Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Passing The Tests Of Life
Genesis 41:37-43

One reason for the good hand of God upon Joseph was the fact that he passed the tests of life. When I finished my last exams for my High School Diploma and was told I had passed, I thought "I have taken my last test." "Wrong!" Like Joseph, we face…

I. The Test Of Purity, Gen. 39:8. Joseph pursued purity, set parameters for purity, and made provision for purity.

II. The Test Of Pride, Gen. 41:16. Pride often manifests itself in unconfessed sin, an unteachable spirit, and an unyielded will.

III. The Test Of Priorities, Gen. 41:38. Even Pharaoh recognized that Joseph had the anointing of God upon him. He was the best son, shepherd, slave, servant, manager, and administrator he could be. He truly sought first the Kingdom of God.

IV. The Test Of Pardon, Gen. 45. Joseph demonstrated forgiveness for his brothers who had sought to kill him, abandoned him, selling him into slavery, and telling their father he had been killed by wild animals. Forgiveness is one of life’s most difficult tests.

V. The Test Of Perseverance, Gen. 50. Joseph lived faithfully for the Lord until he died at the age of one hundred and ten years old.

Conclusion: Are you passing the tests of life?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Your Personal Testimony
Here are some guidelines that will make your personal testimony the kind that people will want to hear and that God will use to bring them to Christ:
1. Realize what is at stake: the destiny of the souls of men. You are representing Jesus Christ. II Cor. 5:18-20.
2. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and guidance in preparing and presenting your testimony.
3. Begin with an interesting, attention-getting sentence and close with a good conclusion. Include relevant, thought provoking facts and experiences.
4. Give it in such a way that others will feel associated with you. 
5. Give enough details to arouse interest.
6. You should always have a general outline already in your mind. By this, we mean that you can give your testimony in two or three minutes to an hour or more. You never know when or for how long you may be called on to give a testimony.
7. If you are the first or only one to give a testimony, always give the plan of salvation.
8. Be sure your experiences are scriptural before you share them with others. Interpret your experiences by the Word of God and not vise-versa. The Bible is our authority.
9. Be lovingly enthusiastic. Let them know you really believe in what you are saying. Don't bore people with the greatest thing in the world.
10. Speak loudly and clearly, in a relaxed tone of voice.
11. Smile often. A smile tells a person, "I like you," and "You're worth smiling at." Ask the Lord to give you a happy, radiant face. Eph. 4:15.
12. Avoid mannerisms when you speak, such as: rubbing your nose, playing with your ring, jingling coins in your pocket.
13. Feature Christ, and not yourself.
14. Have a good appearance: clean, good posture, smell good.
15. Be full of life, have excitement in your voice.

Monday, May 28, 2012

5 Marks Of A Healthy Church
I Thess 5:11-23

I. A Concern For People, vs. 11.
A. Healthy churches comfort the brokenhearted, We comfort those who are dealing with
1. The Sorrows Of Life, Jn. 11:35. Loss always brings sorrow.
2. The Struggles Of Life, Galations 6:1-2. Difficulties, divorce, defeat, disappearing dreams, etc.. We are to pick them up, hold them up, and build them up! Ill. 
B. Healthy churches encourage one another  vs 11.
II. A Confidence In Leadership, vss. 12-13.
A. A Biblical Understanding Of Leadership
B. A Biblical Undergirding Of Leadership
1. Honor
2. Financial Support, I Tim. 4:18.
3. Guarding their reputation, I Tim. 5:19.
4. Followship
5. Prayer, Hebrews 13:18, “Pray for us…”
III. Commitment To Maturity, vs. 14, 15.
A. Biblical Discipline:
B. Biblical Devotion:
C. Biblical Discipleship:
IV. Consistency In Ministry, vss. 16-18.
A. Rejoice: This is the celebration of the christian life.
B. Pray: This is the communion of the christian life.
C. Give Thanks: This is the gratitude of the christian life.
V. Cooperation With The Master, vs. 19-22, “Quench not the Spirit.”
1. “Despise not prophesyings,” vs. 20.
2. “Prove all things,” vs. 21.  No compromise.
3. “Abstain from the very appearance of evil,”

A sick society deserves a healthy church. Question: “If every member of my church was just like me, what kind of a church would my church be?”

