Archive for June, 2017

Your Net

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Different Fishermen, Different Nets

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just (Matthew 13:47–49, KJV).

The word net in this Scripture setting is from the Greek word sagéné, which means dragnet. This is a type of weighted “bag” that fishermen would pull through the water, bring to shore, and empty the contents.

Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him (Mark 1:16–18, KJV).

However, the soon-to-be disciples, Peter and Andrew, were using a different net. In the Greek, the word net is from balló, which is a cast net. This type of net was typically used by 1–2 men, and would range in 5–20 feet in diameter. When cast into the water, it would create a perfect circle and fall into the sea.

Components of a Cast Net

Handline

Attached to the rope of the cast net was a handline. This was strapped to the wrist or arm of the fisherman casting the net. This is the method in which the fisherman would pull the cast net back from the water.

Horn

The net had a horn or “yoke,” which is where the net originated from. The horn also connects to the handline.

Net

The netting of the cast net was made of very fine mesh. Fishermen would never store the net by the mesh because it was very frail and would break easily. The knotting in the net were only strong enough to prohibit fish from leaving the net. If the fishermen would identify any holes in the netting, they would promptly fix them. Dried nets would get hard and crusty so fishermen would need to soak them in fabric softener to make them soft again, enabling the fisherman to cast the net in a circle.

Lead Line

This was the bottom circular line of the net. It was gathered or cinched around the net and had weights to drag the cast net down into the water. The weights on the lead line were ultimately responsible for trapping the fish in the net.

Brail Lines

These lines connected the bottom lead line back to the yoke, or top of the net. These would help to bring the net back to the surface after the fish were caught.

Fishers of Men

We are all called to be like the Disciples and become “fishers of men.” We must be a witness and spread the Gospel message to other people. Matthew 13:47 tells us that our net shouldn’t exclude any type of people—the Gospel message is for everyone, and we should therefore try to catch everyone.

In our witnessing, there isn’t any restriction in how we’re to use our cast nets (Colossians 1:12–13), and we don’t need to worry about what we “catch” in our nets—Jesus will ultimately do the separating.

Our Spiritual Cast Net

Handline

The net had to be connected to the handline on a cast net. When we cast our net, we need to ensure we’re also connected. We must be connected to the Kingdom of God and be a part of the church. Our witness will be ineffective if we’re not attached and we’re not keeping ourselves spiritually connected to the Word and to God (I Corinthians 9:27).

Horn

The horn or “yoke” of the net was where the net originated from. We must realize any net we cast is originating from Jesus Christ. In the beginning was the Word and all things are made by Him (John 1:1–3).

Net

Scripture tells us in Hebrews 12:1 that we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses. All of these people are connected together to form an intricate net or “mesh” in the Kingdom of God. We must ensure we’re staying in the flow of the church, follow God, and adhere to the plan He has for His Kingdom. If we stay connected to everyone else in the bonds of unity, our net won’t easily be broken.

Lead Line

The lead line had weights to pull the cast net down into the water. We must cast a net that’s weighted down with the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). Our witness won’t be strong enough unless we’re using Scripture, and the Word, once released, won’t ever come back void!

Brail Lines

These supported the weights of the bottom lead line. We must have a foundation that runs throughout our lives that we use to cast when we witness. Our foundation is Jesus Christ Himself (Ephesians 2:20). Through the Lord’s plan for His church, He’s also given the five-fold ministry to help provide support for the church (Ephesians 4:11–12).

Caring for the Net

Our spiritual cast nets need to be soft and ready for the catch. We are admonished to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). We must be mindful of how we’re casting our net in witness—are we being too harsh or are we being soft? We were all lost at one point; to be engaged in witness, we must realize we were too once witnessed to!

Before we can be an effective witness, we must ask the Lord to help us identify any holes in our net that could cause an issue with our witness. We must be refreshed in the Holy Ghost daily and with the Word of God to keep our nets clean, and to eliminate the stuff we catch on our own that will hinder our witness for God.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on June 28, 2017 with Guest Speaker, Brother Jonathan Pierce

Picture Perfect

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Have you ever experienced family pictures? I say experience because it is in fact a major one. Aside from the occasion itself, there’s a plethora of activity that surrounds it—date scheduling, outfit coordination, hair trials, haircuts, last-minute shopping, photo tests, a flurry of phone calls/emails/texts, and so much more!

