

  • (John 19:30) . . . Jesus . . . said, "It is finished!" (The work has been done on the cross)
  • (Eph 2:8-9) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, {9} not of works, lest anyone should boast.

So work hard but at the same time rest in the Lord and enjoy the work of your hands!

  • (Eccl 2:24) Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.

Louie

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

THE GLORY DAYS



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


THE GLORY DAYS

(Eccl 7:10) Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.

Bruce Springsteen has a song entitled “Glory Days” where he describes bumping into once popular school friends who were longing for the former good old days. These were the light-hearted times when they were in their prime and the world was at their feet. It’s what we call today the “rear-view mirror syndrome” and it’s what Job was struggling with. But is that where we should have our focus? It’s time to put away the yearbook and get out the notebook because God wants to fill our future with good days to come. These are the new GLORY DAYS!

Job was looking back to better days (Job 29:1-6). A wave of sentimentality came over him and he told his friends how great things used to be. He felt close to God. His family had that togetherness. He was respected in the community and people sought out his counsel. He had means and was able to help the less fortunate in their time of need. He had security and the future looked bright and the only direction in his life was forward.

We can all look back to happy times in our lives. If you really think about it you can select certain periods in your memory where you felt joyful and content. You were in your prime and things were just fine. But I believe that even in a world of strife and woe, God gives us happy times in life. (Psa 128:2) When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. (Gen 30:13; Deu 33:29; Psa 127:5; Psa 144:15; Acts 26:2)

In chapter 30 Job goes on to compare his present circumstances with his former glory days and he laments. He said even his servant’s children mock him and his plight. People abhor him and even spit on him. He intimated that his best days were over and he had been placed on the shelf as an item no longer useful. All he felt was his present pain. He cries out to God but receives no answer. He felt this was all unfair after he had done so much good in life. He ended by saying basically that his musical instrument was now accustomed to playing sad songs. (Judg 6:12-13; Ezra 3:10-12)

Did Job ever get his glory days back? The answer is “no” and “yes.” He couldn’t relive his old glory days but neither was he supposed to. God had new glory days ahead for Job. (Job 42:10) And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. We too are not to go back and try to relive the former glory days. We can’t go back, we can only go forward. And because of God’s grace in our lives we can overcome our current struggles and enter our new glory days that will make our former glory days pale in comparison! (2 Sam 7:19; 2 Cor 3:7-11; 1 Cor 2:9) Because of Jesus…these are the good ole days…THE GLORY DAYS!!

Louie



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Friday, August 26, 2011

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

SHEPHERD TO SHEEP

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

(Gal 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

There’s nothing like fresh fruit. There’s something attractive about the look, smell, and taste of fruit. When the Holy Spirit controls our lives we will bear fruit for our Lord that builds up believers and attracts sinners to Christ. Pray over each one and you will be fruitful for our Lord!

- LOVE (agape) is listed first because it is the foundation of the other graces (1 Cor 13:4-8a).
(John 15:13) Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

- JOY (chara) is a deep and abiding inner rejoicing which was promised to those who abide in Christ. Different from happiness which is based on happy circumstances.
(John 15:11) "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

- PEACE (eirene) is an inner repose and quietness, even in the face of adverse circumstances.
(John 14:27) "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
- LONGSUFFERING (makrothumia) is patient forbearance towards others and slowness in avenging wrongs. (Eph 4:2) with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.

- KINDNESS (chrestotes) is benevolence (love) in action.
(1 John 3:18) My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

- GOODNESS (agathosune) is uprightness of soul and an action reaching out to others to do good even when it is not deserved.
(1 Sam 24:17) Then he (Saul) said to David: "You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil.

