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We must we do to be fruitful

1.       Be connected. I am not talking about being connected with “big” people in the government. I am talking about being connected with God. When you want to be fruitful, be connected to the Source of all fruitfulness. When you do, for sure you will know what fruitfulness is. If you do not abide in Jesus, and His Words abide in you, you will not experience fruitfulness.


John 15:1-8 (AMP)

 I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. 2 Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. 3 You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you]. 4 Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me], you can do nothing. 6 If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honorued and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.


Jesus is all you need, not people, for help. Remain connected constantly, to the main Source of power, Jesus. He is all that matters, above all others. Other relationships that He will bring, He will be the source. Allow the pruning of the Lord when He does it.



2.       Positioned. Position yourself at the right place, with the right people, at the right time, doing the right thing.


Psalm 1 (AMP)

BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. 2 But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. 3 And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]. 4 Not so the wicked [those disobedient and living without God are not so]. But they are like the chaff [worthless, dead, without substance] which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked [those disobedient and living without God] shall not stand [justified] in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous [those who are upright and in right standing with God]. 6 For the Lord knows and is fully acquainted with the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly [those living outside God's will] shall perish (end in ruin and come to nought).


Where do you often find yourself positioned?


Psalm 91:1

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].


Dwell in the shadow of the Lord, and you will enjoy His protection. God should be our dwelling place.


Ephesians 2:6

...and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,


Where are you dwelling? Is it in the presence of God? Remain in the position God put you in, seated in Jesus in the heavenly places.



3.       Keep speaking

John 6:63  

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.


When you speak what Jesus has said, nothing will challenge that. His Words go beyond the physical, into the spiritual life, and produce life.

Mark 11:22-2

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 


Keep on speaking God's Word, and it shall surely come to pass.


Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.


Stop speaking things that are dead, in your life.


Job 22:28

You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; So light will shine on your ways.


Wake up in the morning, and speak the Word of God. align your life and days with the Word and purpose of God, by speaking His Word.


Jeremiah 23:29

“The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the Lord. 29 “Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?"


Keep speaking God's Word, and all hindrances will pave way for you, as you walk in and enjoy fruitfulness, in Jesus. 



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Fruit of the spirit comes from life in Him

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Paul declares them to be the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23). The reason they appear in the life of the believer is that the Spirit is in the life of the believer. They are wholly the fruit of his gracious presence and ministry. Or are they? And here is why I ask: each of these qualities or characteristics may be found in the life of an unbeliever. Christians, for example, are far from having a monopoly on love. Jesus himself confirms that in his Sermon on the Mount when he asks his disciples, ‘If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?’ (Matt. 5:46). Men and women who have never been born of the Spirit love – sometimes, as we know, in the most selfless and self-sacrificing manner. Our convictions about human depravity must never tempt us to deny it.


Nor is love unique in this respect. Unbelievers have joy. They can be patient. They are often kind and gentle and faithful. They exhibit goodness in their relations with one another. They know what it is to be self-controlled. They may be quite at peace in their hearts. All these things which the apostle lists as the fruit of the Spirit are to be found in people from whom the Spirit is savingly absent.


So what makes the love, joy, peace, etc., of which the apostle speaks distinctively the fruit of the Spirit? Perhaps we can best answer it in this way: the role of the Spirit is to take qualities and characteristics that are common to humanity and do something special with them – something that only he can do by his presence and ministry in grace. We see this with some of the Spirit’s gifts. Teaching, for instance (Rom. 12:7). The general capacity to teach is just about as widespread as humanity. But if a man is to expound and apply the Holy Scriptures in a way that edifies the body of Christ and glorifies God he needs to be specially gifted by the Spirit.

And so it is with the Spirit’s fruit.


Love, for example. It is common both to the believer and the unbeliever. But it is only the believer who loves God and, out of love for him, obeys him. It is only the believer who loves believers – loves them because they are believers and, out of that love, serves them. It is only the believer whose love for his enemies moves him to pray for them, bless them, and do them good. It is only the believer whose love for his neighbour prompts him to seek his salvation. Love, in the Spirit’s hands, is made uniquely new. It is given new objects, springs from new motives, and comes to expression in new ways.


Or think about joy. What does the Spirit do in giving us distinctively Christian joy? We need only think about the things that we joy in. Holiness. The Lord’s Day. The success of the gospel. The truths of God’s Word. The singing of God’s praise. The company of fellow Christians. Supremely the Lord himself. We take the spiritual pleasure in these things that we do only because the Spirit has been at work in our hearts.


And so it is with all the rest. Peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – the Spirit does something special with them all. They manifest themselves in our lives in ways that simply would not be possible without him.