My family was so scarred by our last picture experience, we’ve avoided them altogether for 5 years. Our photographers were wonderful, but toward the end of the session we were faking smiles, my sister was worried her son was going to throw up on her, I was antsy to get away from said nephew before I got sick, our violation-of-personal-space threshold was being reached, and we were all wondering how a family of 8 needed that many pictures…

As most of you have had this experience, you know it’s a big deal if the photos don’t turn out right—especially since you’ve invested so much time, money, and effort. We must capture ourselves in a moment in time to prove to the world we can look (and are) picture perfect. Then, we spend the rest of our lives convincing ourselves that we are that way 100% of the time, all the while desperately striving for this ideal.

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these (Luke 12:27, KJV).

I bring your attention to the story of the lily. Lilies look like lilies because that’s the way God designed them. Whenever you see a lily, you’ll discover it’s nature will be the same. Lilies don’t work hard to look a certain way, and they don’t get weary in their growth or existence. They exist in their natural state, every day of their life. Lilies are an example of God’s creation: perfect just the way He created it.

The world has generated a picture perfect mentality. We’ve convinced ourselves we must reach a moment in time when we: have everything together, don’t have a single hair out of place, have perfect smiles on our faces, and have ultimately achieved perfection.

In reality, we’re striving to meet an ideal God didn’t set for His creation. When the Lord created each of us—the way we look, our personalities, and normal behaviors—that’s the way He wanted us to be all the time. This might translate to frizzy hair, coffee-stained teeth, kids with mismatched outfits, and potential life challenges which don’t always equate to a smile being on our faces 24/7. But, reality in God’s book, this equals perfection.

I realize we need to strive to achieve spiritual perfection through Him, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. God never intended us to struggle to look the way He never intended for us to look. And, He didn’t want us to capture a picture perfect moment in time—which quickly becomes the past—and then spend the rest of our lives looking backward to achieve a moment that no longer exists (or maybe shouldn’t have in the first place).

Life’s not about being picture perfect. It’s about living the life God designed for us to live and looking the part! Remember the lilies. Our goal is not to toil or strain to achieve a different look, characteristic, or personality trait God didn’t design us with. When we want to take a snapshot of our families, or our lives, it should reflect who we are, not who we want to be.

The next time your family picture experience is planned, just remember a thing or two about the lilies. I encourage you to apply the lily-mentality to that photo-shoot and capture the day-to-day perfection God blessed you and your family with. I promise the final picture will be everything God meant it to be.

Cutting Out the Chaos: Be Prepared

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut (Matthew 25:1–10, KJV).

Preparation is important to demonstrate in our day-to-day lives. When we don’t prepare, it not only causes a problem for us, but for those around us as well. We know that if we prepare, peace will be I our lives instead of chaos. But, why don’t we always prepare?

Why Don’t We Prepare?

We Don’t Believe There are Real, True Genuine Consequences

We don’t always think and realize what will happen if we don’t do something. In the world we live in today, we are losing our ability to map consequences to our actions. When we don’t prepare, we don’t think there will be consequences we must deal with; when they come, we don’t think to blame ourselves. We must look inside of ourselves and determine what we’ve contributed to the chaos in our live. Before we consider acting without thinking, we should make sure we go to the Lord in prayer and gain direction from Him.

We Think We Have More Time than We Really Do

We are incapable of creating time. All we’re given the ability to do is manage time. There is only so much time in the day, so we must properly manage our time and prepare! In our spiritual lives, we must realize that we need to be ready to meet the Lord and stop filling our time with activities that won’t help us make heaven our home.

We are Procrastinators

Procrastination is putting something off until the day after tomorrow that which should have been done the day before yesterday. Those who are procrastinators believe in consequences, and understand the concept of time, but abide by an element of laziness. Procrastinators have an excuse as to why they can put off a task, but there is coming a day when we won’t be able to use any excuse.

Like the virgins in Matthew 25, we must prepare and get oil in our lamps so we can be a part of God’s plan. We need to be accountable for our life and what we’ve done. We will be judged for what we do and don’t do (Romans 14:10).

