A Gift from God
Matthew 3:2 (New Century Version)2 "Change your hearts and lives because the kingdom of heaven is near."


Genesis 1:29 (New International Version) 29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uculwUoQbKE&feature=player_detailpage    


http://www.lakestv3.com/archivedshows/vergasshow2010.html

Follow this link to 2010 archives, then  "Apple Tree Planting"



A Gift from God.


What can YOU do?

This site is designed to share ideas and build on ideas of how we can help our neighbor and what we can do to live a God pleasing life.

Purpose Service: Another service at church besides Traditional and Contemporary where you are using the time to do different things for members of your church.
 
Examples:
1.  Children & parents can color religious pictures or write short letters to members who are hospitalized, in the military or incarcerated.

2.  Members who are unable physically and monetarily to  take care of certain tasks could sign up on a list to see if other members could help them with quick projects.
 
3.  Other ideas & activities: clean up inside and outside the church, help put together care packages, help plant and maintain a garden to use for the local food pantry and more ideas to come!




http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=8115
    

It's God's love for man that prompts Him to hate sin with a vengeance

Pride keeps thousands away from Christ today. What will my friends say? What will my family think? Will my reputation be affected if I become a Christian and live accordingly?

 


What does God hate, you ask? Solomon answers the question in the Book of Proverbs. We read: “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19).


Just as a parent despises the bad behavior of their child but still loves the child, God loathes the forces that would cause you to be lost, but He loves you with an infinite love.  However, this matter of salvation is not thrust upon you; it is a gift, and it must be duly and properly received. Here is the promise on which you may put your whole trust: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
At this moment you can receive Christ. He will forgive every sin that you have ever committed and give you new strength, new power over the temptations of life. But first you must renounce your sins, confess them and receive Christ into your heart. Will you do that right now? You can at this moment, and He will change your life.


http://billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=1164 

How Much Sin Can You Get Away With?

Sin isn’t something to be gotten away with, but something to be gotten rid of.


I find it interesting that this was a question that was being asked back in biblical times, too; so much so that the Apostle Paul made it a point to address it in the Book of Romans. As he unpacks the power of God’s grace, Paul pauses and asks an interesting question:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1).
          Why did he ask that? Because the same thing was happening in human hearts back then that’s happening right now. People are pretty much the same, regardless of which century they live in. When it comes to sin, they want to know how close they can get to the cliff’s edge without falling off.
           In Paul’s time, there were those who disguised this desire by twisting the teaching of God’s grace to infer that sin was actually a good thing, because it provided an opportunity for grace to be exercised. What better way to honor the Lord than to go ahead and sin, right? It was just one more attempt at pushing the edge of the envelope and determining how much sin they could get away with without getting burned by it. Notice how decisively Paul answers the question:
“Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:2).
           Paul is telling us that we’re missing the big picture if we’re asking what we can get away with. That’s not the issue. The real issue is this: Grace is something that gives us freedom from sin, NOT something that gives us freedom to sin. If we don’t see it that way, we have a serious misunderstanding that needs to be fixed.

How Do We Fix It?