I close with a practical suggestion. Make what we have been thinking about a matter of careful and prayerful meditation. Take the fruits of the Spirit one at a time and reflect on what makes them distinctively fruits of the Spirit. Ponder what the Spirit does with them in the life of a believer; the special ways in which he brings them to expression. And pray that by his power, and for the glory of Christ, they would increasingly be exhibited in your life.



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Fruitfulness in times of difficulty

Let’s be honest. Life can be difficult. Sometimes, it’s through no fault of our own. Other times it’s directly related to bad decisions we make.


For the Israelites of Jeremiah’s time, they brought the trouble on their own heads by turning their backs on God and going their own way. God told them,


Through your own fault, you will lose the inheritance I gave you. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for you have kindled my anger, and it will burn forever.


Jeremiah, on the other hand, was suffering through no fault of his own. Rather, he was suffering for doing exactly what God told him to do, preaching the Word to a stubborn and rebellious people.


God gave this word to the Israelites, but I think it was just as much for Jeremiah’s encouragement when God told him,


Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (4-8)


In saying this, God condemned the Israelites for trusting in themselves but encouraged Jeremiah at the same time. Basically, he said, “Jeremiah, I know things are tough. But if you will trust in me and put your confidence in me, you will be blessed. Even though your circumstances seem tough, you will always be fruitful for me. Even if everyone else around you falls to these hard times, you will prosper.”


And God was as good as his word. Though Jerusalem would eventually fall, God delivered Jeremiah. Nebuchadnezzar himself gave orders that Jeremiah was to be taken care of and not harmed. (Jeremiah 39:11-14)


This is not to say Jeremiah’s life was easy and that he lived a life of leisure. But he was a man that lived a life that was fruitful despite everything that happened around him.


As we face the coming year, what difficulties are you going through? Are they coming because you’ve turned your back on God? Now’s a good time to turn back. To turn your back on your stubbornness and sin, and to start trusting God again.


Are things going wrong even though you’re following God? Keep trusting him. Don’t get discouraged. And like Jeremiah, you will see a life that is fruitful and makes a difference in this world.


Isn’t that what we all want?




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Overcoming rather than being Overwhelmed

AS we looked at this week, we can learn from Elisha. Elisha makes a big ask of Elijah. “Let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” This doesn’t mean that Elisha was asking to be twice as powerful as Elijah, although if you count up the number of miracles God performed through Elisha compared to Elijah, there actually are twice as many. But Elisha isn’t asking to be twice as powerful.


And it doesn’t mean that Elisha is asking that his ministry be twice as long as Elijah’s, although, again, it kind of turned out that way. Elijah’s public ministry was 27 years; while Elisha’s was 51.


No. According to the biblical law of inheritance, the heir of a father’s estate received the double portion of the inheritance. So Elisha is simply asking for confirmation that he really is going to succeed Elijah in ministry.


If we are going to move from overwhelmed to overflowing, then we have to move from comparison to contentment. Elisha wasn’t asking to be twice the prophet Elijah was. It wasn’t about comparing his ministry to someone else’s. Elisha was completely content being the prophet God called him to be.


What about you? If you are being honest with yourself, how much of your overwhelm comes from comparing yourself to others? Comparing your kids to other people’s kids? Comparing your vacation photos to other people’s vacation photos. I wonder if in our church life how much of our busyness as a church comes from comparing what our church is doing to what other churches are doing? Friends, you have to be content with who God has made you to

be in Christ. God doesn’t want your imitation of anyone else in the kingdom.


It’s worth pointing out here that Elisha immediately began operating in the power of the Spirit once to took over the mantle from Elijah. And the vast majority of the miracles God performed through him were for the benefit of other people. That by itself is a lesson for us—that when we receive “a double portion” of God’s spirit, it isn’t for our benefit. It is for the benefit of others. We are blessed to be a blessing. And one of the first encounters Elisha has is with someone who also went from overwhelmed to overcoming (by literally overflowing)


Elisha is approached by the wife of one of the prophets Elisha was mentoring.


4 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” 2 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”


This widow is in pretty dire straits. Her husband has died, there are bills to pay, and the creditor is coming to take her two children to be slaves until the debts can be paid. And the only thing the woman has of any value is one jar of oil.

It would be easy to complain here, wouldn’t it? What would you do? Some of you have been there. Some of you are there right now. Your credit cards are maxed out, you are underwater on your mortgage.


Isn’t it interesting that sometimes the last thing we think to do is cry out to God? And absolutely the last thing we want to do is admit to our neighbours or friends or church family that we need help. So what does this woman do? First, she cries out to God’s prophet, Elisha. And what does the man of God tell her to do?

