Walked Through the Door...Though Hesitant  

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Yesterday, I had another opportunity to be a substitute teacher. Last week, a kid asked if being a sub was "degrading". I told him, "No, not at all". For me, I really enjoy teaching and I have another job, so this is just a great opportunity to be around people I don't normally get to be around. All the while, sharing and showing Jesus to them! Now back to yesterday...

I had subbed in this class last year and remembered that there was a class in which they normally had a lot of discussions. But when there is a sub, it is a time to study. Feeling comfortably nervous (if you will), I decided to have a discussion on Love and Respect. (This is a title of a published book, but it is also a logical relationship concept from the bible) I had the boys make a list of five things that annoys/bothers them about girls, and I had the girls do the opposite.

It was funny when one girl said to the group, "Only five?" They couldn't do anything that was inappropriate or about someone specific (like in a recent breakup, etc.)

I then took the lists and read the boys, one at a time, sometimes asking the boys to defend their reasoning, and then discussing what they wrote. Then, I did the same with the girls' list. It went really well. They laughed, yet saw truth. One boy turned around two different times to calm some of the guys who were talking because he wanted to hear what I was saying. Then, a few classes later, a girl that was in that discussion came in for a different class and asked if they could do it in the current class. I said she already did it and she responded by telling me that "it was fun."

God opened a door. I was a bit hesitant to walk through it. I wasn't real comfortable doing a lesson in someone else's classroom, but I did walk through the door and God surprised me! God is good...!

What doors will God open for you, today?

Have a great day!

Checking the knobs for open doors ~

Monday Mentionings: Too Good to Be True - Genesis 37:3-8  

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Our "family reunion" was really great on Sunday! It was great to see everyone there! Aubrey and I were very much surprised with your appreciation gift! THANKS! THANKS! THANKS!

Have you ever experienced a "too good to be true" moment? We all would like to experience those moments more than we actually do. However, in our normal lives, too many moments like that would seem like the norm, and take away from some of the surprise factor.

As Christians, we have a whole life of "too good to be true" moments. If you think about salvation, that is when it tends to lose its "Christmas morning, gifts under the tree" surprise factor because it is a state we are in at all times. However, when you think about it a bit more, God can surprise us at any time with a situation you never thought would happen. As we looked at Joseph's life, here are some other applications...

  1. Have you been through some rough patches in life? Do they keep popping up from time to time? Are they so bad that you said to yourself, "God, why am I still here?" A person recently said that they were "ready" to go on to heaven. They didn't know that God was going to use them in an absolutely huge way, just right around the corner. Joseph went through some rough patches, but God wasn't through with him yet. You might wonder why, but God may just be going to use that painful life experience to benefit someone else or lead you to someone else. He's not through with you yet, either!
  2. God can make lemonade out of life's lemony moments. Losing a job can be very bitter. If you've ever been laid off or fired, or resigned or retired, say a quick prayer for those in that place, especially those who you really didn't get along with. Pray for yourself and for them.
  3. New clothes are fun to put on. There is the fact that they are new, which is fun. Also, there is the fact that you want to see how you look, how it fits, etc. I just heard about my 5 year-old niece who received a package from her grandparents with a new outfit. She had her dad stop the car just so she could change to put it on! She was excited! As Christians, Christ has put on our old clothes of sin and gives us new clothes of salvation, that we can put on. (II Corinthians 5:21, I Peter 2:24, Galatians 3:26-27) Praise God that you have the opportunity to no longer have those clothes! Praise Jesus for wearing them...so you don't have to!!!

Remember, we can all "do big things for God!"

Have a great week!

Blessings ~Share/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragement: Check Your Expiration Date  

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The other day I was subbing and amidst the conversation was a comment that went like this…”When does the time come when you can give tests and grade them without looking at any answer key because you know all the answers, huh? When does that happen?” They were discussing their years of teaching and one was planning on returning to school to get an administration certificate. I pondered that comment, never interjecting my thoughts. I was going to say something, but the conversation had already passed too far. My thought was “When you simply want your students to stay busy instead of learn and you, yourself, are no longer desiring to know more, then you will reach that point.” This brings us to this quote…

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80.
Anyone who keeps learning stays young.
The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
~ Henry Ford

When you are satisfied with your faith, then that is its peak. When you don’t stretch yourself to try something new then your limitations stay where they’re at. If you are pushing yourself beyond what is comfortable, then you will continue to grow.