So where does this misunderstanding come from and how do we fix it?  When we misunderstand grace as a license to sin, it can actually be traced back to a set of three separate misunderstandings. The first is a misunderstanding of sin.  It has been well said that we’re punished not only for our sins, but also by our sins. The point is that sin’s presence in our lives is punishment in and of itself, because sin is inherently harmful to us.
           That was the underlying principle at play when David cried out, “My iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Psalm 38:4). God never created or intended for human beings to handle sin. It’s simply bad for us all the way around: physically, emotionally and spiritually.
           In the long run, sin will always leave us the worse for wear, and it will always get more out of us than we ever get out of it. As a matter of fact, it will always drive us to the point of desperation where we cry out along with David, “I just can’t carry this anymore. It’s too heavy for me!”   We were never meant to harbor or carry around sin, and yet we often do so, to our own self-destruction. But when we see sin for what it truly is—when we understand how hurtful and hazardous it is—we won’t want to get away with it but, rather, we’ll want to get rid of it.
           Our second misunderstanding in thinking that grace gives us a license to sin is a misunderstanding of the cross.  There’s a side of God we don’t often talk about or dwell on. But this aspect of His nature is just as real as anything else about Him: His wrath. Wrath is defined as an intense anger or rage toward something. In God’s case, that “something” is ungodliness and unrighteousness: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).  God has an intense anger toward sin, and He’s determined to punish it thoroughly. One way or another, He will be faithful to judge every sin ever committed. And the only thing that stands between our sin and God’s wrath is the cross.
            It was on the cross that Jesus served as our sacrifice and satisfied God’s wrath on our behalf. As our sinfulness was placed upon our innocent substitute—Jesus—God’s fury toward sin was placed upon His pure and innocent Son.   I can’t speak for you, but when I see the cross in that light, it makes me look at my sin a lot differently. Sin loses its luster when I recognize what Jesus went through, how He endured the Father’s wrath for the sake of my sin. How can I even entertain the idea of continuing in sin when I consider the cross and what happened there?
            The third and final misunderstanding in seeing grace as a license to sin is a misunderstanding of grace itself.  Grace is humbling when properly understood. Think about it. We were completely powerless to help ourselves as sinners. God, who knows everything, knew that the only way for us to ever be saved was for Him to do it for us. Grace—God’s favor despite our sin—was our only hope. That’s humbling.
By very definition, grace is something that cannot be earned or deserved: “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6).  None of us ever can or will be able to earn the grace God freely gives to us. He has done more for us than we can ever imagine, and that’s nothing compared to what He has in store for us—and we don’t deserve any of it. In fact, we deserve the exact opposite.
            If that doesn’t humble your heart, if that doesn’t cut to your core and break you down, then you’re not really reading this. When we understand grace for what it truly is and how it’s affected our lives, the last thing we’re going to ask is, “What can I get away with?”   Instead, we’re going to wonder, “Lord, who am I that You would be so good to me?”   When we have a proper understanding of these three things, when we see sin, the cross and grace for what they truly are, we’ll have the same perspective Paul did. We won’t miss the bigger picture of what it means to be touched by God’s grace. And instead of seeing grace as something that gives us the freedom to sin, we’ll see it as the very thing that sets us free from sin.

 

 

 

http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=8245     

You say, “I’m a Christian.”     Are you?     Well, let’s see what kind of fruit you have produced.

 

·         Is your life filled with immorality?  

 

http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=immorality 

 

·         Is it filled with idolatry?  That is, do you have more time for other things than you do for God?  What do you do with your God given time, talent and treasure; keep a journal for this and see if your life is all about you and what you want to do or about God? 

http://preachersfiles.com/modern-day-idolatry/        In this lesson we will look at several modern day idols. These are: 1) The idol of Covetousness, 2) The idol of drugs, 3) The idol of leisure; You could place any particular hobby here that you wish, like hunting, fishing, video-gaming etc. In contrast to the time spent for leisure activities, they give the Lord maybe one hour of their time a week to worship him. Do you find it easy to skip church & time with God to do something else? What kind of relationship have you built with God?  Do you decide that is is more important to stay up late the night before Church and then sleep in skipping the little time you might have with God to hear God's word, build up your faith, sing to & praise God and become part of your church? 

I want to be clear that none of these Leisure activities or hobbies individually are sinful in moderation. They become sinful when the amount of time and money that we spend on these activities exceeds the amount of time and money that we give to God.

http://christianity.about.com/od/mensresources/a/idolatrytoday.htm   

 

http://www.gotquestions.org/idolatry-modern.html          

 

·         What fills your life? Is there hatred? Is there wrath? Is there strife? Is there partying? Is there envy? Is there jealousy?