3 Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbours, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.”


The woman tells Elisha that all she has is one jar of oil. Notice what Elisha doesn’t say. He doesn’t say, “Well, start cutting back. If the recipe calls for half a cup of oil, use a quarter cup and mix it with water. I know the bread won’t taste as good, but let’s see how far we can stretch it.” He doesn’t say, “Ok, let’s sell that, and then we will adjust our budget to make ends meet.”


Instead, Elisha says, “Take what little you have, trust God with it, and see what happens.” And God performs a miracle with it! The woman humbly goes to her neighbours and asks for every container they have. Big ones, small ones, tall ones, short ones. It had to look like a middle eastern Tupperware party on her kitchen table. And it must not have made a lick of sense to her. She might have been thinking to herself, “Maybe he didn’t hear me right. I didn’t say, “I have so much oil that I’ve run out of containers.” This is ridiculous.


But she goes and borrows every bowl in Palestine, and look what happens…


5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”


Isn’t it interesting that God’s blessing didn’t stop flowing until she ran out of things to put it in? That’s a huge lesson for us! Why would we submit such an aggressive budget? Why would we have so many line items? Why would we be planning so many events? Why are we looking to take on an overseas mission project? Because we believe that God is able to fill up every container we bring him. We believe that if God chooses to stop blessing our church, it won’t be because He’s run out of blessing, but because we’ve stopped bringing him vessels to put it in.


So here is our lesson: In order to move from overwhelmed to overcoming, we have to move from grumbling to gratitude. Philippians 2:14 encourages us to “do everything without grumbling or complaining.” Instead of stressing out about what we don’t have, express our gratitude for what we do have by being generous with it. Place it in God’s hands, and watch what He does with it. Psalm 13:6 says, “I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.” God doesn’t cut corners when He blesses us. He deals bountifully with us! And when we are rooted in him and established in him, then we can overflow with gratitude (Col. 2:7)




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Be filled and continue to be filled

The apostle Paul encourages us in Ephesians 5:18 that we are filled with the Spirit. Therefore, I want to try to answer two questions today: What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? And, how can we be filled with the Spirit? I think it might help you to follow me if I tell you at the outset where I am going. So I’ll start with my conclusions and then give biblical support. I think being filled with the Spirit means, basically, having great joy in God. And since the Bible teaches that “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10), it also means there will be power in this joy for overcoming besetting sins and for boldness in witness.


But, basically, it means radiant joy, because the Spirit who fills us is the Spirit of joy that flows between God the Father and God the Son because of the delight they have in each other. Therefore, to be filled with the Spirit means to be caught into the joy that flows among the Holy Trinity and to love God the Father and God the Son with the very love with which they love each other. And then, in answer to the second question, the way to be filled with the Spirit is by trusting that the God of hope really reigns — that not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from his will (Matthew 10:29) — and that he runs the world for you and for all who trust his word. In believing that, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit and with joy.


What Does ‘Baptize in the Holy Spirit’ Mean?

The phrase “baptize in (or with) the Holy Spirit” was apparently coined by John the Baptist. All four of our gospels record that he said, “I have baptized you with water, but he (i.e., Jesus) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 3:11Mark 1:8Luke 3:16John 1:33). The only two writers in the New Testament who refer elsewhere to the phrase “baptize with the Spirit” are Luke in the book of Acts, and Paul in 1 Corinthians. Luke refers to it twice, quoting John each time (Acts 1:511:16), and Paul refers to it once (1 Corinthians 12:13). But I don’t think Paul and Luke use this phrase to refer to the same thing. For Paul, it is virtually identical to regeneration or new birth (conversion). For Luke, it is essentially the same as being filled with the Spirit and refers to that first introductory experience of this fullness.


When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1–3)


Jesus promises in chapter 1 that they will be baptized by the Spirit, and Luke describes the fulfilment of that promise in chapter 2 in terms of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Yet we know from Acts 11:15–17 that Luke does see Pentecost as a baptism with the Spirit. He reports there how Peter described his preaching to the Gentiles, in Cornelius’s house:

As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, “John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?


So this later outpouring of the Spirit on the Gentiles (in Acts 10:44) is equated with the first Pentecostal outpouring, and both are explained as a baptism with the Spirit. Therefore, Luke sees what happened at Pentecost as both a baptism with the Spirit and a filling with the Spirit. Since Luke refers later on to the disciples being filled again (Acts 4:83113:4), but never refers to them as being baptized again with the Spirit, it seems to me that for Luke “baptism with the Spirit” refers to that initial filling by the Spirit after a person trusts in Christ.