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Memorial Day Moment
Mark 14:3-9

In 3 of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and John we find a special Memorial Day moment. It involves a lady by the name of Mary who came to pay a special tribute to the Lord. Her adoration touched Jesus.

I. The Meaning of Christian Service  -  What do we mean when we, as believers, talk about serving the Lord? We often think it means being a preacher, a Sunday School teacher, a Children’s worker, and so on; but does Christian service only consist of these? No! We are all saved to serve (Eph 2:10). So our definition of Christian service, against the background of this story, is that Christian service is doing things for Jesus.  Col 3:17 "
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."

II. The Measure of Christian Service  -  How much are we to do for Him? All our Lord expects is that we do what lies in our power. This is the meaning of our Lord's word in verse 8, "She hath done what she could," no more, no less.  YOUR BEST IS GOOD ENOUGH NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT IS. God does not want what you CANNOT DO but what you CAN DO.
         A. True Christian service - doing what you can do will involves a sacrifice.
         B. True Christian service - doing what you can do will bring criticism (4).

III. The Motive of Christian Service  -  What was Mary's motive? Why did she worship the Lord in this way and express her appreciation of Him in such loving service?  Did she do it to get prominence, to be seen of others, to gain the Lord's praise?
No, she did it simply out of love for Him.
         A. Her act was expressive.  Without hesitation she expressed her love.
         B. Her act was exclusive.  She was completely occupied with Jesus.
         C. Her act was extravagant. It was an extravagant act in the eyes of men.

IV. The Memorial of Christian Service  -  In verse 9 we are told a very wonderful thing. Our Lord declared that Mary's loving act would never be forgotten; it would abide.  This tells us that every little act done out of love for the Lord Jesus abides for ever.  "
Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her," (Mk. 14:9).

In Yorkshire, England during the early 1800's two sons were born to a family named Taylor. The older one set out to make a name for himself by entering Parliament and gaining public prestige. The younger son chose to give his life to Christ. With commitment to Christ, Hudson Taylor turned his face toward China and obscurity. As a result, he is known and honored on every continent as a faithful missionary and the founder of the China Inland Mission. For the other son, however, there is no lasting monument. He became known as simply as the "brother of Hudson Taylor."

Mary was and is remembered for what she did for Christ! As I consider this text, I have to ask myself: How will I be remembered? We will either be remembered for the good we've done or the bad. Some will not be remembered at all because they did nothing at all!  "
She hath done what she could." She could do no more than what she did