            The Bible also teaches us that the Spirit of God produces the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). This cluster of fruit should characterize the life of every Christ-born child of God. We’re to be filled with love, we’re to have joy, we’re to have peace, we’re to have patience, we’re to be gentle and kind, we’re to be filled with goodness, we’re to have faith, we’re to have meekness, and we’re to have temperance. But what do we find? In the average so-called Christian today we find the opposite.
             Every person, before coming to Christ, is dominated by one nature—the “old man.” You’re controlled by your ego, your self. The moment you receive Christ as your Savior, that self is put down. Christ is put on the throne in your life, and the Spirit of God dominates your life.
However, self is still there—sometimes hidden, sometimes quiet—waiting for the opportunity and the chance to attack the citadel of your soul and take control again. You have the will as a Christian to yield either to the flesh and live a fleshly, carnal life; or to yield to the Spirit and live a Spirit-filled life.  Which life are you living? Are you living a fleshly, carnal life? Oh, "you go to church", but there is no daily walk or fellowship with Christ?  There’s not the joy, the buoyancy that you know a Christian should have. God never meant it to be that way. God meant the Christian life to be on the highest possible plane at all times, bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
             Notice God’s love. You and I were sinners. We were enemies of God. We had rebelled against God. We deserved hell. But the Bible says God loved us anyway with an everlasting love, so that He was willing to give His Son to die on the cross for our sins.  When I see Jesus Christ dying there, the nails in His hands, the spikes through His feet, and the crown of thorns on His brow—when I see Christ suffering and dying—I see the love of God outpoured for us.
            There is a vast difference between pleasure and Christian joy. Pleasure depends on circumstances. Many times it requires good health to really enjoy yourself. But Christian joy is completely independent of health or circumstances.  When circumstances are savage, when circumstances are against you, when every modern comfort is withdrawn, there is still the miracle of joy produced by the Holy Spirit who lives within. How many sick people I’ve called on who knew Christ and there was a radiant joy—there was heaven on their faces.
           And there is peace. Millions of people would gladly give their right arms to find peace. They would like to have deep, inward, satisfying peace.  You are searching for peace: you long for it. You thought you would find it if you made a lot of money, but you didn’t find it. You thought you would find it if you had sexual experiences, but you didn’t find it. You thought you would find it if you got drunk, but you didn’t find it. You thought you would find it in getting and accumulating a lot of knowledge, so you got all the degrees you could get, but you didn’t find it. You’ve searched the religions of the world, but you haven’t found it.
There are a thousand ways you’ve turned, trying to find peace, but you haven’t found it. You’ve escaped from reality for a few moments, for a few hours, and then it’s back—the old burden, the old suffering, the old emptiness, the old monotony, the old grind. Give your life to Christ and let Him give you “the peace that passes all understanding” (Cf. Philippians 4:7).
            As you yield completely to Him as Savior and Lord—when you come to Christ by an act of faith—He gives you the Holy Spirit, who produces the fruit of the Spirit. After the Holy Spirit is in you, you must yield to Him to the extent that He controls your life. Then sin will not rule over you. “He who is in you [the Holy Spirit] is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
            You say, “What must I do?” By an act of faith you must receive Christ. You must give Him your total life, your intellect, your emotional life. Your will must be bent to His will—surrender, commit, receive. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Give your life to Him! Don’t let anything keep you back! You may never again be this close to the Kingdom of God. ©1957 BGEA
http://www.billygraham.org/dmag_archive.asp   

 

 

http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=8656

Are followers of Christ still tempted by high places? Let’s ask it a different way: Do believers sometimes succumb to today’s “ism-idols”—rampant materialism, impure sexism or me-ism?

Today we don’t construct idolatrous clay figurines of Baal or attend worship services for Asherah, but our temptations are just as seductive and perhaps even more subtle.
Believers today might avoid obvious “high places” such as theft, child abuse or explosive anger. But we tend to be casual about what writer and Bible teacher Jerry Bridges calls “respectable sins.” We rarely speak of envy, worry, spiritual pride, sexual window-shopping, gossip or strife as sin. But these habits are nothing but sinful deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

Dashboard Indicator One: Have I given myself permission to adopt a casual attitude toward sin?