I don’t think Luke equates “baptism by the Spirit” with regeneration as Paul does. That would mean that all the apostles, who, with God’s help, had confessed Jesus to be the Christ (Luke 9:20Matthew 16:17) and had seen him alive after his resurrection and had their minds opened by him to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45), were in fact dead in trespasses and sins and enslaved to the flesh during all their time with Jesus and up till Pentecost morning.


So let's be filled, and continue to be filled that others might see God at work in us.



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Ready to be Baptised?

The apostle Paul, one of the key figures in the Bible, knew from his own experience the amazing meaning of baptism. At one time he went by the name Saul and was a cruel killer of Christians. Then he encountered the living Lord Jesus and found how wrong it was to fight against Christ. At that point, a Christian named Ananias helped Saul take the first steps in making a new start. Even though Saul had been a horrible enemy of Christians, Ananias greeted him as "Brother Saul" and treated him as a fellow member of God's family. After telling Saul he would become a great witness for the Lord Jesus, Ananias said, "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16). Just like that, the murderous sinner Saul was baptized. His sins were washed away, and he ended up becoming the mighty missionary, Paul.


The water of baptism isn't what actually washes sins away, of course. "The blood of Jesus," says the Scripture, "purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7), and that promise of washing in Jesus' blood is displayed and confirmed in the baptismal washing.


Paul's terrible sins were washed away, and your sins can be washed away too. You don't have to wait to be baptized until you are clean enough to be acceptable to God. If that were the case, none of us could ever be baptized. Baptism reminds us that even though we are dirty, God makes us clean. Even though we are dead in sin, God makes us alive in Christ Jesus. Even though we are dry and empty, he fills us with the living water of his Holy Spirit. To be baptized is not a declaration of your own qualifications. It's an admission of your need and an acceptance of Christ's provision.


You may think you're so bad that you can't possibly be forgiven and transformed, but are you worse than Paul was? Are you worse than millions of other sinners who have received baptism and new life? If God accepted me, he can surely accept you as well. Paul speaks for all Christians when he says, At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs, having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:3-7).

Baptism is a visual enactment of those words. What an astonishing before-and-after picture of the transforming power of God's love in Jesus Christ! Before, there's foolishness, slavery, hatred. After, there's rebirth as sons of God who inherit everything that is God's, including eternal life. Paul never tired of telling other people about the love of Christ and the amazing change that comes when we are connected to Christ. Paul said, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)


If you've never been baptized, but you know your sinfulness and believe in Jesus' blood, his resurrection, and his life-giving Spirit, then, to quote Paul's friend Ananias, "What are you waiting for?" Be baptized and wash your sins away through calling on the name of Jesus in faith.

If you've been baptized in water at some point in the past but have never entered into the reality of rebirth, repentance, and faith, now is the time to accept what your baptism signifies.


"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord" (Acts 3:19). Don't despise baptism. Be washed in Jesus blood, and be filled with his Spirit.



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Baptism made a difference

Baptism isn't where you find Jesus; it's what you do once you've found him. But that doesn't answer the question, "Why would Jesus seek to be baptized by John?" I think it's important that we realize John didn't just come up with this baptism idea on his own. There's a story behind this story.


We have two key players here: Jesus and his cousin, John the Baptist. John's ministry was to prepare the way for the Messiah. His message was simple and straightforward: "Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!" (Matthew 3:2). When people repented, he baptized them. The Jewish people were looking for a deliverer to make things right in their country. They were a people whose land was occupied by an oppressive foreign government, and they longed for freedom. But it was more than that. It was a people whose relationship with God had grown cold.


God had chosen their forefather Abraham to be the patriarch of His people hundreds of years before. Like many relationships, it started out strongly but through the years complacency set in. Familiarity breeds contempt, they say. Israel started taking God for granted, and God won't tolerate that for long in a relationship with us.


A brief history of God's relationship with Israel: God blesses and Israel enjoys, Israel be-comes complacent, takes God for granted, and turns her back on Him. God gets Israel's attention through tragedy. The Israelites repent and the relationship is restored. And then the cycle begins anew. John the Baptist comes along during a down cycle of Israel's relationship with God. They had become complacent, take God for granted and turned their backs on Him, and God had allowed them to experience discomfort in order to get their attention. (Honestly, He does that with us sometimes too.)


And because God had always provided a deliverer in the past, people like Moses and David, there was great anticipation for the next manifestation of a deliverer. John, as the preparer of the way, says what has to be said, "Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!" It makes perfect sense, doesn't it? The people had to turn their hearts back to God in order to experience deliverance. This occupation by a foreign conqueror is the method God is using to get their attention. And John uniquely adapts a common practice of his day to teach his people about humility, commitment and identification.