- FAITHFULNESS (pistis) is the quality which renders a person trustworthy or reliable.
(1 Cor 4:2) Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

- GENTLENESS (praotes) is meekness; the right use of power and authority (power under control).
(Phil 4:5) Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

- SELF-CONTROL (egkrateia) denotes self-mastery and relates to curbing the fleshly impulses just described in Galatians 5:19-21.
(1 Cor 9:27) But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Louie


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Friday, August 19, 2011

JEHOVAH WITNESSES



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


JEHOVAH WITNESSES

The Jehovah's Witnesses was begun by Charles Taze Russell in 1872. He had difficulty in accepting the doctrine of eternal damnation and so came to deny this teaching of the Bible. He also came to reject the Trinity, the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit. When he was 18 Russell organized a Bible class in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1879 it was his desire to popularize his ideas. He co-published The Herald of the Morning magazine with its founder, N. H. Barbour. By 1884 Russell controlled the publication and renamed it The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom. He also founded Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society (now known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society - WTBTS). The first edition of The Watchtower magazine was only 6,000 copies each month. Today the Witnesses' publishing complex in Brooklyn, New York, pump out 100,000 books and 800,000 copies of its two magazines--daily!

After the death of Russell on Oct. 31, 1916, a Missouri lawyer named Joseph Franklin Rutherford took over the presidency of the Watch Tower Society which was known then as the International Bible Students Association. In 1931 he changed the name of the organization to "The Jehovah's Witnesses." Succeeding leaders have been Nathan Knorr, Frederick Franz, Milton Henschel, and Don A. Adams. Today the religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism!

Jehovah's Witnesses are best known for their door-to-door preaching, distribution of literature such as The Watchtower and Awake!, and for their refusal of military service, saluting the flag, and blood transfusions. They do not observe Christmas, Easter, birthdays, or other holidays and customs they consider to have pagan origins incompatible with Christianity.

The Jehovah’s Witness religion has made a number of predictions about the end of the world. The first was 1914 – they based their prediction on prophecies from the Book of Daniel. After the end did not come, they changed the meaning of the prediction and stated that it was the date that Jesus would begin to rule invisibly. Some other years that the group have predicted the end of the world to come are: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, etc. (see Deut 18:20-22)

Here are some of the major aberrant teachings of the Jehovah Witnesses (JWs):

- TRINITY: JWs find it difficult to worship “a three-headed God.” They call Jesus a “mighty god,” but not the Almighty God— Jehovah. (See Gen 1:26; Mat 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14)

- DEITY OF CHRIST: JWs teach Jesus was created by God and that He had been the archangel Michael in heaven before He came to Earth. Their translation of John 1:1 from their New World Translation says the Word (Jesus) was “a” god. (See Mat 1:23; John 8:58; John 20:28; Phil 2:6; Col 2:9; Titus 2:13; Rev 1:8)

- BODILY RESURRECTION OF JESUS: As for Jesus’ resurrection, the JWs insist that Christ did not rise bodily from the dead, but only as a spirit who looked as if He were a body. (See John 20; Rom 1:3-4; 1 Cor 15)

- CHRIST’S FULL ATONEMENT: Man is saved through works and perfect obedience to Jehovah—by being and doing exactly what the WTBTS teaches. (See Eph 1:7; Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5)

The next time you hear a knock on the door don’t feel intimidated. Remember Jesus died for the JWs too!

Louie



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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CCNORCO BEACH BASH/BAPTISM



CCNORCO BEACH BASH is Saturday, August 27 (NOT AUGUST 20...that was a bulletin typo), 5pm at Huntington State Beach. Come for a fun time of eating and fellowship around the fire pit. Enter at Brookhurst Ave. and Coast Highway and look for the CCNorco signs. Parking is 15.00 so think about carpooling to share the expense. Why not come early and enjoy the surf and sun if you so choose. Bring your own food/beverage,recreation equipment, blanket and jacket and we'll praise 'till sunset! There will also be an opportunity to be baptized in the ocean. (Psalm 93:4) The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BIBLE FUN FACTS FOR KIDS (of all ages!)




SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


BIBLE FUN FACTS FOR KIDS (of all ages!)

Kids getting bored this summer? Nothing to do in the car? Then have fun exploring these fun Bible facts!

OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT FACTS: The Bible is a collection of 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1,500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents; Did you know the Bible contains 773,693 words and 3,566,480 letters and 31,102 verses. Reading them all aloud would take a person approximately 70 hours!; The Old Testament has 39 books, while the New Testament has 27 books, bringing the total to 66; The Apostle Paul wrote 13 books (almost half) of the New Testament; The Bible contains 1,189 chapters; You can read through the Bible in one year if you read approximately 3 chapters a day; The first three words in the Bible are 'in the beginning'; The first five books of the Bible, referred to as the Pentateuch, were written by Moses; The last word in the Bible is 'Amen'; The most popular verse in the Bible is John 3:16; The most comforting chapter in the Bible is Psalms 23; The central theme of the Bible is redemption through Christ.

LONGEST AND THE SHORTEST: The shortest book in the Bible is 1 John 3 with one chapter, 13 verses; The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11: 35, 'Jesus wept'; The longest book in the Bible is Psalms; The longest verse is Esther 8:9 containing 90 words; The longest word in the Bible is a name, Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 8:1).

STRONGEST, WISEST, OLDEST, TALLEST: The strongest and wisest men in the Bible are Samson and Solomon; The tallest and biggest villain in the Bible is Goliath whose height was over 9 ½ feet; The greatest warrior in the Bible is Gideon, who defeated 135,000 Midianites along with 300 men and 300 trumpets under God's power; The oldest individual in the Bible was Methuselah (Genesis 5:27), who died at the age of 969!; Giant who had the first king size bed was king Og of Bashan (Deut 3:11).

DID YOU KNOW: Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 118 is the central chapter of the Bible and Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible; Ezra 7:21 contains all the letters of the alphabet, except 'J'; The word 'God' appears 3,841 times in the Bible; The two books, 'Songs of Solomon' and 'Esther' have no mention of God in them; The word "Christian" only appears three times in the Bible; A sheep is the most frequently mentioned animal in the Bible; The only domesticated animal not mentioned in the Bible is the cat!; Gabriel, Michael, and Lucifer are the three angels mentioned by name in the Bible.

OTHER FACTS ABOUT THE BIBLE: The Bible is the most shoplifted book in the world; About 50 bibles are sold every minute; Enoch and Elijah were two men in the bible who never died!; A raven was the first animal to emerge from the ark; There are 49 different foods mentioned in the Bible; Almonds and pistachios are the only nuts mentioned in the Bible; The word "grandmother" appears in the Bible only once (2 Tim 1:5 KJV); Seven suicides are recorded in the Bible.

UNUSUAL FACTS ABOUT THE BIBLE: Man who used a stone for a pillow (Gen 28:11); Man who had a conversation with a donkey (Numbers 22:28-30); Sun and moon stood still for a whole day (Josh 10:12-14); A woman killed a man by driving a nail through his head (Judges 4:17-21); Men lapped water like dogs (Judges 7:4-7); Man who had twelve fingers and twelve toes (2 Sam 21:20-21); Man who outran a chariot (1 Kings 18:41-46); An axe head that floated in the river (2 Kings 6:1-6); Woman who boiled and ate her son (2 Kings 6:26-31); Woman whose body was eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:30-37); The sun travelled backwards (Isa 38:1-8); Man who walked naked for three years (Isa 20:2-4); Man ate locusts for food (Mat 3:4). Believe it or not!!

Louie


Friday, July 22, 2011

I NEED A VACATION




SHEPHERD TO SHEEP


I NEED A VACATION

(Mark 6:31) And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.

Well here we are in the middle of summer and the height of the vacation season. We’re seeing lots cars with full luggage racks and out of state license plates. And people we know are talking of their exciting plans to frolic in fun places. And in the midst of it all you might be longing to get away and recreate but you’re broke and under a busy yoke. How do you handle all that pressure in life and still try to be happy for others who are able to get away? (Psa 55:6) So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.

Traveling with Jesus was exciting for His disciples. But sometimes it got crazy! There were so many people to reach and keeping up with Jesus was exhausting. The disciples had just returned from a mission the Master had sent them on and they came back with no time to decompress. They jumped right back into ministry with Jesus and the Bible says they were so busy they didn’t even have time to eat. Jesus recognized their need for some space so He sent them on a much needed break so they could refresh themselves.