If you die after you get so old, and we don’t want anyone’s faith to be dead, it is up to each one of us to keep expanding the knowledge of our faith. This will keep our church “young” even if we are chronologically growing older.

How will you keep your faith from getting old? Old faith creates moldy faith…young faith is fresh faith!

Check your faith’s “expiration date” it may need to be replaced/refreshed. Don’t let the Thief steal, kill, or destroy you and your faith!

Have a great week!!!

Checking my faith ~Share/Bookmark

Monday Mentionings: How's Your Health - I Thessalonians 2:17-3:10  

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How old are you? There are different ways to determine that. One is your mental age versus chronological age. Another is your your physical body's age versus chronological age (i.e. you may be 50 but have the heart of a 30 year old). Last, there is just our chronological age, which most of you probably thought about when I asked the question.

Our health determines how long we will live. A couple of factors in determining life expectancy are lifestyle and genetics. Our spiritual health can have the same factors. With lifestyle, even normal "church" lifestyle, we can either decide to be comfortable with where we're at and never be willing to change so we get faith "sclerosis" - our heart hardens - or we can adapt to the times and remain alive and vibrant. Genetics play a part, simply, by looking at the influence of family. What you learn growing up will factor in on how alive you are for how long. Like in actual health, you aren't destined to be like this, but certain factors increase your chances. How's your health?

Paul was not concerned with how big the congregation was or other superficial things. Rather, Paul wrote to find out about the FAITH of the Thessalonians. Not the kind of faith that asks if they still believe in God, but the kind of faith that is active and vibrant! Here are some other applications you might be able to use from the lesson...

  1. Our faith is always needing to become stronger. It could be faith in God, in our brothers and sisters, our leaders, etc. How's your faith in the church? If you are one that tends to complain first when something new is mentioned, then pray about the situation first and ask God to help you see the blessing from this new idea/concept instead of worrying about the burden.
  2. We're not going to get to know each other very well when our only contact is inside the walls of the church building. Keep it on your conscience to get together with someone outside of normal times about once a month. This will help you get to know people "deeper" than just assembly times.
  3. What has been going on in your life that is good?...that is bad? If we do not share or are not willing to share, we will not increase our faith in the church that Jesus built. The church that Jesus built wants to rejoice when you rejoice and weep when you weep. It is here to be of support, not to destroy. So...how have things been?
  4. I was encouraged yesterday by seeing you participate with the kids in singing their songs. Thanks for showing your "happiness" and "letting your light shine!"
  5. Pray that you will be willing to ask for help, from the church, when you need a "faith fill", so that your faith will not become "moldy" or be lacking in any way. If you need something to be prayed for or something else, I would be glad to pray about it with/for you.

We're only as strong as our weakest member. If your faith is lacking, then we need to do something about it so all can be on the same plane. No one needs to be left behind!

Let me know how God has been working in your life...or even the lack of God's presence...Share/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragement: What Value Do You Bring?  

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When you work at a job, you are getting paid for the amount of time or the amount of tasks that you complete. Tasks, obviously, take time to complete, so in a sense, it still comes down to time. However, when you do work, you get your money after a certain time of working, not before. You are required to show up for work, complete your responsibilities, and then you will receive your money. This week's quote is a little different take on the normal attitude toward working...

You don't get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour. ~ Jim Rohn

I would agree with this quote, but let's look at it like this: How much would you get paid if you were being paid based on the "value" you brought to that hour? Would it be more or less than your current amount?

Salvation is a free gift with priceless value. Since we are rewarded with salvation before our life on earth ends, we sometimes forget that we still have responsibilities of "bringing value" to the hours we're here on earth. It would make it much easier to get the "check" of salvation once we were at the end because we'd always be putting in a great amount of effort. Thinking about salvation, how much would you get paid based on the value you bring to the spreading of the Kingdom? Would it be more or less?