So why was Jesus was baptized; His was a baptism of humility. If you'll recall, amidst the protestations of John the Baptist, Jesus explains why He has come for baptism. Matthew 3:15, Jesus answered him, "Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfil all righteousness." Then he allowed Him [to be baptized]. Je-sus humbles Himself to do what God asks - it's obedience to God. Jesus does this because God requires it. He lived a life of complete obedience to God - that's why we can say about Jesus, and no other person who ever lived, that He was sinless. I can't say that, and you can't say that; only Jesus can.

Obedience to God is all God's ever asked for. Back when God was getting this whole thing started, He had a conversation with Abraham where He said, "I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be devout. 2I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly" (Genesis 17:1-2).


One of the most powerful expressions of this is found in Philippians 2:6-8. Speaking of Jesus it says, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. 7Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death -- even to death on a cross.


This was also a baptism of commitment. This launched Jesus' ministry that would eventually lead to the cross. He knew where this thing was headed. For three and a half years, Jesus did His thing and it ended with crucifixion. This inauguration began that process. It was a commitment to God's plan and you and me. Finally, Jesus' was a baptism of identification: he affirmed John's ministry and identity with the people He'd come to save.


Jesus took this step of obedience to show us the way - to identify with those of us who do need to repent and turn back. Humility, commitment, and identification: that's really what baptism is all about. But what does that mean for me and you?


There is so much more to following Jesus! There are incredible benefits to following Jesus: unreserved acceptance, limitless love, God's unmerited favour - grace, forgiveness for all our sins, and purpose in life. Those are powerful benefits to following the Lord. It pays to follow Christ. But following Christ is more than benefits; it also entails responsibility.


The "more" of Christianity has to do with humility, commitment, and identification. The proselyte's baptism was about humility, commitment and identification. Jesus' baptism was about humility, commitment and identification. And the baptisms we perform today are about humility, commitment and identification. It's humbling to get into the water in front of everybody. It's an act of humble obedience to Jesus. He once said, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20


It's also an act of commitment and identification. When you're baptized and people see you, the expectation level goes way up. People will expect you to walk the talk. You're identified with Christ, and just like He was baptized to identify with us, we're baptized to identify with Him. He was buried and rose again, and guess what? We get buried under the water and we rise again . . . unless you slip or somebody pays me to keep you under a while, but that doesn't usually happen because it really messes up the identification piece.


Do you remember what happened when Jesus came out of the water? Matthew 3:16-18, 16After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. 17And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him! Humble obedience and commitment to God and identification with God always lead to His affirmation . . . Always.



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What to do when time is running out?

Taking time for connections with people we love can be tough. We all have different demands upon our lives that we must divide into a 24 hour period. There are many stages of life. In some stages, it seems 24 hours is ample. Then there are the "Whirlwind Stages" of life where even if God would double up, we would still run out of time before we ran out of things to do.


God created time for man. He doesn't need it. He can be everywhere at once, and never gets overbooked. He even tells us in His word that, our times are in His hands. I would say, I am a handful at the least. I know this all sounds funny, but it is really a sad situation when we love people, and would rather be with people than do the maintenance, and work, it takes to reach people, and meet their needs, as well as train, prepare and equip them; for their future, and the enlargement of the Kingdom of God. I have attached a sermon below for your personal study time. It is not mine, but I did enjoy it, and, hope that it does help you, and others..


Summary: 

Here are five key principles of time management.

1. Set PRIORITIES

2. Build RELATIONSHIPS

3. Take Time To PLAN

4. Take time to ORGANISE

5. Learn to be FLEXIBLEFive Key Principles Of Time Management


Time Management – God’s Way

Think for a moment about what the greatest stressors in your life are today. Haven’t your stressors involved some feelings of being overloaded with responsibilities – at home – at work – at school – at church – or maybe a combination of all of these plus more. You are stressed because you are: running late for an appointment then get stopped at a traffic light. Then the car starts acting up – and how are you going to find the money and the time to get it fixed? Is there going to be enough time to come home from work – cook dinner and then still make it to school for the parents evening? Oh, and by the way, Henry down the street suggested you should get together sometime for coffee – you told him you would call him back but you still haven’t taken the time to call him back yet.


Each of these anxiety-producers has to do with time management. Think of how many day-to-day issues involve the use of time. In fact, that is what the day consists of – T – I – M – E. The clock seems to be our enemy – because it keeps on ticking no matter what happens – regardless of whether we have time for it or not.

The solution is time management. But here is the catch. Time management will require work if you want to succeed. It will require hard work. It will require homework and it will require heart work. Being successful at time management – requires work.