How to Cut the Chaos

We must prepare for what we do know, so when something shows up that we aren’t aware of, we won’t be caught off guard. The 5 foolish virgins didn’t bring any oil in their lamps to meet the Bridegroom. We must prepare for that which is to come (Proverbs 6:6–8). We need to anticipate what is coming and be prepared for the storms that may come.

Set Your Heart

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

I love reading the Bible. I can’t say I have a favorite book, a favorite part, or even just one favorite Scripture. I recently took a survey for our ladies department and when I tried to think about just one Scripture that could possibly be my favorite, I couldn’t!

I know there are those of you smirking and wondering if I could really love the “begots” in the Bible. If I need an encouraging Word, the begots are probably not the Scriptures I would race to find (however, you’d be surprised how God has spoken to me through these before). But, when I’m studying, the begots fascinate me. There’s something about the history of God’s chosen people, the prophets of old, and the lives of select individuals that’s incredibly intriguing.

Of the many times I’ve read the Bible through, meandering through Scriptures as the Lord leads me, I’ve come across this verse in Ezra many times:

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments (Ezra 7:10, KJV).

I don’t think this Scripture needs a lot of explanation, but I like the different translations of this verse. Ezra:

  • Devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD… (NIV)
  • Determined to study and obey the Law of the LORD… (NLT)
  • Set his heart to study the Law of the LORD… (ESV)
  • Set his heart (resolved) to study and interpret the Law of the LORD… (AMP)

Ezra made up in his mind to seek, to understand, to study, to interpret, to practice, and to know God’s Word. He did this before He set out to study.

News flash—He didn’t have the New Testament to read, comprised of the Gospels, or the letters to the churches. This was the BC. What do you think he read? He read Scripture that, when I talk to most people, think of as the boring portions of the Bible…

I recently sat through a presentation at work where the speaker discussed how we all have the capacity to learn. And, scientists have proven when we tell ourselves (determine in our minds) that we can or want to learn, we activate the portions of our brain that will help us learn and retain new information. However, when we tell ourselves that we can’t or don’t want to learn, we shut off our brain, and are left with the small function of the brain stem—the truly “stupidest” portion of our brain.

When Ezra prepared his heart to seek God, this wasn’t the blood-pumping organ in his body. The heart, lebab in Hebrew, is actually the inner wo/man, or our mind, our will, and our emotions. And, where do you think that exists? Our brain.

When Ezra determined he wanted to learn God’s Word, he activated his mind to digest and know every portion of God’s Word. It didn’t matter to Him what He read. But, because He had a mindset to learn—he prepared himself to learn—all of what came before His eyes was desirous.

Today, if we prepare our own hearts before we sit down to read the Word, we would activate our mind (our inner being, our will, and our emotions) to take in and to ingest God’s Word. And, once it’s internalized, we’ll be able to practice it in our daily walk.

You might just find the begots as enjoyable as I do—but only if your mind’s been activated for it. There might just be a lesson in there you didn’t even realize before. So, set your heart to seek the law of the LORD.

As in the Days of Noah

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

The Fall of Man

In the beginning, God created man with the ability to make his own decisions. God told his creation they could do whatever they wanted and eat anything they wanted. The only thing they couldn’t do was eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16).

Human nature doesn’t like to be told, “No.” We prefer to walk contrary to God and like to abide by the will of the flesh—our carnal nature. We like to govern ourselves and make decisions on what we think is best for us and what we think feels good. But, there is a way that seems right to a man that leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).

The Days of Noah

From the moment Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, mankind grew progressively more wicked and sinful. There came a moment when God saw the wickedness on earth was so great He was grieved. The Lord determined to destroy man from the face of the earth, including all the creeping things and fowls of the air (Genesis 6:5–7). But, in all of the evilness in the world, there was one man, Noah, who found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8).

Noah was faithful—he was honest and obeyed the voice of God. Because of him, his entire family was saved. Salvation, however, came with work. They had to build the ark all the while preach to the world judgment was coming and how salvation was needed. But, those on earth scoffed at Noah and his words. They continued their sinful ways, and continued their “normal” day-to-day activities until judgment day came. The animals gathered, Noah’s family entered the ark, God closed the door, and the rain came.