We can be thankful that Christ already paid our "wage" to be eligible to go to heaven. Let us be valuable during the hours we're here on the earth!!!

I'm thankful that I don't get my salvation paycheck based on what I do! But based on what Jesus has done!!!

Serving Him ~Share/Bookmark

Monday Mentiongs: "Ripped Off" - John 10:7-11  

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When you go to the store, you, naturally, like to have foods that are fresh. "Fresh Faith" is our new series. When people are looking for Jesus, they are going to be attracted to the ones who have the "freshest" Jesus, not anything "moldy". In yesterday's sermon we looked into John 10:7-11 where Jesus tells His audience that the thief steals, kills, and destroys. Not a pretty picture, but we also must keep in mind that there is opportunity for what was stolen to be recovered. Here are some other applications to choose from to use this week...

  1. What has the Thief stolen from you? Your passions/desires, your appetite for God's word, your purpose in the Kingdom, etc.? What caused you to put your guard down to allow him to steal any of these things? Write down 3 things you would like to do to enhance the Kingdom, then pray about them for the next month. If you want to share, I'll pray about them with you.
  2. What has the Thief killed - pertaining to you? Have you lost the life you once had? This type of life is meaning the vibrancy for doing things for God. Did you once want to serve any time the opportunity was offered, but now, your vibrancy has died? Pray that God would give you the needed CPR to revive your spiritual heart!
  3. What has the Thief come and destroyed in your life? Has he destroyed your prayer life, your marriage, your self-esteem, etc.? How have you dealt with this? Satan wants you to rely on yourself and not on God. The longer you let your "hot ember" of faith stay away from God, the happier Satan gets because he knows he's accomplishing his mission. Don't let Satan take you away from the fire! The way to defeat this giant is to pray to God that He will bless your efforts in making sure that Satan doesn't destroy anything in your life!
  4. Lost something? God can help you find it again! David had his supplies and his family stolen. He went after them. Don't let anyone take what is rightly yours. Do just as David did - go find your property!!!
Freshness is appealing. May you have a faith that is refreshed each and every day so that your faith will be appealing to others!

Asking God to replace my faith with "fresh" faith ~Share/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragement: Success  

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Very few things come to us. Most things that we receive we must make the attempt to go after. You may get served at a restaurant and have your food brought to you, but you had to decide and order the particular dish in the first place. You may receive a package in the mail instead of going to the store, but you had to find it online or in the catalog in the first place. Success is similar. Which brings us to this quote...

Success doesn't come to you, you go to it. ~ Marva Collins

Fame is something people might think about when it comes to being successful. Athletics, actors, musicians, etc., all seem to be successful based on their life. However, even if they were born with "natural talent" they still had to make the effort to go to practice, learn their lines, try out for positions, and play an instrument. Do you want to be considered successsful in your endeavors? You have to go to it! Want to save souls - go find them. They will not be likely to come to you. However, even if you are that blessed, you still must walk through the door of opportunity - still going to the success.

May God bless your endeavors of gowing toward success - in whatever area you choose.

Have a great Friday and Saturday!

Going forward ~Share/Bookmark

Isn't It Interesting  

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I just was studying for the Wednesday night Bible study when this thought came to mind. Isn't it interesting that when Jesus heals people and tells them to not tell anyone, that they go and tell everyone?

Then, when Jesus gives us the message, via scripture (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, and Acts 1:8) to "Go, tell everyone" and we tend to tell no one!

What are your thoughts/reactions to this?Share/Bookmark

Monday Mentionings: Dedication of the Wall: Nehemiah 12:27  

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Good News! I just checked and relief (as I would describe it) from the heat is in sight! By the time some of you read this, it may have already changed. I look forward to the warmer temperatures about March, but in October I look forward to the cooler temperatures.

After all the building that took place by the Jews, the wall around Jerusalem has been completed and is now being dedicated. Once a big project is completed, a time of celebration tends to follow. They celebrated "with gladness, with thanksgiving and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres." (English Standard Version) God helped the finish the walls, but He was not finished with them. Just like God is not finished with us. We are both, in a sense, always "Under Construction". As we ended the series with a dedication, let us look at how we can dedicate ourselves, regularly, to God by these applications...