In this weeks blog, I would like to talk about five key principles of time management. These principles will help you manage your time as you struggle with your overwhelming situations in life. Let me give you five guiding principles of time management.


1. Set PRIORITIES

You cannot be effective in time management unless you set priorities.

Probably many of you know the illustration of the physics teacher who gave his students a wide-mouth mason jar. He then gave them five big rocks, a handful of marbles, a container of sand and a glass of water. He said, “You’ve got fifteen seconds to put all of these items in the jar."

The physics teacher then stepped back with a stopwatch in hand and yelled, “Go!” The students poured in the sand, threw in the marbles and started stuffing the rocks in. After fifteen seconds he shouted, “Times up.” They're still sitting on the table were three large rocks and the glass of water. The students started complaining, “It can’t be done. It’s impossible. All that stuff will not fit. The jar is too small.”


The teacher calmly said, “I can put them all in the jar.” The students responded, “Show us.” So they dumped everything back on the table – separated everything and started over. The teacher then took the jar and placed a couple of the big rocks in the jar. He filled in any gaps around the big rocks with the marbles and continued to fill the jar until it was up to the brim with all the big rocks and all the marbles. The teacher then took the sand and slowly poured it into the jar and watched as it cascaded around the rocks and the marbles – filling all the holes and spaces. He then took the glass of water and poured it into the jar. Everything fit perfectly. He then said, “It all fits – but it depends on the order that you put them in the jar – that is a matter of setting priorities. When you set priorities you can make it happen.” Jesus said it this way:


“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

Jesus was saying that we need to set priorities in life. Time management number one is set priorities.


2. Build RELATIONSHIPS

We find that Jesus set this principle when He was asked:

“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:36-40 (HCSB)


Jesus tells us that there are two relationships that are vital.

A. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father – and

B. Our relationship with other people.


Why would He tell us that relationships are the most important things? Because all the “stuff” – material possessions – will disappear – but relationships will last. The money – the job – the possessions – the toys – all that “stuff” – will all be gone in the end. But your relationship with God will last forever. In fact – where you will spend eternity is based on one thing – your relationship with God. Therefore, your relationship with God is of vital importance. If you do nothing else in this life – take the time to build your relationship with God.


3. Take Time To PLAN

Someone once told me – you need to hope for the best – but plan for the worst. There is much wisdom in that statement. Jesus talked about planning when He said,

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Luke 14:28-30 (ESV)


Let me ask you a question – how many of you planned to be at Church on Sunday? You know what? – I did too. In fact, I even went on Sunday – prepared to preach. I knew that last week I left here as the pastor and I planned to return this week as the pastor. I also knew that as the pastor someone here would expect me to preach. So you know what I did – I planned for it. I prepared my sermon. I went over it and over it – not necessarily that I know it word for word – but thought by thought. But that just does not happen – it comes with work – it comes with experience – it comes with planning. I believe that every minister should take time to plan out their messages.


Planning can also help with your family life. You know that each year birthdays come around – and so do holidays. We all have our family traditions – plan for them – prepare for them. Proverbs tells us:

“The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless certainly becomes poor.” Proverbs 21:5 (HCSB)


The Message Bible says it this way:

“Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind.” Proverbs 21:5 (MSG)

Do you want to use your time wisely? Plan ahead.


4. Take time to ORGANIZE

Folks I cannot tell you how much time I have spent looking for things that I have misplaced – but I have spent quite a bit of time looking for things I have misplaced. One of the things that really bothers me is when I am working on something such as my lawnmower – and I will lay a part or a tool down and then I can’t find it. I have not moved on inch from where I am working – but the thing is gone. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “hide-it fairy” – but if there is – this fairy visits my home on a regular basis. (I really don’t believe in fairies.) I have spent many a minute – looking for something that is within arm’s length – and sometimes within plain sight.


No wonder Jesus could tell this story:

"Imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbours: ’Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God." Luke 15:8-10 (MSG)

We all know what it means to lose something. One way to help save time is to take time to organize.


If I organize things – label things – group similar things together – nine times out of ten – it will help me save time.


5. Learn to be FLEXIBLE

Folks – right here is a key principle. The reason I say this is – because no matter how much you plan – no matter how much you organize – no matter how much you prioritize – things could happen which will change everything. There are events in life that can happen quickly – in an instant – that can change our lives forever. Someone once told me – that there should be another beatitude – it goes like this:

“Blessed are the flexible, for they are not easily broken.”


In my studies, I have found that the Puritans would make elaborate plans. They would outline their lives and plan out what they hoped to do. They must have spent hours setting priorities – planning – setting goals for their lives. But one thing that they did – which impressed me – was at the end of plans they would say – “God willing”. Folks – isn’t that the bottom line. “God willing” As we plan - it is still God who is in control - and we can never forget that fact.


