People Only Do What They Really “Want” To Do -Mike Riley

Through the years, this writer has discovered that people only do what they really “want” to do (from their heart) – no more and no less. We can motivate and encourage Christians all day long to do the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58), but in the end, they will only do what they really “want” to do.

For example, we can motivate and encourage Christians to attend every church service, but only those members who really “want” to attend every church service, will be in attendance, and those who really “want” to stay home, will stay home (or engage in some secular activity).

Christians who really “want” to faithfully obey and serve the Lord, will do so “from the heart’ (Romans 6:17). Note the same phrase in Ephesians 6:6, and the contrast using the same phrase in Matthew 15:17-18 regarding what comes out of the mouth.

Serving God “from the heart’ (those who really”want” to serve God) is the kind of service God eagerly wants from His people (note the words “whole heart’ in Psalm 111:1; Psalm 119:2).

Beloved, let’s seriously “think'” about the above thoughts and then go serve the Lord with our “whole heart’!

Finding True Happiness In The Upcoming New Year by Mike Riley

As human beings, we get very excited about a New Year, because we look forward to making resolutions for the purpose of “turning over a new leaf” as it were. We make lists of changes in our lives, goals, and projects to accomplish. Many believe that happiness will be found in material wealth, worldly power, or fame and glory. Some folks will simply eat black-eyed peas for good luck.

However, true happiness can never be known without allowing our wills to be in alignment and compliance with our Creator’s will (cf. Isaiah 1:18-19; Matthew 7:21). After the wise man Solomon had recorded the futility of his search for purpose and happiness in this world, he wrote: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

It’s only when we find and fulfill God’s purpose for our lives that we can achieve the true happiness God intended for us (cf. Jeremiah 1:5; Gal. 1:15-16). We can’t ignore this purpose and Imagine this upcoming New Year as a blank sheet of paper for us to write another chapter of our short and fleeting life (James 4:14; cf. Psalm 78:39; Job 7:6-7). Will we have the courage and commitment to look within the pages of the inspired Scriptures in determining our moral values and standards? (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:16).

Or will we allow worldly influences to set them for us? (1 John 2:16; cf. 2 Timothy 4:10). If we will choose the former, we will find true happiness in the upcoming New Year.

There’s A Time To Just Say NO! – Mike Riley

There’s a time to just say NO! to the world’s negative influences and say YES! to God’s priorities and will (Matthew 6:33; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:18).

The following are eight of those times:

1) Just Say NO! to worldly peer pressure— Never follow a crowd to do evil (Exodus 23:2).

2) Just Say NO! to worldly mediocrity— God expects excellence from His followers.

3) Just Say NO! to trying to do too many things at once — Rather, strive to live a balanced life.

4) Just Say NO! to being unproductive – Don’t allow unproductive people to waste your time or God’s time.

5) Just Say NO! to shortcuts— Remember the old maxim,”Haste makes waste?” Well, it still does.

6) Just Say NO! to ungratefulness — Let’s be thankful to the good Lord for the things He has provided us, rather than being obsessed with always wanting “more.”

7) Just Say NO! to folks who have negative attitudes – – This is why we need to carefully choose the people with whom we associate. Remember, attitude is everything!

8) Just Say NO! to anyone who wants to compromise our integrity – – Allow the Lord to guide us in this regard (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I Believe God… Chad Ramsey

After Paul was seized by the mob in Jerusalem, he was taken into Roman custody. And because a Jewish plot to take his life was discovered, the Romans transferred him to Caesarea. While there, Paul had the opportunity to defend himself before governors Felix and Festus. And it was before Festus that Paul made his famous appeal to be taken before Caesar saying: “1 stand at Caesars judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. For ifl am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:10-11).

After assuring Paul that his request would be granted, Festus made provisions for him to be taken by ship to Rome. But that voyage, like most of Paul’s other experiences, was not to be without incident. In the midst of the long journey, a storm, so severe that “sailors were seeking to escape from the ship” (Acts 27:30), encompassed the vessel. Nevertheless, an angel assured Paul that he and all those present on the voyage would survive the impending wreck. Thus, Paul spoke: “Therefore take heart, men, for believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (Acts 27:25).

Paul’s words reflect the confidence that all Christians should have in God’s Word. He knew that if God had promised his safety, he would be safe indeed. No wonder Paul later wrote: “…I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

We Cannot Save the Church by Glen Elliott

There is but one Savior of the church. I am not the savior But neither are you. The church is not saved by ideas and inventions which arise out of human ingenuity. Neither is the church saved by carefully-planned classes or programs designed to meet the felt-needs of its members. Jesus is the Savior of His church (Eph. 5:23). While He is.potentially, the Savior of the world; He is, at this moment, the Savior of His body, the church (Jn. 4:42; Eph. 1:22.23)

Well-intentioned people will, at times, step in to “save” the church. To save it from itself. To save it from its lethargy. To save it from its leadership. Often these self-appointed saviors take on the form of preachers. But not always. We have seen it many times. Those who think they have the answers-that they can save the church, if only the church will follow their counsel. What often begins with good and honest motives can develop into a savior complex where attention is drawn to the one who has become, at least in their own mind, the indispensable rescuer of the church Instead, our constant focus must be on becoming a Christ-centered church. For He is Savior of the church and to Him belong all praise and glory (Eph. 3:21).