Judgment Day

The Lord is coming back for His church and a day of judgment is coming in this dispensation of time. It’s an hour that no one knows, but the Lord will return during a time when the earth will be like it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:36–39). We will be going about our day-to-day lives as usual, doing what we’re accustomed to doing—living righteously or sinfully. When the trumpet sounds, a lot of people will be caught unaware.

Jesus taught in the end times there would be wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, pestilences, false prophets, and the like (Matthew 24:6–13). We must endure and stay faithful until the end and we will be saved. When the Lord returns, the dead in Christ shall rise first, and those who are alive and remain will be caught up together to meet with Him in the clouds (I Thessalonians 4:16–17).

Being Ready

Scripture teaches a parable of the 10 virgins—5 wise and 5 foolish (Matthew 25:1–12). Five were wise and took extra oil for their lamps to meet the bridegroom, and 5 did not. When the 5 went out to buy more, the bridegroom came and closed the door. When the 5 returned, the bridegroom said he didn’t know them. We can sit right in the house of God and never know Him. We need to have an intimate relationship with Him and be ready for His coming (Matthew 25:13).

To make it to heaven, we must repent for our sins, be baptized in the name of Jesus, and filled with the precious gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). And, our journey doesn’t end there—we must continue to live a lifestyle of righteousness and holiness every day of our lives. Our salvation isn’t going to be dependent on anyone else; our judgment will be based on our own relationship with the Lord. We’re living in the end times. They day are as they were in the times of Noah. Let’s get ready.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on June 14, 2017 with Guest Speaker, Sister Beverly Nave

Insights into Integrity

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

As far back as I can remember, teachers, family friends, and leaders in my life would tell my parents I was a well-behaved child. In response, my parents would glance down at me with an eyebrow raised and say, “Really? She’s the exact opposite at home…”

I wasn’t born a sweet child, apt to listen to any adult around me. Before I learned that being on my “best behavior” was not just an outside-of-the-house concept—but when I was at home as well—there were many instructional (and disciplinary) moments in our household.

After the chaos I’d caused at home, with my Mother in an uproar due to my behavior, I would cowardly wait for my Dad to come home to be apprised of my activities. I remember, ever so distinctly, my Father and me sitting at the kitchen table, him calmly instructing me in right versus wrong. One was not to bend their legs at a right angle, and place their feet on the behind of their tottering younger sister at the top of the stairs. Nor, was one to even think about launching their sister, face-first to the bottom of said stairs.

There were many other moments throughout my lifetime when I experienced those teachable moments with Dad. As I grew, he taught me how to hold true to my beliefs no matter what, not to talk about people behind their backs (or to others), keep commitments, be trustworthy (and tell the truth), return what wasn’t mine, exhibit responsibility, and stay faithful to God and family.

He taught me how to live a life of integrity.

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him (Proverbs 20:7, KJV).

Our Fathers have an incredible charge to be the spiritual head of the home and to teach their children how to live right. But, half of the battle is not just teaching the lesson, it’s being an example for their children, and everyone else (II Corinthians 8:21). The lessons on integrity my Dad taught to me as a child were verbal, but I saw it physically demonstrated in his life in so many ways. Dad didn’t just talk the talk—he walked the walk.

Very recently, I heard how my Father exercised integrity in a difficult situation. In a brief moment, it was almost as if every lesson he’d taught me came flooding back to my memory. It was in that moment God spoke to me and said, “Your Father is a tremendous example of integrity.” I realized my Dad never stopped living what he taught me all those years ago. Integrity is everything, and it’s not something you ever stop—you live it for life.

According to Proverbs 20:7, because of what my Dad taught me, and the way he still lives, I am blessed.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6, KJV).

Fathers—when you teach your children about integrity, it finds a lodging place in their hearts. They will set their minds to abide by what’s been grounded in them, and will find how God will bless them for their obedience.

Because of what we’ve been taught, and the numerous examples we’ve been given, we want to extend a special thanks and honor to our Dads this Father’s Day. We wouldn’t be the people we are today without your instruction. We love and appreciate you all—Happy Father’s Day.

Cutting Out the Chaos: Repositioning Priorities

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Governing Priorities of Our Lives

We live every day by a set of priorities. Most of the time, we’ve taken liberty to set the priorities in our lives and haven’t considered the priorities God wants. We’re not born with the ability or the desire to follow God’s way, but through His Spirit we must submit to the plan God has for us.