Friends – Jesus put it this way:

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-27 (KJV)


How we spend our time is important. Are you building a relationship – with God?




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Living as a child of the King

The King’s Daughter

In the fall of 1940, bombs whistled through the cloudy London skies. Explosions decimated the city and left craters where homes and businesses had once stood. Thirteen-year-old Princess Elizabeth couldn’t hear her mother’s voice over the continual wail of the air raid sirens, but she could read her lips, “Get your coat!

Elizabeth helped her younger sister, Margaret, before wrapping her wool coat around her body. The princesses rushed from Buckingham Palace to a black car parked just outside the gate. A German bomb exploded blocks away, and Elizabeth’s ears rang as the plane that had dropped it roared overhead.

“Keep your heads down!” her mother instructed as the driver put the car in gear. Elizabeth lifted her head to peek through the window. London was on fire. Elizabeth, her sister, and thousands of other children fled the city for safety during Germany’s 57-day campaign to bomb London. This systematic attack against Britain became known as The Blitz. But Princess Elizabeth refused to cower in fear. She was the daughter of the king! She had a purpose—and things to do!


Helping Amid the Hurt

Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of King George VI, was too young to join the war effort when Great Britain entered World War II. Instead, she made it a point to send out radio broadcasts and encourage the other children who had evacuated from their homes. When she turned 18, she became the first female member of the royal family to join the active-duty Armed Forces, serving as a mechanic until the end of the war.


Elizabeth, now Queen, painted a strong picture of what it meant to be a child of the king. There are specific ways that a prince or princess is expected to behave, rules for how they should carry themselves, and obligations they must fulfil. Above all, they should be a positive reflection of their father, the king, and do their best to preserve the kingdom.


Unexpected Royalty

During the 1940 Blitz on London, a German bomb landed in my grandparents’ street as they were preparing to evacuate. It failed to explode. My mother and her sister went to stay in a friends home along with thousands of other children, including Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. 


My Nana used to tell us stories of those days over afternoon tea. She used to listen to Princess Elizabeth’s radio broadcasts for encouragement, navigating the daily uncertainty of war, and mustering the courage to make it through with the confidence of a princess herself.


What if my parents were the king and queen? How would I have to behave? In what obligations would I have to invest my time? Would I grow up to be a kind and respected leader, or something quite the opposite? Would I be a positive reflection of my father, the king, and rise to the occasion to defend his kingdom when necessary? I’d probably need to be a bit less muddy and have some proper shoes, for a start.


Little did I know that I was already a prince—a true child of the King.



King of Glory

The Bible describes God as King and Lord in countless places. David says, “Our God is a God who saves. He is the King and the Lord” (Psalm 68:20, NIRV). His Son, Jesus, is “called King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).

God’s kingdom is vast. It spans to the far reaches of our abilities to see and understand, and even then, we only catch a glimpse. From mountains to oceans, sprawling galaxies to clusters of atoms, to the heavenly and spiritual realms—God created it all! Heaven itself is a place with many gates and mansions, a city as brilliant as a precious jewel, with streets paved with gold. Can you imagine a place where something so rich as gold is considered as mundane as asphalt in light of God’s glory?


As humans, we are continually discovering the hallmarks of His design. But God didn’t just create the heavens and earth, wipe His hands, and walk away. Instead, He reigns over every nuance of His kingdom. How wonderful that we have a creator and King who is present and engaged!

God promises that Jesus will return and will establish His kingdom here on Earth—the way it was supposed to be before sin entered into our lives in the Garden of Eden. Are we ready for His return?


If we are His children and have a relationship with Him, we shouldn’t fear that day. God not only created us from the dust of the Earth, but He calls us to have a deep relationship with Him. What’s more, He wants to bestow incredible gifts and inheritance on us as His children. Romans 8:17 (NLT) declares, “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory.”


As Children of God, We Are Royalty

Logically, it stands to reason: If children of a king are princes and princesses, then because God is King, as His children, we too are princes and princesses!

YOU are royalty in God’s family. You and your children are princes or princesses in His kingdom. See the person next to you? Or the person standing across the room? They, too, are royalty in His kingdom. If we treated everyone around us like royalty, how different would our actions be toward each other?


The problem is that not everyone recognizes that they are royalty. They’ve forgotten that they are children of God and have a royal heritage. They wander through life in rags rather than being sure of their identity in Christ. We can come alongside the people who don’t realize they are children of God and remind them who they are. And it is critical that we teach our children from an early age who they are in Christ. We must raise them to be children of the King!