Saturday, May 26, 2012

50 Ways to Welcome New People
Recognize Hospitality as a Ministry
1.      Teach that hospitality is at the core of the Gospel.
2.      Teach your congregation that God seeks to be in relationship with ALL persons.
Make a Good First Impression
3.      Convey a clear invitation and a statement of welcome in all communications directed at the external community -- advertisements, banners, flyers, website, etc.
4.      Know that 40% of visitors make up their mind about a church before they even see the pastor, according to Barna Research. Within two minutes of the beginning of a service visitors have formed an opinion about whether the congregation is friendly.
5.      Care for your building and grounds as a way of honoring your attendees and honoring God. A well-cared-for building demonstrates a commitment to excellence and communicates that what the church does is important.
6.      Have clear exterior and interior signs that guides a visitor everywhere he or she needs to go.
7.      Reserve special parking places for visitors. Encourage church members and staff to park offsite or in more remote spaces. If parking lot congestion is an issue, recruit volunteer parking attendants.
8.      Make your nursery clean, safe, sanitary, well-equipped, and visually appealing to children and their parents. Use a space that is easy to find and convenient to the sanctuary. Make sure your nursery workers and procedures inspire confidence on the part of parents.
9.      Make sure your restrooms and neat and clean.
Be Intentional about Saying Hello and Good Bye
10.  Station greeters at all entrances, in classroom areas, and in the parking lot or entry walks, if appropriate.
11.  Identify your greeters and ushers with a special badge or name tag so visitors who need information can easily identify them.
12.  Encourage friendly, out-going persons with the gift of “hospitality” to serve as greeters and ushers. Don’t expect that just anyone can do these jobs well. Provide regular training that helps them see the church through a visitor’s eyes.
13.  Escort newcomers to the nursery, classrooms, coffee hour, etc. Don’t just point the way or give directions.
14.  Adopt the “rule of three,” which says members will not talk to other members in the first three minutes following the service – typically how long it takes guests to exit.
15.  Enact the “circle of ten” rule – that each member will greet anyone, member or guest, who comes within ten feet of them.
16.  Say, “I don’t think we’ve met before …” if you are not sure if the person next to you is a member or a visitor.
17.  Ask outgoing church members to sit in the pews where visitors most commonly sit, often near the entrance or in the back.
18.  Post someone at every exit to shake hands and thank people for coming. Ask worship participants (teachers, pastors, music leaders, etc.,) to do this since their faces will be familiar.
Help Newcomers Feel at Home in Worship
19.  Accept casual attire.
20.  Do not ask visitors to stand and identify themselves. Seventy percent of new attendees feel negatively about being recognized. However, they do expect people to be friendly and welcoming.
21.  Provide nametags for the whole congregation and develop the habit of wearing them. Form a “tag team” to organize and promote name tag use.
22.  Review your church bulletin and other printed material to make sure information is not “insider oriented.” Avoid church jargon and assuming that people understand the context.
23.  Make sure your order of worship is easy for a visitor to follow. Include written or verbal explanations of what is going on and why.
24.  Sing at least one hymn each Sunday that is well known outside the church, such as “Amazing Grace,” “Power In The Blood,” or “Victory In Jesus.”
25.  Include a welcome to visitors in the open words before the service. Make sure the person speaking identifies him or herself. It is best for the pastor to issue this welcome.
26.  Remember that visitors sometimes arrive a few minutes late. Don’t front load all the information directed at them.
27.  Place information about your church’s ministries where a visitor can easily find it – preferably in the pew, or a clearly marked location near the entry points used by visitors. Don’t expect them to go someplace else to find it.
28.  Prepare Visitors Packets to be handed out by greeters with information about your church programs.
29.  Give visitors with small children a small activity packet (with crayons, pipe cleaners, stickers, etc.) as they enter worship.
30.  Avoid all talk about money with visitors.
31.  Keep the discussion of “family business” to a minimum in the services. Limit announcements.
Follow up with your Visitors
32.  Get the names and addresses of first-time visitors. Visitors don’t want to be singled out.
33.  Make a special effort to remember visitors’ names and call them by name.
34.  Make at least one follow-up contact with first-time visitors within 24 to 36 hours of their visit – a letter from the pastor, a phone call, a hand-written note, an email message. Many churches deliver a gift, such as freshly baked cookies or a church coffee mug, to visitors’ homes. The purpose is to communicate friendliness, not get a membership commitment.
35.  Develop a system or data base for keeping track of visitors, their contact information, and the frequency of visits. A mailing list of persons who have visited in the past is one of your best marketing tools.
36.  Don’t overlook visitors who come to the church for the first time for an event other than worship.
37.  Once someone has attended three times, they should be invited to join the church with a pastoral visit and/or an invitation to take part in an inquirers or new member class.
38.  Encourage visitors to get connected with activities and groups, even if they are not ready to join.
Be More Inviting
39.  Hold an Open House Sunday at least once a year.
40.  Organize a “bring-a-friend” Sunday at least once a year.
41.  Extend extra hospitality during back-to-school time, Christmas and Easter, when persons are most likely to consider visiting a church.
42.  Start a personal invitation ministry. Three out of four people attend a church for the first time because they were invited. Yet less than half of church members say they have invited someone in the last year.
43.  Provide training to members on how to invite others to church.
44.  Print special invitations to Christmas Eve services that people can deliver to friends.
45.  Plan special events – concerts, lectures, etc. -- that appeal to those outside the church and that members feel comfortable inviting someone to.
46.  Have special recognition Sundays for scout groups, preschool families, or other community groups meeting in your church to encourage them to attend worship.
Become More Aware of Visitors and their Concerns
47.  Gather feedback on how visitors respond to your church through surveys, focus groups, or interviews.
48.  Conduct a “welcome audit” annually.
49.  Provide training on welcoming at least once a year.
50.  Send your welcome team to visit other churches and report back on how they experienced their reception.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ministry of the Shepherd
Psalm 23:3-5 