Is that what you need to do? Do you need to get away and take that vacation you’ve been dreaming about? Some say they can’t afford it but it’s really just a matter of priority. There are inexpensive things you can do. And you don’t have to go very far. You can even stay home and do day trips. But why is it we are so driven as a culture to work, work, work? I think it’s because we are proving our worth by our work. Our European counterparts enjoy much time off throughout the year because they value lifestyle and quality of life. But here in America we push ourselves to burnout. We feel guilty when we relax. We don’t want people to think we’re lazy. And we feel indispensible at work like the business would go belly up in our absence! (Isa 28:12) To whom He said, “This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest,” And, “This is the refreshing”; Yet they would not hear.

But the Lord has promised rest to His people! (Psa 37:7) Rest in the Lord… (Psa 116:7) Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. Hard work must be balanced with rest. Let’s remember God gave the Sabbath for His people Israel to rejuvenate. But if there isn’t any respite then our body and our emotional state begin to break down and we start suffering the consequences. There’s times you have to push yourself and then you trust God that you will have times of repose. Like a beautiful piece of classical music that gets chaotic, hits a peak crescendo, and then resolves into a lazy river of symphony that caresses your weary soul. (Acts 3:19)…that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

But remember this beloved…you can spend all that money and go to an exotic place and still be miserable. Why? Because you take yourself with you! There have been vacations where I have been in the most beautiful place but the place in my heart was not so beautiful. Times like these we learn the vacation we need is to enter the rest that Jesus has for us. (Mat 11:28-30) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

God wants us to stop striving and start thriving. Our getaway isn’t so much getting away as much as it is giving away our heavy burdens and cares to the Lord. Then when God allows us a retreat we are not so much running away from something as much as looking for a place to match that perfect peace of the heart.

Louie


Thursday, July 14, 2011

THE CHRISTIAN WORKER



SHEPHERD TO SHEEP

THE CHRISTIAN WORKER

(Rom 16:9) Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ…

You have probably never heard of Urbanus before. But as Paul was winding up his letter to the Roman believers he gave greetings to this man and called him a “fellow worker.” We don’t know much else about Urbanus since he is only mentioned here and nowhere else in the Bible. All we can say is that he wasn’t a country boy since his name means “belonging to the urbs or city.” But we do know how he spent his time as a busy urbanite. He was a fellow worker in Christ, serving the Lord right where he was.

There is always so much to do with our time. Think of all that’s on your plate. But in the midst of all your activities and responsibilities do you ever feel like there must be more to life than how you spend your energies? Is all that effort going in the right direction? Do you ever desire to do something for eternity and not just for the temporal? Then like Urbanus, the Lord might be calling you to be a Christian worker.

In any given ministry there are so many things that need to be done. When God is moving there is the necessity to keep up with the flow of the Spirit. Ministries spring up and as a result there is a lack of Christian workers to get the work done. As you look into the behind-the-scenes of a ministry it is typical to see a small group of people doing most of the work. But as the ministry grows these Christian workers can become taxed. What is therefore created is the necessity for others to step up to the plate to share in this blessed work for the Lord. Jesus was insightful on this: (Mat 9:37-38) Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Christian workers are not to complain but to pray. They are also not to make others feel guilty that they are doing all the work. Remember Martha on that (Luke 10:38-42). God will provide the workers.

Having a changed life in Christ is the most thrilling experience on earth. Others put into your life as a newborn baby (1 Pet 2:2). But as you grow and mature in Christ you will naturally feel like you want to put back in what you have taken out. That’s when you will want to start praying about how you can serve the Lord. Then wait on the Lord (Psa 27:14). As you do the doors will open (Rev 3:7-8) and you will have the excitement of service for our King! (Psa 100:2) Serve the LORD with gladness…

As God opens the door you will feel privileged to serve the Lord. You won’t believe God has chosen you to do something for Him. Your cup will overflow and it will be hard to wait until your next opportunity for service comes around. In between you pray fervently over your ministry and the people involved in it. Then you spend time preparing not only your heart but also what you need to do to be ready to serve. As all this transpires you will feel so fulfilled because you are doing something that really makes a difference in life.