Dashboard Indicator Two: Do I allow previous failures to stop me?

Dashboard Indicator Three: Are you a Christian loner?

Dashboard Indicator Four: Are you focusing on eliminating sin or on pleasing God?

Though it seems counter-intuitive, sin is not defeated by focusing on getting rid of it. Rather, focus on replacing it with something that is pleasing to God.

Psalm 34:14 says, “Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” When we do good, evil departs. To eliminate a sinful pattern, find a God-pleasing substitute.
But first, submit to God. In the past I tried hard to “resist the devil” as James 4:7 instructs. It wasn’t working! I had overlooked the first phrase of James 4:7, which says, “Submit to God.” Resisting without submitting won’t work! First submit in simple prayer, then substitute.

 

 

 



http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=8657

 

'I'm Making Pearls in Here!'

We had watched a movie about undersea life, and afterward, we happened to talk about oysters and how pearls are formed. I didn’t pay much attention to that discussion, but little did I know God was actually preparing us to think differently about the personal challenges and struggles He allows us to deal with.

Well, a pearl is formed in an oyster because of an irritation that finds its way to the inside of the shell. The oyster wraps the irritation with a coat of mother of pearl. The larger the irritation, the more coats of this substance are used to wrap around the point of pain until, in the end, the irritation is gone, but a beautiful, costly pearl is formed. Often the things for which we have to work hardest are the things we treasure the most.  Revelation 21:21 says: “The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl.” One pearl for an entire door of Heaven! Oh, the suffering that went into making Heaven available for us! We serve a God who understands suffering.

One day, as we worked and worked and worked on a school assignment, I decided to just do it for her. She had already done most of it. I said, “Let me finish it; let me make this load easier for you.”
             She looked up at me and said, “Don’t steal my pearl! It’s my treasure!” Oh my heart! Our discussions about pearls had helped her understand how her own struggles truly can produce a treasure. I apologized to her and to the Lord. What kind of mom am I to steal my child’s treasure? Wow! Letting our children struggle is hard, but God had entrusted this testimony to my daughter. I can stand beside her and support her, but the battle is hers—as is the treasure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Peter 3:18  New Life Version (NLV) Christ Suffered for Us  18 Christ suffered and died for sins once for all. He never sinned and yet He died for us who have sinned. He died so He might bring us to God. His body died but His spirit was made alive.

 

Acts 5:31 New Century Version (NCV)  31 Jesus is the One whom God raised to be on his right side, as Leader and Savior. Through him, all people could change their hearts and lives and have their sins forgiven.

Psalm 1:1-2 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)  1 Great blessings belong to those who don’t listen to evil advice, who don’t live like sinners,  and who don’t join those who make fun of God. [a] 2 Instead, they love the LORD’S teachings  and think about them day and night.

 Joshua 1:8 New Century Version (NCV)  8 Always remember what is written in the Book of the Teachings. Study it day and night to be sure to obey everything that is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything.

John 14:15 (Contemporary English Version) 15Jesus said to his disciples:    If you love me, you will do as I command.

Psalm 119:103-116 (New Living Translation) 103 How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. 104 Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.  105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. 106 I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again: I will obey your righteous regulations. 107 I have suffered much, O Lord;  restore my life again as you promised. 108 Lord, accept my offering of praise, and teach me your regulations. 109 My life constantly hangs in the balance,  but I will not stop obeying your instructions. 110 The wicked have set their traps for me,      but I will not turn from your commandments111 Your laws are my treasure;  they are my heart’s delight. 112 I am determined to keep your decrees to the very end.  113 I hate those with divided loyalties, but I love your instructions. 114 You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.  115 Get out of my life, you evil-minded people, for I intend to obey the commands of my God. 116 Lord, sustain me as you promised, that I may live!      Do not let my hope be crushed.

Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV)

 36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b]
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