In today’s world people make decisions and set priorities based on life’s circumstances. We have more stress in our lives and are busier than generations before. On the whole, there’s a lot of chaos today. When we identify the presence of chaos, we must realize this isn’t of God; it isn’t His will (I Corinthians 14:33). But, at its onset, we must determine where it’s originating from. Most of the time, the root cause is ourselves.

We are our worst enemy. We set our own priorities (the wrong ones) and they wreak havoc in our lives. Our own priorities are driven by our base nature—sinful flesh—which will do nothing but destroy us. However, God has come to set our priorities, and to give us life (John 10:10).

If we allow God to order our priorities, He will eliminate chaos from our lives (Psalms 37:23). But, half the battle is delighting in the way of the Lord first before we can reap the benefits. We need to allow God’s Spirit to come in and direct our every step and submit to the plan He has for our lives.

Repositioning Our Priorities Means Setting…

Them Without Fear

Consider the story of the woman who encountered the prophet Elijah. She was going to make a cake for herself and her son, and then they were going to eat it and die (I Kings 17:7–14). But, Elijah told her not to fear (I Kings 17:13)! God had a plan and priority for their lives, and it was one that didn’t include suffering and death. From this story, we can learn many things.

One, we cannot set priorities in our lives based on our emotions—especially fear. Fear is all about loss and not having what we think we need in life. But, our fear cannot be the driving force behind our priorities. Jesus told us never to worry; He would take care of us if we would just trust Him (Matthew 6:25–34). Our Heavenly Father knows what we need. We can’t build our priorities on contingency plans and the worry of what might come. We must seek God, and He will supply our every need.

Them Without Self-Focus

The little woman was very self-focused when she told Elijah what she was going to do (I Kings 17:12). We must get the “I” out of our priorities and focus on what God wants us to do. We can’t have core values and priorities in our lives that focus on us. As with fear, flesh cannot be the driving force behind our priorities. If our priorities start with the idea of pleasing ourselves, having fun, or making us comfortable, it’s not a priority that came from God and supports His Kingdom. We are living in a self-focused society, and this mentality is infiltrating the church (Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore, we need to examine our hearts and ask God what’s important in our life. It’s not up to us, it’s up to God (Proverbs 14:12).

The Important Ones First

We cannot set our priorities based on what we think is the easiest or more convenient. We are to seek the Kingdom of God first and have God dictate the order (Matthew 6:33). When abide this mentality, we’ll stop worrying so much on what it will take. If we seek God first to have Him set our priorities, He’ll filter out what will harm us and protect us from the chaos it will bring into our lives. We should have a mindset of filtering our priorities through the Kingdom of God. If it helps, advances, edifies, etc., it’s probably a priority. If it distracts, tears down, hinders, etc., it’s probably not.

Priorities in Action

We cannot hear the message today and not do anything about it. We must go and do (I Kings 17:13). We need to sit down with our loved ones, pray, and ask God what our priorities should be. We cannot live the same way after hearing this instruction. It may take us time to reposition our priorities to be in alignment with Him and eliminate the chaos form our lives, but we need to start today. We can’t wait for the perfect conditions (Ecclesiastes 11:4). Now is the time. Let’s make it a priority to cut out the chaos.

Unity

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Importance of Unity

Unity is a vital concept that should be known and practiced by God’s people. It has its place in every area of our lives! God has reiterated the importance of unity all throughout His Word and creation. He’s made the concept of unity clearly understood, which is a sign to His people that we should pay attention to it (Romans 1:20)!

Scripture warns us that if we aren’t sober and vigilant, our adversary (the devil) will attack and devour us (I Peter 5:8). When we aren’t unified with the church and God, we open ourselves up for attack and to be a prime candidate for the devil to work through.

Scripture states in Psalms 1331:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (KJV). There are many benefits if God’s people will operate in a unified mind and heart. Ecclesiastes tells us two are better than one—if one falls, the other will help him up; two can be warm together; and an enemy cannot prevail against two (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12).

Nothing is Impossible

When we operate in a unified mindset, there isn’t anything we can’t accomplish as God’s people. When we consider the builders of the tower of Babel, the people were unified in their plight. God noted as the people were one, nothing would be impossible for them (Genesis 11:6). We wonder why it’s so hard for humans to get along—it’s because there’s so much power in unity that the devil will try to do anything to get us to be divided!