There is much to be done to advance the cause of Christ. But, we do not save the church. Christ is our Savior. God adds the saved to His church (Acts 2:47). We work together with God in our own salvation as well as in the salvation of others (Acts 2:40; 2 Cor. 6:1-2). We ‘encourage one another” (1 Th. 5:11). We “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hb. 10:24). There are many things we must do for the sake of the body. But, regardless of how much we do, we cannot save the church. We are no more important than anyone else in the body of Christ. Jesus alone holds His place of “honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” and we are but unworthy slaves who have been granted the blessing of serving in His kingdom (Rev. 5:13; Lk.17:10).

Christ Is the Only Way by Gregory Alan Tidwell

We tend to be serious and exclusive when dealing with serious matters. When you go to a physician for treatment, the doctor doesn’t outline four or five arbitrary therapies, asking you to choose the one which “floats your boat.” Rather, a physician seeks the greatest precision in addressing the patient’s situation.

In the same way, but even more profoundly, Jesus claims to address the central elements of life, putting Himself forward to be the answer to our most profound needs. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,” Jesus invites, “and I will give you rest.” This loving call invites us into a new way of life filled with blessings and with responsibilities. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,” is the Savior’s commandment and promise, “for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30) The power of the gospel is transformational. It moves us from the way of the world into the way of salvation in Christ. Receiving the blessings of Jesus as your Savior entails entering into a relationship with Jesus as your Lord.

In contrast to the transforming power of the gospel, much of today’s popular religion is accommodating rather than confrontational. Worldly religions reinforce rather than challenge worldly behavior. In contrast to the world’s message of indulgence, the church must continually reinforce the Lord’s call to
repentance.

The Greatest Need in America

We’ve been thinking much about the state of our country. Economic woes, fear of enemies, health concerns, natural disasters, spiritual decline, and confused morality call for our attention; and we continually ask what God’s will is for this country.

We are perplexed but not surprised that the fastest growing religious group in America is the group that identifies themselves as having “no religion.” According to the American Religious ldentification Survey taken in 2001, adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001; their proportion has grown from just eight percent of the total in 1990 to over fourteen percent in 2001. Only 77 percent of Americans now claim to be Christians.

Many of those who claim to be Christians have convictions far different from the teaching of the New Testament. For instance, the Pew Forum recently released a survey saying that 65 percent of American Christians say that many religions can lead to eternal life, a fact that contradicts Jesus’ plain statement in John 14:6 (see also Acts 4:12; Ephesians 4:4-6)

What America needs most is the gospel, the old story of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. That divine story will lead them to change their hearts and lives repentance and to unite with Christ in baptism. The gospel will open their hearts to faith, hope, and love.

The Priesthood of All Believers by Phil Sanders

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:4-5 NASB). serve as priests.

Under the old covenant, only the Levites could Priests had two functions: (1) they offered up sacrifices in worship, and (2) they were to “to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses (Lev. 10:11)

Under the new covenant, however, every Christian shares in the priesthood. Every Christian has the responsibility to worship and to teach others the unsearchable riches of Christ. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you received mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10 ESV).

There are souls all around your neighborhood that needs the gospel of Jesus Christ, and God has asked every Christian to be involved in proclaiming the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

We Love the Souls of Everyone – Phil Sanders

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

Because we love the souls of men and want them to go to heaven, we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul knew this burden and said, “l am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So l am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:14-16)

Because we love the souls of men, we are not afraid to speak out against sin. We know that passions of the flesh “wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

Because we love the souls of men, we preach the need to follow Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Because we love the souls of men, we point people to what is best. The Lord Jesus came to bring us an abundant life (John 10:10). His yoke is easy, and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He is “our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). We can do no better than to preach Jesus and Him crucified to every soul in every place who will hear. 

 

Finding My Worth in God by Kerry Williams

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil 2:3 NKJV).

One of the greatest struggles for humanity is the discovery of our own value and self-worth. People often feel so very empty and insignificant. The cares of life tend to batter down our self- image and leave us with a sense of meaninglessness and even self-loathing. This is part of the reason why so many people turn to so many vices-alcohol, drugs, sexuality-in an attempt to “fill the void.”

The world is quick to offer solutions. The self-appointed therapists of afternoon talk shows and the mega-rich attitude coaches of late-night infomercials tell us that we need to practice “self love,” and engage in more positive “self-talk.” They tell us that we have to love ourselves first before we can ever learn to love anyone else. Yet, however quaint their advice may be, it is as far from truth as the east is from the west.

The Bible tells us that positive self-image does not come through believing we are wonderful, but through the knowledge that God loves us. We don’t need better “self-esteem,” but need a better understanding of God’s estimation of us! In fact, the Bible tells us that the first step to wholeness is understanding and accepting our own wretchedness and turning in utter dependence to God’s awesome grace. Perhaps the old children’s song has more practical advice on developing self-esteem all ot today’s pop-psychology: “Jesus first, yourself LAST and others in-between.”