As much as the life of a Christian worker is exciting it will also have its challenges. Satan will seek to discourage the servant of the Lord. (2 Cor 2:11) He might suggest that you are not bearing fruit and that you should go ahead and quit. (1 Cor 15:58) Next, Satan might propose that you are not worthy of your ministry because you are falling short and don’t deserve to serve the Lord. (Rev 12:10; 1 John 2:1-2). Be advised He will also try to draw you into conflict with other Christian workers. (Mat 18:15-35) Don’t give in to these tendencies because the reward for serving Lord is just too great! (Heb 6:10) For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Louie





Wednesday, July 6, 2011

GET BACK ON TRACK




SHEPHERD TO SHEEP



GET BACK ON TRACK

(Pro 4:25-27) Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.

Have you ever gotten lost while hiking? It’s a creepy feeling and you can’t wait until you figure things out and get back to your origination. One time at a Young Adult camp we were hosting in the mountains, a girl wandered off by herself and got disoriented and couldn’t make her way back. Then the sun set. Eventually we had to call Search and Rescue. We prayed all night that she would be safe. She was found in the middle of the night absolutely worn and disheveled but by God’s grace she was unhurt. She said it was unimaginably frightening and she told us she almost went off a cliff in the dark! It all started when she got off track.

That can be so like the Christian life. God tells you to do something and everything is going good. Then you veer off course a little and get involved in something else. Next thing you know you’re way off course and can’t find your way back.

1 Kings 13 shares a story of a man of God who was told by God to go to Bethel and speak against the altar of idolatry right before king Jeroboam himself. The king stretched out his arm to have him arrested but his arm withered. He asked the prophet to heal him and he did. The king wanted to have him come to his house and reward him but he told the king the Lord had said no to any hospitality and to leave a different way he came. Now an old prophets’ sons saw what had happened and they went home to tell their father. The man went after the man of God on his donkey and found him sitting under an oak tree. He told the younger prophet an angel had spoken to him that he was to come home with him so he went with him. When they were eating at the table the older prophet spoke the Word of the Lord to him and said he had been disobedient and that he would die and not be buried in the tomb of his fathers. When the young prophet left for home a young lion met him and killed him. When the older prophet heard it he came and picked up his body and buried him.

That story scares me. In fact both stories alarm me! Why is it so easy to stray off track? It might be we get bored and a another path looks more fun than the one we are on. Or it may be that our course is getting difficult and we want an easier one. But we must keep to the task whether bored or tired!
(Mat 7:13-14) “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Here’s a good prayer to pray along the path of life: (Psa 25:4-5) Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. And if we go off in another direction we have the Lord to remind us of where we need to be:
(Isa 30:21) Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “ This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.

I like the example of Jesus who was so set on His course: (Luke 9:51) Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. Paul too is a good example when he was told he would be bound and arrested in Jerusalem: (Acts 21:13) Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Is it time for you to get back on track and to stay there?

Louie


Thursday, June 30, 2011

FAITH OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS




SHEPHERD TO SHEEP



FAITH OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS

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

GEORGE WASHINGTON: "While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian." --The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

JOHN ADAMS: "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God." --Adams wrote this on June 28, 1813, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” --Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.

JOHN HANCOCK: "Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual…Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us." --History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: "Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped.” --Benjamin Franklin wrote this in a letter to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University on March 9, 1790.

SAMUEL ADAMS: “…by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world…that the confusions that are and have been among nations may be overruled by promoting and speedily bringing on that holy and happy period when the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and all people everywhere willingly bow to the sceptre of Him who is Prince of Peace." --As Governor of Massachusetts, Proclamation of a Day of Fast, March 20, 1797.

JAMES MADISON: "Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ." --America's Providential History, p. 93.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: "I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man." --Famous American Statesmen, p. 126.

"Faith of our fathers, living still, In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword; Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy Whene’er we hear that glorious Word! FAITH OF OUR FATHERS, HOLY FAITH! WE WILL BE TRUE TO THEE TILL DEATH. Faith of our fathers, we will strive To win all nations unto thee; And through the truth that comes from God, We all shall then be truly free. Faith of our fathers, we will love Both friend and foe in all our strife; And preach thee, too, as love knows how By kindly words and virtuous life." (Hymn: Frederick W. Faber, 1849)

Louie