If the church could get ahold of this truth, and practice unity in every part of our lives, the church would truly overcome every obstacle, enemy, and nothing would be restrained from us in our work for the Kingdom of God! When two or three agree in God, His presence will be in the midst of them (Matthew 18:19–20). This is how it was on the day of Pentecost when all were in one accord (Acts 2:1). Accord in the Greek means one mind, one passion, and to rush along in unison. God blends His children together in one accord for the perfect working together for His Kingdom.

Victory in Unity

Much victory is in store for the church who is unified. Joshua led the people in a unified march around the city of Jericho for 7 days. It was because of their unity, and shout of victory, that the walls fell down flat (Joshua 6:1–27). Jonathan and his armor bearer were unified together in mind and heart. They two were able to go up against the Philistines and wrought a great victory for Israel (I Samuel 14:6–7). Jehoshaphat called the people of Judah together for a time of prayer and fasting. In their unity, God brought them salvation and victory with His presence (II Chronicles 20:13–17).

Lessons from Nature

Nature itself demonstrates the very glory and characteristics of God, and from it we can learn valuable lessons. One can study nature and learn key unity concepts we can put into practice:

  • Sharing a common sense of direction/community can get people to their destination faster and easier because they’re traveling on the trust of one another
  • Staying in formation with those we’re traveling with will get us where we want to go. We need to be willing to receive and extend help to/from others
  • Taking turns with the harder jobs and being interdependent on each other’s gifts, talents, and resources, will help us all work effectively in God’s Kingdom
  • Encouraging one another at every opportunity; in groups where there’s encouragement, the production is much greater
  • Standing by each other in difficult times as well as when we’re strong

Disrupting Unity

There are many elements in this life that will disrupt the unification of God’s church (Proverbs 6:16–19). But, we must endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace in our lives and in the church (Ephesians 4:1–3).

Paul warned the church to watch out for those who cause strife and division. We are called to be witnesses to this world, so we cannot avoid everyone who causes disunity, but we are to be mindful of this in the Kingdom. If someone adheres to this lifestyle, making no attempt to change, we are admonished to put them out of the church (I Corinthians 5). However, if someone in the church repents, and restrains from a lifestyle of corruption, we should forgive them and help them correct their walk with God (James 5:19–20).

Unity must be present in our church services, home, relationships, giving, etc. Unity is not compromise or going along with sin. We must reconcile our minds and hearts with God, and to the Saints in His Kingdom. On earth, our perfection process comes through unity.

Keeping Unity in Ourselves, Home, and Nation

In order to solidify unity in our lives, we must seek after the “due order” that God has laid out in Scripture (I Chronicles 15:13). Due order means a directive, decree, or law. Our due order is the Word of God—we must reference it to determine how God wants us to dwell together in unity.

U—Understanding We Must Not be Offended

Scripture tells us we must not be offended in Him or in others (Psalms 119:165). When we become offended, this sows discord and disunity in our personal lives, which will ultimately affect the church. Paul notes in Romans 14 how we cannot become offended by the brethren in the church. We cannot offend someone with stronger convictions than us, and we cannot be offended by something we don’t approve.

N—Not a Respecter of Persons

If we show any favoritism in people (preferring one over another), we commit sin (Acts 10:34). We cannot only respect the rich and discard the poor (James 2:2). We must treat everyone the same, and seek to dwell in unity with all people.

I—Intentionally Focus on Humility

If we humble ourselves in God’s sight, and in His church, He will lift us up. And, we should never speak evil of one another (James 14:10–11). If we cannot have humility in ourselves, we will never have unity with others.

T—Totally Led by the Holy Ghost

Scripture tells us the Holy Ghost will lead and guide us into all truth (John 16:13). This is a continual process! We will never know everything there is to know about God, but we must remember He will continue to show His church ways to draw deeper in unity until He calls us home.

Y—Yoked Up with All Saints in Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness

The message we’ve heard from the very beginning is to love one another (I John 3:11). If we are truly to love one another, and abide by the second greatest commandment—to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39)—we will have unity. We can’t love, forgive, and pray for each other diligently (and effectively) and not have unity.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on June 09, 2017 with Guest Speaker, Brother Bruce Melder

The Superhero Story

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

I’m amazed today at how much the world is hung up on the supernatural and the idea that superheroes live among us. Children I have observed in play are dressed in their favorite superhero costumes and play-fight bad guys, and let’s face it, each other.