It is not unusual for a sheep to go astray. The fellowship and joy with God can be broken but not the salvation itself. 
There are three types of sheep.
·     The stubborn sheep - These are sheep that just want their own way.
·     The straying sheep - These are sheep that are weak and carelessly go astray.
·     The sick sheep - There are many enemies and diseases and these sheep also need to be restored.
The shepherd has three tools he uses to minister to the sheep
·     A rod - The stubborn sheep are restored with the rod. He would break one of the legs of the stubborn sheep and then immediately bind it to heal it. He would often carry the sheep until it was mended. That sheep would then stay very close to the shepherd. The sheep has been broken and restored. The same God who breaks us is the same God who restores us. God did the same thing to Jacob. God's chastening is an indication that you are a child of God. God is out to make you holy not happy. It restores our fellowship. It seems harsh at the time but yields fruitfulness later.

·     A staff - The straying sheep are restored with the staff. It has been called a shepherd's crook. The shepherd used it to guide and retrieve the sheep. When we get into difficulty the Lord has the staff to get us back on the right path. 

·     A bottle of oil - The sick sheep are restored with the bottle of oil. Daily as each sheep came in to the fold he would anoint, count, and check them for any injuries. This oil was mixed with other elements to protect the sheep from pests like nose flies.
                          Physical healing
                          Physiological healing
                          Emotional healing
                          Spiritual healing 

Can you remember the times that God has used the rod, the staff, or the oil?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Text: Psalm 100:1-5
The number of great churches in America seems to be steadily declining. When I use the term "great church", I am not talking about money, buildings, programs, or size. Instead, I am talking about churches that serve the Lord and bring honor and glory to Him. I believe there are at least 4 ingredients necessary in the life of a church for it to be called "great".
1. A Church That Prays About Everything
2. A Church That Preaches God’s Word.
3. A Church That Praises The Lord.
4. A Church That Propagates The Gospel
I want to send forth "A Call To Praise"! I want to examine FOUR ASPECTS of this call.
I. How We Are To Praise The Lord.
A. With a joyful noise. v.1
1. singing
2. shouting
3. preaching
                        4. praying
            B. With a glad heart. v.2
II. Why We Are To Praise The Lord.
A. Because of who He is.
1. He is our God. (LORD) v.3a
A. Elohim-strong one
B. Jehovah-self existent one
C. Adonai-Master
2. He is our creator. v.3b
3. He is our Shepherd. v.3c
B. Because of what He is.
1. He is good. v.5a
2. He is merciful. v.5b
3. He is truthful. v.5c
III. Where We Are To Praise The Lord.
A. Everywhere in general. Psa 34:1 ... I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
B. The church in particular. v.4a
IV. Who Are To Praise The Lord. v.5   ALL GENERATIONS!
Conclusion: We are not all made the same emotionally. Therefore, not all will praise the Lord in the same manner. Some will praise Him with tears.  Others with a smile.  Still others with a laugh.  And some with a shout.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Avoiding Satan’s Snares
1 Pet 5:8

Several times Jesus warned Peter that Satan was after him, but he failed to heed the warning. Too many Christians have “gone to sleep,” opening the way for Satan to work.