  1. Smile - Rededicate yourself through a smile. A good, meaningful smile means that you are glad. Gladness has positive health results, promoting a longer life of service to God! So, smile, and then, go serve!
  2. Thanksgiving - Rededicate yourself through being thankful. Many jobs can be very thankless. Rarely did I get "thanked" from a participating team, for umpiring. God gives and gives, and we probably overlook many of the things that He does give - clean air, potable water, etc. Be a servant of thanks!
  3. Praise - Rededicate yourself through praise. What is a favorite praise song? Take time to sing or hum it regularly this week. As Psalm 40:3-4 talks about a "new song" that has been put in our mouth...maybe you can make up a new song to praise God with!
  4. Instruments - Rededicate yourself through being instrumental. Be instrumental in getting the message of Jesus out there. Maybe it will be through a compliment, a card/e-mail, a phone call, being patient, or whatever. Just be conscientious about the many opportunities that we get to be God's hands and feet on earth. How will you be instrumental for Him?

Have a great week and look forward to the cooler temperatures!

Serving Him ~Share/Bookmark

Wherever Your At, That is Where God Can Use You  

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Whether it is Moses living amidst the Israelites or you living in a world full of people who have been "enslaved" to sin, selfishness, deceit, etc., God will use you where you're at.

Moses was surprised by a burning bush that wouldn't burn up, and then to hear a voice come from the fire. I am surprised when I am going about my day and someone asks me a question that I didn't think I would hear from their mouth. Sometimes I have the time to go on and other times I wish I would have more time. However, part of the greatness in being a Teammate of God's is that the surprises always come.

Recently, I was surprised by having someone open up about a current difficulty they are experiencing. Not only was I surprised by this open door, but the openness of the individual. Additionally, I was surprised that hardly anyone in this community had even asked him about his problem (not even from his own church!!!). Where are the people giving the "water to the thirsty"? Where are those who are supposed to be followers of Jesus (they aren't acting like Jesus, just following!).

My heart goes out to this man. Guys can be tough, but there are certain things that break men down, and life can sometimes deliver the biggest blow! I am thankful that I was led down this path to be here for him at this time. Whether it is a "rest stop" friendship, where he can get a bit of relief, but always know that I am there when he passes by and needs a break in life, or it becomes something long term, it doesn't matter. I am just glad that God opened the door for me to be there for him at this time in his life.

Remember, God will use you where you're at!

God is good.... ~ JSShare/Bookmark

E-mail Encouragement: Go Paint!  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , ,

What do you doubt about yourself? Our inner voice is usually the strongest of all the voices we hear. That inner voice could potentially be taking away from allowing you to do something great in life, which brings to this week's quote...

If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

One of the most respected painters of all time would probably have never become a great respected painter if he would have listened to his inner voice. By silencing that voice, he became a world renowned painter/artist. What is holding you back from becoming something bigger for God? Don't listen to the inner voice of doubt, but go out and see what happens when we decide to "paint"!

The world is your mission field canvas, so...what are you going to paint?

Grabbing my brush ~Share/Bookmark

Monday Mentionings: God REALLY Loves Us! - Nehemiah 9:9-31  

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If you had as good of a day as I did yesterday, then you had a good start to your week!

One thing that preaching through books teaches me, is that people need things (and sometimes the same things) told to them over and over. This section of Nehemiah is a good example. As they pondered their history, they were reminded of how much God really loves them. This chapter reminds us of the same things.

Instead of additional applications, I want you to spend various times in your week by praising God for what He has done for you. These could be simple things, like things we take for granted, to bigger things. The possibilities are endless. It doesn't matter what you deem as appropriate for praise, just do it!

After all, we are a people who have been "afflicted, yet freed", we can be "stiff-necked, yet grace-given", and we often "rebel, yet not forsaken". God does REALLY love us!

Have a praise-filled week!!!!!

Loving Him ~Share/Bookmark