It’s a big deal if another child has their same superhero costume. There can only be one of “them.” As a child I remember fighting over real issues like who got to be which Disney princess. But, the world has obviously changed since then.

In our fascination of superheroes, I’ve observed the names are of some significance as well. It seems the cooler the name, the greater the superpower. So, I’m hearing names like Sharkboy, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Green Hornet, Ant-man, and many others. To be honest, I have little insight as to what these superheroes do, but the children donning their costumes all seem to exhibit the same characteristics—they’re loud, obnoxious, and slightly angry.

But, I’ve got to give credence though to their naming conventions. I’ll be honest. It’d be interesting to have people address me as: The Stupendous Wave, Winking Wonder, Cobalt Fire, or Amazon Mercy. (And, yes, in case you were wondering, I may have checked out some of those superhero name generators online…)

We’ve succumb to assuming the superhero concept is man-made. But, it’s really not—it started with God. And, so did these things called “superpowers,” albeit they took a slightly different form:

And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: And Simon he surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him… (Mark 3:14–19, KJV, emphasis added).

In case you missed it, James and John were called “The Sons of Thunder”—the first “superhero” name ever. Okay, so you might not yet be convinced, so for now, let’s not argue semantics…read on.

Most theologians note the reasons why James and John were referred to as “The Sons of Thunder.” It’s reported in Scripture, and in other eye-witness accounts, that James and John had such fervency in their ministry, courage in fighting opposing enemies of Christ, and for having such tremendous power that went along with their words. One theologian, Johann Albrecht Bengel notes how thunder is both terrible and joyous, and so is the Gospel: striking terror into the world, but also bringing joy and gain to the godly.

We are all sons and daughters of the most high God. When we are obedient to His Word (Acts 2:38), He will endow us with power from on high (Luke 24:49). It’s God’s Spirit—the Holy Ghost—that gives us power and authority to tread on serpents, scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). We have power over principalities, powers, spiritual wickedness in high places, and rulers of darkness just with the power in His name! It seems to like these can be classified as superpowers, but more so supernatural powers!

“Sons of Thunder” also means a voice shaking the earth. When we become a witness for the Lord, and go out evangelizing the message of Jesus, we become the oracle, or mouthpiece, of God. God’s Word is going to shake heaven and earth through his children (Hebrews 12:26–27). And, if you don’t think God’s Word won’t bring a change, guess again.

Whether we realize it or not, when we choose to do all of the above, we become a superhero for Christ. And, we all get cool names too. Mine? The Daughter of Thunder. I might not sign my checks with that name, but I’m called to witness, evangelize, fight the devil, and walk in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Are you interested in finding out what your superhero name in Christ is? Follow the teachings of the Disciples, as they followed Jesus Christ, and you’ll find out soon enough.

VBS 2017 – Recap Video

Monday, June 5th, 2017

VBS: God Made Us for a Reason

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

APC has been busy this week hosting VBS—Maker Fun Factory. This week, the children have learned several lessons: God made us, God is for us, God is always with us, and God will always love us. Today, we learn our last lesson in VBS: God made us for a reason.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (KJV). God has made each of us for a reason; we all have a purpose for our lives.

In essence, we all have an end goal, or a target we’re supposed to hit in life. But, we aren’t going to be able to hit our destined “target” if we don’t have Jesus in our lives. When we try to do things on our own, our life is bound to get crazy. There’s no way we’ll hit the target without God! With God’s presence in our lives, He’ll help us to connect to where we’re supposed to be in Him.

Before David was king of Israel, he didn’t seem like much. He spent most of his days out in the pasture watching his father’s flock. But, God send the prophet Samuel to anoint David to be king over Israel. It was the oil that symbolized God’s presence and anointing in His life. He had the presence of God—everything he needed—to be successful and to fulfill the plan God has for his life.

God has created each of us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). The ultimate reason God created us was to serve Him and to worship Him. He’s sent His Spirit (the Holy Ghost) to us to help us live a life devoted to Him and to be what God made us to be.