I. Don’t Stray  Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” Ps. 119:67
A. Christians sometime neglect their prayer life, and they fail to study God’s Word as they should.
B. Some lack the courage to say no to non-Christian friends.
C. We must guard our devotional life diligently, drawing near to God daily. Jam 4:7,8 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

II. Don’t Strut   Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Pro 16:18
A. Some Christian lack humility. They desire the praise of people, rather than the approval of God. “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Joh 12:43
B. Jesus, our example was humble.
C. We must be humble too. We avoid Satan’s snares by doing those things that are pleasing to God. Jam 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
III. Don’t Stoop   Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom. 12:21
A. The morals of our world are at an all-time low.
B. Millions have relaxed their morals standards because they are spiritually weak.
C. Christians must not condone evil, “but overcome evil with good.” Assisting the less fortunate and sharing Christ with the lost will help us avoid Satan’s snares.

IV. Don’t Stop  
Therefore my beloved brethern be ye stedfast unmoveable always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord 1 Cor 15:58
A. Some have made a good start but have come to a bad stop in the Christian life.
B. No problem is too difficult, no trial is too severe, no burden is too heavy for the Christian, because God’s help and grace are sufficient.
C. God is more than a match for Satan, and we are more than conquerors through Him. Rom. 8:37-39 “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

5 Steps to Avoid Temptation
1.      Recognize your tendency toward sin.  Jam 1:14.
2.      Run away from the temptation.  1 Cor 10:13.
3.      Resist with the Word of God.  Heb 4:12; 2 Cor 10:4-5
4.      Refocus with praise.  Psa 147
5.      Repent quickly when you fail.  1 Cor 10:14; 1 Tim 6:11; Jam 1:15

Monday, May 21, 2012

4 Building Blocks of Developing Christlikeness
2 Pet 1:1-11
1 Cor 3:10-11 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 
In verses 5-7, we are about to build a 7 story spiritual structure.

Building Block #1—Addition (vs 5-7)
  1. Virtue—Determination or Moral Excellence
  2. Knowledge—Discernment or Spiritual Understanding
  3. Temperance—Discipline or Self Control.  Tongues, Tempers, Temptations, Tastes
  4. Patience—Durability or Endurance, perseverance
  5. Godliness—Dedication or Every action yielded to the Lord
  6. Brotherly Kindness—Deference (Philadelphia)
  7. Charity— Deeds for others (agape)
What does the number 7 represent in scripture?  Perfection or completeness.
Now, don’t pat yourself on the back if you have 3 or even 4 of these operating in your life.  We are to have all seven of them!   

Building Block#2-Anticipation (v8)
Fruitfulness (John 15:5, 8, 16)—Illus:  Prayer each day that the Lord would give us fruit from our labors.  We should have an expectation that Christ will bear fruit through us.  

Building Block#3-Avoidance (v9)
Forgetfulness—Have you ever forgotten that you were purged from your sins and have a new nature.  2 Cor 5:17--Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

Building Block#4-Assessment (vs10-11)
Making Your calling and election sure— 2 Cor 13:5--Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Peter wants us to enjoy the certainty of our salvation, and be so firmly established in our faith, that we cannot be shaken or taken by false doctrine.  Concerning election, how many professing Christians are not possessing Christians?  They haven’t assessed their calling and election.  Concerning calling, we need to be sure of whatever ministry we are embarking upon, and that it is God led. 

Note:  These things only happen through due diligence (10a).  Most Christians are operating in default mode, though. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

1.    A Mirror - To Show Us Ourselves
(Jam 1:23-25 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work,)
2.    A Hammer - To Break The Will
(Jer. 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?) 
3.    A Fire - To Melt The Heart
(Jer. 23:29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
4.    A Sword - To Pierce The Conscience
(Heb. 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.)
5.    A Seed - To Quicken The Soul
(1 Pet 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.) 
6.    A Laver - To Cleanse The Way
(Eph. 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,) 
7.    A Light - To Show The Path
     (Ps. 119:105  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.)