Be assured that you and your children are dearly loved, deeply cherished and that God esteems you as princes or princesses in His kingdom. By teaching your kids their identity in Christ, you are teaching them that their value comes from being a child of God, not from the world.


Let's learn to live as children of the King of Kings.



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Our identity in times like these

Identifying as a Christian can be tricky, especially when living and working in a culture with an anti-Christian bias. On the one hand, it’s wise to be shrewd and patient in our witness. On the other hand, the gospel is public truth, and Christians are called to public faith.

Plus, when we don’t identify as God’s people, we risk building relationships on false foundations, and it’s only a matter of time before our true identity is revealed. Just ask Esther.


Identity Is Complicated

The book of Esther is a complicated story about identity. In its first few chapters, Esther offends almost everyone. Feminist liberals note her compliance and failure to identify as a strong woman. Religious traditionalists lament her hidden faith, which leads her to break religious laws and sleep with a Gentile who isn’t her husband.

Yet the text doesn’t allow for these interpretations. First, although Esther’s rise to power is remarkable, the author’s main issue isn’t female empowerment, but the death threat faced by God’s people. In other words, the main distinction in the book isn’t between men and women, but between Jew and Gentile.

Second, although we’re told that Esther hides her background, we’re not told why (Esth. 2:20). We don’t know her motives, only know her situation—she’s a young Jewish girl who has been conscripted unwillingly in a pagan king’s harem. The moral ambiguity of her story raises the question, “What real choice does someone in her situation have?”


Make a Choice

There comes a time, though, when Esther is forced to make a choice about her identity. Upon discovering that powerful forces are plotting to kill the Jews, Esther’s cousin Mordecai urges her to use her political connections and risk her place in the palace in order to save her people:

Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? (Esth. 4:13–14)


But Esther is afraid. Approaching the king unbidden is a capital offence forgiven only by the king and, although she’s the queen, there’s no guarantee she’ll receive his mercy. After all, he didn’t forgive the last queen, and he hasn’t slept with Esther in a month—and he hasn’t been sleeping alone.

Esther has no prophetic vision or biblical promise to claim for her safety. Without knowing the end of the story, she must decide whether or not to identify with God’s people.


If I Perish, I Perish

Yet Mordecai’s point is clear—her life may potentially be lost if she goes to the king, but it will certainly be lost if she doesn’t. Perhaps with mixed motives of self-preservation and missional calling, she replies:

Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf. . . . Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish. (Esth. 4:16).

In this moment, Esther goes from being a young woman making compromises to a mature queen giving orders. Her response, Tim Keller notes, is the language of identification, mission, and obedience. Mordecai’s call to action causes her to realize that she’s not in the palace for herself, but for others.


It’s Never Too Late

Some of us are in positions of influence in our culture—whether as public school teachers or public company executives—and we have to navigate questions of identity in complicated situations that might cost us. Does it matter whether anyone at work knows I’m a Christian when my faith isn’t directly related to my work? If I’m seeking a job in an industry that has an anti-Christian bias, like journalism or higher education, should I refrain from putting church volunteer activities on my résumé? Isn’t being present at a company—even if that means engaging in morally questionable activities—better than abandoning it altogether?


To answer these questions, seeing Esther as an example will crush us, but seeing Jesus as a Redeemer will save us. He’s the ultimate mediator who risks the palace and its riches to save us (Phil. 2:6–11). Going before the King, he doesn’t say “If I perish, I perish,” but “When I perish, I perish.” When he’s our security, value, and worth, we can risk the palace—positions, connections, careers, and riches—because, in him, we’re truly free. As the gospel becomes increasingly precious to us, we begin to see that these questions aren’t just about us, but about others, too. When we’re in positions of influence and open about our identification as God’s people, we can be a part of his redemption of his people.


But some of us wonder whether God can use our ambiguous moral pasts or our questionable mixed motives. As Karen Jobes writes:

Perhaps, like Esther, you have been brought to this moment in your life by circumstances over which you had no control, combined with flawed decisions you made along the way. Perhaps instead of living for God, you have so concealed your Christian faith that no one would even identify you as a Christian. Then suddenly you find yourself facing calamity. . . . Regardless of the straights you find yourself in, turn to the Lord. . . . his purposes are greater than yours.


Wherever you are right now, you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10). You have certain gifts, abilities, talents, weaknesses, sufferings, and experiences that enable you to help certain people—though it may cost you. No matter how you came to power in your company, church, or organization, it’s never too late to hear and obey God’s call.


If you understand that you’re his child, then your mission isn’t for yourself, but for others. And who knows? Perhaps you have come to your position for such a time as this.



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